Freshly Brewed Book Reviews

The freshest book reviews from an avid bibliophile.

“I fall back into bed and he places the tray on the small table and starts bustling around like some sort of home-help, opening the curtains, opening the window and, finally, leaning behind me to fluff up my pillows. The he places the tray on my lap. I am only half-awake and I stare at him with sleepy eyes, not knowing why he is doing this, but grateful all the same. In fact, I am so grateful that I can feel tears welling up in my eyes.”

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Scarlett Thomas (PopCo)

“I was scared of addiction, and still am. I know I would love it inside a world like that so much that I would never come out.”

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Scarlett Thomas (PopCo)

“He’d also be a collection of smells, small noises and mysterious connections. If he was staring at me I would know, even if I was facing the other way.”

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Scarlett Thomas (PopCo)

“There’s something so comforting about being a hero in a fantasy world, with a big bag of chocolate raisins and lots of tea, still on the sofa at three in the morning.”

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Scarlett Thomas (PopCo)

“'Or a TV drama that you could cast yourself? Choose your own locations? Edit your own script? That's what happens when you read a book. You have to actually connect with it. You don't just sit there passively…'”

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Scarlett Thomas (PopCo)

“I think about how I am looking at the same sky I looked at when I was a kid, but everything underneath it has changed. And when you are a child you know things will change, because everyone says that things do, and they do, too, but slowly enough for you not to notice. Political regimes change, things blow up and people die and suddenly the world is completely different. But the sky stays the same, and the moon waxes and wanes the same each month. But if people could change these things they would.”

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Scarlett Thomas (PopCo)

“There are these amazing moments when you just feel like you are part of the sky, and then the sun starts to set and you suddenly really understand that you live on a planet.”

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Scarlett Thomas (PopCo)

“But being with him felt like…not like being in a film, which wouldn’t have appealed to me as much. No, it felt a bit like being in a comic or a graphic novel, comfortably enclosed within squares on a page, with rainy, inked-in evil all around but one safe place, a secret, dark place that only exists at night: a hideout, or a whole identity.”

—   

Scarlett Thomas (PopCo)

Popco by Scarlett Thomas
I adore every Scarlett Thomas book I have read. ADORE. Even though I don’t understand a lot of the more scientific/mathematical/philosophical arenas that Thomas’s books always venture into, I feel like I’m stretching my brain just by reading about these theorems and super-smart theorists.I also always love Thomas’s female protagonists: there’s something in these women that pulls me to them. I’m not sure if it’s empathy, or shared world vision, or similar life circumstances, or some sort of nameless shared loneliness, but her female characters win me over 100%. Not to mention her prose: Thomas is an amazing writer, and I’m always surprised that she’s not a bigger deal. I highly, highly, recommend her.This book follows Alice, a “creative” for the children’s toy company PopCo. The book jumps between Alice in the present-day (while she’s on a company brainstorming retreat/team-builder of sorts) and Alice as a young girl, working to help her grandfather crack the code on a notoriously difficult coded manuscript. I’m fascinated by cryptography, so this book held me captive on many counts. Young Alice is as equally compelling as Adult Alice, and I wanted to spend time with them both, even after the story had ended.This might have been my favorite Thomas novel (that I’ve read) to date, followed by Our Tragic Universe and The End of Mr. Y.Put her on your to-read list.

Popco by Scarlett Thomas

I adore every Scarlett Thomas book I have read. ADORE. Even though I don’t understand a lot of the more scientific/mathematical/philosophical arenas that Thomas’s books always venture into, I feel like I’m stretching my brain just by reading about these theorems and super-smart theorists.

I also always love Thomas’s female protagonists: there’s something in these women that pulls me to them. I’m not sure if it’s empathy, or shared world vision, or similar life circumstances, or some sort of nameless shared loneliness, but her female characters win me over 100%. Not to mention her prose: Thomas is an amazing writer, and I’m always surprised that she’s not a bigger deal. I highly, highly, recommend her.

This book follows Alice, a “creative” for the children’s toy company PopCo. The book jumps between Alice in the present-day (while she’s on a company brainstorming retreat/team-builder of sorts) and Alice as a young girl, working to help her grandfather crack the code on a notoriously difficult coded manuscript. I’m fascinated by cryptography, so this book held me captive on many counts. Young Alice is as equally compelling as Adult Alice, and I wanted to spend time with them both, even after the story had ended.

This might have been my favorite Thomas novel (that I’ve read) to date, followed by Our Tragic Universe and The End of Mr. Y.Put her on your to-read list.

Tomboy by Liz Prince
I’m a fan of Liz Prince because so much of what she writes resonates with me, this book perhaps more so than her other works (with the exception of Alone Forever, at this point in my life). While I (thankfully) wasn’t teased or bullied growing up, I was definitely a tomboy of sorts back in the day, climbing trees, playing softball and basketball, treasuring my action figures and Hot Wheels right alongside my Barbies and My Little Pony. I liked the same stuff boys liked, and in high school my self-imposed distance from girls felt more acute. I had girl friends, but in sharing more personal stuff, I gravitated toward my guy friends, because they didn’t gossip and didn’t seem judgmental about how I lived my life. As with Alone Forever, reading this book helped me feel less alone in my experiences, which I am grateful for.Like Prince, I envied boys many things: I disliked feeling pressured to look pretty, wear makeup, and basically shoehorn myself into looking a certain way. I dressed the way I liked, which was, in high school, mostly jeans and graphic tees. I wished at times that I could fit in with the “typical” girls in my grade, but being myself was more important to me than looking like everyone else. I do in fact enjoy wearing dresses now (thanks, New York City standards), but for the most part, I’m still a jeans and graphic tee (or sweater) girl - but, more important than the look is the mindset. I don’t picture myself as a girly girl, nor do I strive to be one. That doesn’t necessarily make me a tomboy, but for me, it means that I accept and like who I am, and that’s what Tomboy, at its core, is all about: the journey to that moment when you become comfortable in your own skin, and love the person you find there.This book is going to become an important one. Tomboy will leave a mark on anyone who has ever felt different; anyone who has ever known they want to be who they really are, but aren’t sure quite yet who that person is. I see this graphic memoir popping up as one of the most influential (graphic or no) works of our time - it would be right at home in gender studies classes, or amongst coming-of-age stories, and it would be most welcome on anyone’s home bookshelf. This is one of my favorite reads in recent years, and I will be recommending it to everyone I know.

Tomboy by Liz Prince

I’m a fan of Liz Prince because so much of what she writes resonates with me, this book perhaps more so than her other works (with the exception of Alone Forever, at this point in my life). While I (thankfully) wasn’t teased or bullied growing up, I was definitely a tomboy of sorts back in the day, climbing trees, playing softball and basketball, treasuring my action figures and Hot Wheels right alongside my Barbies and My Little Pony. I liked the same stuff boys liked, and in high school my self-imposed distance from girls felt more acute. I had girl friends, but in sharing more personal stuff, I gravitated toward my guy friends, because they didn’t gossip and didn’t seem judgmental about how I lived my life. As with Alone Forever, reading this book helped me feel less alone in my experiences, which I am grateful for.

Like Prince, I envied boys many things: I disliked feeling pressured to look pretty, wear makeup, and basically shoehorn myself into looking a certain way. I dressed the way I liked, which was, in high school, mostly jeans and graphic tees. I wished at times that I could fit in with the “typical” girls in my grade, but being myself was more important to me than looking like everyone else. I do in fact enjoy wearing dresses now (thanks, New York City standards), but for the most part, I’m still a jeans and graphic tee (or sweater) girl - but, more important than the look is the mindset. I don’t picture myself as a girly girl, nor do I strive to be one. That doesn’t necessarily make me a tomboy, but for me, it means that I accept and like who I am, and that’s what Tomboy, at its core, is all about: the journey to that moment when you become comfortable in your own skin, and love the person you find there.

This book is going to become an important one. Tomboy will leave a mark on anyone who has ever felt different; anyone who has ever known they want to be who they really are, but aren’t sure quite yet who that person is. I see this graphic memoir popping up as one of the most influential (graphic or no) works of our time - it would be right at home in gender studies classes, or amongst coming-of-age stories, and it would be most welcome on anyone’s home bookshelf. This is one of my favorite reads in recent years, and I will be recommending it to everyone I know.