December Reviews

Despite the craziness that was this month (holiday prep, catching up on mountains of grading, more letters of rec, a quick trip to Vegas, etc...) I still managed to read four books. 

The Crucible by Arthur Miller
143 pages
I'm sure most people have read this play about the Salem Witch Trials. I used to it to teach my AP Lang students about logical fallacies, so it wasn't something I reread for fun.

Verdict: I've always felt fairly neutral about this play; I don't love it, but I don't hate it either. I have a hard time connecting to characters and plot lines with plays, and this is not an exception. 

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
352 pages
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about smart, honorable Subhash and his brother, a political activist in Indian, Udayan. Subhash leaves tumultuous India for the United States to study when he is younger, while his brother stays behind. The incredibly well-written story chronicles Subhash's life as he becomes an old man, focusing on the idea of cultural differences, independence, honor, and love.

Verdict: I appreciated her interpretation of some classic themes, as well as the insight into Indian culture. I'm always up for a new Lahiri novel!

Blindness by Jose Saramago
352 pages
We read this for a work book club (that has yet to meet... despite the fact that some of us busted our asses and put our end-of-the-semester grading on the back burner to meet our end of the bargain... not that I'm still bitter or anything) and I really loved it. A blindness epidemic has swept a population and government officials decide to quarantine those that have lost their sight- until everyone has (except one woman, at least that we know of). The novel studies what happens to both society and a group of people that have clung to one another from the start.

Verdict: This book is not for everyone; the characters don't have names, punctuation isn't used in a traditional manner, and it is graphic at times. That being said, I thought it was fascinating and well-written.

The Circle by Dave Eggers
504 pages
Just like The Lowland and Blindness, The Circle also received a spot on my best of the year list. This novel is about a young woman named Mae who begins working at The Circle, which is basically Google on steroids. When you start working at this company you either drink the Koolaid or you leave; Mae opts to drink and we follow her as she rises in the company. There are definite flaws- Eggers isn't exactly a wordsmith and there are a few eye-roll invoking parts that generally take place on kayaks. That being said, I found it so compelling because of the social commentary taking place- when and where will our reliance on technology stop?

Verdict: Despite being a long book it was still a quick read, so don't let the page count deter you. If you are concerned with technological monopolies, our reliance on social media, and issues of privacy I definitely recommend this.

1,351 pages


  1. I read Blindness many years ago, and loved it, I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

  2. I've been curious about The Circle (it's been popping up on my Goodreads left and right). I'm happy to hear it's a quick read and you enjoyed it. I don't mind spending a lot of time reading a long book, but not if it's crappy.