One of the bookish subscription boxes I’ll be reviewing this year doesn’t actually involve a box, so I guess it’s just a bookish subscription. I’m talking about the New York Review Books Book Club.
The deal I signed up for included 12 books (one each month, you know) as well as a yearly subscription to The Paris Review (four copies in total). You can read my reviews of the books in my NYRB subscriptions so far and reviews of the Paris Review.
June’s book was Arabia Felix: The Danish Expedition of 1761-1767 by Thorkild Hansen and translated by James McFarlane. I know this is going to be a shocker, what with its fascinating title and the fact that the author’s name is Thorkild, but this book was B-O-R-I-N-G and not for me.
As you can likely guess without me telling you, the book was about a Danish expedition that took place between 1761 – 1767. The first 100 pages is just the author describing every single person involved in the voyage and their lineage and every job they’ve ever held and blah blah blah. There were so many people that there was no way to keep this information straight.
As I continued in the book I also discovered that more than half of these people weren’t actually that involved in the expedition. Like, they may have been someone that was considered for the expedition, or who was going to go but then died. There was no reason for the level of detail in this g.d. book.
I thought that once they sailed it might get interesting but it didn’t. It gave extremely detailed accounts of every storm, every move every sailor made, etc. I ended up giving up about 100 pages in, which I feel great about because life is short, y’all. Short short short. Unlike this book, which was about Danish people sailing many years ago.
Rating: 3/10 – I know, I know, I didn’t even finish it – shouldn’t it get a 1? I reserve 1s and 2s for books that actively annoyed / offended me. This one was just boring.
Recommended for: People looking for an academic read; Danish expedition enthusiasts; readers who love lots and lots of detail.
Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? N/A There was zero dialog in this book.
Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: N / N / N / N