30 October 2020

Book Review: The Gold Bug Variations by Richard Powers

Oh, I loved this book. It felt like this book was written especially for me. It felt like this book was a love letter to knowledge, intertwining all of the topics that I have a particular interest in. See, can you imagine a book where subjects like microbiology, music theory, art history, and many others all collide and construct a coherent whole? This is one such book. And I must say, it kept me entertained, all the way to the end. I was definitely engrossed in this one, and it was a pleasure to read.

This book narrates the love story of two couples, Stuart Ressler and Jeanette Koss, in the 1950s; as well as Franklin Todd and Jan O'Deigh, in the 1980s (the book's present). The latter couple was investigating why a very brilliant mind like Ressler suddenly disappears and stops making science. Ressler was very productive during his early career, so when everything just stops then people would wonder why and what happened.

The novel is structured as a series of flashbacks, from the perspective of Jan. Jan works at the Brooklyn branch of the New York Public Library, and manages plenty of library-related tasks. Because of her job, she knows a lot of trivial pieces of information, like noteworthy historical events that has happened on every day. She answers anonymous questions that have been posed by library visitors, from the mundane to the complex. And this setup somehow makes the book very intense and filled with lots of knowledge tidbits. I can imagine the amount of research that this book has required, and since the book touches on many specialist topics, the research must have been very extensive.

Overall, this book was a pleasure to read. It took me a while, yet I enjoyed every bit of it. Rarely do I get the feeling that a book has been written especially for me. I absolutely recommend this book, and if I have the chance, I would read it again. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

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