Review: The Winner’s Crime

When I was little, I used to sit on the couch and read the whole day. There was little else to do in the small town I grew up in so I immersed myself in lengthy narratives and fictional escapism. It’s been a long while since I’d done that… until I came across The Winner’s Trilogy on Goodreads. It was listed under the fantasy category but resembled romance more so than fantasy. Perhaps that’s why I love it so much. There’s just something about forbidden love that draws me in.

There are many things to like about the series. So much so that I finished the first 2 books in 2 days and have ordered the last installment. One of the things that annoys me about the fantasy genre is its many story arcs and impossible to pronounce names. This trilogy has neither. Each facet of the story is interesting and I didn’t skip over any chapters. In fact, I read every line! The author, Marie Rutkoski, is an English professor who studied Shakespeare. The writing is phenomenal as a result. (None of these fanfiction-turned-author amateur types).

This series really showcases girl power. The female lead is incredibly smart. The dialogues are clever and the plot interesting. There’s never a dull moment. Marie has really captured the essence of the characters and each one is developed in such a way that really makes the readers connect with them. Their world is described with vivid imagery and each character is fleshed out enough to make them relatable but not so overbearing that they end up a nuisance.

It’s a great trilogy and easy to read. The only fault is that it’s SO romantic that it plants this impossible notion of love in my head that I know doesn’t exist in real life. I suppose that’s why they call it fantasy!

Review: Quiet

When I first picked up this book, I thought it was a self-help toolkit that would teach me how to be more out-going, more extroverted. A few pages in and I realised it was the opposite. Susan Cain wasn’t trying to get her readers to be gregarious at parties, instead, she painted a beautiful picture of why the world needs introverts (and had the research to back up the claim).

As a deep introvert, this book was a refreshing and enlightening read. I still wished I could be more gregarious but it’s made me appreciate my placid temperament a lot more than I used to. While the tone of Cain’s writing was decidedly leaning towards celebrating introversion, it was not completely as one sided as one would expect. She presented all facets of the broad personality spectrum and often had interesting anecdotes to share.

It was evident that many years of research had gone into this book and it was not penned by a lazy author. Even though Cain came from a law background, her materials were as psychologically insightful as factual. The gist of her message was clear; the world needed more introverts and that over reliance on the extrovert ideal could yield undesired consequences (such as unguarded risk taking and having bold speakers stunt better ideas of quiet thinkers).

Throughout the book, Cain made one continuous assumption, which was introverts had brilliant ideas lying dormant in their heads and most were simply too shy to compete with the loud mouthed, energetic extroverts. I’m not sure if I completely agree. I feel that often, introverts are quiet not because they lack the courage to speak, but rather they haven’t got anything clever to say. In that case, introversion isn’t so powerful.

Have a listen to Susan Cain’s TED talk:

Review: Dataclysm

Dataclysm is a book by Christian Rudder, one of the founders of OkCupid. It “reveals and explains how people flirt, fight, love, and hate through Facebook, Google, OkCupid, and Twitter”. I came across it via the OkCupid blog: OkTrends. It is mighty interesting – go have a gander if you have time. Unfortunately what is published on OkTrends is the most interesting things spoken about in the book. I thought it would have a lot more trend analysis, instead, a good proportion of the book is about the author’s anecdotes which are neither interesting nor insightful.

The book portends to be about big data, but all the data it uses come from social media sites or OkC. He could have branched out more and extended his research to include more data from Google and other aggregators that paint a more meaningful picture than FB or Twitter. It brushes past statistics and proper data analytics. It hinges on correlations drawn to suit Rudder’s personal ideals. Dataclysm tries to be like Freakanomics but falls remarkably short.

It is a fairly easy read, albeit quite informal at times. Rudder incorporates useful graphs which make interpretations a lot easier. Overall, I give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.