We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

Novels About Trying to Do Good: Background information when reading Dinosaurs

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio


A Novel

by Lydia Millet

Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet X
Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2022, 240 pages

    Aug 2023, 256 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book

Novels About Trying to Do Good

This article relates to Dinosaurs

Print Review

Covers of novels about trying to do good: The Wrong End of the Telescope, The Silence That Binds Us, Barn 8, Watch Us Rise In Lydia Millet's Dinosaurs, independently wealthy Gil grapples with the guilt brought on by his privilege and financial abundance. He tries to find ways to give back to those around him, through volunteer work and other means. A character's choice to actively attempt to do good deeds, or to change the world for the better, is one rich with narrative possibilities. It raises questions about what it means to be in a position to improve the lives of others, who gets to decide what is best for who else, and what type of work is most important or substantial. Below are a few other novels in which the motivations and morality of those trying to do good are explored. You can find more related novels in our Activism and Volunteering category.

The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine centers on Syrian refugees arriving on the Greek island of Lesbos during the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016. Alameddine uses generous, imaginative humor to navigate the sticky subject of what it means for people to use charity work as a form of self-improvement. Mina, a doctor, comes to the island with the express intention of helping refugees and with the less obvious intention of helping herself at a time in her life when she feels stalled and unfulfilled. While there, she becomes aware of the presence of a friend of hers, a certain writer who bears an uncanny resemblance to Alameddine himself. Through short chapters written in a vignette-like style, the novel expands to encompass the stories of this metafictional duo, their friends and loved ones, other volunteers and the refugees themselves.

In Joanna Ho's young adult novel The Silence That Binds Us, Chinese Taiwanese American teenager May becomes interested in racial justice activism following events resulting from the suicide of her brother, Danny. An influential figure blames Danny's death on the Asian parents in the community, and May endeavors to fight this racist accusation through various forms of action. In doing so, she becomes aware of a long history of racial justice work in the United States and a sense of her responsibility to others.

Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth is a delightful and hilarious activism-based caper that follows a group of animal lovers who attempt to free a million chickens from captivity. While Unferth's novel raises serious questions about the ethics of raising animals for food and also focuses quite a bit on the uncomfortable realities of factory farming, it also confronts the difficulties of remaining true to a cause and doing the right thing within a morally fraught system. Additionally, it treats the chickens themselves not just as victims of human design, but as their own characters worthy of deep consideration.

Like The Silence That Binds Us, Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagen is a young adult offering that features teenagers working together to address important issues in which they have a personal stake. Best friends Jasmine and Chelsea, dissatisfied with the lack of feminist resources at their high school, take action by starting their own club to support women's creativity and experiences. Also like Ho's novel, Watson and Hagen's work acknowledges the complex inequalities that may exist even in progressive spaces.

by Elisabeth Cook

Filed under Reading Lists

This "beyond the book article" relates to Dinosaurs. It originally ran in October 2022 and has been updated for the August 2023 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    by Derek B. Miller
    Derek B. Miller's sixth novel, The Curse of Pietro Houdini, opens in the town of Cassino, Italy, in ...
  • Book Jacket: Our Moon
    Our Moon
    by Rebecca Boyle
    In Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us ...
  • Book Jacket: Neighbors and Other Stories
    Neighbors and Other Stories
    by Diane Oliver
    The history of American segregation, along with changes to it in the 1960s, is sometimes taught and ...
  • Book Jacket: Wild and Distant Seas
    Wild and Distant Seas
    by Tara Karr Roberts
    Tara Karr Roberts is a newspaper columnist who also teaches English and journalism. Wild and Distant...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Strong Passions
    by Barbara Weisberg

    Shocking revelations of a wife's adultery in 19th New York explode in an incendiary trial exposing the upper-crust and its secrets.

  • Book Jacket

    by Roxana Robinson

    An engrossing exploration of the vows we make to one another and what we owe to others and ourselves.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)



Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.