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The Biology of Luck

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  835 ratings  ·  500 reviews
Odd-job queen Starshine Hart is about to go on somebody else’s perfect date. At 29, the usually carefree Starshine has realized that it is easier to start sleeping with a man than to stop. Her lovers include one of the last underground members of the Weathermen and the dilettante heir to a lawn chair magnate. Both men have staked their romantic future on her. Her only resp ...more
Paperback, 234 pages
Published October 7th 2013 by Elephant Rock Productions, Inc. (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.43  · 
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 ·  835 ratings  ·  500 reviews

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A fun, quick read which grew on me after initial impressions of being too clever for its own good. We are treated to the independent adventures of a man and a woman on a single Spring day in New York who are to meet for a dinner date in the evening. They are self-centered and shallow in many ways, but they have enough verve and impulses toward kindness that I was eager to participate in their evolution.

Leo Bloom is a homely, awkward tour guide who has taken an obsessive fancy for lovely Starshi
May 12, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016
I absolutely, without a doubt, wasted my time with this read. I could try to argue with myself that it wasn’t a complete loss because I was able to reduce my to-read list by removing this author’s other books from it, but no, that is a weak ass excuse. It took me a week to get through it (attention span blown about twenty pages in) and I have nothing to show for it except a chuckle at my own expense.

A book has to have one of two things to win my favor, strong characters or a clear voice. I’m not
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humorous-fiction
This is a very, very good book about two characters who are annoying as hell.

First we have Larry Bloom, a self-described "unattractive man." He will spend his day shepherding a group of Dutch tourists around Manhattan, pointing out the sights, wishing he were elsewhere. His goal is to survive until the evening when his reward will be a date with the luminous Starshine Hart, a woman about whom Bloom has written a novel. She indeed does possess a face that launches ships and inspires fiction. Her
Patrice Hoffman
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Received through a Goodreads Giveaway

When reading literary fiction it is either hit-or-miss for me. Luckily (no pun intended) The Biology of Luck by Jacob M. Appel was a definite hit and I'm sure nothing I can write in this review will suffice. But... I must try and throw my views on this novel into the fray.

Larry Bloom is in love with Starshine Hart and to prove that love has written a manuscript detailing her day up until the moment they have dinner. This dinner is not like any other because
Elyse  Walters
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, romance, humor
"The Biology of Luck" is the 3rd book I've read by Jacob M, Appel.
Jacob must be one of the youngest 'triple-threat-plus'-talents, living in our country today.
Doctor/Lawyer/Writer/New York City certified-professional tour guide...etc etc.

This is a colorful story - with whimsical- characters- which all takes place during 1 ordinary day in New York City.

Are some people born being more lucky than others? Hm???

Turns out, not only is Jacob M. Appel a masterful storyteller.., but seems, his buddy,
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
“Marriage is like a series of opposing reflections, inverse images getting ever smaller like nesting dolls, each one of your trying to squeeze yourself smaller to fit inside the hopes of the other, until one of you cracks or stops existing.”
----Jacob M. Appel

I don't why I'm so much drawn to marriage quotes which are dark and justifying- not the sugar-coated ones! (PS: I'm not married!) Jacob M. Appel's remarkable quoted from the book, The Biology of Luck delves into the world of a hopeless-ro
Diane S ☔
Oct 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.5 Larry is the kind of guy that is easy to overlook, maybe a little nerdy, not very attractive the kind of guy that is often "just a friend." Starshine is in her twenties, bubbly, attractive and has had a multitude of different jobs, her problem, unlike Larry's, is too many men.
Things get complicated though when Larry stakes his entire life on winning Starshine, writing a book that he hopes will win her love.

This novel alternates between chapters of the book, and Larry's quest through New Yor
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
What a trip it would be to live in an apartment building with two roomies by the names of Starshine and Eucalyptus. It tends to evoke a certain feel of a time not too many years ago, doesn't it? Throw in a manager by the name of Bone ('not Mr. Bone, not Bone something, just Bone'), the one-armed super of the building who rules with an iron fist, he of the Hawaiian shirts and bolo ties. Starshine is the free spirit who eschews going on any interview requiring that shoes be worn. Eucalyptus dabble ...more
Meghan Malicoat
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book through the Goodreads contest and I thought it sounded like a very interesting concept, however, I was not a fan of the execution. To be honest, I still don't know if it was the book that was bad or my failure to "get it". I am a pretty simple minded person who likes some fluff to my reads and this just didn't have any to speak of. First of all the language was way to complex, to a point of feeling text book like. The characters were unlikeable, even though I feel like they ...more
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Quirky and unusual love story with an interesting stylistic twist. The main protagonist of Jacob Appel's The Biology of Luck, Larry Bloom, is your average Joe, the kind of guy women usually friend-zone. Larry's existence is seemingly unremarkable. An aspiring writer trapped in a life of a tour guide for New York City's tourists, Larry dreams of (primarily) two things: getting published and Starshine Hart (an ugly duckling turned swan with some serious commitment issues not just with men and rela ...more
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Wow, I loved the book. Throughout my reading I thought Holden Caufield meets "Ulysses" and I rather enjoyed this more than Joyce's work! Larry Bloom is a likeable character and the story flowed, I wanted more and the letter? The depictions of NYC in the 70's made me nostalgic for those lost times. Although seedy to say the least, I welcome that over the "Disneyfication" of Times Square! Referencing Bella Abzug and others in that bygone time was genius! The only criticism I have in Mr. Appel's wo ...more
Nov 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, mine, first-reads
Larry Bloom, an unattractive New York City tour guide is leading a group of Dutch tourists through the city on a June day. While Larry spews the historical and architectural information about the landmarks they encounter, his mind is distracted by a date he has planned that night with Starshine, a beautiful woman who is currently dating two other men. Starshine thinks of Larry as a friend; he's someone who helps her sort out her life's messes. Little does she know, Larry wants it to be more.

Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Ahhh. Literary writing beyond description. The writing is so exceptional, I had to remember to pay attention to the story. This author is a writer's writer. Ordinary people, an ordinary place, a slightly unusual career, and one eventful day, tumbled together with characters and daily ruminations produce a splendid work of art through the amazing creative wordsmith, Jacob Appel.

Quotable lines abound. It is a book within a book, with the main character writing a book about the love of his life in
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

As a 29-year-old female reading a book (and a book within a book) portraying a complicated 29-year-old female (Starshine) there was definitely part of me that felt a sort of knee-jerk desire to defend Starshine's actions (though to whom I am not sure). And let me say, though, that I think there's a lot to be said for any piece of fiction that elicits strong reactions. My frustrations at/with some of the characters reflect Appel's ability
Sep 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book, I really did, but the characters are so wholly unlikable. Larry is a self-centered, whiny and obnoxious jerk, who simultaneously hates himself and thinks he's better than everyone else. While Starshine is a walking contradiction. Just within a few pages she goes from telling us that men are harmless creatures to letting us know how many men have molested her. She doesn't want any attention, she's sick of it, but suddenly she wants it all and uses men to get what she w ...more
Rob Slaven
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: librarything
As usual I received this book free of charge; specifically, through the grace of a LibraryThing monthly giveaway. Despite that kind and frequent consideration, I give my candid opinions below.

"Biology" is an enigmatic little tale of an ugly and unfortunate man. The chapters alternate between the narrative of his real life and chapters from the book he's written, named somewhat concentrically, "The Biology of Luck." His real life is a rather frustrated tale of a man looking for love while book he
Lisa Feld
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Larry Bloom is a tour guide by day and a novelist by night. The Biology of Luck switches off chapters between Larry's day as he shepherds tourists around New York and prepares for a date with Starshine Hart that night, and chapters of the novel he's written about Starshine's experience of the same day, preparing for the same date. A sprinkling of magical realism, fueled by Larry's obsession with Starshine, allows the two narratives to bleed into one another, with Larry experiencing the same riot ...more
This book had potential, but it fell short on keeping my interest. This book is about a guy, Larry, who writes a novel about the woman he's in love with in real life, Starshine. The name Starshine raised a red flag for me, but I tried to ignore that part. Anyway, Larry writes a novel about what he thinks Starshine's life is like based on facts he's learned from being her confidante. Larry is a tour guide in NYC while Starshine is a beautiful, narcissistic woman who attracts men very easily. Each ...more
Nicki Markus
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Biology of Luck is one of the most joyful books I've read in a long time. By that, I mean that little burst of warmth in your heart you get when reading something truly delightful and enjoyable. I loved every page of this book and couldn't wait to read on, yet also dreaded it coming to an end.

This is an interesting (much abbreviated) modern take on Joyce's Ulysses, with all the action taking place in the course of one day and with the protagonist aptly named 'Bloom'. It manages to turn certa
Kevin Chang
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
First I want to thank Mr. Appel for sending me this book through the goodreads giveaway, as well as for writing this novel. I loved every bit of it. Appel's description of New York hit the nail on the head. The literary device of a novel within a novel was brilliant. I spent the entire book dying to read the ending, having this image of starshine in my head built up through Larry Bloom's novel, and eager to see how who she actually was.

Appel's observations on the life of the everyday man, their
H.M. Jones
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I won a free copy of The Biology of Luck, but I wish I had bought this book. The Biology of Luck by Jacob Appel is an astounding work of prose that paints a picture of the innate self absorption of the human experience. There are two narratives in this book; the first is a narrative of one day in the life of a tour-guide/aspiring author, Larry Bloom. The second narrative is a novel within a novel about Bloom's love interest, Starshine Hart. Though the characters are drawn as physically very dif ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chick-lit
I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. When I realized that the author and the main character were both New York City tour guides I grew a little skeptical and let the book sit on my shelf for too long. Once I picked it up I had trouble putting it down.

Other reviewers have already sung the book's praises and I won't try to repeat them all. There were a few typos but not enough to be a distraction. Personally I would have preferred a less open ended finish but I see other readers enjoyed it.
Christopher Roblodowski
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had the good fortune of receiving this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Guess I must be genotypically homozygous for good luck!!!! It worked on so many levels for me. With "The biology of luck" Jason Appel manages to capture the pulse and emotion of New York City with flawless authenticity in a style we've never seen before. I enjoyed this book even more than Salman Rushdie's "Fury," also about New York City. Like with Rushdie's prose, Jacob can describe the banal and mundane in a way that m ...more
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, contemporary
I was a goodreads first reads winner of the book "The Biology of Luck" by Jacob Appel. this is really two stories. the first is Larry a tour guide in New York City.the second a story about a real life girl in his life named Starshine. Larry writes about Starshine and imagines what her day is like.
this book takes place on one day in New york City. Larry spends his day being a tour guide having many problems occur through out the day on top of being a tour guide. he also spends time imagining ab
✨ Gramy ✨
This book is not a fluffy, quick-paced read. It is intense in density, providing an in depth view of the way some individuals perceive their lives to be. It leaned on the premise of a glass 'half-empty' view. I prefer to surround myself with positive energy and the glass 'half-full' attitude.

The chapters alternate between Larry Bloom's humdrum existence and what he imagines Starshine's carefree life is in comparison to his own. It reflected the contradiction between real life and the life the ch
Bonnye Reed
Dec 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was passed on to me by my daughter. I was initially intrigued by the premise of writing a novel about a day in the life of a secret love, and juxiposing that novel into that day in both of their lives as it develops. Just flipping through the book, I was almost overwhelmed by the pronouns. Obviously Jacob M. Appel did not have any of my instructors in Introduction to Writing classes. And the adverbs! Oh, my.

A native New Mexico desertite, I have never had a hankering to visit New York C
Dec 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I won this in goodreads, but it will not be an easy review for me to write. There are stories within stories. Appel is a NYC sightseeing guide, as is the main character in the book. The main character, Larry, writes a novel for a lady who he loves, Starshine. The Biology of Luck is dedicated to "Rosalie, obviously". Chapters alternate between Larry's world and the book that he has written. As I read the story, I kept thinking that Starshine's novel was reality and perhaps Larry's world was actua ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Larry Bloom is a tour guide by day and a writer by night. The Biology of Luck alternates between Larry's day job as a guide for a Dutch tourists, and the chapters of the novel he has written about the girl of his dreams (Starshine) and her travails on the same day. The entire book is about this one day, leading up to their evening date. Interestingly, the two narratives bleed into one another, at numerous points with the two main characters experiencing the same riot, accidents, and chance encou ...more
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review was first published at

Appel in Bloom

When Jacob Appel solicited me for a review of The Biology of Luck, I was surprised anyone had so quickly discovered this obscure corner of cyberspace, only erected weeks ago. He supplied a link to Elephant Rock Books, a publication with which I had no familiarity. Surprise morphed to suspicion as the link rather comically enumerated his umpteen degrees. I knew it, I thought, I’ve opened myself to the neurotic, disembodied world
Michelle Schingler
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
Appel's sophomore novel is a lovely and adroit read, at once an ode to New York City and a story about human longing within its boundaries.

Larry Bloom is one of Manhattan's many unsung inhabitants, a tour guide with aspirations to literary, and romantic, greatness. The focus of his romantic interest is Starshine, a beautiful and, from his perspective, unattainable free-spirit.

For Starshine, and in a bid to distinguish himself from the masses who share his dreams, he's written a novel, "The Biol
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**Please note: A limited number of complimentary electronic copies of several of my books are available for review. Please email me directly if you are interested**

Jacob M. Appel's first novel, The Man Who Wouldn't Stand Up, won the Dundee International Book Award in 2012. His short story collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize. He has published short fiction in more than tw

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