PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... comprehensive ... Curtis...does a delightful job of capturing the old, weird America in which the Keatons plied their trade, Joe with his acrobatic pratfalls and high kicks, and the 4-foot-11 Myra with her musical accompaniment on piano and saxophone ... Keaton was as much a technical innovator as he was a comic, and Curtis’s book goes into painstaking detail about how these effects were achieved. (The spinning house was built on a turntable whose control belt was buried in dirt and grass.) Every bit as important, Buster Keaton serves as a welcome corrective to the perception that Keaton’s was a tragic life undone by drink and the advent of the talkies ... Curtis does not shy away from Keaton’s rock-bottom 1930s, when he lost his creative autonomy at MGM, wriggled out of a loveless marriage to his first wife, Natalie Talmadge, and drank so heavily that he was, for a time, unemployable. But the overall picture he paints is of an even-keeled showbiz lifer who was simply happy to keep on working ... The lack of operatic highs and lows in Keaton’s life can make Curtis’s straight-ahead, sequentially narrated bio a slog if you’re not a committed Buster Boi, but it’s as definitive an account of the sad-faced comedian as one could hope for.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewStevens clearly adores her subject, describing him as a \'solemn, beautiful, perpetually airborne man.\' Camera Man is less a traditional biography than a series of reported essays about the progress of the 20th century with Keaton at their center. Sometimes Stevens ventures too far afield ... But Stevens is sharper when she focuses on such ancillary phenomena as the emergence of serious film criticism ... Stevens [has] done well to bring the boy with the funeral expression back from the dead.
PositiveAir MailThis is an opportune time to put out a future-of-food book ... The bulk of Technically Food’s real estate is devoted to plant-based foods, which hold appeal for nutritional and ethical reasons as much as for environmental ones ... Technically Food reads agreeably and pluckily, like an extended New Yorker–style dispatch from Silicon Valley. But it’s more a snapshot in time than a cornerstone of your food-lit library; its ventures and products may be busts by this time next year. My hope is that, like such food historians before her as Harvey Levenstein and the Michaels Pollan and Moss, Zimberoff keeps at it, checking back in on her subjects, amassing a trilogy or tetralogy of books that definitively tells the story of \'future food\' as it evolves over this decade.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"Vacationland is a pointless little book. That’s a compliment. Pointless little books used to be more of a thing...These books had no urgent need to exist. They were neither topical nor essential. They were simply an opportunity to spend time with a good storyteller, a droll soul with the skills to turn even the flimsiest bits of real-life anecdotage into pleasurable reading material ... The real hook of Vacationland is that it’s the first book in which Hodgman is playing it relatively straight, writing not as the professorially pompous hoot-owl \'John Hodgman\' character but as the actual fella with that name. Fortunately, Hodgman is a good enough writer to stand on his own talent and not on the old \'You’ll like my book because I’m on TV\' trick ... late in the book he ties himself up in knots of guilt for taking on the subjects he has while Black Lives Matter protests are occurring and for logging days of leisure in 94-percent-white Maine, where \'if I closed my laptop, I could make it all vanish.\' His once-over-lightly reflections on his privilege, while tonally consistent with the rest of Vacationland, just don’t come off, no matter how nobly intended.\
Matthew Walker, PhD
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewWhy We Sleep, by contrast, is a book on a mission. Walker is in love with sleep and wants us to fall in love with sleep, too. And it is urgent for him. He makes the argument, persuasively, that we are in the midst of a 'silent sleep loss epidemic' that poses 'the greatest public health challenge we face in the 21st century' ... As information-dense as Why We Sleep is, Walker is adroit at presenting his findings and their implications in language accessible to the lay reader ... One especially winning attribute of Walker is that he’s not a scold. He frames his suggestions for more healthful sleep habits not as a series of eat-your-Wheaties admonitions, but as wondrous, uplifting improvements in quality of life ... Very occasionally, Walker’s zeal tips into zealotry...But, generally, Why We Sleep mounts a persuasive, exuberant case for addressing our societal sleep deficit and for the virtues of sleep itself. It is recommended night-table reading in the most pragmatic sense.
Stieg Larsson, Translated by Reg Keeland
RaveThe New York TimesBook 3, gratifyingly, brings the action back to a place somewhat resembling reality and, in so doing, restores dignity to the franchise ...for fans of the first two books, there are plenty of the Larssonian hallmarks they have come to love... There are moments in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, as there are in the two earlier books, in which Larsson the pamphleteer gets the better of Larsson the novelist ...ham-handed didacticism at times interferes with Larsson’s natural storytelling ability ... Reading Stieg Larsson produces a kind of rush — rather like a strong cup of coffee.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewThe big, frustrating problem with Grunt is not that Roach is insufficiently respectful of the brave young men and women who serve our country. Rather, it’s that, too often, she is insufficiently respectful of her own material, showing a greater interest in racing to her next zinger than in exploring more deeply the implications of the subjects she is writing about...There’s too much juvenile snickering in Grunt. Wisecracks are a given in a Mary Roach book, but this is the first Mary Roach book in which the ratio of quippage to reportage has gotten out of whack. Which is a shame, because the topics she has chosen to explore are worthy of more considered contemplation ... Grunt is a slapdash book, with no coherent organizing principle beyond its subtitle.