Book Reviews

Six Degrees of Separation: The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki.

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain. You can read all the rules at Books Are My Favourite and Best.

Here’s the blub for this month’s starting book The Form and Emptiness.

I didn’t like the author’s last book, A Tale for the Time Being

One year after the death of his beloved musician father, thirteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house—a sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn’t understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; some are pleasant, a gentle hum or coo, but others are snide, angry and full of pain. When his mother, Annabelle, develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous. At first, Benny tries to ignore them, but soon the voices follow him outside the house, onto the street and at school, driving him at last to seek refuge in the silence of a large public library, where objects are well-behaved and know to speak in whispers. There, Benny discovers a strange new world. He falls in love with a mesmerizing street artist with a smug pet ferret, who uses the library as her performance space. He meets a homeless philosopher-poet, who encourages him to ask important questions and find his own voice amongst the many. And he meets his very own Book—a talking thing—who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.

First Book

Another book with a character named Benny is:


I was mesmerized by this story when it came out–gosh I was young! “Benny” Hogan–Bernadette, if I remember correctly–a name I always thought would be so cool to have. A Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchey.

Second Book

Another group of friends:


Unlike Circle of Friends, this group went to Vassar–don’t we all wish we had? The Group by Mary McCarthy.

Third Book

Just after The Group another bunch of friends arrived at some elite colleges…..


The next generation of Seven Sisters Colleges girls was profiled in The Last Convertible–a favorite of mine. (The 1970s mini-series for TV was also good, but the book was better). The younger sisters, if you will, of The Group.

Fourth Book

When they came home after the war they became….


…they became the men and women who elected Jack Kennedy President. The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam. An outstanding book, but one few will tackle today due to its huge size.

Fifth Book


Between World War II and Jack Kennedy’s election as President, the men were mostly just men like this–wearing gray flannel suits and taking the train into the city each morning–my Dad included, albeit into Chicago. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson (see the film, too, staring Gregory Peck).

Sixth Book

All of these men wanted to have ….


The Right Stuff-the “thing” the Mercury Astronauts, and presumably their wives, had that made them special. The movie is superb, too. Think of poor Betty Grissom–greeted with a fridge full of food and a kitchenette–all that could be awarded to “honorable Mrs. Squirming Hatch-Blower.” “No Jackie?”

I hope this chain entertained you!

Next month we’ll start with the book you finished with this month–very unusual, but what a fun idea!

20 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki.

    1. I could not leave a comment again–I’ve reported my problem to WordPress. Here’s my comment: Great work. I loved Channi Kaufman. Before Thelma Furness was Frieda Dudley Ward, whose daughters regarded David as a second father. He let the Buckingham Palace switchboard do his dirty work. When she called one morning the embarrassed operator had to sadly tell her he had orders not to put through her call. David was a coward.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a fascinating chain you’ve created this month. Love it!! When I saw your first two books, I thought you went with ‘shape’ – aka form. That would have been clever as well.

    I recently read The Pink Suit and it inspired me to read a bit more about The Kennedys as well.

    Have an awesome August!

    Elza Reads

    Liked by 1 person

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