Grunt (★★★★☆)


Mary Roach   *   W. W. Norton & Company   *   June 7, 2016   *   288 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher through Net Galley.

I honestly never knew war was so…complicated. I don’t think I ever considered how important it is for soldiers to have underwear that is lightweight, durable, AND moisture-wicking. Or how damaging birds can be to military aircraft. Or how vital it is to have a good surgeon around when you’ve experienced lower body trauma. (Yikes.)

Grunt is a unique book, to say the least. It would have been easy for Roach to get bogged down in the detailed ridiculousness of it all, but she never does. It’s obvious that she loves researching this weird stuff, but she also stays light. Even when talking about things that are, well, kind of sad, her tone remains playful, honest, and, weirdly, fun. Her joy made me enjoy the book even more.

My only minor complaint is that Grunt feels like several abridged books lumped together. Every time I finished a chapter, I would think, okay, now we are going to go into more detail about this or that particular thing in the next chapter. But, instead, Roach moved on to an entirely different topic. It was always an INTERESTING different topic, but I kind of felt like I was being forced to move on when I wasn’t ready to yet. That’s a nice problem to have when you’re reading a book, but it still tends to feel like a problem.

Regardless, I did like this book. It’s not the sort of thing I usually read, but I definitely understand the appeal. I think anyone who enjoys slightly quirky, kinda weird, fact-driven books (like Freakonomics) will like this one, too.

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