Critical Mass

What AreYou Reading in Brooklyn?

By Donna Brook

I recently finished Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iwealaand point out that, when he mentions his favorite books in the back, he singles out The Famished Road by Ben Okri. (Iweala says, “Everybody has to read this book! Winner of the 1991 Booker Prize. . . .”) I never felt that Okri's book got the attention it merited. Meanwhile, I've just read Alan Bennett's Untold Stories, which was a pleasure, and Robert Hughes' Things I Didn't Know: A Memoir. You don't come away adoring Hughes personally but his descriptions of Australia decades back, his account of the flood in Florence –so well-written.

But, the book everyone in America should definitely read is The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen. It was named one of the 10 best of the year by the Times Book Review and, despite Pollen's easy journalistic style, it is an important book. [The Omnivore's Dilemma is a finalist for this year's NBCC award in nonfiction.]

Now, I'm finishing up both Jeffrey D. Sachs' The End of Poverty and William Easterly's The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. As Easterly's book is so much a response to Sachs' book, I had to retrace my steps and go back to Sachs, published in 2005, to really get Easterly's views, published in 2006. —Donna Brook