RaveThe Washington Post\"Melissa Dahl’s fascinating new book, Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness. Dahl, a senior editor at New York Magazine, has done the good work of taking a serious look at one of our most common, least-understood human experiences: embarrassment ... Dahl writes with levity, grace and self-awareness. Her multi-year exploration of awkwardness has given her more compassion for herself and the rest of us bumbling nitwits ... I do feel a little liberated by Dahl’s book. It’s a great reminder of the universal nature of awkwardness and a call to spend less time twisting the knives in our own hearts. If no one else is looking at me, perhaps I can shift my gaze, too.\
PositiveThe Washington PostScutts’s account of Hillis’s life is a scholarly work, thick with biographical details and historical context. And because of that, I was tremendously grateful that Scutts leavened the tome with some compelling first-person narrative … Scutts does an impressive job tracking Hillis’s life, from a pastor’s daughter to a columnist, magazine editor and career-loving author, and establishing her bona fides as a groundbreaking voice in championing women’s self-sufficiency. And doing it with wit and verve … Scutts should feel proud that she did what she set out to do: return Hillis to her rightful place in the pantheon of women who made it possible for the rest of us to enjoy that freedom.
PositiveThe Washington PostThe agony of that black secret is at the heart of Ratner’s new book, In the Shadow of the Banyan, a thinly fictionalized account of her years under the control of the Khmer Rouge ...a story of terror and blight and the human capacity to inflict suffering on one another. But it’s also a tale of perseverance, hope and the drive toward life, even under the worst circumstances ... Ratner’s book is an attempt to keep vigil with those souls, by bringing their memories to life ...piercing, lyrical book.
MixedThe Washington PostThroughout the book, Feiler makes a strong argument that Adam and Eve had an outsize influence on modern thinking about various facets of relationships ... Much of The First Love Story is spent swimming around in others’ interpretations of Adam and Eve. Perhaps because there is such precious little written about them in the Bible, Feiler had no choice but to plumb others’ thoughts on the matter ... And that, ultimately, is my quibble with this exhaustively researched, lyrically written book. So many pages are spent arguing that Adam and Eve are meaningful to modern readers, but precious few are spent conveying that practical relevance. So the book can get bogged down ... The First Love Story is not a foolproof guide on how to succeed in love. But it will make readers want to try.
MixedThe Washington PostOccasionally The Men in My Life gets slowed down by Bosworth’s recollections of luminaries who appeared in her orbit ... As readers, we know early on about the deep losses in Bosworth’s life, and we know she survived and went on to have an illustrious career on the stage and in publishing. That deprives the book of any natural tension ... It seems unlikely that The Men in My Life will go down as the most important book in Bosworth’s career. But perhaps, privately, it will be the most important one in her life ... n the end, every tear Bosworth shed while writing this book was worthwhile.