Book Reviews—Themes by Month

bookstackEvery month we seek out books that work together thematically. You'll find a variety of themes—some fun, some serious, but all of them thoughtful.

The books are listed in the order of:
A Lighter Touch ... Wonderfully Written ...
and Great works.

2013-2014 Book Reviews — Themes

. . . and the Books

Mar '14 — War Lines: front and behind
Extraordinary books continue to be written about the Mideast wars, and despite the lack of media coverage, we believe they're essential. They cover those on the front lines and those behind the lines.
Thank Your For Your Service
Redeployment
Duty: Robert M. Gates
Feb '14 — Marriage: For better or for . . .
For worse? If Gone Girl gave you a thrill, these books centered on spooky marriages will too. The fun is in not knowing who's nuts—is it he or she?
Before I Met You
Before I Go to Sleep
Rebecca
Jan '14 — The CinderFella Complex
Young boys, bereft of parents, struggle to find love, belief in themselves, and maturity—in a hard world that too often works against them.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The Goldfinch
David Copperfield
Nov '13 — LOL Books
Yes, we're laughing out loud. Sometimes it feels good to take a break from all the heavy lifiting. Each of this month's books is a humorous take on a particular slice of life.
The Rosie Project
Truth in Advertising
• Me Talk Pretty One Day
Oct '13 — The JFK Assassination: 50 years
Three books on the death of the president: one, a portrait of Kennedy and Oswald; one fiction, and one challenging the lone gunman theory.
Killing Kennedy
11/22/63
Conspiracy
Sept '13 — D.C. Dysfunction...was it always so?
Given the state of the nation's capital, this month's books take a good look at the ins and outs of life as it is—and was—in the District of Columbia.
This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral
Gore Vidal's Lincoln and/or Team of Rivals
Advise and Consent
Aug '13 — Scott & Zelda, Beautiful & Damned
America's first Jazz-Age couple. Fitzgerald's famous Flapper girl stories, inspired by Zelda; a fictional bio of Zelda; and The Great Gatsby, a love story paralleling Scott's deep attachment to his wife.
The Gatsby Girls: Stories
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby
June '13 — The Mysterious Power of Perfume
Three books explore the age-long hold that exotic scent has over the human imagination—it's power to evoke memory, elicit passion, and inspire crime. Two works of fiction and one nonfiction.
The Perfume Collector
The Book of Lost Fragrances
The Emperor of Scent
May '13 — Class Conscious / Class Conscience
We like to think of ourselves as a "classless" society. But as this month's books show, socio-economic divisions are part of our history and still with us today.
Seating Arrangements
The Accursed
The House of Mirth
Apr '13 — The Process of Becoming
Young women who withstand hardship, in both body and soul, as they struggle to become the person they know they're meant to be.
With or Without You
An Unquenchable Thirst
Jane Eyre
Feb '13 — Mystery Meet
What makes people fall in and out of love, hurt those closest to them, even commit murder? And how is justice best served? Questions our books ponder this month.
Gone Girl
Faithful Place
And Then There Were None
Jan '13 — Family Matters
What makes a family? This month we consider three books with different ideas of what constitutes family.
The Death of Bees
Arcadia
Little Women

2012 Book Reviews — Themes

. . . and the Books

Dec '12 — War
Three books about the brutality, randomness, and absurdity of war—and the impossibility for civilians to ever comprehend combat.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
The Yellow Birds
Slaughterhouse-Five
Nov '12 — The Age of Edith
We've been through "The Age of Jane"; now it's Edith's turn. We feature a fictionalized biography of Edith Wharton, a re-make of her  masterpiece, and the masterpiece itself.
Innocents
The Age of Desire
The Age of Innocence
Oct '12 — Quests: Personal & Epic
This month's books are about quests—one to find love, one to answer to a desperate question, and one to rid the world of evil. Ultimately, though, all quests are about the search for Self.
Coral Glynn
A Partial History of Lost Causes
The Lord of the Rings
Sept '12 — The Ways of Grief
Grief—the most painful and universal of emotions but experienced in profoundly different ways. Two recent novels and Shakespere's greatest drama explore how those left behind cope with loss.
The After Wife
The World Without You
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
August '12 — Hollywood, vanity of vanities
We take aim at the self-consuming, self-important world of Hollywood. Yet all three books remind us it's our wider culture that drives Hollywood's vanity.
The Next Best Thing
Beautiful Ruins
The Last Tycoon
June '12 — River Journeys
Authors often use rivers to represent life's passage —and journeys on rivers—to explore mysteries of the human soul.
Once Upon a River
State of Wonder
Heart of Darkness
May '12 — Good Books, Tough Subjects
Some books tackle difficult, painful subjects but do so with exceptional prose, wit and, most of all, compassion. They make for compelling reading.
The Fault in Our Stars
The Orphan Master's Son
Lolita

Mar '12 —Pride & Prejudice, Murder & Mayhem
Pure fun. Start with Austen's original...then turn to either P.D. James's mystery...or Graham-Smith's zombie send-up. Have fun comparing the homage to the "homagee." Oh! 'Tis too much joy.
Death Comes to Pemberley
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
Pride & Prejudice


Feb '12 — Baseball, the Art of Perfection
In the eyes of literature, baseball is life—the heroic individual standing against forces both within and out. Three books pit players' drive for perfection against their own human frailties.
The Batboy
The Art of Fielding
The Natural


Jan '12 — The Past Is Always With Us
As Faulkner put: "The past is never dead. It's not even past." This month's characters are haunted by events of their childhoods. To move on, each must achieve understanding and let go.
The Language of Flowers
The Cat's Table
Death of a Salesman


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