[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
City: A Guidebook for the Urban Age, by P.D. Smith. Reviewed by Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post.
I briefly covered City—an illustrated nonfiction guidebook to the features and elements of human cities throughout history—in my June Book Radar, but this is the first full review I’ve come across. Yardley seems to be as smitten with the concept as I am, and he nearly raves about the result. City still doesn’t appear in stores for another week yet, but this convinced me to pre-order the hardcover. Find this book at Goodreads.
Unholy Night, by Seth Grahame-Smith. Reviewed by Gina McIntyre in the L.A. Times.
Grahame-Smith is the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, both C4 favorites. This novel could be considered the third in his mashup series, but the premise (nativity story mixed with Hollywood blockbuster) feels weakest of the three. McIntyre praises it, but only very grudgingly (she calls him a “a clever, enjoyably commercial writer”). Sounds like you’ll get what you expect. Find this book at Goodreads.
2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Reviewed by Choire Sicha in the Slate Book Review.
The sub-headline was enough to grab my attention here (it calls 2312 “a sci-fi novel so brilliant, it reads like an account of the past”). Sicha’s review is amusing but he hints at the supreme boredom that half the reviewers on Goodreads and Amazon complain of. This’ll go in my trial stack. Find this book at Goodreads.
The Angry Buddhist, by Seth Greenland. Reviewed by Alison Powell in the Los Angeles Review of Books.
This novel sounds a bit forgettable but Powell’s review boasts the best prose of any review I read this week. It’s nearly poetic. Find this book at Goodreads.
In brief: David L. Ulin ruminates on the essay form, and two new essay collections by Tom Bissell and Mark Dery. … A YA mystery set in Japan looks intriguing. … Here’s an essay in the Wall Street Journal’s “Books and Ideas” section about scientists sacrificing themselves to further their work. Weird stuff. … The LA Review of Books is hosting a Williams Gaddis book-club type thing. … and USA Today previews some of the big-name books coming out later this year.