Tag Archives: 2 sentence book reviews

2 sentence book reviews, part 2

it’s a crazy week for me — a few days in colorado for an event at group publishing, and a few days in the san bernardino mountains with my family and another family. so, i think it’s time to post a week of 2 sentence book reviews!

i’ve got 44 lines for 22 books. the first sentence of each review is a summary, and the second sentence is my opinion. hope you appreciate the brevity!

part 1: five general fiction books
part 2: three general non-fiction and two young adult fiction books
part 3: four illustrated books or graphic novels and one humor book
part 4: four christian living books and three theology and ministry books


Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
5 stars
An exhaustive, no-holds-barred biography of the man behind Apple and Pixar. Interesting to a point (and brilliantly written), my primary take-away was that Jobs’ world-changing ends weren’t worth the abusive and narcissistic means.

Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son, by Michael Chabon
3 stars
As the subtitle implies: a collection of essays on being a man, father, and husband. Chabon’s writing is distractingly luminous, as always, but the essays are uneven in insight and usefulness (meaning, some of them are wonderful).

In My Mind’s Eye, by Justin Marciano
2 stars
A collection of autobiographical stories from the author’s wild teenage years. Mediocre writing and poor editing (along with a title and cover that simply make no sense), but it still contains some stories that are fun to read.

Young Adult Fiction

Pandemonium, by Lauren Oliver
4.5 stars
This 2nd book of a dystopian future where love is considered a disease to be medically and permanently “cured,” the teenage protagonist learns life in “the wilds” outside the controlled cities, and joins the resistance. Fantastic and creative storytelling, though, in the end, a bit too exclusively a set-up for the final book (as 2nd books in trilogies often seem to be).

The Age of Miracles: A Novel, by Karen Thompson Walker
5 stars
As the earth’s rotation slows, adding complexities and politics to daily living, a female 6th grade narrator provides a street level perspective. A fantastically unique context for a coming-almost-of-age story.

2 sentence book reviews, part 1 (general nonfiction, general fiction, and leadership)

time for another wad of 2-sentence book reviews! my format: i allow myself one sentence for summary, and one sentence for opinion (easy for some, really hard for others!).

General Nonfiction

Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks, by Ken Jennings
5 stars
jennings (that guy who won forever on the tv show jeopardy) takes us a romp through the world of maps and those who love them. you don’t have to be a ‘maphead’ to love this book, as it’s fantastically witty and fun, while being surprisingly interesting.

Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!, by Douglas Coupland
3 stars
off-beat fiction writer coupland takes a serious left turn and writes a non-fiction biography of the father of media studies. i had no idea what i was buying, and the book is well written, found myself getting extremely bored with this mcluhan love-fest.


Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
4.5 stars
the wild tale of a boy lost at sea, drifting in a lifeboat with a massive bengal tiger. this one’s been around for years, but i finally read it and loved everything but the ending.


From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership, by Harry M. Kraemer
4 stars
basic principles of what it means to lead from values rather than goals. some fantastic points, but dry and too targeted to a CEO reader.

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, by Yvon Chouinard
5 stars
the founder and owner of patagonia tells his life and company story and how patagonia ruthlessly works to embody their corporate values, even when it means a loss of potential profit. my third read of this fantastic book (and assigned reading in my coaching program), this is an amazing case study of allowing values to be your organization’s decision-making matrix.

Anything You Want, by Derek Sivers
3.5 stars
the founder of cd baby lays out his story and the values his rocketship of a company tried to embrace. a decent case study, but–as with most books in the domino line–rambling and long on words for the points made (which is saying something, since it’s only 88 pages!).

2 sentence book reviews, part 1 (fiction)

i started something new with my book reviews earlier this year, and i liked it: 2 sentence book reviews. i allow myself one sentence as a summary of the book, and one sentence of opinion. it’s a bit like tweeting a book review, i suppose, though i’m not counting characters.

i was a bit behind on writing these, so have 22 books to review! i took a couple hours while on vacation in vegas last week to crank these out. so, while i know my blog traffic goes down when i publish book reviews, i’m giving this week to it anyhow!

today, we’ll start with 5 fiction books:

The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman, by Bruce R. Robinson
3.5 stars
Coming-of-age story of a young teen boy in England in the 50s, whose already dysfunctional family is falling apart around him. The cover is better than the book; but then, it’s an exceptional cover.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
4 stars
Set in the future where most of life plays out in an immersive, online environment, a group of teenagers race to best an evil corporation in an MMOG with enormous rewards for a single winner. Way better than I expected it to be, I couldn’t stop reading this thing.

A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan
4.5 stars
Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of stories with loosely interconnected characters, set across multiple decades and locations, revealing each character’s obsessions and longings. Brilliant in just about every way, but left me wanting a bit more of a plot at times.

Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk
5 stars
The perpetually bubbly pre-pubescent middle school daughter of wealthy celebrities finds herself in hell and wrestles with the realities of her new surroundings while trying to understand her place in her former world. Way, way, way beneath the extremely thick and garish brushstrokes of setting and context (which will both make you laugh and repulse you), Palahniuk delivers a surprisingly gentle story of a teenage girl individuating from her parents.

An Object of Beauty: A Novel, by Steve Martin
5 stars
The rise (and partial fall) of a charismatic, people-using young woman in the world of fine art auctions. Learn all about fine art collecting and auctioning while following an interesting storyline; but it’s really a morality tale about greed, motivation and priorities.

two sentence book reviews, part 3 (leadership/marketing and theology/christian living)

back in the day, i used to post a full review in an individual blog post for every book i read. after rebooting my blog in the late fall of 2009, i changed that practice to posting 3 or 4 “mini reviews” at a time — one paragraph each.

but in 2011, i’ve gotten behind, and haven’t posted any reviews. i kept meaning to, but just didn’t get around to it. so, i’m catching up. and i’ve decided to do it in a different way, since i have 27 to post.


for each review, i only allowed myself two sentences. in each, the first sentence is a summary of the book, and the second sentence is my opinion of the book. i’m still giving 1 – 5 stars (5 means “excellent”, 4 means “worth reading”, 3 means “ah, take it or leave it”, 2 means “take a pass on this one”, and 1 means “do NOT buy or read this book – it sucked, imho).

up first was 7 young adult fiction books, and second was memoirs and graphic novels.

this time, i’m covering leadership/marketing and theology/christian living:


A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, by Edwin H. Friedman
5 stars
With implications for leadership of every sort (family, church, business), Friedman argues for self-actualized leaders who don’t operate from fear. Every leader has to read this book – I’m going to make it part of my coaching program.

Poke the Box, by Seth Godin
4.5 stars
You’ll never break into new territory in any arena if you’re not willing to push on the assumptions that create the norm. I wish it were longer, but I sure was inspired.

Theory U: Leading From the Future as it Emerges, by Otto Scharmer
5 stars
A deep dive into the (very spiritual) process of organizational change. I’ll be chewing on this insanely difficult read for years, it’s so rich with implications.

theology/christian living

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, by Rob Bell
4 stars
God loves you, and it’s your choice to live in that or not. The hubbub seems overblown to me – this is a book worth thinking about.

Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World (10th Anniversary edition), by Gary Haugen
5 stars
Haugen meticulously unfolds a biblical view of justice, weaving in compelling stories that leave the reader with no option other than engagement. This book should be on the Christian classics shelf alongside Bonhoeffer, Lewis, Nouwen and others.

The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationship, by Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley
3.5 stars
An attempt at a biblical defense of committed, same-sex relationships. Not well written, but worth reading, even if only to understand a viewpoint different than your own.


one more set to go, with youth ministry, fiction, and “other”!