Tag Archives: Book Club

Review: The Immortalists

The Immortalists

The Immortalists
By Chloe Benjamin
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 9780735213180, January 2018, 352pp.

The Short of It:

Would knowing the date of your death change the way you live?

The Rest of It:

The Immortalists asks you to push your disbelief aside in order to ask yourself that very question and for many readers I think this is impossible to do. I, however, had no problem suspending my disbelief for the sake of the story.

After the encouragement of their older brother Daniel, Varya, Klara and Simon head to a fortune-teller who provides each of the four siblings with the date of their death. This is particularly concerning to young Simon, because he’s told that he will die very young. Klara, is also told that she will die fairly young. Knowing this information, the two take off for San Francisco in their teens so they can live their lives to the fullest but what follows is a tragic host of events which ultimately affect their lives and the lives of their siblings.

The Immortalists is not a perfect story. Nor is it executed all that well but I did find myself liking Simon’s story quite a bit. As a young gay, Jewish man, the responsibility of running his father’s tailor shop for the rest of his life proved too much for him. I feel that of all the siblings, Simon’s story was the most realistic and yes, the most tragic. I would have been just fine had the entire story been about Simon but that was not the case.

All in all, the other stories didn’t fit together well but I still enjoyed the lead-up, except for some very convenient plot lines. As a book club pick, some liked it, many didn’t but we still had a decent discussion.

Would you want to know the date of your death? Personally, I would not want to know mine.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?
By Frans de Waal
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393353662, April 2017, 352pp.

The Short of It:

An interesting look at animal intelligence.

The Rest of It:

This was a fascinating read and also an interesting choice for a book club selection. Definitely not something I would have picked up on my own. Basically, Frans de Waal’s work involves experiments and tests to determine just how intelligent animals are and whether or not some of their intelligence is inferred by humans.

What I found interesting is how difference species would solve the same problem in different ways, given their exposure to certain situations and whether outside influences such as being fed before a study could affect the outcome. A lot of these experiments are food based so a chimpanzee who has been fed beforehand, may react differently than one who has not.

I have a dog. I think she is brilliant. I believe she has full thoughts and works through problems in a systematic manner. But after reading this book, I realize that most of her action is cued by me, unknowingly. The way I stand, the way I may look at a certain object are giving her clues on how to behave. Interesting, huh?

If you have any interest in animal intelligence at all then this book will fascinate you. Frans de Waal has a VERY interesting TED Talk on his work if you’d like to check it out.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.