September Mini Reviews

Interesting fact:  Most companies, if they promote you and give you a raise, also expect you to do more work.

Crazy, but true.

As a result, this place has been neglected for the past month as I’ve gotten settled into my new position and caught up (kinda) on all the fun new excitement that comes with managing an English training center.  Luckily, I’m not working so hard that my reading has been affected.   Here’s a few short thoughts on what I’ve read in September.

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Imagine The Catcher in the Rye if Holden Caulfield had a few additional screws loose and his own island where he could run amok.  The plot of The Wasp Factory revolves around Frank, a lovable teenage sociopath.  As he waits for the return of his brother (who has escaped from an insane asylum where he was put for killing a dog and making local children eat worms), Frank spends his time collecting his own bodily fluids, killing small animals, trying to break into his father’s study, and getting drunk with a dwarf.   Good clean wholesome fun.  Upon his brother’s return, s**t predictably hits the fan and we learn something shocking about Frank.  Or kind of shocking, because the reader can see it a mile away.  All in all, an enjoyable  selection in the “spend some time in the mind of a lunatic” collection.

God, No! by Penn Jillette

If you’ve ever wanted to hear about a naked fat man vomiting all over a topless woman in zero gravity, this is probably the only book you’ll need to read this year.  In between dozens of tasteless, but often hilarious, anecdotes,  Penn pauses to say that God doesn’t exist.   It was amusing enough, although the preaching got tiresome.  At least it was short.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

In the early 1950’s, a poor black woman died of cervical cancer.  Her cells, however, lived on in laboratories around the world enabling revolutionary new research in numerous scientific fields.  These two parallel stories are brilliantly woven together by Ms. Skloot in a book which examines the ethical implications of medical research in the twentieth century.  More importantly, it finally tells the story of a woman who, despite having been nearly forgotten, was one of the most important figures in the history of medical research.

Anyone else read any of these?  Each one could have easily been an entire review in and of itself.  But, I’m gearing up for a lengthy in-depth review of The Art of Fielding soon.  So, stay tuned.



  1. Iain banks – read almost everything, including my favourite book about whisky, not read the other two, considered the Lacks book, but my TBR is getting a bit on the silly side of large & this would merely join a long que. If you fancy trying another Banks try Crow rd or Whit

    1. I did quite like the Banks book and may try some more of his, thanks for the recommendations. I understand completely about never-ending TBR list. Still, the Skloot book was wonderful. It jumped to the top of my book queue when a colleague was reading it and I wanted in on the discussion. I don’t regret it.

  2. I haven’t read this Iain Banks book, mainly because the title (wasps) doesn’t appeal. I know, shallow of me!

    On the other hand, I’d love to read Henrietta Lacks. It’s somewhere on my wish list. 🙂

  3. Congrats on the promotion and raise! It’s a shame they’re expecting extra work in exchange. 🙂

    I haven’t read any of these but I keep seeing reviews for the Henrietta Lacks book floating around and it certainly sounds like an interesting topic.

    1. Thanks Alley! As for the extra work, what’s up with that??? ;P The Henrietta Lacks book is probably the best non-fiction that I’ve read all year. Maybe – Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts was superb also. But, of the three, the Skloot book is the one to read.

  4. Good for you, Pete! What a happy reason to play catch-up on your blog 🙂

    Good books too. Although I am not sure that Holden Caulfield could have any more screws loose than he already did. Will be curious to see what you think about The Art of Fielding. Seems like everyone is reading that one right now.

    1. Thanks Pam! It is a good reason, I suppose. Just so much more to do. Anyway. read the Wasp Factor and see that Holden could have been quite a bit loonier. The Art of Fielding is a great book, wonderful really. I’m looking forward to writing the review.

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