What Makes a van Gogh a van Gogh? by Richard Muhlberger

This book is written for children, which makes it an easily accessible overview of the life and works of Vincent van Gogh. Simple, informative prose is accompanied by twelve beautiful reproductions of van Gogh’s work.

This is a great book that provides an hour’s worth of art appreciation and a peep into the life of one of the world’s great artists.

Reviewed by Samantha

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Anything by Dickens is a delight to read, and Oliver Twist is no exception. Like all his works, this book is all about human nature. Good and bad are contrasted strongly in this book, particularly in the characters of Rose Maylie on the one side and Fagin and Bill Sikes on the other, and individual characters seem to personify certain aspects of human experience in general, while losing none of their appeal as complex individuals in their own right.

Whether you’re looking for a thought provoking take on the human condition, or just a great story written by a master of the English language, Oliver Twist is sure to deliver.

Reviewed by Samantha

The Numbers Game: the commonsense guide to understanding numbers in the news, in politics, and in life by Michael Blastand & Andrew Dilnot.

I am not much of a math person, but I really enjoyed this book. It’s all about numbers we encounter in everyday life, (things like averages, statistics, percentages, etc.) and how we can better understand them.

I have always felt a little wary of numbers. This book explains why we feel that way and how we can use the knowledge we already have to interpret numbers, make sense of them, and make intelligent decisions concerning them.

This book was both informative and entertaining, with short chapters and fun examples so it didn’t lose me at any point. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who has even a passing interest in numbers, or anyone who would like to understand them better.

Reviewed by Samantha

The Equation That Couldn’t Be Solved: how mathematical genius discovered the language of symmetry by Mario Livio

An interesting and relatively easy-to-read discussion of symmetry. Some of the math went a little over my head, but on the whole I enjoyed learning about what symmetry is, both in everyday life and the academic world of math, and the people behind its discovery.

Reviewed by Samantha

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I know this is technically a children’s book, but those are my favorites! In this book, Harry and his friends return to school and get started on figuring out more about the evil wizard, Voldemort, and how to defeat him.

This one ends on a bit of a tragic note (actually, all of the books from four onward kind of do) but it’s a great read, very entertaining, and something light and fun for summertime.

Reviewed by Samantha

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll

I had never read this book before, but my sister loved it growing up and since it’s a classic I thought I ought to give it a try. I have to say it’s a bit ‘out there’ for me. I prefer my stories with a bit more plot, but there were certainly some entertaining parts, and I discovered that some of the parts I’d thought were in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were actually in the sequel, like the Jabberwocky poem, and the conversation between Alice and Humpty Dumpty.

This book is entertaining for a quick read, and also contains some interesting word plays and puns, which I always love!

Reviewed by Samantha

Psychology for Dummies by Adam Cash

This was my first “for Dummies” book. Psychology books tend to get a little weird for me, so I just wanted a very basic overview, and I think this book did a pretty good job of that. I enjoyed being able to read about the different theories and approaches that are out there, and how they each emphasize different parts of our being. I also liked that everything was kept very brief, so that I could decide for myself what subjects I’m most interested in and might like to pursue, rather than being dragged off on an author’s tangent!

If you’re looking for a very basic discussion of the general aspects of psychology without getting too in-depth, then you’ll probably enjoy this book.

Reviewed by Samantha