05/15/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Book Review Roundup

Miss any of the big book reviews this weekend? Check out some highlights below.

"The Big Short," Michael Lewis
The New York Times

No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis, the author of "Liar's Poker," that now classic portrait of 1980s Wall Street. His entertaining new book does not attempt a macro view of the financial crisis, but instead proposes to open a small window on the calamities by recounting the stories of some savvy renegades who cashed in on their conviction that the system was rotten.

"So Much for That," Lionel Shriver
The New York Times

Shriver, the author of nine previous novels and the winner of Britain's Orange Prize in 2005 for "We Need to Talk About Kevin," tackles her multifaceted plot with energy and grit. She can and does hold forth smartly on any number of subjects, both topical and esoteric. The book doesn't suffer from vapidity or diffidence or dearth of event. What it lacks is a fullness of wisdom about its characters' potential for growth.

"The Surrendered," Chang-rae Lee
The Los Angeles Times

"The Surrendered" is powered by injustice, even rage. From the very first chapter, "Korea, 1950," in which we meet 11-year-old June, one of thousands of orphaned refugees, we feel suffocated, our own lives shortened, by the lunacy, the cruelty of war.

"Courage and Consequence," Karl Rove
The Los Angeles Times

Rove the debater is at his dodgiest when he defends the Bush administration's break with generations of American moral tradition and jurisprudence by adopting torture as state policy.

"The Infinities," John Banville
The San Francisco Chronicle

"The Infinities" ends with a hopeful surprise, but what we may remember of this book is not its plot but its moments of entrancing stillness and ache-inducing beauty.

"Shades of Grey," Jasper Fforde
The San Francisco Chronicle

This impossible world is impossibly real, and buried beneath the bizarreness is a mystery that pulls its own weight. Readers might not expect much of a payoff when it comes to the plot, but Fforde delivers the goods before turning out the lights.

"The Lunatic Express," Carl Hoffman
The Wall Street Journal

Carl Hoffman, a courageous and interestingly untroubled man from Washington, D.C., has done a great service by reminding us, in "The Lunatic Express," of this abiding truism: that the world's ordinary traveler is compelled to endure all too much while undertaking the grim necessities of modern movement. Mr. Hoffman spent a fascinating year going around the world precisely as most of the world's plainest people do--not on JetBlue or United or American or Trailways, modes of transport that look positively heavenly by comparison, but in the threadbare conveyances of the planet's billions.

"The Devil's Star," Jo Nesbo
The Washington Post

"The Devil's Star" is a big, ambitious, wildly readable story that pits the protagonist against a serial killer and an enemy within the Oslo police department. The novel has its flaws, but for most of the way it's compelling.

"Addiction: A Disorder of Choice," Gene M. Heyman
The New Republic

Now comes an important and provocative book called "Addiction: A Disorder of Choice" by the psychologist Gene Heyman, a research psychologist at McLean Hospital and a lecturer at Harvard. Heyman mounts a devastating assault on the brain-based model of addiction. Not that he views addiction as independent of the brain--no serious person could even entertain such a claim. What he rejects, however, is the notion that excessive drug or alcohol consumption is an irresistible act wholly beyond the user's control, as the term "addiction," commonly understood, implies.