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Bossypants - Tina Fey (Autobiography)

Review by Ruth Reimer-Berg

Tina Fey has come to be known as one of the best female comedians of the
century. After years of stand-up comedy, writing for both 30 Rock, and
Saturday Night Live, as well as for the movie Mean Girls, Tina Fey
continues her legacy in this hilarious tale of her life.
This book is no ordinary autobiography. Not only does a page rarely go by
without a laugh, but throughout this memoir, Tina Fey manages to
incorporate her feminist and progressive values amidst the humor. She also
states the hilarious truth that no one dares to say.
She begins the book with the statement: If you are a woman and you
bought this book for practical tips on how to make it in a male-dominated
workplace, here they are. No pigtails, no tube tops. Cry sparingly. (Some
people say Never let them see you cry. I say, if youre so mad you could just
cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.) After clearing that up, she then proceeds
to talk about growing, her childhood, and her family background. She makes
fun of her own struggles, with friends, boys, and her own fashion and beauty,
which almost anyone can identify with.
Tina Fey then proceeds to talk about her beginnings in comedy. From
summer camps, to stand-up companies, and then to comedy writing, her
comedic journey has a lighthearted, joking demeanor. But, it is laced with
darker undertones, expressing the struggles of women in the workplace. As
she says in her book: You all watched a sketch about feminism and you
didn't even know it because of all the jokes. It's like when Jessica Seinfeld
puts spinach in kids' brownies. Suckers! This is the strategy that she also
employs in this book. She challenges expectations, and says: To say Im an
overrated troll, when you have never even seen me guard a bridge, is
patently unfair.
When addressing sexism, she says: When faced with sexism, or ageism, or
lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following
question: Is this person in between me and what I want to do? If the answer
is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and
outpacing people that way. Then, when youre in charge, dont hire the
people who were jerky to you.
By the end of the book, you are left with several chuckles, as well as several
new comebacks for the next time someone questions or insults you. But
most importantly, she teaches you the importance of just being yourself. As
she says, several times throughout the book: Do your thing and don't care if
they like it.

Looking for Alaska - John Green (Fiction)

Review by Madeleine Henry
Miles Pudge Halter is the new kid at Culver Creek Boarding School and, of
course, he immediately falls in love with the perfect Alaska Young. She is
everything--beautiful, clever and hilariously self-deprecating. In fact, Pudge
contrasts their characters with the weather: If people were rain, I was
drizzle and she was a hurricane. Miles didnt necessarily give the most
trustworthy description of Alaska, but it sure was poetic.
Beautifully written, Looking For Alaska is a quick read that will never leave
your thoughts. John Green, the author, believes that books belong to their
readers, giving everyone more room for interpretation. He thoroughly
explains awkward teenage encounters and romance without going too indepth. The only problem I had was that Alaska was a bit too obviously Miles
manic pixie dream girl. But almost every book written by Green has one so I
was not surprised.
No one can catch Togami, the comedic relief with a fox hat. Or The Colonel
(youll forget his real name anyway) who is the short, self-proclaimed leader
of the group. And finally Lara, Pudges other love interest and his awkward
first time ever really dating anyone. While being pretty two-dimensional, Lara
played an important part in Miles self-realization and also helped him realize
that he was really in love with Alaska.
He was so in love with her that, after joining her group of friends, he smoked
with her, drank with her and stole for her. Maybe a bit problematic but it was
romantic, right? Or maybe not. Green explained after the book was published
that he wanted to de-romanticize the unhealthy behaviors, which he did. He
managed to get the point across, very poetically might I add. For example:
"Why do you smoke so damn fast? I asked. She smiled with all the delight
of a kid on Christmas morning and said, Yall smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to
All things aside, the book was very well written and I enjoyed it entirely. It
was funny, confusing, tragic and awkward, perfectly encompassing the ups
and downs of teen relationships, romantic or otherwise. Written by days
instead of chapters, the first half leads up to one event and the second half
leads up to a big realization that is partially left to the reader to contemplate
on their own; a tragically beautiful ending to a tragically beautiful story.
Thomas Edisons last words were: Its very beautiful over there. I dont
know where there is, but I believe its somewhere, and I hope its beautiful.

Feed - M.T. Anderson (Fiction)

Review by Emma Pettit
M.T. Andersons book Feed is a great read for young adults interested in
both science fiction and a futuristic look at a different reality. M.T. Anderson
focuses primarily on utilizing how young authors view reality and he asks
vague, unanswered questions throughout the book, allowing the reader to
speculate how the book will play out and what the deeper message is. This is
represented in Feed as the characters question the world around them, and
the wide range of characters gives the reader more than one perspective.
The setting is futuristic and dystopian, allowing for the reader to get a fresh
look on the events while still connecting it to their own understanding of
todays society. The main focus of the book revolves around the ideas of
corporate power and consumerism, while still maintaining the dynamics of a
science fiction novel.
The novel is told in the perspective of Titus, who was born with a brain chip,
along with millions of others that live their everyday lives with the help of a
microchip known as a feed. Each feed is individually customized to its
owner, producing advertisements and entertainment to contour to the
persons every need. From the first days of a childs life, they learn to live
and grow with the feed, as it connects to their brain functions and utilizes
control over their thoughts and body. Titus lives like any other teenager in his
time; he and his friends experience the pleasures of the feed and live in a
fast-paced, dynamic reality. However, their lives are corrupted with
consumerism and a need to live in the now.
Throughout the book, there is the constant reassuring of never feeling alone
or void of excitement. Society has learned to be entertained by simple
things, and people have become engulfed in a shallow view of life. The feed
fills an emptiness inside the owner that makes it near impossible to function
without. Similarly, those without a feed cannot participate in the hustle and
bustle of societys high maintenance demands. While Titus and his friends
are swept up in the intense nature of their reality, some are not so lucky.
Titus meets a girl named Violet, whose feed wasnt installed until she was
seven years old, making it more difficult for her to use the feed and adapt to
society. After an incident regarding a major malfunction in a dance club,
Violet begins questioning the feed and its impact on the world around her.
There are many symbols in Feed, and while the setting seems much
different from todays society, there are an overwhelming number of
parallels. While Violet feels detached from society and a complete outsider,
Titus is simply another thread in the mesh of their world, and he feels himself

becoming unwoven as Violet spins deeper and deeper into her malfunctions.
Titus lives his life as if all is right with the world--he feels comforted by things
that reader might feel alienated from. This creates an aura of questions for
the reader, and makes the reader become more understanding of Violet as
she also questions her society.
In terms of similarity, the reader can appreciate the authors creation of a
bustling world; much of todays entertainment revolves around the idea of
action, excitement, and living in the moment. However, M.T. Anderson takes
this to an extreme in his recreation of a monopolized world, and places the
reader right into the shoes of an average teenager. There are many new
situations and concepts that are pushed onto the reader, allowing them to
take a step back and consider what it would mean for them, personally. In
this sense, M.T. Anderson respects the readers intelligence as a young adult
fiction novelist, and weaves together a story that contains both a rich plot
and a deep message.

Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger (Fiction)

Review by Nabeel Noor
As my first text by Salinger, I was pleasantly surprised by a style of writing
different than any other I have read. At first, Salingers long, almost
excessively descriptive and vocabulary-heavy passages threaten to bore the
reader, but in Franny and Zooey they go perfectly along with the
personalities of the two main characters--Franny and Zooey (surprising, I
Franny and Zooey is a short novel, surpassing the 200 mark by a single
page; yet its shortness almost certainly adds to its sweetness. The text
follows the struggles of Franny Glass as she goes through a breakdown, and
Zooey Glass attempts to help her, eventually leading to the betterment of
each of their distraught characters. The time of the story being just past
1950, Salingers use of italic syllables provide all dialogues and monologues
in the story to have emphasis, intonation, and almost feel in dialect.
The Glass family is one of incredibly bright children, and the youngest of
them struggle with their religious ideas and philosophies as imposed on them
by their older siblings, their closest ones recently deceased. The youngest of
the Glasses, Franny and Zooey, have a hard time dealing with society. Their
excuse being that their oldest and deceased brother Seymour, along with
their next oldest and not-deceased brother Buddy, have made their
standards so high that they cannot possibly take to anyone, and no one
meets them.

To deal with this dilemma, Franny has taken to reading some of Seymours
old religious texts, and had her breakdown in the midst of trying to alter her
life around some ceaseless prayer in order to attain enlightenment and
hopefully solve her problems in dealing with everyone.
During her
breakdown, her state is such that even Zooey, her self-proclaimed freak
brother, attempts to talk her out of the self-destructive phase she is in.
In this brief novel, the story and meaning-or lack-thereof-are entirely up to
the readers interpretation, as the plot of this book hardly leaves a single
room. However, this is a very philosophical text, I have found, and being as
short as it is, the experience of reading it is not at all taxing, and worth the
puzzling after-feeling of a text much more complex than it seems.

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern (Fiction)

Review by Skylar McMahan
Erin Morgensterns novel The Night Circus
focuses on a mysterious circus that comes and
goes--unannounced--and is only open at
sundown. The book is set in New York, Paris,
Boston, and other major cities during the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One night a
five-year-old girl comes to see Hector Bowen,
known as Prospero the Enchanter. She arrives
with a lawyer that gives him a note saying this
is his daughter, named Celia.
He discovers quickly that his daughter has the
same gift that he possesses, the power of
illusion (magic). Several months later a man in a
grey suit comes to see Hector and proposes to
him a challenge that pits Celia and Marco against each other. Marco is an
orphan that the man in the grey suit chooses to compete in the competition.
The two magicians spend the next several years grooming their prodigies.
Both of these magicians tend to overwork them, denying the love and
encouragement that they deserve for working so hard to win a challenge
they had no say in. But what if love defies all fate? Can two children who
have never experienced love, find love themselves?
With every turn of the page there is mystery that overwhelms you with
excitement that will leave you wondering: What will happen next? The plot is
reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet--two children defying their parents for
love. It has also been known to be compared with the Harry Potter series.
But despite the natural fairytale, Morgenstern develops a magic within not

just the storyline but within the characters that goes beyond the normal love
I would definitely recommend this book to everyone because when you read
The Night Circus, the author creates such a picture that its almost like
youre watching a movie in your head. The magic and danger that arrives at
every corner will surprise you.

Pyongyang - Guy Delisle (Graphic Novel)

Review by Matt Smith
So, I recently picked up Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, a graphic
novel by Guy Delisle. An hour later I put it down, because I finished it.
Needless to say its not a terribly long novel but it has just enough to get the
job done. Its based on the true story of the authors experience in North
Korea working for an outsourcing animation company: SEK Studio. He brings
with him several unauthorized items including 1984 by George Orwell: a
dystopian novel depicting a totalitarian state, its citizens under constant
surveillance. A fantastic book, but Im not reviewing it right now am I?
Upon arriving, a fake version of North Korea is constructed around him. The
regime tells an elaborate lie to fool him and hide the real face of the country
to him. He spends his two months there in a beautiful hotel, most of it not
having electricity and reserved only for foreigners. He is taken on several
tours including the Museum of Imperialist Occupation showing North Korean
propaganda depicting the United States as their sworn enemies and as
monsters. He must have a government official with him at all times outside
the hotel to keep the faade believable.
My biggest gripe with the book is that it barely has any plot progression
whatsoever. He arrives in North Korea, he gets to look at some lovely
propaganda and then leaves. This is like writing a story about the time you
went to McDonalds, hogged the Wi-Fi, admired the decorations and left. Im
sure you had an interesting experience but Im not about to fork over twelve
dollars to read it. I understand that this was a true story so theres not much
that can be done to make it more interesting. Fact is stranger than fiction but
its usually more depressing too.
So, all in all its a good book although not a very substantial one. It has one
main point and it makes it very clearly. That point is the fact that North
Koreans are all, well, not great human beings. As far as if I would recommend
it, yes, I would. Its a good book but its not very substantial. Also the
thought-police just called to tell me I havent praised the glorious leader Kim
Jong Un enough today.

Almost Perfect - Brian Katcher (Fiction)

Review by Alyssa Boyle
Logan Witherspoon is suffering from a devastating break-up after being with
his girlfriend, Brenda, for three years. Hes now a high school senior in the
small town of Boyer, Missouri, who has no idea how to be single. Consider
the fact that, The city of Boyer was little more than a half-dozen trailer
parks, an electronics factory, and five churches, there wasnt much hope for
Logan to meet someone new. So he spent his time being depressed, staring
at his ex, and running. After all, he had to maintain that thin, yet muscular
He has lost sight of everything he had planned for his future. Until the
unexpected happens--a new girl moves to town. As far as anyone can see,
Sage Hendricks is perfect! Logan befriends the new student, and as he gets
to know her, the only thing wrong with her is that she is really secretive
about her past and her parents are extremely strict. Yet Logan begins to fall
for her, they get closer and closer until Sage finally reveals what shes been
hiding: shes a boy.
Brian Katcher does an amazing job of describing the life of a transgender
person without them being the first person voice. Logan at first was
disgusted, which shows why transgender people would be so scared to come
out to others. He is brilliant in explaining the perspective of why someone is
transgender, its truly not a choice and he paints the picture so clearly.
Almost Perfect hardly has a dull moment. It was very difficult to put down--I
always wanted to find out what would happen next. Logan and Sages
relationship became more important than sleep. I continued to turn the page
and couldnt bring myself to close this book.

E=mc2: A Biography of the Worlds

Equation - David Bodanis (Non-Fiction)



Review by William Wu
E=MC2-- an equation so simple, known by so many, yet understood by so
few. This equation not only contains three letters and two notations, but also
the lifes work of many scientists from different centuries. On the 100-year
anniversary of the equation that changed everything, David Bodanis retold
its life of with fascinating facts and magical moments in his book E=MC 2: A
Biography of the Worlds Most Famous Equation.
Bodanis story of E=MC2 starts long ago, when the existence of mass and
energy was just hinted at in the 1700s. That faithful day more than 300 years

ago, when Emilie Du Chtelet utilized the power of two to calculate the
kinetic energy of moving objects, the entire physics world started to race
towards a single goal--E=MC2.
E is for energy, M is for mass, and C is for celeritas, the speed of light; E=MC 2
connected the three powers of nature into one. In this book, Bodanis brings
the readers back into history to witness the discovery of every component of
this famous equation, every moment that would change the world as we
know it. From the 1700s all the way to the faithful 1905 discovery, science
never stopped, nor did E=MC2.
With the collected knowledge from brilliant minds of many centuries, the
readers speed forward to the time of Einstein. E=MC2 is not about an old
Einstein. The story of E=MC 2 is actually about a young, dynamic, energetic,
even a romantic Einstein. 1905 was Einsteins miracle year; throughout the
year Einstein wrote five papers that would both create and end many
debates. It is during this period that Einstein discovered the secrets of light,
time, and space. It is during this time that Einstein connected energy and
mass using the speed limit of light.
Einsteins discovery brought understanding, but also destruction. Soon,
World War II raged across Europe. Physicists and chemists raced against
each other for the making of an atomic bomb. Einsteins dream of efficient
energy was split like the atoms in the making of this weapon of mass
destruction. E=MC2 has brought humanity a weapon of terror and death, but
the life of this equation has a parallel story, full with the light of creation and
Today, futurists like Bodanis use E=MC2 to discover the source of the
universe, and answer questions regarding origins: where does life come
from, what created mass, where is the source of heat and light, and the
source of everything as we know it? Einsteins famous equation unlocks how
we view the world, unlocked the knowledge of how it all began, how each
and every organism function, through energy and mass.
In this book Bodanis will bring you along to the 100-year celebration of life
for the worlds most famous equationEinsteins E=MC2.

Quiet - Susan Cain (Non-Fiction)

Review by Dezmond Schadt
Nowadays we live in a very extroverted world; salesman make up over 60

percent of the world's rich population, and most of these people are either
naturally extroverted, or are forced to act extroverted to guarantee their
success. Quiet dives into our capitalist world, and
shows how the
extroverted are the ones who shape our society.
Quiet is an informational nonfiction book about the world of introversion,
and the warped view that society has on it. Being an introvert is more than
wanting to be alone, or having social anxiety. Introversion is what's called a
temperament; an element to your behavior that shapes your personality.
Cain perfectly explains the depths of this personality trait, and the benefits
and hardships that go along with it.
Cain is an introvert herself; in Quiet, she tells the many stories of her
struggles as an introverted person in an extroverts world. Whether it be the
fear of public speaking, or the common workplace practice of forced group
work, Cain shows us the hardships of introversion. Cain does a great job of
telling us about many professors and scientists she interviewed, showing her
extensive passion and research of the subject.
Quiet is very well-written; there was a large amount of facts that I had
never heard of. Reading the story from Cains point of view solidified the
legitimateness of the report. I will say that there were many pages that felt
like they were repeating themselves unnecessarily, but that seems to be a
running theme in nonfiction, so I digress. Overall I was enthralled in this
informational masterpiece that never lost focus of what it wanted to tell you.
Quiet has a loud voice indeed, and it has much to say.
Cain is a great author that speaks clearly and powerfully through her writing.
Throughout the book was a constant stream of information and well
researched theories regarding temperament in children to adults. It really
opened my eyes to the difference between extrovert and introverts, and I
have much more respect for both parties in that regard. You will not regret
picking up this great nonfiction novel.

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines - Nic Sheff

Review by Somer Morgan
Weve all heard about meth, the self-destructive traits of addicts, and the
crazy stories that go along with it. But if youre like me, youve never been in
the users shoes. Nic Sheff, a former user, wrote a powerful and heartwrenching book, Tweak. Reading it puts you in a position to feel his every
emotion, up and down, and the insatiable need for crystal.
Theres no introduction; youre dropped right into the life of a tweaker. The
first scenes bring to life the greedy, broken world that Nic lives in. The

poverty and pain painted out so vividly made me cry. Its not that Nic used
fancy language directly from the dictionary--its that he didnt. He uses the
profanity and street language we would see if you or I was right there next to
him. For example: None of them seem as crazy obsessive about everything
as I am. It's strange 'cause I had the same feeling in high school that I have
here. It's like, well, it just seems so easy for everyone else and so difficult for
me. I turn from these extremes of feeling on top of the [expletive] world--to
feeling so despondent. They don't have to struggle like I do - or maybe that's
just me comparing my goddamn insides to everyone else's outsides. But I
swear to God, I just seem to wrestle with everything more than anyone else.
There are scenes where he is dealing drugs in grungy apartments, and he
talks about the Presido, where there are abandoned army camps
and housing. You fully grasp the roughness of his world.
There are also beautifully worded explanations of deep human emotions. I
imagine drinking glasses of water. One, two, three four, five, six, seven. I
dive into the clearest pool. I drown myself in the coarse, dry sand. I swallow
handfuls of crushed white salt, but the flames burn still--brighter, hotter,
deeper. Sweat runs in delicate patterns down my back, over my crooked
spine and jutting hips. I scratch at the wounds these last weeks have left, but
I can't break free of them. The flies gather and vultures circle overhead. The
fire eats away my flesh. The fire spreads. The fire runs through my veins. The
fire courses beneath my muscles--my tendons--the marrow of my bones. I sit
rocking on the street corner. No, I can't keep doing this. I just can't.
Nic has tried being sober several times with the help of his mentor, Spencer.
Spencer is this warm, large man with a huge heart for Nic. He never gives up
on him and always has a safe room or apartment open for Nic. They go bike
riding together, and it gives Nic something to focus and a reason to feel
alive, sometimes they talk, other times its a peaceful escape. In one scene
when Nic left his unhealthy, sick relationship with Lauren, who is also an
addict, he goes back to Spencer and they go on a ride. Its a powerful
illustration of the toll crystal took on Nics body, where at one point he could
ride for miles upon miles, he can barely make it up a hill.
My favorite relationship in the book is between Spencers daughter and Nic.
Spencer ends up in the hospital, and trusted Nic with her; this is the first
time hes had a responsibility other than himself in almost as long as he can
remember. The little girl loves him openly though--and it gives him a new
sense of himself.
The emotional journey I went through reading this book was incredible, and
so saddening. Imagine actually being one of those characters I genuinely
loved it and felt connected with the author and the other characters, the
addicts, dealers, hustlers, and family. I would like to thank Nic Sheff for

writing this, it has given me a deeper understanding of the horrific effects

meth and heroin have on your emotions and psyche. I connected to Nics
feeling of being unable to beat something that had such a hold on him, even
though my demon isnt meth; I think thats something we all relate to.