dchaikin in spring (and then some)

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TalkClub Read 2014

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dchaikin in spring (and then some)

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Edited: Aug 25, 2014, 11:07am

Time for a new thread. With no planning this year, it makes sense to leave the thread un-themed, and avoid any predictions. Hopefully I'll read something.

Currently Reading:

- The Paris Review 208, Spring 2014 (started Aug 17)
- A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (Audio) by Stacy Schiff, read by Susan Denaker (started Aug 4)
- Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (started May 5)
- The Book of Psalms (started Mar 10)

Recently Read

Old threads: 2009 Part 1, 2009 Part 2, 2010 Part 1, 2010 Part 2, 2011 Part 1, 2011 Part 2, 2012 Part 1, 2012 Part 2, 2013 Part 1, 2013 Part 2, 2013 Part 3, 2014 Part 1

Edited: Aug 25, 2014, 12:03pm

Books Read in 2014
(links go to the correct post on this thread.)


48. 08.24 The Liars' Club by Mary Karr (Read Aug 15-24)
47. 08.16 Granta 127: Japan (Read July 23 - Aug 16)
46. 08.14 The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (Read Aug 13-14)
45. 08.13 The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler (Read Aug 4-13)
44. 08.03 This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (Read July 22 - Aug 3)


43. 07.31 The Planets (Audio) by Dava Sobel, read by Lorna Raver (Listened July 28-31)
42. 07.25 Being Wrong : Adventures in the Margin of Error (Audio) by Kathryn Schulz, read by Mia Barron (Listened July 10-25)
41. 07.22 Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky (read July 9-22)
40. 07.20 Poetry July/August 2014 (Read July 9-20)
39. 07.11 The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman, used an audio version for the first half, read by Nadia May (Listened/Read May 28 - July 11)


38. 06.28 Poetry June 2014: Volume 204, Number 3 (read June 16-28)
37. 06.27 My Life as a Traitor (Audio) by Zarah Ghahramani with Robert Hillman, read by Marjanne Doree (Listened June 18-27)
36. 06.18 A Train in Winter: A Story of Resistance, Friendship, and Survival (Audio) by Caroline Moorehead, read by Wanda McCaddon (Listened June 6-18)
35. 06.14 Webster Review : Volume Twelve, Number two (Fall 1987) (Read May 28 - June 14)
34. 06.06 Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones (Read May 29 - June 6)


33. 05.28 The Linen Way by Melissa Green (Read May 23-28)
32. 05.28 "What Do YOU Care What Other People Think?" : Further Adventures of a Curious Character (Audio) by Richard P. Feynman, as told to Ralph Leighton, read by Raymond Todd (Read May 20-28)
31. 05.23 The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (Read May 18-23)
30. 05.19 Anne Frank Remembered : The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family (Audio) by Miep Gies & Alison Leslie Gold, read by Barbara Rosenblat (Listened May 6-19)
29. 05.17 A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev (Read May 9-17)
28. 05.07 New Letters, Volume 80 No. 1, 2013-14 (Read Mar 27 - May 7)
27. 05.05 Moonwalking with Einstein : The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (Audio) by Joshua Foer, read by Mike Chamberlain (Listened Apr 23 - May 6)
26. 05.03 The Hunter by Julia Leigh (Read Apr 28 - May 3)


25. 04.26 Reading the Lines : A Fresh Look at the Hebrew Bible by Pamela Tamarkin Reis (Read Mar 27 - Apr 26)
24. 04.23 The Universe in a Nutshell (Audio) by Stephen W. Hawking, read by Simon Prebble (Listened Apr 20-23)
23. 04.19 The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (read Apr 12-19)
22. 04.19 Blood and Thunder : An Epic of the American West (Audio) by Hampton Sides, read by Don Leslie (Listened Apr 2-19)
21. 04.01 About Alice (Audio) by Calvin Trillin, read by author (Listened Apr 1)


20. 03.31 Incognito : The Secret Lives of the Brain (Audio) by David Eagleman, read by author (Listened Mar 23-31)
19. 03.27 Writing Down the Bones : Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg (Read Mar 15-27)
18. 03.26 The Paris Review 207, Winter 2013 (Read Feb 28 - Mar 26)
17. 03.23 The Wave : In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean (Audio) by Susan Casey, read by Kirsten Potter (Listened Mar 11-23)
16. 03.13 Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (Juvenile Fiction, Read Mar 8-13)
15. 03.10 Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (Audio CD) by Michael Moss, narrated by Scott Brick (Listened Jan 29 - Mar 10)

Edited: May 7, 2014, 10:59pm

Books Read in 2014 - Continued
(links go to my previous thread)


14. 03.08 People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (Read Feb 28- Mar 8)
13. 03.04 Just Write: Here's How! by Walter Dean Myers (Read Feb 21 - Mar 4)


12. 02.28 The Book of Job (Read Feb 10-28)
11. 02.28 Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital (Audio) by Sheri Fink, read by Kirsten Potter (Listened Feb 3-28)
10. 02.26 Stories from the Country of Lost Borders by Mary Hunter Austin (Read Feb 15 - 26)
9. 02.15 Granta 125 (Read Jan 21 - Feb 15)
8. 02.14 A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz (Read Jan 19 - Feb 14)
-- 02.05 The Book of Ester (Read Feb 3-5)


7. 01.31 The Early Life and Times of Max Hanold by Howard Leff (Read Jan 24-31)
6. 01.29 Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild (Audio CD) by Lee Sandlin, read by Jeff McCarthy (Listened Jan 17-29)
5. 01.20 Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas (read Sep 5 - Jan 20)
     - Notes are on my old thread here & here, and on this thread here & here
4. 01.19 Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings (juvenile fiction, Read Jan 18-19)
-- 01.17 The Book of Judith (Read Jan 14-17)
3. 01.15 The History of Science (Audo CD) by Peter Whitfield, read by the author (Listened Jan 3-15)
-- 01.14 The Book of Tobit (Read Jan 12-14)
-- 01.12 The Book of Nehemiah (Read Jan 1-12)
2. 01.12 One Summer: America, 1927 (Audio CD) by Bill Bryson, read by the author (Listened Dec 10- Jan 12)
1. 01.11 My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (Read Jan 6-11)

Edited: Aug 25, 2014, 10:50am

Short Stories, Essays, and the like

80. 08.25 Matthew Weiner, The Art of Screenwriting No. 4, interviewed by Semi Chellas, Paris review 208
79. 08.21 Luke Mogelson - To the Lake, short story, Paris Review 208
78. 08.18 Adam Phillips - The Art of Nonfiction No. 7, interviewed by Paul Holdengräber, Paris Review 208
77. 08.16 Tomoyuki Hoshino – Pink, translated from Japanese by Brian Bergstrom, short story, Granta 127
76. 08.16 Rebecca Solnit - Arrival Gates, personal essay, Granta 127
75. 08.16 Yukiko Motoya - The Dogs, translated from Japanese by Asa Yoneda, short story, Granta 127
74. 08.12 Adam Johnson - Scavengers, personal essay, Granta 127
73. 08.11 David Peace - After the War, Before the War: Ryūnosuke Akutagawa on The Bridge of Nine Turnings, in Shanghai, in 1921, fictional biography, Granta 127
72. 08.11 Toh EnJoe – Printable, translated from Japanese by David G. Boyd, short story, Granta 127
71. 08.08 Andrés Felipe Solano - Pig Skin, translated from Spanish by Nick Caistor, short story, Granta 127
70. 08.07 Pico Iyer - The Beauty of the Package, personal essay, Granta 127
69. 08.06 Hiroko Oyamada - Spider Lilies, translated from Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter, short story, Granta 127
68. 08.04 Hiromi Kawakami - Blue Moon, translated from Japanese by Lucy North, Personal Essay (?), Granta 127
67. 08.04 Tao Lin - Final Fantasy III – Personal Essay(?), Granta 127
66. 08.03 Ann Patchett - The Mercies - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
65. 08.03 Ann Patchett - Dog without End - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
64. 08.02 Ann Patchett - Our Deluge, Drop by Drop - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
63. 08.02 Ann Patchett - This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
62. 08.01 Ann Patchett - The Bookstore Strikes Back - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
61. 08.01 Ann Patchett - Love Sustained - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
60. 08.01 Ann Patchett - Introduction to The Best American Short Stories 2006 - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
59. 08.01 Ann Patchett - Do Not Disturb - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
58. 07.31 Kyoko Nakajima - Things Remembered and Things Forgotten, translated by Ian M. Macdonald, Granta 127
57. 07.30 Ann Patchett - The Right to Read - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
56. 07.30 Ann Patchett - “The Love Between Two Women Is Not Normal” - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
55. 07.30 Ruth OzekiLinked – Personal essay, Granta 127
54. 07.29 David Mitchell - Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut – short story, Granta 127
53. 07.29 Ann Patchett - My Life in Sales - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
52. 07.29 Ann Patchett - Fact vs. Fiction - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
51. 07.29 Ann Patchett - The Wall - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
50. 07.28 Ann Patchett - On Responsibility - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
49. 07.28 Ann Patchett - Tennessee - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
48. 07.28 Ann Patchett - My Road to Hell Was Paved - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
47. 07.27 Ann Patchett - The Best Seat in the House - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
46. 07.27 Ann Patchett - This Dog’s Life - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
45. 07.27 Ann Patchett - The Paris Match - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
44. 07.27 Ann Patchett - The Sacrament of Divorce - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
43. 07.27 Toshiki Okada - Breakfast, translated from Japanese by Michael Emmerich - short story, Granta 127
42. 07.26 Ann Patchett - The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
41. 07.23 Sayaka Murata - A Clean Marriage, translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori - short story, Granta 127
40. 07.22 Ann Patchett - Nonfiction, an Introduction - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
39. 07.22 Ann Patchett - How to Read a Christmas Story - essay from This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
38. 07.20 Rickey Laurentiis - Kinds of Dark - essay, Poetry, July/August 2014 e-version exclusive.
37. 07.19 Dorothea Lasky - What Is Color in Poetry: Or Is It the Wild Wind in the Space of the Word - essay, Poetry, July/August 2014
36. 06.14 D. J. Durnam - I Know Some Things - short story, Webster Review v12.2
35. 06.11 Bo Caldwell- What People Say to Babies - short story, Webster Review v12.2
34. 06.10 Barbara Esstman - Choices - short story, Webster Review v12.2
33. 05.06 Philip Gerard - Why Are You Telling Me This? An Essay on the Writers Craft
 - New Letters v80.1
32. 05.06 Gladys Swan - Menial Work
 - short story, New Letters v80.1
31. 05.02 Lewis Ellingham - Robert is Waiting
 - essay, New Letters v80.1
30. 04.27 Elisabeth Kirsch - Tony Naponic, introduction to the art
 - essay, New Letters v80.1
29. 04.27 Tony Naponic - Whispering
 - single page short story, New Letters v80.1
28. 04.27 Dave Smith - When Bird Dogs Roamed the Earth - essay
, New Letters v80.1
27. 04.20 Paula Streeter - Angels and Animales
 - essay, New Letters v80.1
26. 04.04 Brian Doyle - Elson Habib, Playing Black, Ponders the End Game - fiction, New Letters v80.1
25. 03.30 Edward Hoagland - Hippies and Beats - personal essay, New Letters v80.1
24. 03.26 Lydia Davis - The Seals - short story, Paris Review 207
23. 03.23 Rachel Cusk - Outline: Part 1 - part 1 of 4 of Cusk’s forthcoming novel, Paris Review 207
22. 03.23 Geraldine Brooks - Chronicles : The Book of Exodus : A double rescue in wartime Sarajevo - essay, the true story behind her novel People of the Book, The New Yorker, Dec 3, 2007. Link to PDF here
21. 03.18 Richard B. Sewall - The Book of Job, a chapter in The Vision of Tragedy
20. 03.17 The Art of Fiction No. 222 - interview of Edward P. Jones by Hilton Als, Paris Review 207
19. 03.17 Maria Popova - How the Invention of the Alphabet Usurped Female Power in Society and Sparked the Rise of Patriarchy in Human Culture - essay on The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain. Link here.
18. 03.15 Nell Freudenberger - Hover - fiction, The Paris Review 207
17. 03.14 Andrew Solomon - The Reckoning: The father of the Sandy Hook killer searches for answers. - nonfiction, The New Yorker, under the section "Annals of Psychology". Link here
16. 03.08 J. D. Daniels Empathy - fiction, The Paris Review 207
15. 03.07 The Art of Nonfiction No. 6 - Interview of Geoff Dyer by Matthew Specktor, The Paris Review 207
14. 03.06 Jenny Offill - Magic and Dread - Fiction, The Paris Review 207
13. 02.28 Ottessa Moshfegh - A Dark and Winding Road - short story, 11 pages, The Paris Review 207
12. 02.26 Mary Hunter Austin - Lost Borders - 110 page collection of essays on the California desert, published 1909, Stories from the Country of Lost Borders
11. 02.20 Mary Hunter Austin- The Land of Little Rain - 150 page collection of essays on the California desert, published 1903, Stories from the Country of Lost Borders
10. 02.15 Hari Kunzru - Stalkers - essay on visiting Chernobyl, Granta 125
9. 02.15 Patrick French - After the War - personal essay on WWI ancestor, Granta 125
8. 02.12 Yiyun Li - From Dream to Dream - fiction about Chinese-American immigrant, Granta 125
7. 02.09 Paul Auster - You Remember the Planes - personal essay, Granta 125
6. 02.09 Aminatta Forna - 1979 - personal essay on the Iran revolution, Granta 125
5. 02.08 Herta Müller - Always the Same Snow and Always the Same Uncle - personal essay, Granta 125
4. 02.05 A.L. Kennedy - Late in Life - fiction, Granta 125
3. 02.02 Thomas McGuane - Crow Fair - fiction, Granta 125
2. 01.23 Romesh Gunesekera - Mess - fiction in post-civil war Sri Lanka, Granta 125
1. 01.21 Lindsey Hilsum - The Rainy Season - Non-fiction essay on Rwanda Genocide, Granta 125Dog without End

Edited: Aug 25, 2014, 11:08am

Various extra lists...

Normal Books Actually Read
Excluding all audio, juvenile, graphic, poetry books, bible parts, etc.
19. 08.24 The Liars' Club by Mary Karr (Read Aug 15-24)
18. 08.13 The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler (Read Aug 4-13)
17. 08.03 This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (Read July 22 - Aug 3)
16. 07.22 Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky (read July 9-22)
15. 07.11 The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman, used an audio version for the first half, read by Nadia May (Listened/Read May 28 - July 11)
14. 06.06 Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones (Read May 29 - June 6)
13. 05.28 The Linen Way by Melissa Green (Read May 23-28)
12. 05.23 The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (read May 18-23)
11. 05.17 A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev (Read May 9-17)
10. 05.03 The Hunter by Julia Leigh (Read Apr 28 - May 3)
9. 04.26 Reading the Lines : A Fresh Look at the Hebrew Bible by Pamela Tamarkin Reis (Read Mar 27 - Apr 26)
8. 04.19 The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (read Apr 12-19)
7. 03.27 Writing Down the Bones : Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg (Read Mar 15-27)
6. 03.08 People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (Read Feb 28- Mar 8)
5. 02.26 Stories from the Country of Lost Borders by Mary Hunter Austin (Read Feb 15 - 26)
4. 02.14 A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz (Read Jan 19 - Feb 14)
3. 01.31 The Early Life and Times of Max Hanold by Howard Leff (Read Jan 24-31)
2. 01.20 Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas (Read Sep 5 - Jan 20)
1. 01.11 My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (Read Jan 6-11)

Audio Books
17. 07.31 The Planets (Audio) by Dava Sobel, read by Lorna Raver (Listened July 28-31)
16. 07.25 Being Wrong : Adventures in the Margin of Error (Audio) by Kathryn Schulz, read by Mia Barron (Listened July 10-25)
15. 06.27 My Life as a Traitor (Audio) by Zarah Ghahramani with Robert Hillman, read by Marjanne Doree (Listened June 18-27)
14. 06.18 A Train in Winter: A Story of Resistance, Friendship, and Survival (Audio) by Caroline Moorehead, read by Wanda McCaddon (Listened June 6-18)
13. 05.28 "What Do YOU Care What Other People Think?" : Further Adventures of a Curious Character (Audio) by Richard P. Feynman, as told to Ralph Leighton, read by Raymond Todd (Read May 20-28)
12. 05.19 Anne Frank Remembered : The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family (Audio) by Miep Gies & Alison Leslie Gold, read by Barbara Rosenblat (Listened May 6-19)
11. 05.05 Moonwalking with Einstein : The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (Audio) by Joshua Foer, read by Mike Chamberlain (Listened Apr 23 - May 6)
10. 04.23 The Universe in a Nutshell (Audio) by Stephen W. Hawking, read by Simon Prebble (Listened Apr 20-23)
9. 04.19 Blood and Thunder : An Epic of the American West (Audio) by Hampton Sides, read by Don Leslie (Listened Apr 2-19)
8. 04.01 About Alice (Audio) by Calvin Trillin, read by author (Listened Apr 1)
7. 03.31 Incognito : The Secret Lives of the Brain (Audio) by David Eagleman, read by author (Listened Mar 23-31)
6. 03.23 The Wave : In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean (Audio) by Susan Casey, read by Kirsten Potter (Listened Mar 11-23)
5. 03.10 Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (Audio CD) by Michael Moss, narrated by Scott Brick (Listened Jan 29 - Mar 10)
4. 02.28 Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital (Audio) by Sheri Fink, read by Kirsten Potter (Listened Feb 3-28)
3. 01.29 Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild by Lee Sandlin, audio book narrated by Jeff McCarthy (Listened Jan 17-29)
2. 01.15 The History of Science by Peter Whitfield, audio book narrated by author (Listened Jan 3-15)
1. 01.12 One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson, audio book narrated by author (Listened Dec 10- Jan 12)

Biblical Books
-- 02.28 The Book of Job (Read Feb 10-28)
-- 02.05 The Book of Ester (Read Feb 3-5)
-- 01.17 The Book of Judith (Read Jan 14-17)
-- 01.14 The Book of Tobit (Read Jan 12-14)
-- 01.12 The Book of Nehemiah (Read Jan 1-12)

Edited: Aug 25, 2014, 11:14am

Some stats:

Books read: 48
Pages: 14,699
"regular books" (excluding various oddities. See post 5): 19
Formats: Hardcover 5; Paperback 10; ebooks 9; Audio 17 Lit magazines 7
Subjects in brief: Novels 10; Non-fiction 29; Poetry 5; Juvenile 4; History 9; Science 8; Journalism 5; Anthology 7; Short Story Collections 6; Essay Collections 4; Classics 2; Biographies/Memoirs 16; Interviews 2
Nationalities: US 35; UK 4; Israel 3; Australia 3; Netherlands 1; Iran 1; France 1
Genders, m/f: 20/20
Owner: Books I own 27; Library books 21
Year Published: 2010's 23; 2000's 11; 1990's 4; 1980's 5; 1970's 2; 1960's 1; 1950's 0; 1940's 1; 0-1939 0; BCE 1

Books read: 673
Pages: 217,137
"regular books": 474
Formats: Hardcover 164; Paperback 409; ebooks 43; Audio 27; Lit magazines 29
Subjects in brief: Novels 179; Non-fiction 296; Poetry 49; Graphic 34; Juvenile 32; Scifi/Fantasy 63; History 115; Science 47; Journalism 53; Anthology 35; Short Story Collections 23; Essay Collections 20; Classics 47; Biographies/Memoirs 129; Interviews 6
Nationalities: US 434; Other English speaking countries 125; Other countries: 113
Genders, m/f: 468/153
Owner: Books I owned 485; Library books 126; Books I borrowed 61
Year Published: 2010's 91; 2000's 222; 1990's 132; 1980's 89; 1970's 40; 1960's 23; 1950's 20; 1900-1949 23; 19th century 14; 18th century 0; 17th century 3; 16th century 3; 0-1499 2; BCE 11

*well, everything since I have kept track, beginning in Dec 1990

Apr 14, 2014, 10:16am

Well hello, New Thread!

Apr 14, 2014, 11:21pm

>7 mkboylan: my thread says hello back.

I guess I should add a review here..

15. Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us (Audio CD) by Michael Moss, read by Scott Brick (2012, 480 pages in paper form, Listened Jan 29 - Mar 10)

A business history covering things like Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, the history of cereal and how it only kicked off by making it unhealthy, the why of processed cheese, the insane marketing involved in all the food success stories and a deep look into the conundrum of the processed industry. Moss has great disturbing stories to tell, and fascinating people to interview. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this (Some readers may be turned off by Scott Brick's tone, so be sure to sample before you commit to audio...but then I liked how he read).

That conundrum - sure, all the big food processing companies are out to make money and happy to make the US and the world ill in the process. But what is strange is that whenever some kind of healthy urge sparks up somewhere, and food companies try cutting back on the salt, sugar and fat, the first thing they notice is that they start to lose market share, and quickly revert. Also, it's worth nothing that without salt, fat and sugar, there isn't much left to processed foods - just tasteless, textureless stuff.

The most disturbing thing - how food works so much like an addictive drug and how processed food companies survive by making us addicted to their foods - especially the salt and sugar - and how they are able to design foods we can't stop eating - and the irony of the trouble this causes them when consumers start avoiding the foods they know will lead them to overeat.

Of course, it's no surprise that none of the corporate, marketing or scientific experts interviewed eat processed food.

Apr 14, 2014, 11:26pm

There's a reason for processed cheese? I'm not sure I want to know ....

I might have to look for this one, but I think it'd just tick me off!

Apr 15, 2014, 12:00am

>8 dchaikin: Great review Dan. I think this is such an important topic and am so glad to see this info getting out there. I read Kessler The End of Overeating when it first came out and he says the same thing, with lots of sources for his material. He also says the food companies know the ratio of fat to sugar to salt that is needed to trigger the addictive chemistry and it really sound to me just like the tobacco companies model. In other words, a liability issue also. That is such dirty pool.

Apr 15, 2014, 5:29am

Dan, Nice review. Did Moss talk at all about the obesity problem today, and its relationship to processed foods? My granddaughter started college this year with a major in nutrition. I am thinking this might be a good book for her.

I've listened to a few books read by Scott Brick. He's not one of my favorites, but it really depends upon the book.

Apr 15, 2014, 7:06am

>9 avidmom: well, there is a practical reason for it, since it doesn't go bad...

>10 mkboylan: I'll note the Kessler book. What I liked about Moss's book is that he goes into the stories behind the research in these studies, by interviewing key players. They were (or are) so dedicated and some regret it, some don't. Fascinating stuff.

>11 NanaCC: Yes. But while he does talk about quite a bit, he is more interested in the response - how the companies respond and how the government is unable to respond, totally corrupted by industry. He even shows how industry intentionally and systematically undermined home economics teachers who taught traditional cooking.

Apr 15, 2014, 9:54am

Just finished catching up with your reviews on your old thread and really enjoyed your thoughts about Job. I think I may have read an article in the NY Times Magazine that was either by the author of Salt Sugar Fat or was about the same topic, because it sounds familiar. I have a friend who thinks the biggest villain is sugar, much more so than fat, although of course there are all those other chemicals in any kind of processed food and they're what scare me the most.

Edited: Apr 15, 2014, 10:36am

>8 dchaikin: Nice review. I haven't read this yet, but from everything I've heard, it sounds like an excellent book. Does he discuss any alternatives like good old home cooked food from scratch?

>11 NanaCC: It will be interesting to hear how your granddaughter finds her courses and how she is taught. Is her university connected to any of the agrifood corporations through research or funding? When I started an agriculture programme in university, I had great plans to major in food science, idealistically thinking it would concern itself with solving food and nutritional deficit problems. To my horror, I discovered it was more about developing new processed foods for large companies. Deciding the world didn't need more Tang, I switched my major. While I realize nutrition is different from food science, they are two sides of the same coin for better or worse. What got your granddaughter interested in it?

Apr 15, 2014, 12:27pm

>14 SassyLassy: I am going to let Chris answer the questions about her daughter's interest in nutrition and about the school. I do know that Emma loves the school.

Apr 15, 2014, 4:55pm

Salt Sugar fat Enjoyed your review Dan. I am addicted to chocolate - how bad is that. Apart from that I don't eat much processed food at all. I know its bad.

Apr 15, 2014, 5:44pm

>16 baswood: Chocolate is now supposed to be good for you, Barry.!

Can Chocolate Aid Weight Control?

Apr 15, 2014, 6:48pm

I love chocolate - good quality dark chocolate - well actually 50% chocolate, so not that dark, but no milk. It's high in fat and sugar - very high in both. But the antioxidants are good.

Apr 16, 2014, 6:25pm

Well remember George Washington Carver said next to milk, peanuts are the most complete whole food there is, so I vote for Reeses peanut butter cups: peanuts for the body, chocolate for the soul.

In my experience with one state college and two community colleges, they are way behind on weight loss research, still using the old calories in, calories out, exercise formula. It is so much more complicated than that and the food addiction addressed in that book as well as brain chemistry in others, is fascinating to me. I've followed a lot of the research, although it isn't my field. Nevertheless, I still have an opinion :) for what it's worth, and it's this: just eat only whole unprocessed foods as much as possible. Does grinding up coffee and cacao beans count as processing?

Edited: Apr 16, 2014, 9:04pm

>19 mkboylan: peanuts for the body, chocolate for the soul.
That's what they mean by a "balanced diet."

Does grinding up coffee and cacao beans count as processing?
Not if you do it in your own kitchen! :)

Edited: Apr 16, 2014, 11:27pm

>13 rebeccanyc: Thanks Rebecca. The book Salt Sugar Fat began as an news article or series of articles. I don't think Moss really goes into which is worse, but he does seem to spend most of his time on sugar. It's maybe the most sinister in terms of how it is marketed, partly because the target of the marketing is often children. As Moss puts it, the marketers have learned that if the children want it, their parents will get it for them.

>14 SassyLassy: Moss doesn't really go into advice. However, it's pretty clear that cooking food ourselves is healthier. We are best off avoiding all processed foods (even chocolate - and yes, that is processed). But you don't need Moss to figure that out. The problem is convenience. Food-processing companies have mastered the art of convenience and they are continuing to do so. And American culture now seems to expects Americans to not need time to cook anything...but maybe I should get off the soapbox now...

>19 mkboylan: forget reeses, there is better chocolate to mix with peanut butter (I say this, but I've been off chocolate for about six weeks now, and I'm supposed to stay off anything with caffeine till at least June...)

The research is fascinating, but it's led by private industry. Even academic research is controlled by funding, which comes mainly from industry and therefore...

But, yes, bottom line, avoid processed foods.

>20 avidmom: Oh, I miss coffee & chocolate. (see my parenthetical comment in my replay to Merrikay just above.)

Apr 17, 2014, 12:58am

>21 dchaikin: yep on the funding unfortunately. Corporate control at universities is crazy and entrenched. Makes me ill.

Apr 17, 2014, 8:27pm

>8 dchaikin:, Dan I loved Salt Sugar Fat. I was so torn between feeling like what these food scientists/engineers were doing was so cool - they are given a food-related problem and come up with some remarkable solutions - and being so grossed out/disgusted by how companies were engineering snack foods to be maximally addictive. Definitely a great read.

>12 dchaikin:, I loved the interviews with the family of the guy who invented Lunchables and how the author pointed out that the people who invent these kinds of convenience foods are often the least likely people to be feeding them to their families. Still, if my dad had invented a famous junk food, I would think it was pretty awesome, ethical issues aside.

Apr 17, 2014, 11:35pm

Kris - I agree, a well done take...so many good stories. These were smart interesting people accomplishing really difficult stuff in very impressive ways... and yet success was such an oddly sinister thing.

Apr 18, 2014, 12:33pm

Just getting caught up. I've heard lots of praise for Salt Sugar Fat, not sure if or when I will ever read it though. It doesn't sound as though it would tell me anything I didn't already know (i.e. don't eat processed stuff) while making me even angrier with "the way the world works". I've decided to take the real world in small doses for the time being. Climate change, food, water, privacy, ongoing wars are all important topics but hard to read about and still function in the world.

Going back to your last thread: I loved your comments on Job, and I'm sure I would enjoy the book if I ever got to it. As regards Geraldine Brooks, I've read five of her books and liked People of the Book the most. At the time, I rated it pretty highly, but I don't know how it would stand up to a re-read. I found her other books uninspired. Many LTers like Year of Wonders, her plague book, but I found the main character unbelievable with all of her 20th century notions (germ theory, etc.). Really, an uneducated woman from the 14th century? I recommend instead The Domesday Book. At least in it there is a reason for the 20th century ideas - the main character goes back in time.

Edited: Apr 20, 2014, 11:47am

Lisa - I did find Salt fat sugar upsetting, but also informative and interesting and actually enjoyable to read. If it falls in your lap sometime, I would recommend reading a few pages to sample it.

I completely agree about Year of Wonders, not a believable book, and the "20th century notions" bothered me too; but interesting that you enjoyed People of the Book. Just goes to show we are all different and any one book reaches each of us in a different way.

Apr 20, 2014, 3:52pm

>26 dchaikin: I think part of it was that I didn't know the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah, so it was new to me. Also, I like books about books.

Apr 21, 2014, 10:51pm

16. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (2010, 296 pages, Read Mar 8-11)

Surprising good juvenile fiction. Not sure why I was surprised. It has a great setting, a good enough plot and just came across as really thoughtfully done. The premise is Melody Brooks, a tween in middle school who suffers from cerebral palsy, meaning she can't really move and can't talk. She narrates the book as an intelligent observer unable to communicate with the world around her, which is both sad and fascinating. Many juvenile books don't seem to take themselves very seriously. They have enough to get a young readers pulled in, with lots of silly humor, and few emotional punches and then a happy ending. This was nothing like that. It's a serious work exceptionally well done and gives the reader a lot to think about. And I appreciated a juvenile book with an uncomfortable ending.

Apr 22, 2014, 2:40pm

I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Dan. My daughter and I both read it earlier this year, and I felt the same way, "a serious work exceptionally well done".

Apr 22, 2014, 2:58pm

>28 dchaikin: Your review of Out of My Mind has me intrigued, and I will be looking for it. There are several YA books that are good reads for anyone. The Book Thief comes to mind.

Apr 22, 2014, 10:28pm

>29 labfs39: Cool that you have read this too. I had missed the title on your thread. My daughter read it first and it was based on her reaction (reticent as she is, I had to sort of figure that she liked it quite a bit) that I read it.

>30 NanaCC: I won't discourage you in anyway, it's a good book. But note that it is clearly written for the juvenile age - say ages 8 to 13 or so. I say this because some "young adult" books are actually for any age, just more accessible (and maybe a bit cleaner).

Apr 23, 2014, 5:06pm

Dan I’m catching way way up. Appreciated your review of Five Days at Memorial on your previous thread -- I’d read news accounts of it but your comments make me think there is enough controversy to make it worth reading in full. Also yay for your writing! Take a look at Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, highly recommended about getting going.

Here, glad to see your review of Salt Sugar Fat. I too read the Kessler (former FDA Commissioner) book (>10 mkboylan:) but warn you there's tons of repetition. I do often still think of this (paraphrased) line of his: A food is addictive if, after having a serving, you feel stimulated to eat more instead of satisfied. I think it's Michael Pollan who wrote, The surest way to extend the shelf life of food is to remove the nutrients. >23 fannyprice: (what these food scientists/engineers were doing was so cool - they are given a food-related problem and come up with some remarkable solutions) also tempts me to read it…

>21 dchaikin: American culture now seems to expects Americans to not need time to cook anything... This makes me want to get to Something from the Oven, about the rise of processed food in ‘50s America.

>25 labfs39: Climate change, food, water, privacy, ongoing wars
My current peeve: the high collateral/social costs of uber-cheap consumer products

>28 dchaikin: onto the wishlist!

Apr 24, 2014, 3:36am

I know the food giants control a lot of food internationally, but was wondering if Salt Sugar Fat mentioned differences between countries. I notice that food made by continental food brands, e.g. German, French, Dutch, seem to have fewer ingredients, and more recognizable ingredients, than those produced in the UK, which are probably more like North American foods, even those which are produced for UK supermarket own brands. I notice this particularly with things like biscuits. This shouldn't be just a difference in food labelling, as the packets have contents listed in various languages, and I believe there is a degree of standardization in what has to be declared in the EU. Am I being fooled?

After reading your review I spent about half a day thinking 'I must only eat food that I've made myself from scratch', but reality (laziness and disorganization) has kicked in so I'm going for gradual withdrawal rather than cold turkey. I don't see myself ever making my own jam, though, and what is summer without scones and strawberry jam?

Great review. Perhaps I should steel myself to read the book to help me over the hurdle.

Apr 24, 2014, 10:22am

>32 detailmuse: MJ - thanks for the comments. bird by Bird goes on the immediate find list. I've requested a copy from my library. I have been using what I got out of Writing down the Bones for about a month now, need new ideas. Five Days at Memorial is an important book that should be read but probably is not exactly a wonderful read for everyone - keep in mind I listened and did not read it. And noting about the Kessler book. As for Something from the Oven, all I can think about is how industry actively and successfully undermined home-economics in schools. Does not sit right with my view if the world.

>33 Oandthegang: O - sounds like you need that book! : ) seriously, I'm flattered my review had such a strong and maybe healthy affect on you. The book is, however, almost entirely US-focused. The rest if the world is given only anecdotes - like on Britain's somewhat successful efforts to reduce national salt intake in effort to show how the US is incapable to accomplish anything nearly as effective.

Apr 24, 2014, 5:59pm

>33 Oandthegang: I don't see myself ever making my own jam... but it's so satisfying and so good (especially if you make the scones too)!

Apr 25, 2014, 6:45am

> Doesn't making jam involve having lots of muslin bags dripping juice into bowls?

Apr 25, 2014, 12:16pm

>36 Oandthegang:, When I did it (once), it was basically just boiling fruit, sugar, pectin, and other flavor additions until they achieve the desired consistency. However, I did not enjoy my jam at all, so perhaps my way is not the way to go.

Apr 25, 2014, 2:52pm

>36 Oandthegang: That's jelly which strains out the fruit bits. Jam is only fruit, sugar and pectin with maybe a bit of lemon. Marmalade is somewhat similar, butters even easier but with more stuff thrown in.

>34 dchaikin: The US actually uses less added salt than food processors in Canada do. That makes it somewhat difficult for Canadian processors to claim they need it for preservation processes. The only way you can get away from added salt is to cook from scratch. Even then, you need it for some things such as the leavening process in bread making.

Enough domesticity from me for now; it's not really me!

Apr 25, 2014, 11:20pm

My wife claims she loves making jam, although I have never seen or anyone else do this. Has me thinking of Spaceballs...

Edited: Apr 25, 2014, 11:35pm

17. The Wave : In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey, read by Kirsten Potter (2011, 434 pages in paper form, Listened Mar 11 - 23)

I'm not inspired to write much about this. The title and intro are misleading as they give the impression there is a scientific focus. The science is thin. Casey, a writer for Outside Magazine, is much more interested surfing - too interested really as the surfing stories occur over and over again and, well, they kind of all sound the same.

The two things I took away from was, first, I had no idea something like ten large cargo or tanker ships sink with all hands every year, still wondering if I got that fact right, and second, rogue waves are actually quite interesting. Wish she had stuck with them.

This is the second audio book read by Kirsten Potter that I've listened to, that might be too many.


I was going to review the winter issue of The Paris review tonight, but all my notes are sitting on a sick computer getting worked on at a Mac store. The notes had been there so long, I forgot to back them up...hope they survive whatever is done to that poor machine (which is still under warranty).

Apr 26, 2014, 10:55am

>, "This is the second audio book read by Kirsten Potter that I've listened to, that might be too many." - I'm having the same problem with her reading of Animal Wise - the subject is fascinating, but she's putting me to sleep. There is definitely such a thing as a "too neutral" audiobook reader.

Apr 26, 2014, 12:59pm

>32 detailmuse: Detail - so does it go both ways? Does The End of Overeating cover most of what Salt Sugar Fat does?
Interesting conversation on food.

>33 Oandthegang: I don't know but I keep seeing other countries "outlaw" GMOs and I'm pretty jealous, living here in the U.S.

>37 fannyprice: LOL at "when I did it (once)....".......exactly! Me too.....once. Anyone serious about it tho should look at freezer jam, which i also do NOT intend to do.

Apr 26, 2014, 3:49pm

>41 fannyprice: - yes, too neutral, and also too slow.

>42 mkboylan: (response to >33 Oandthegang:) - GMO labeling would be a nice start...

Edited: Apr 26, 2014, 6:11pm

I'll come back to that Paris Review issue later. Skipping it for now...

19. Writing Down the Bones : Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg (1986, 203 pages, Read Mar 15-27)

This is what I wrote a month ago upon finishing this book:
I guess I liked this book. I'm trying to follow what she advised, taking a notebook and writing everyday (nothing electronic) and trying to write whatever comes to mind, in theory looking for what she calls the first voice, but what I might call some less conscious voice, maybe. I haven't found it. Anyway, I'm writing without stopping and not worrying about grammar or spelling or mistake and not even re-reading. Then in theory, at some point I'll come back and read what I've written and see if there is anything useful there. It's supposed to be exercise. Not sure what it gets me, but I'm doing it.
Now, a month later I feel like a bit frustrated. Writing 20 minutes a day and writing whatever comes to mind doesn't give me a chance to think ideas through or structure anything out and so often the thing on my mind to write about is beyond the 20 minutes I give it. So, I need to do something different, need new ideas. Actually, maybe I should use some of those twenty minute sessions just to think of ideas or just to work on a structure. Or maybe I just need to learn what kinds of things I can write in those 20 minutes (not an LT book review, for example).

Apr 26, 2014, 11:49pm

20. Incognito : The Secret Lives of the Brain (Audio) by David Eagleman, read by author (2011, 300 pages in paper from, Listened Mar 23-31)

You might notice that four of my last six books completed were via audio books. Driving seems to be my best reading time lately (must of the other time is lost...or, well, given to The Book of Psalms). Anyway this was the first of those four.

This turned out be one of the most enjoyable audio books I've listened to, although I must also admit that it didn't stick quite as well I thought it would. Eagleman had me thinking about the mysterious and multiple complexities of the brain. Such as how slow and inefficient our consciousness is and about how much goes on unconsciously, and how much we depend on this to function. He discusses many striking stories about odd things that happen to people because of tumors, strokes and brain injuries (Texas trivia - Charles Whitman, the UofTexas tower shooter who shot 46 people in 1966 from the tower's 28th-floor observation deck, documented his mental changes in his diary, recognized them(!) and requested in his suicide note that his body be autopsied after his not-yet-committed suicidal episode to see if a cause could be determined. A walnut sized tumor was found in his brain). I'm sure other books cover this, but Eagleman really brought out to me just how complex the brain is, and how little we understand it (his analogy of what we know is to imagine studying human society from a space craft orbiting the earth).

This also has me thinking about how little of the world we are able to sense, yet we have no concept of what we can't sense. Because what we do sense is our reality. And about how we make a decision - different parts of our brain battle against each other to lead us to the decision. Each decision is the winner of multiple unconscious battles in the brain. So, parts of us stand in completely opposing sides in any decision, and we really have very little conscious control on which part wins. (This is why it is so hard to eat healthy, for example)

This is a bit of a scatter shot review. There were just a lot of interesting pieces that I somehow feel the need to share (or maybe preserve for my own memory). Eagleman did a great of job getting me excited everything here. The books is really perfect for audio - lots of small parts, never too complicated to listen to, but still fascinating, thought-provoking and reads very nicely.

Eagleman reads it himself. His voice takes a little getting used to, but otherwise he is the perfect reader. It comes across as if he's just talking and not reading.

Apr 27, 2014, 2:13am

>45 dchaikin: This is already on my TBR, but I will be taking a neurobiology class via Coursera starting Monday...so this might be my next read!

Apr 27, 2014, 9:01am

The Eagleman book sounds interesting -- that's utterly fascinating about Charles Whitman, especially that he knew about his mental changes.

Apr 27, 2014, 9:10am

>47 rebeccanyc: it is so strange to read how logically clear his thinking was, that he could write about his changes and reason out how they were wrong, but had no idea what to do about them.

>46 lesmel: no clue whether it will actually help you in your class any, but it might get you excited for it. Also note that Moonwalking with Einstein has turned out to be a nice follow-up as Foer goes into the biology of memory.

Apr 27, 2014, 11:59am

Dan, I'd like to ditto Rebecca's comments. Very interesting.

Apr 28, 2014, 7:42am

>45 dchaikin: Now I know why I can't make a decision and with the involvement of another person's brain (my wife for instance) the decision making process becomes almost impossible. Thank goodness for unconscious decision making.

Apr 28, 2014, 9:48am

>44 dchaikin:

I read Writing Down the Bones a while back with a friend of mine* who's a wannabe writer. So far, she has only completed some short stories. I once submitted, with her permission and in her name, one of her stories to a writing competition. She didn't win, but I liked having her writing exposed to others.

Anyway, I never finished Natalie Goldberg's book although, oddly enough, I picked up another book of hers yesterday at a book festival.

My friend and I agreed to get together for short periods simply to write what was in our minds. I didn't feel that exercise helped me at all. I still can't write. What I did find fun, however, was to agree to be editor of a newsletter (from which I resigned in 2013). That actually forced me to put together some coherent writing. I felt that was more useful to me. I think writing fiction would be more fun, but I do think that would be more difficult. Maybe one day I'll give it a try.

Good luck with your writing...and do keep posting about your progress in this endeavor.

*My friend actually knows Natalie Goldberg. She met the author while living in Taos, new Mexico.

Apr 28, 2014, 9:51am

>45 dchaikin: Each decision is the winner of multiple unconscious battles in the brain... (This is why it is so hard to eat healthy, for example)

So I guess it's just better to give in, have that T-bone steak, and avoid battle damage to your brain cells. :-)

It sounds like an interesting and important book (as I've been sitting here for five minutes trying to decide what to say about your review).

Apr 28, 2014, 2:37pm

Yes very interesting review of Incognito.

And >52 StevenTX: Thanks so much for another reason to cave in. I am saving my brain from more damage! I love it!

Edited: Apr 28, 2014, 10:32pm

>49 NanaCC: Thanks Colleen

>50 baswood: Part of me apologizes and wishes you well in your marital indecision.

>52 StevenTX: Don't forget the chocolate cake, Steven.

"as I've been sitting here for five minutes trying to decide what to say about your review" - You make that sounds so unusual. This is my normal - wanting to just tell someone I enjoyed their review and Instead sitting there staring, unable to decide how to word it.

>53 mkboylan: I take no responsibility for this matter. ;)

Apr 28, 2014, 10:42pm

>52 StevenTX: Madeline - I really appreciate your post and it's motivational aspects. Thanks for sharing your story, and that is a great story about your friend. This is something I really want - a writer friend to encourage me and maybe fill in as an audience or a voice of direction. Sometimes I wish to just have someone command me what to write and give me a deadline so I can just do that. Also, sometimes I just need that extra encouragement and not wanting to let someone down is a huge motivator in all things in life (it's partly why I work too many hours). I keep thinking that once I write something I can go out and search some writerly connection, that I can justify that search a bit. But, that "something", whatever it is, is just a long way off write now. I'm still trying to figure out how to get started and not trip over myself. (and these brain/mind books remind me that I have a lot of unconscious processing to do)

Apr 28, 2014, 10:55pm

21. About Alice (Audio) by Calvin Trillin, read by author (2006, 78 pages in paper from, Listened April 1)

Only 118 minutes in audio, I listened to this in one days worth of traffic-y commute.

It was not the best choice of book for my birthday as it's really sad - in a beautiful and touching way, but still sad. Trillin wrote this book about his wife after she passed away. It's sad, and it is maybe more about him, even if he is talking about Alice. He seems to be trying to describe what he lost. It is very honest and well written and moving.

Edited: Apr 28, 2014, 11:39pm

22. Blood and Thunder : An Epic of the American West (Audio) 
by Hampton Sides, read by Don Leslie (2006, 624 pages in paper format, Listened Apr 1-19)

An excellent work of history, with a structure that gives it something of an accumulative affect. The first several chapters are not that striking and left me wondering where this was going and what the subtitle, "An Epic of the American West" meant, and why the book was spending so much time with Kit Carson and so little time with all the other stuff going on in the "American west" at that time.

The book is about Kit Carson, and also everything happening around him, especially in New Mexico, including fascinating and rewarding extensive sections on the Navajos. Carson's life covers several eras in the rapidly changing 19th-century Spanish-to-Mexican-to-American (as in USA) West. Carson was mountain man, and like them all, he had outlandish traits. But Carson out-lived the mountain man era; yet, unlike all those other characters, Carson's traits translated very well into the what was valuable on the US frontier. The brutal killer and survivor had some strong moral aspects to him, along with extensive survival and tracking skills, intimate knowledge of several native cultures and languages, working knowledge of Spanish and French, an always on edge always productive nature and an almost always shockingly reasonable, even under fire, pain and stress, mind. Carson also could not read or write.

He stumbled into a becoming John C. Freemont's guide in all his successful western exploration trips - and really Freemont was completely dependent on Carson and maybe they should have been known as Carson trips. But Freemont's accounts are what first made Carson famous. After Freemont, Carson stumbled into becoming part of the US military, as guide through the New Mexico/Arizona/California desert during the Mexican America war, leading Spanish-speaking troops on the strange far western front during the Civil War, and finally as the main (but reluctant) man in taking down the Navajo Indians.

And this is where the book gets so interesting. I had no idea the Navajo were so brutal or so unstoppable. The Spanish towns existed barely, cowering in fear and at the mercy of the Navajos for literally centuries. Losing people and stock and horses was the norm, and so was owning Navajo slaves, a policy which outlived the Civil War. But, wow, what wonderful brutes these Navajos were, ruling the desert, keeping everyone out of their territory, maintaining a unique native culture unlike any around them and maintaining a language shared only by native tribes in far northern Canada (and the Navajos have a mythology of moving south). I say brutes, because that is the only way to characterize the Navajo warriors, whose life was one of raiding and killing. But that was only a small part of their culture. Anyway, they are far more interesting than Carson, even as his best, and, of course, they are tragic. Like all tribes, the Navajos, dominating their world c.1800, were dying on reservations by about 1870.

Recommended for anyone with Native American interests, or wanting to better understand the history of New Mexico.

Apr 28, 2014, 11:39pm

>55 dchaikin:

is just a long way off write now.

Quite the Freudian slip! ;)

My daughter's future mother-in-law found a good way to write is to do so with a friend. They get together often for "writing exercises" and do this very seriously with good writing reference books (which do not include Writing Down the Bones). I don't know if either of these two ladies ever completed any "work" or had anything published.

In the Maryland area, we haveThe Writer's Center which I wanted my own friend to join, but she kept on saying it was too far away from her (which it was...but so what?). Do you have anything like this where you live? If so, that could be motivational! :)

I don't think your writing partner has to necessarily be a "writer" but that person certainly should be a facilitator - someone who would encourage you, read what you write, give you ideas, and honestly appraise your work.

My friend took a writing class in fiction but disliked that she had to present what she wrote to others. She always felt that what she wrote was "not good enough".

I'll keep you posted if she starts to write again. I don't know what's holding her up! :)

Apr 28, 2014, 11:41pm

>58 SqueakyChu: Funny, that slip. I need to think on this stuff...

Edited: Apr 29, 2014, 9:55am

>57 dchaikin: Blood and Thunder sounds fascinating, and I enjoyed another Hampton Sides book Ghost Soldiers. It's funny. I idolized Kit Carson as a child, only knowing what my Kit Carson, Boy Trapper book (c1945) and others had to say about him. It would be interesting to read an adult biography and get the real story. The book I had was part of a set that portrayed Americans in a very positive, ethnocentric light. I also enjoyed the ones about the Pony Express and John Paul Jones, Salt Water Boy.

Touchstones not working. Sorry.

Apr 29, 2014, 7:29am

>56 dchaikin: I love Calvin Trillin (and have had the wonderful opportunity to hear him speak) but I'm not sure if I could take About Alice. In person, he has such a deadpan demeanor -- does that come across in his reading?

>57 dchaikin: Your review is making me want to read at least one of the several books I've had on the TBR for year about Native American history.

Apr 29, 2014, 4:23pm

I lost track of your thread for a while!

>28 dchaikin: I'm definitely adding Out of My Mind to my list. I think we need more books, especially children's and YA, about disabilities and chronic conditions which aren't necessarily life-threatening. There are far more young people with chronic illnesses than there are with terminal illnesses, yet I rarely see books about them.

Edited: May 3, 2014, 11:10pm

well, i've been a bit slow to respond. Apologies.

>58 SqueakyChu: Madeline - I think I need a writing partner...

>60 labfs39: Lisa, the fictional Kit Carson appeared in several books during his life time, and started a genre called "Blood and Thunder", hence the book's title. That genre late involved into what are today Westerns, and probably were of about the same quality. Fascinating as he was, I don't think you idolize the real Carson. :)

>61 rebeccanyc: Rebecca, Trillin reads it completely dead pan, which makes it more moving. He was excellent. It's a tough book in the depressing way - but then I don't imagine that aspect would discourage you.

>62 mabith: Meredith, I have been trying to catch up with your thread, but new posts keep appearing. I completely agree with you (and your stress on the need for children's and YA books). Draper left me with a whole new perspective and respect for cerebral palsy.

May 4, 2014, 7:04am

And just rediscovered your thread and have enjoyed catching up. I took two creative writing classes -- one of which used Writing Down the Bones, which I remember enjoying, but the class was, for me, a waste of time, being concerned with stream of consciousness, journalling and writing down our dreams. The second class was one that just made us write a lot - giving us a theme or a title or just an object that had to be present and giving us deadlines, which are what get me writing. Unfortunately, I find it hard to take a self-imposed deadline very seriously. Good luck on your writing. The process feels like bleeding through the eyeballs sometimes, doesn't it?

May 4, 2014, 2:47pm

>42 mkboylan: (sorry for the delay!) I’ve only read (and a few years ago) The End of Overeating so am not sure about overlap. If I recall, its info about intentionally sweet/salty/fatty/high-texture foods is given to increase awareness and thus decrease consumption for weight loss.

>44 dchaikin: Or maybe I just need to learn what kinds of things I can write in those 20 minutes (not an LT book review, for example)
But a messy first draft, definitely! (For me, the hardest part). Then let it rest and bring in your editor-brain later to shape it up.

Incognito has been on my wishlist since I read Eagleman's Sum. Thanks to your inspiring review, I may try the audio.

Dan do I remember that you've been wanting to get to Ozick’s The Shawl? You might be interested to know that Joyce Carol Oates reads/discusses it in this week’s New Yorker fiction podcast (or via iTunes). I read it a few years ago and am looking forward to listening.

May 5, 2014, 12:27pm

>63 dchaikin: I agree! The fictionalized young Kit Carson was designed with an eye to molding young minds into model Americans (books from the 40's and 50's). But hearing his name does bring back a time in my childhood when the West was a place filled with heroes. My friend and I would watch Roy Rogers and then pretend our treehouse could fly us to the West. My grandparents even bought me a full cowgirl outfit, complete with cap gun, so passionate was my interest. Not having horses at the time, I used to ride our cow as she wandered around the field. Who were the heroes of your childhood, when you were younger than eight?

>65 detailmuse: Thanks for pointing us to the New Yorker podcast on The Shawl, MJ. I read it a few years ago and enjoyed it, so I will be sure to catch the podcast.

May 5, 2014, 10:58pm

>64 RidgewayGirl: At the moment it's more like a walk in the dark then anything painful. Cool that you have taken creative writing classes and thanks for sharing the experiences. The comparison is interesting and you have me thinking maybe it's time to take a creative writing evening class, specifically for the structure and deadlines.

>65 detailmuse: Good point. My goal is just rough drafts of random stuff, first drafts.

Incognito was fun. And thanks for the info on the Shawl...wonder if that would be a good group read for my reading group...although they don't seem to be a literary literature bunch...well, not the group as a whole anyway. The book must have some plot and feeling.

> 66 Lisa - what a cool childhood you had.

May 6, 2014, 3:10am

#25 - not sure if or when I will ever read it though. It doesn't sound as though it would tell me anything I didn't already know (i.e. don't eat processed stuff) while making me even angrier with "the way the world works". I've decided to take the real world in small doses for the time being. Climate change, food, water, privacy, ongoing wars are all important topics but hard to read about and still function in the world.

Labfs - Yes! this is all so true. Sometimes it's just all too much on top of all the other things you're trying to juggle. A few months ago my husband read the China Study, and so we are gradually going vegan (going vegan in fits and starts?). So far I'm getting more and more grossed out by animal products and processed food, but am observing no health benefits or weight loss.

And talking about processed foods, I really do love a good potato chip (or 120 potato chips). Especially salt & vinegar. . . . drool . . .

Edited: May 6, 2014, 3:26am

#36 Doesn't making jam involve having lots of muslin bags dripping juice into bowls?

I know this is an old post, but I have to reply. Making jam is ridiculously easy. My mother, who grew up on a berry and dairy farm in the dirty 30s and WWII years taught me everything she knows about it, and it comes down to this: put 5 cups of cut up fruit and 7 cups of white sugar in a large pot and slowly bring to a boil. Stir frequently. Cook until the fruit is broken down to your liking. Turn off heat. Stir in one packet liquid pectin (aka Certo in North America). About an hour later, pour into clean jars. At this point, you can do that magical canning process, but that's way over my head, so I just pour melted paraffin over the top of the jam and screw on the lid. Viola! Perfect jam, every time, lasts for years.

I had to learn this when I moved into a house with raspberry vines. Been a little raspberry jam factory for 17 years now. But this same recipe works with cherries, peaches, apricots, rhubarb, whatever I've tried.

Sorry to interrupt your lovely book thread, Dan.

May 7, 2014, 1:16am

>67 dchaikin: Not at all, Dan. But being 5 was fun.

>68 Nickelini: I hear you, Joyce. I've been trying to make some changes in my diet as well, and it's rough going. Thank you for sharing your jam recipe. I have printed it and intend to try my hand this summer. It looks simple enough for even an inept kitchen visitor like myself to manage.

May 7, 2014, 1:45am

>69 Nickelini: "Sorry to interrupt your lovely book thread, Dan."

Send raspberry jam, all forgiven.

May 7, 2014, 2:09pm

May 7, 2014, 2:43pm

>67 dchaikin: {The Shawl} must have some plot and feeling.
The book includes the namesake short story set during the Holocaust plus a linked novella set in Florida decades later. Feeling, yes. If I remember, the short story has plot, the novella less so. Together, they explore trauma in the moment and then its enduring effect.

May 7, 2014, 11:22pm

>73 detailmuse: you are making me want to read now...actually I should read it first and then decide whether to recommend it...and then if it takes, that would be a good excuse to re-read it.

May 12, 2014, 2:33am

Hi Dan, lots to chew over here. I especially enjoyed looking at your lists and stats. I'll have to go back at another time and look at your earlier thread.

I share your interest in rogue waves. We could have a good chat about that!

Re writing inspiration, maybe you could use the table of contents of something like The Paris Review — or anything, really — to trigger thoughts. Or open a dictionary or thesaurus or any book (the Bible?) and point blindly and see what turns up. Even perusing a thread here in CR sparks a lot of ideas. I find I have to really edit myself when commenting in other people's threads. I could go on and on. Just a thought . . .

Edited: May 14, 2014, 7:05pm

Hi Suzanne. So happy to have you back here posting. Don't feel like you need to read my earlier thread, but, if have time, consider finding my posts on Religion and the Decline the Magic. It's just that I had you in mind while reading it. Links: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and, for completeness, part 5)

As for writing, I read the prologue and the about six pages of Bird by Bird - and then I stopped. It gave me enough to write about for a long time. Once I get through my own life story I'll go back to Bird by Bird again.

Edited: May 14, 2014, 7:38pm

A sad update. We had to put my oldest dog down today. That's Nutmeg, my closest companion for these last 14 and half years. Feeling very lost without her. My wife put this together earlier today. Got today's date wrong, but it's still sweet.

May 14, 2014, 7:54pm

I'm so sorry to hear about Nutmeg, Dan. Our dogs reflect back the best of us.

May 14, 2014, 11:04pm

Oh, sorry about sweet Nutmeg! Losing a pet is always so hard. Hugs.

May 15, 2014, 2:21am

I'm sorry about Nutmeg. Those dogs. They live with us just long enough to become the center of our homes. The Oatmeal has a short comic called My Dog, the Paradox, which really captures how integral they become.

May 15, 2014, 9:35am

Sad news, Dan. I know what it's like.

May 15, 2014, 11:25am

Sorry to hear the news, Dan.

May 15, 2014, 1:48pm

Thanks all.

>80 RidgewayGirl: Kay - what is The Oatmeal?

May 15, 2014, 3:08pm

Daniel, it's a web comic thing - the author has a few books out, too. There are also quizzes to help you determine such pressing questions as how long you could survive chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor. That kind of thing. Here's a link to his dog comic.


May 15, 2014, 3:56pm

Aw, Kay, you made me laugh and cry with that comic. My black lab is 12 and a half.

May 15, 2014, 10:12pm

Aww, so sorry about your little Nutmeg.

May 15, 2014, 11:27pm

>84 RidgewayGirl: thanks! I have read that before, but still it left me with tears this time. And I'm happy to have that link.

>85 labfs39: Lisa - hoping your dog is healthy. I have another dog, Mace ( we call him Macey...Mace and Nutmeg come from the same seed) who is 12 and was diagnosed last month with malignant throat cancer (although you would never know he wasn't healthy if you saw him)

>86 avidmom: thanks Susie.

May 15, 2014, 11:54pm

>87 dchaikin: Thanks for asking, Dan. Strider has painful arthritis and takes glucosamine and pain meds, but, like Macey, his heart is still as young as ever. He wants to play, chase a ball, go for walks, but he is so sore after that we have to ration him. A couple of years ago we bought a ramp so that he can get into the car, but lately it's been hard for him to negotiate, though we are managing. Some days he can't make it onto the den couch, which he loves as his "people" spot. I'm sorry Macey has cancer. Strider had to have a tumor removed from his eyelid this winter, and I was worried about the anesthesia, but he came through fine. Every time I hear of a pet passing, I grieve, because I know our time is coming. How are your kids doing?

May 16, 2014, 1:13am

Kids have handled this well, but the dogs predate the kids have always been just a little too old for them. My daughter cried a lot when we told her about Nutmeg, but she was able to spend a lot of time with Nutmeg the last night (and saw in what bad shape Nutmeg was is in, which I think made it easier). My son made a sad face and then the next sentence was on another topic. Afterward they haven't yet really brought it up, and have been acting quite their normal crazy selves. My daughter has been through this with friends' pets that she has gotten attached to (she has a way with animals. A cat followed her home the other day, and the hung around for several days just waiting for her to come outside a play). They both know about Mace.

May 16, 2014, 1:57am

We got Strider only a year before my daughter was born, so they grew up together. She is going to be devastated. Like your daugher, she is passionate about animals, and they seem to recognize it. Losing old guinea pigs and chickens has been hard enough; she calls Strider her brother. He appears on her family tree. It's going to make that day even harder. That said, it must be a little bit difficult to have your children appear not to grieve when your heart is so heavy. Not that you want them to grieve, but the discrepancy in your feelings. Do you think you'll get another dog? I've wondered if we shouldn't get another dog now, but I don't want to displace Strider in his primacy. Not at his age.

May 16, 2014, 8:03am

I'm sorry to hear the sad news about Nutmeg, Dan.

Edited: May 16, 2014, 3:17pm

Sorry about your dog, Dan.

Interesting food discussion. I've decided the easiest way to avoid the processed food dilemma is to eat out ;-)

Blood and Thunder sounds like something we should listen to on our drive out west this summer.

May 16, 2014, 10:55am

Hi Dan, I'm gradually trying to get up to date with LT and have enjoyed reading through your threads, although I'm very sorry to hear the sad news about your dog.

Your reading interests are generally quite different from mine, but I like reading your thoughtful reviews and am also interested to learn about your writing project. I have nothing helpful to add, since any time I've tried to write, I've ripped it up in disgust soon afterwards, but I wish you good luck with it! And with using your time in the way that makes you happiest. I struggle with this myself and always feel I should be doing something else... Oh, and I also enjoyed all the jam talk!

May 16, 2014, 11:45am

>90 labfs39: Lisa, you know how it is. We worry about the kids first. Their reaction is actually a relief and allows my wife and I to focus on out own feelings. As for your daughter, what a wonderful relationship she has with Strider. She may have a hard time with it, but she will also remember the good times.

We have had two young cats for almost two years now. They certainly helped my kids, who are much more attached to these cats then to the dogs, but that's certainly not why we got them! (The first cat was found in the neighbors garage. And, well, you know, you can't just have one.) I won't consider getting a puppy with Mace around, that would be too hard on him.

May 16, 2014, 11:52am

>91 kidzdoc: thanks!

>92 janeajones: oh Jane, I'm choosing to overlook your comment on eating out ;) Blood and Thunder is ridiculously long on audio (22 hours, I think). But if you are headed to Navajo country, I think it would be a nice companion.

>93 Rebeki: hey Rebecca. Thanks for taking the time to read through my posts and the nice comments. I don't tear up my writing, but I don't share it either. : )

May 16, 2014, 2:28pm

And, well, you know, you can't just have one.

And that's how we ended up with 11 chickens!

May 16, 2014, 3:16pm

I was unaware of the stray chicken problem, Lisa.

May 16, 2014, 3:28pm

LOL! My daughter's motto could be bring me your tired, your ill, your huddled masses yearning to be free-range chickens. And then each has to have same age friends.

May 19, 2014, 6:23pm

Dan, so sorry about your dog. It makes me tear up just reading about it and seeing his picture. Something about losing a pet . . .

Regarding Religion and the Decline of Magic — thanks so much for alerting me to your very interesting comments, which I enjoyed, and for providing the links. I am flattered that you thought of me as you read. It goes straight onto my wish list. Interesting that you came to the book through your preoccupation with the "history of science." I will be coming to it from the other end of the spectrum: my own preoccupation with "pagan influences." ;-)

May 20, 2014, 7:07am

>99 Poquette: I find it interesting how both lead to the occult - paganism along with religion in general & science history.

May 20, 2014, 2:14pm


May 21, 2014, 10:47pm

23. The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (1990, Kindle e-book, 384 pages, Read Apr 2-19)

I wrote a review of this just after finishing. Reading that over now, I like it, but I’m not feeling it now, if that makes sense. I’ve just forgotten too much. So, I’m posting that the review on the book page (Link here). Here in my thread I’ll say what I remember, and that’s that again, Potok mastered the world building and atmosphere. It’s not quite a dramatic as My Name is Asher Lev, of which it is a sequel, but it does have it’s own drama. I liked how Asher fumbles about trying to figure out what is bothering him, and I like that the only way we know in the end how angry he is, is because he’s making art with a clear focus again, and we know from early in the book that he makes his best art when angry.

May 21, 2014, 10:50pm

24. The Universe in a Nutshell (Audio) by Stephen W. Hawking, read by Simon Prebble (2001, 224 pages in paper form, Listened Apr 20-23)

This just went by very fast on audio. Lots of interesting details, very clear to the extent they are explained, and some I thought I understood. Found myself trying to visualize extra dimensions, or space-time loops, or extra dimensions in whatever kind of form or loops. It's just very disconcerting when the brain doesn't comply.

Edited: May 24, 2014, 12:54am

25. Reading the Lines : A Fresh Look at the Hebrew Bible by Pamela Tamarkin Reis (2002, Hardcover, 213 pages, Read Mar 27 – Apr 26)

This was just tough to read. The ideas are quite good...no, more than that, they are fascinating. But I can only see it through the exhaustion of plodding through these essays.

Reis combines the literary ideas of Robert Alter with her own notion that the bible, or at least the Old Testament, is not a flawed document, but actually has come down to us as intended. This puts her in the bible-as-literature camp, but a step removed as she is turns the any science-y approach on its head. She starts with her conclusion, and then later works out the reasoning (although that is not how she presents it in her published essays).

Reis sees the Bible as human, but feels that the authors put everything together in a precise and careful manner. In other words, there are no mistakes or contradictions. What we see as errors are our mistakes, viewing an old work through 20th-century eyes and missing the original context and long-lost clues. This is faith, mind you a different kind of faith than the usual in this context. Her resulting ideas are interesting and revealing; her articles, arguing for this (citation, citation) and against this (citation, citation), are... just... really... hard... on... the... attention... span.

So, what comes out of this: Basically she digs out very subtle stuff in the text that is usually missed, has not been published and reverses the way we understand some common stories. For example, she destroys Hagar; and she exposes Tamar as a flake and then argues the rape of Tamar was not a rape, but consensual! I found the article on Jephthah's sacrifice of his daughter cited on the online Yale bible course. She gets where she gets by really thinking things through over and over again, and by picking apart the Hebrew text and finding the common translation errors and understanding errors. She also adds in a few questionable ideas and I might argue her confidence is unjustified. But regardless her ideas are good and of value to anyone with an interesting in this kind of thing.

May 21, 2014, 11:12pm

Way too convoluted for me, I'm afraid.

May 21, 2014, 11:21pm

It's just very disconcerting when the brain doesn't comply.

Fun to try sometimes though.

>104 dchaikin: Sounds interesting, but exhausting.

May 21, 2014, 11:57pm

Dan, I'm going to make a note of Reading the Lines. I seem to be accumulating quite a few books on the Bible and literature, some of which we share and some of which I have even read:
Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible by Robert Alter
The Great Code: The Bible and Literature by Northrop Frye
The Literary Guide to the Bible by Robert Alter (dabbled only)

Not yet read:
The Art of Biblical Narrative by Robert Alter
A History of the English Bible as Literature by David Norton
Words with Power: Being a Second Study of "The Bible and Literature" by Northrop Frye

I find this all very interesting because of the strong influence of the lyricism of the King James Version on writers in English, which Alter and Frye deal with. But I am wondering: Have you noted in your reading, Dan, that the influence of the Hebrew Bible is talked about in the same way in critical reference to Jewish writers? I admit to being clueless in this area.

May 22, 2014, 2:37am

Reading the Lines sounds interesting, although she will have to be very convincing regarding Tamar to make that whole thing sound anything less that horrific.

May 22, 2014, 9:33am

>105 janeajones: maybe. It would take some work. It's too bad she felt insecure enough to include her published essays. Her other writing is normal and accessible, but she only uses it for introductions and backstory.

>106 labfs39: true, it is fun to. And I keep trying...

>107 Poquette: I don't have a great answer, but I'll get back to your question a bit more later - it will only add up to "I don't know", however.

>108 RidgewayGirl: she is very convincing on this one. I buy it and I think she is right. It's sensitive ground with how we feel today - but the text is old, and the implications are derived from the world of those authors' perspectives.

May 22, 2014, 11:16am

I would love to think I could read The universe in a Nutshell, but my non scientific brain would soon get hopelessly lost.

May 24, 2014, 12:40am

>110 baswood: Bas - It's actually not hard read. Hawking is very clear and understandable. Nothing to be intimidated by. But some concepts are challenging to visualize...and maybe visualizing is the wrong way to go about it anyway.

>107 Poquette: Suzanne - Thanks for the awesome list of books. Some I recognize and I'm reading The Literary Guide to the Bible as I read through the OT - although I have to say it's hit an miss. Some chapters really don't add anything to the text.

I wanted to try to answer your question about comparing the KJV's influence on English literature to the Hewbrew Bible on Jewish literature. It's a complicated question, since Jewish writers write in whatever their native language is, and outside Israel few understand Hebrew. Also religious Jewish writers have a different approach than non-religious ones. Finally I haven't read enough to give a good answer (maybe Mariam has?).

I have found the Israeli writers, typically non-religious, are very intimate with the OT and other Jewish writings and that comes through even in translation. As for US writings, they tend to focus on the culture of Judaism more than the Bible. So, Chaim Potok, who was a rabbi, will work the rituals of Judaism into his stories and their atmosphere. While less religious writers will reference their own Jewish cultural experiences. But I don't think it's common for Biblical Hebrew to affect their writing...not that I could tell.

On a side note, I recently read Meir Shalev's A Pigeon and a Boy, in English translation. Every time someone gets out of a vehicle, the translator says they "alighted", which I really liked. That feels like KJV to me, although it's from the translator.

May 24, 2014, 4:13pm

>111 dchaikin: As for US writings, they tend to focus on the culture of Judaism more than the Bible.

Now that you mention it, I see how true that is, which is probably why I never thought of this question before. I am not too familiar with Israeli writers, so the difference would not have registered for me anyway.

Thanks, Dan, for your comments. This is something I'll pay more attention to in future.

May 26, 2014, 12:00am

What did you think of A Pigeon and a Boy, Dan? I quite liked it and would like to read other works by Shalev.

Edited: May 26, 2014, 12:24am

Lisa - I thought it was terrific. Although the end threw me because clearly I was missing something - missed a layer of meaning, maybe.

ETA - I do plan to review it, just a bit behind...

May 26, 2014, 12:25am

Although the end threw me because clearly I was missing something

Same here, it was a book I needed to discuss... with the author maybe!

Jun 1, 2014, 12:55pm

>77 dchaikin:, Dan, just catching up on your thread. I am so sorry about Nutmeg. Deciding to let a suffering friend go is so hard. I still get sad about the loss of our little Oliver, which happened in 2007.

>68 Nickelini:, Joyce, I'll try your recipe. All of the ridiculously elaborate recipes I've found have left me with jam that has an unpleasant texture. There is nothing more disappointing than making ten jars of jam, letting them sit for several weeks, and finally trying them only to find they suck. I love rhubarb, but most commercial jams mess it up with strawberries.

Jun 1, 2014, 2:14pm

Thanks Kris. Sorry about Oliver.

>115 labfs39: Lisa - Not sure this helps any, but I randomly googled yesterday and found (this is not a spoiler) a review of the play based on the book (from a performance in Oregon) that took it for granted that the pigeon is a biblical reference to the laws in Leviticus on how to sacrifices turtle doves. It wasn't the most profound review, mind you, and learning this does not actually clarify much for me...but it gives me another thing to think about. It also told that the Hebrew words for homing and longing are very similar.

Jun 1, 2014, 10:39pm

26. The Hunter by Julia Leigh (1999, 170 pages, Read Apr 28 – May 3, Paperback)

Avaland sent me this in 2010 (thanks!) and I finally got to it. I picked it up partially because I didn't know anything about it and I kind of needed a book like that, because I suspect anything avaland suggests is going to have some merit, because it's short, and because I've started trying to read more books written by women (see post 6 for my imbalance). Anyway, I opened it up blind, not realizing this was about a hunter's efforts to find and kill the last Tasmanian Tiger, believed to have gone extinct in 1936, or that there was a movie made about it.

The word to describe the reading experience is relentless. Although, actually I didn't notice anything special about it until the end. It's comes across a very simple and straight forward, with a few oddities and touches of humanity around and finally within in a machine like and almost inhuman hunter. But the ending - I'll avoid spoilers here - changed the book for me. There is a very sound and difficult logic to it. It left me suddenly uncomfortable and thinking, and bothered by the book in a way I wouldn't not have been if it had been presented another way. That is to say I couldn't have gotten the sense of the book in it's entirely without having experienced the whole book plus the ending. It all fits together as a interdependent experience - at least for this reader. I find something special in that.

Edited: Jun 2, 2014, 9:33am

>113 labfs39:


Meir Shalev.

So few Americans know this Israeli author, and I'm always thrilled to find those who do read his books. I liked A Pigeon and a Boy, but I loved The Blue Mountain, an older book of his which is set in the same valley as where my own family's kibbutz is located.

I have to say that A Pigeon and a Boy has my all-time favorite book cover. I feel as if I could jump through that archway and be back in the land I love.

*sighs again*

Jun 3, 2014, 7:05pm

27. Moonwalking with Einstein : The Art and Science of Remembering Everything (Audio) by Joshua Foer, read by Mike Chamberlain (2011, 271 pages in paper form, Read Apr 23 – May 6)

Reviews are mediocre on this, which surprises me because I really enjoyed listening to it. Read really nicely by Mike Chamberlain, Foer looks into how our memories work--both biologically and in practice. He covers memory competitions and gets to know some of the leading competitors. One of the first things he learns is that that the "grand masters" don't have unusually strong memories, but instead are just a group of quirky individuals who have developed sophisticated techniques to give them the tools to retain incredible amounts of information. And the foundation of these techniques are the same methods scholars used for hundreds of years, when books were rare and precious, to memorize texts and facts, methods that today we have mostly all but forgotten about. Frances Yates's The Art of Memory is mentioned several times.

Foer decides to develops his own skills and ends up winning the US memory championship (one of the easier memory championships to win), something I think actually turns off some readers. It didn't bother me, but it's not the most interesting part of the book and, since it comes at the end of the book, it happens to be the part I remember the most.

Jun 3, 2014, 7:08pm

>119 SqueakyChu: Madeline - what do you have? (my cover can be found in post 1). I'll certainly keep The Blue Mountain in mind.

Jun 3, 2014, 7:37pm

28. New Letters, Volume 80 No. 1, 2013-14 (2013, 149 pages, Read Mar 27 – May 7)
Edited by Robert Stewart

The overall affect is maybe somehow less than the hole. I keep thinking this as OK, but then I look over the stories and each one was memorable in some way. Several were complex and difficult to grasp and maybe need to be re-read a few times - and maybe what I sense overall is the guilt of not re-reading them. The highlight for me was Dave Smith's wonderful essay on poetry and then some.

Some highlights

Edward Hoagland - Hippies and Beats - personal essay
In this memorable essay Hoagland writes about his life as a young adult - on how he was younger than the beats and older than the hippies and on how he interacted with the counterculture of his times.

Brian Doyle - Elson Habib, Playing Black, Ponders the End Game - fiction
When his grandfather passes away, Elson watches over his place and thinks about him and then completes, for his grandfather, an incomplete game of chess he finds. His grandfather is maybe inspiration to the author, keeping exactly 100 books carefully selected to read and re-read.

Paula Streeter - Angels and Animales
 - essay
This essay was puzzling and disturbing, and I was a bit stunned to find it listed as non-fiction. If I understand correctly this is about an NGO worker in some very violent Central American country who was raped. It's written in first person. But even that summary is hardly clear.

Albert Goldbarth - Six Poems
I can’t say I remember these, but I remember thinking they were interesting.

Dave Smith - When Bird Dogs Roamed the Earth, essay
The highlight of the magazine. This essay was not about bird dogs, but about poetry and nostalgia and the lost of nature, centered around his own experiences. Terrific stuff

Tony Naponic - Whispering
, short story
Naponic is the issue's artist, now deceased. He was was dynamic and tragic figure and ultimately unsuccessful making in making a living as an artist. This one page short story was so out there and managed to be so interesting in so few words. Good stuff

Elisabeth Kirsch - Tony Naponic, introduction to the art
, essay
I can't evaluate Napoic's work, I did like it. But his life story as presented here was tragically fascinating.

Lewis Ellingham - Robert is Waiting
 - personal essay
Thoughts from elderly man fighting cancer, apparently non-fiction. This was complex enough that I read it twice, only getting out of it the first time that it needed more time and re-reading. The second time it crystallized, but in such an aloof way I couldn’t maintain what it was that crystallized and so can’t explain it now. Anyway, intriguing but also a bit of work.

Gladys Swan - Menial Work
 - short story
An out-of-work actress does custodial work at curious home for struggling and not completely sane artists, and connects with a puppet maker. There was more here than I took in and I probably should have read it again.

Philip Gerard - Why Are You Telling Me This? An Essay on the Writers Craft

A fun essay on the importance of capturing the reader’s interest up front.

Lisa D. Stewart - "Girls Worth Wet Straw Shoes" – areview of The Voices of Heaven by Maija Rhee Devine
The novel takes places in war-time Korea and sounds like a terrific window into Korean culture.

Abby Minor - "The Strength of Their Beliefs" – review of The Evening Hour by Carter Sickels

On West Virginia coal country, and sounded interesting...but the first lines tells us it “moves slowly and cyclically”, which discourages me a bit.

Jun 3, 2014, 8:22pm

Dan, I thought I had at least heard of all the important American literary magazines, so it is with some chagrin that I realize I have never heard of this one. I went to the web site to check it out. Thanks for introducing me!

Jun 3, 2014, 11:26pm

Suzanne - It's new to me too. I thought it was just another university press (University of Missouri-Kansas City). I found it at a Barnes & Noble and this is it's 80th year of publication, so maybe it has some higher importance. This issue had good quality stuff.

Jun 4, 2014, 8:55am

>118 dchaikin: The Hunter sounds intriguing, Dan.

Jun 7, 2014, 1:06am

Linda - I enjoyed it and I'm glad I read it. I'll skip the movie though, which looks terrible based on the trailer.

Edited: Jun 7, 2014, 9:29am

29. A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev (2006, 311 pages, Read May 9-17, Paperback)
translated from Hebrew by Evan Fallenberg, 2007

A beautifully written book that explores many themes, using homing pigeons, the Israeli War of Independence, homes and the building of a home in the present day to explore the idea of home, longing, creation, Zionism and more, and not all easily decipherable. Shalev calls it a love story.

The book opens when Yair Mendolson, giving a tour to a an official government group from the United States, is stunned by one of the group who starts talking in Hebrew about a pigeon in the Israeli War of Independence. The American turns out to be a Palmach veteran. The Palmach was the Israeli army during the war of Independence. There are two interwoven stories in the novel whose connection is hinted about throughout, but not actually revealed until the end. Yet both are brought together in this opening.

The pigeon leads to a story about the Baby, who is not a baby, but an orphan on a pre-Independence kibbutz in Israel. He becomes a homing pigeon handler and falls in love with another pigeon handler in Tel Aviv. They converse through the few words carried by homing pigeons inside an ostrich quill.

Poor Yair, on the other hand, is a mess. He is wasting his life as tour guide and looking for some kind of center. He has thoroughly irritated his American wife, who he works for, and his younger successful brother. He also has an Israeli mistress. Yair uses his inheritance from his mother to build a home for himself, develop his relationship with his mistress and in an effort at a statement of something complicated and unclear – maybe independence, maybe redemption, or something entirely different.

Biblical themes and references are scattered throughout, and one is also tempted to interpret everything in terms of the history and current state of Israel. There are so many interwoven themes, I found it difficult to figure out what might be intended or to know what was meant by a couple odd plot points. There is quite a lot to think about.

"We'll lie on our backs inside the house and look up at the heavens. We'll see if darkness really falls, as they say, or whether it rises."

We undressed, lay down next to each other. The walls hid us away from human eyes; the gaping roof exposed us to glances from above: those of migrating birds, of pigeons returning home, perhaps even your eyes, if you really are up there.

The greater light set and disappeared; its luminescence faded, then extinguished. First it lost its beingness, then its name. Darkness neither fell nor rose. It was not created all at once, like the light or the sea or the trees or man; rather it took shape, spread, thickened, and was. The exposed beams of the roof, which previously had stood blackened against the sky, were now swallowed up inside it. The lesser light, that evening merely a narrow sickle, brightened in the west. Exuberant stars shone. Spiraling and naked, holding hands—this too was part of Tiraleh's orchestration—we watched them multiply and make a sieve of the dome of heaven.

Jun 7, 2014, 10:10am

Sounds intriguing. Eventually, I need to read some Israeli books.

Jun 7, 2014, 5:10pm

Ditto what Rebecca said.

Jun 7, 2014, 5:56pm

>127 dchaikin: Nice review of A Pigeon and a Boy, Dan.

Jun 8, 2014, 3:13pm

Dan, condolences on Nutmeg, hope you are finding a new and good routine in her absence.

I think it would be hard to listen to Hawking-type content; I’d be pressing that 15-second rewind over and over. I have The Universe in a Nutshell and two others by him in my TBRs, I ought to get to one of them.

Jun 8, 2014, 4:00pm

>128 rebeccanyc: & >129 Poquette: - my first thought is that I still need to read so much more. There is so much promising literature from Israel available in English.

>130 NanaCC: - thanks Colleen!

>131 detailmuse: - MJ - I'm using Overdrive for the audio software* which has a 15-second forward and back button. I used that back button more here than on any other audio book. Still, Hawking is strikingly clear. I think it's a strength of his writing.

*i should note I have to use Overdrive. It's not a choice, but the format my library uses.

Jun 8, 2014, 4:37pm

>132 dchaikin: Overdrive: my library, too. Seems okay to me. I'm listening to Keith Richards' Life and one reader reads so slowly I was getting frustrated ... then I noticed you can speed up the audio -- he's perfect at 1.25 speed.

Jun 8, 2014, 6:02pm

Oh goodness - I'm imagining the Chipmunks voices. I haven't played with the speed, hadn't thought about it, but have encountered some painfully slow readers.

Jun 9, 2014, 12:14pm

>134 dchaikin: lol!! At 1.25 speed it was so perfect I began to think the company had defaulted 1.0 to the wrong speed on him. Even 1.5 is really good. At 1.75 he begins to sound a little "hectic," but it's interesting that even at 2.0 he just gets faster, never higher-pitched. Sound engineers have made progress since the chipmunks :)

Try out the speeds on your next one.

Edited: Jun 11, 2014, 1:33am

30. Anne Frank Remembered : The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family (Audio) by Miep Gies with Alison Leslie Gold, read by Barbara Rosenblat (1987 with 2008 epilogue, 256 pages, Listened May 6-19)

I'm very happy to have listened to this. Miep Gies helped care for the Franks in hiding, going through extensive efforts, along with others. Not arrested when the Franks were found, simply due to the a capricious decision by a the German officer making the arrests, she found and saved Anne's writing and found herself the only person available who knew how to run Otto Frank's business. She kept it going until his return after the war. She was 100 years old in 2008 and the last one alive to have known and helped the Franks during WWII.

The biography was almost forced out of her by Allison Leslie Gold, who insisted Miep's story must be told. Gold conducted the interviews and then wrote the book. But, you wouldn't know that from the book itself.

It reads very simply, but with a formality that gives a touching charm to it. Miep covers her childhood, which oddly started in Vienna. She was sent to Amsterdam along with many other children because, in the wake of WWI, her family could not feed her. She was raised by foster Dutch parents, whom she took to, and grew up to see herself as Dutch. The book then covers her getting hired by Otto Frank, her experiences in the business and her marriage. And then most of the book is her efforts to assist in hiding the Franks. (Her husband, a social worker, was involved in the Dutch resistance, although he hid this from Miep for most of the war, to protect both her and himself.)

Among the interesting aspect here are her insights into the character of Otto Frank. He comes across as a special personality before the war, one caring, well respected and on very good terms with about everyone he interacted with. The stress of hiding, however, brought him down. Miep also talks about her resistance to read the diary. She never read the papers she had saved, and refused to read it when Otto, surprised to discover how special they were, and very moved, asked her to read parts. It was only long after it was published that Miep finally read it. And she talks about her discomfort with the fame she experienced once the diary was published.

I was struck by her characterization of the Nazi crackdowns on Jews. A higher percentages of Dutch Jews died then practically that of any other country. She discusses how the Nazi's waited a long time before they acted, apparently giving them time to better understand the Dutch systems, and then how the Nazis so effectively broke initial popular sympathy and support of Dutch Jews, by terrorizing people from helping Jews.

The epilogue is an interview of Miep at 100 in 2008. I found one the most moving parts of the book to be when Miep tells us how lucky she has been.

Jun 11, 2014, 1:54am

Very nice review, Dan. The Diary of Anne Frank was one of those life changing books. I read it when I was 12 or 13 and it left a deep impression. I should read Miep's memoir one of these days, or perhaps listening would be the thing.

Jun 11, 2014, 5:34am

Excellent review Dan

Jun 11, 2014, 7:09am

>136 dchaikin: Your review makes me want to read this. I also think I might get the audio version.

Jun 11, 2014, 10:35pm

>137 Poquette: Suzanne - I think you would enjoy just to get another (and adult) perspective on all the people involved. I found it a good audio book.

>138 baswood: - Thanks Bas

>139 NanaCC: Colleen - I can recommend the audio version. I think Barbara Rosenblat has a great voice and did an excellent job.

Edited: Jun 12, 2014, 10:19pm

31. The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (2013, 367 pages, Read May 18-23, e-book)

The price of book clubs. While reading it, I was annoyed at the quality of the writing - I mean the lack of it. Characters are two dimensional, thoughts are adolescent. Looking back I'm more annoyed at the inaccuracies and how it trivializes the experiences of Jews and everyone else in Vichy France.

An out-of-work architect is hired to design hiding places for Jewish residents in Paris. Not caring about Jews, he does it because he is exceeding well paid and is rewarded by being given a chance to design key German war factories. The greedy variation of a collaborator of course changes his views, becomes a better person, wins the beautiful girl and in the process accomplishes about nothing. Sorry, I think that counts as a spoiler. The book is terrible.

Nonetheless it gets raving reviews on LT and Goodreads...

I should note that Belfoure's main job is as an architect, that this is his first work of fiction, that he did a good job of maintaining his tone (staying within his limits maybe), keeping the books consistent, and that the book is readable, not painfully so, and reads quickly. I think the writing is good enough that he could one day obtain his stated goal of writing as well as John Grisham.

Edited: Jun 12, 2014, 3:46am

his stated goal of writing as well as John Grisham.

Ouch. I guess that's marginally better than Nicholas Sparks complaining that he writes like Hemingway, but without the acclaim because people hate him?

I've been eyeing The Paris Architect, since I'm a sucker for books about Paris. Thanks for reading it so I don't have to.

You should post your review to the book's page to provide a counterpoint to all the love.

Jun 12, 2014, 7:33am

his stated goal of writing as well as John Grisham.

Smack! I agree with Kay, you should post this review.

Jun 12, 2014, 7:35am

He does sound like a future Grisham from your review. :-)

Jun 12, 2014, 8:21am

I was going to quote the same line about Grisham, but I see everyone else is way ahead of me. It sounds like an extremely irritating book.

Jun 12, 2014, 3:49pm

"Grisham" says to me "suspense." Is The Paris Architect suspenseful? If so, maybe the handling of the subject matter is the problem. And I can surely relate to that! How many books have I hated that others loved? It was usually the subject matter that put me off. Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck comes to mind: A beautifully written book but an unpleasant reading experience for me.

Edited: Jun 12, 2014, 10:38pm

Kay, Colleen, Flo, Rebecca, and Suzanne -thanks for the comments. Funny that that line and reference to Grisham was so effective here. He still has a lot of fans. I'm hesitant to post the review on the book page because it just seems so snarky. No one here would be offended, but someone from another perspective just reading the reviews might be.

Suzanne - yes, suspense in a variation of the Grisham kind. And the subject matter or the handling of it did bother me a lot*. But, then, I'm not really the best reader for suspense novels.

*ETA - especially in light of the audio book I finished while reading this - Anne Frank Remembered

Jun 16, 2014, 9:47pm

32. "What Do YOU Care What Other People Think?" : Further Adventures of a Curious Character (Audio) by Richard P. Feynman, as told to Ralph Leighton, read by Raymond Todd (1988, 256 pages in paper form, Listened May 20-28)

I enjoyed this, although it felt more like a series of appendices than a book, and is read way to fast by Raymond Todd, fast enough that when he narrates a conversation he gives only the barest hint of a pause between speakers. (Also, I found it a bit odd in one way. Ralph Leighton interviewed Feynman then wrote down what Feynman said as a narration. And so I'm listening to Raymond Todd voice Feynman through the notes of Ralph Leighton. The book was published posthumously.)

What I got out of it was that I really do like Feynman and would like to read or listen to more by him. Also I enjoyed the a little insights into the nature of NASA in the era of the Challenger failure.

Jun 18, 2014, 8:50am

>141 dchaikin: That's just too funny. Loved your review and the thoughts on book clubs. As others say, you should post the review... after all, consider the title of your next book in 148.

Jun 18, 2014, 11:59pm

Sassy - that's a good argument.

I read it over again today and I feel differently about it. When I wrote it I actually felt bitter about the book and I associated the review with the feeling, which made it seem meaner. I don't have that sense anymore. Anyway, I'll go ahead and post it, and counter the gush a little.

Edited: Jun 21, 2014, 2:57pm

33. The Linen Way by Melissa Green (2013, 90 pages, Read May 23-28, e-book)

Wow, intense. It's not clear what happened in her early life, but whatever it was, Melissa's only escape was to get lost in literature. By her young adulthood she found herself either suicidal, or living for poetry - I mean for writing poetry. Her extreme intensity caught the attention of Derek Walcott, who pushed her, resulting in what became her first book, and the Russian exile Joseph Brodsky. Both Walcott and Brodsky later won a Noble Prize for literature. At the same time she was writing poetry under their influence, she was in and out of psychiatric centers that kept her under 24 hour suicide watch.

She writes about her young adult experiences, mixing poetry into her writing. In my kindle version there are audio links to her reading her own poetry, and one video link which we find out later was an event she attended while under suicide watch, barely able to eat anything. The extremes to which she lives for and breathes poetry are somehow just something other outside my lexicon. I was stunned by poetry that came out, which is even better with her own voice. Every word in this memoir is intense. Don't pick this up lightly.

CR's Tim Jones interviewed Green last year (link here). I read the interview not knowing anything about Green, and it caught my attention and let me to read this memoir.

Jun 21, 2014, 2:41pm

>151 dchaikin: That does sound intense ... almost painful. Why is it, I wonder, such great art comes out of such hurting people? My grandmother always said it was because they just felt the world more intensely than other more "normal" folks.

Edited: Jun 21, 2014, 6:42pm

34. Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones (2006, 214 pages, Read May 29 – Jun 6, Trade Paperback)

I read her book Sorry years ago and it was an odd experience where I didn't love the book, but was really struck by the lyrical writing. It left me with a feeling that somehow lingered. I waited years to read this book because I just never was in the right place to take in the kind of writing I was expecting.

Dreams of Speaking was published one year before Sorry, and the writing is quite different and not as good, but the book is actually quite interesting. Jones is looking hard at modern life and the isolation caused by technology. Alice, the Australian main character, is in Paris trying to write a book on this when she meets Mr. Sakamota, a Japanese survivor of the Nagasaki atomic bomb. Mr. Sakamota is writing a book on Alexander Grahm Bell. He sees the humanity in technology is struck by how Bell's insights into physical nature of human communication through speech led him toward his invention. Through the book Alice will encounter a series of challenging experiences on subways, in her family, her relationships, and in the atomic bomb museum in Nagasaki. It's not clear where it leaves her─she remains in some indecisive space between her own pessimism and Mr. Sakamota's optimism about technology.

The writing I didn't like. Everything is described in multiple phrases with slightly different meaning and feel as she tries to capture different perspectives all in one sentence. One review called the book a "synonym avalanche". The affect is a mixed sense of repetition, indecisiveness and, oddly hyperbole. That may have been an intended affect (it's a feature lacking whenever Mr. Sakamota talks or writes), but it's unpleasant...and clearly not what I was anticipating.

While I wasn't crazy about the writing, I found the book overall thought provoking and worth the experience.

'The difficulty with celebrating modernity,' he declared, 'is that we live with so many persistently unmodern things. Dreams, love, babies, illness. Memory. Death. And all the natural things. Leaves, birds, ocean, animals. Think of your Australian kangaroo,' he added. 'The kangaroo is truly unmodern.'

Here he paused and smiled, as if telling himself a joke.

'And sky. Think of sky. There is nothing modern about the sky.'

Jun 21, 2014, 3:04pm

>152 avidmom: - I am always surprised at how many authors and artists are suicidal, there does seem to be a link. In Green's case, she is driven, and pushes so hard at her writing. I think her writing success is at least partly a result of her efforts she is able to put into it, at her cost.

Jun 21, 2014, 6:08pm

>151 dchaikin:, >152 avidmom: Agree with avidmom about the intensity and the painfulness.

>153 dchaikin: I had mixed feelings about the Gail Jones novel I read a few years ago, Five Bells. I haven't read Sorry.

Jun 21, 2014, 6:09pm

35. Webster Review : Volume Twelve, Number two (Fall 1987) (104 pages, Read May 28 – June 14)
Edited by Nancy Schapiro

I dipped into deep obscurity here. This magazine is long out of publication and probably was not that widely known in 1987 when this issue was published by Webster University (Webster Groves, MO). The first half is translations of poetry and (very short) short stories - from German, Yiddish, Danish, French, Catalan, Norwegian, Spanish, Hebrew and Greek. The second half is original English. I rarely find an attachment to poetry in translation, and this was no exception, but I really enjoyed the original English poetry and the short stories. All of it was easy to read.

Some notable short stories. These were not translations.

Barbara Esstman - Choices
Elinor monitors her dying adoptive father in a hospital, nudging him just a little, and gently, for some information on her true parents. Elinor find herself balancing many things, it's hard not to like her.

Bo Caldwell - What People Say to Babies
Narrated by a woman who runs some kind of truck-stop-like and almost empty cafe, and has a "two way" mirror in her office that she uses to look over her customers. When an exhausted couple come in with a very young baby, she takes a little too much of a liking to the baby, giving the story a bit of tension and a bit of a creepy feel. Caldwell has two books on LT (published in 2002 and 2010). This was her first published work.

D. J. Durnam - I Know Some Things
A young girl whose father has more or less run off is dealing with her mother's impoverishment and her new and undesirable fiance (although the reader mostly doesn't mind him). She gets closer and closer to her nanny, who has her own problems. This was a great end the issue.

I won't be reading any more of the Webster Review, as this was the only issue I own.

Edited: Jun 21, 2014, 6:15pm

>156 dchaikin: (and >152 avidmom:) - I was trying to think about how to address the "painful" comment with Susie and couldn't think of how to , and yet here it is again. I didn't mean to leave that impression. Her writing is not painful, it's beautiful - especially her poetry. It's also intense, but in a rewarding way.

ETA - And, Rebecca, I may still give Five Bells a chance. Lois seemed mixed on it too, iirc, but also had a lot of affection for it.

Jun 21, 2014, 6:39pm

Posting this means I'm caught up for the year...well, unless I ever go back and review that Paris Review I finished in March

36. A Train in Winter: A Story of Resistance, Friendship, and Survival (Audio) by Caroline Moorehead, read by Wanda McCaddon (2011, 384 pages in written form, Listened June 6-18)

This left me emotionally raw.

Read terrifically by Wanda McCaddon, who I felt added to the experience, this is a more-or-less straight-forward overview of the French resistance during WWII and then of 230 French woman arrested, at different times and places, as part of the resistance. They were found and arrested by French Vichy police, imprisoned, mistreated, and then sent together on one train to Auschwitz.

The book starts off as a fascinating history of the build up of the French resistance, which at first, after France's defeat by Germany, was notable for the lack of resistance. Then it begins to cover various stories of the different woman and the men they worked with. Moorehead goes into detail into the different ways they contributed, and into the careful observations made by the French investigators, who not only collaborated with the Germans, but went the extra mile (extra KM?) and put in painstaking effort to trace as many resistors as they could. The arrests come in bunches as one person with a list leads to several others and so on. The men are tortured brutally, often to death or near death, again by French investigators. Then any man arrested was likely to end up executed in retaliation for resistance activities. The Germans would execute them a 100 at a time over the course of the war, an act of terror that proved counter-productive as it resulted in popular anger and fed a build-up in the resistance.

This is pretty discouraging all around, as we watch these proud woman each eventually get caught and then suffer in prison. But that in no way prepares the reader for what comes next. Entering Auschwitz, in January 1943, is such a shock that many of these French woman were to die shortly after of no apparent cause. The experience is beyond anything I can say here, and is presented by Moorehead with incredible power. I've read and seen enough about Auschwitz to have a sense of what to expect when it is talked about again. But this is a different angle and it brings up an entirely new way of looking at this. Somehow it seemed even more terrible here. For the rest of the book I never fully got over the shock of their introduction to Auschwitz, I still haven't.

The experience in Auschwitz will leave 52 of these woman alive, a number extraordinary for how high it was. Unlike most people sent to these camps, these French woman felt proud about what they had done to get them here. They also bonded closely together, helping each other in every way they could. As a group they were stronger.

A mistaken death notice leads to public questioning in France of what became of these woman. As a result of this, most of the survivors were sent from Auschwitz, an extermination camp, to a labor camp. Death was still constant, and there were still gas chambers, but any women strong enough were treated such as to be kept alive for their labor. Only a few more would die.

With liberation came disappointment. A large percentage of survivors from the various German camps would die within the next several years. These woman were broken, often unable to come to terms with a post-war France determined to rebuild, limit punishments and move forward. Many were communists and were discouraged to find so many communist leaders dead and to find the French government generally unwilling to work with communists. They also had difficulty reacquainting themselves with their families and children who did not recognize them. And it seems it was only on repatriation that they were finally able to deal with the deaths they had witnessed, including the many husbands who were executed.

This is a stunning book, made only better in audio by the excellent reader. It's difficult to read but highly recommended.

Jun 21, 2014, 8:15pm

Dan -- I think I liked the writing in Dreams of Speaking more than you did, and I've been meaning to read more Gail Jones for a long time.

Both The Linen Way and A Train in Winter sound very intense. I may download The Linen Way, but while I appreciate your review of A Train in Winter, I think I'm done with WWII books.

Jun 22, 2014, 8:53am

>151 dchaikin: Thanks for reminding me of The Linen Way, Dan. I was also struck by Tim's review and had intended to buy the book, but never got to it. Now it is on my Kindle, waiting for the right moment.

Jun 22, 2014, 9:10am

Catching up Dan. Some great reviews. I remember Tim's review of the Linen Way and I will definitely look for it now. Heartbreaking story of the French resistance women, which I will probably never get to, but I enjoyed reading your review.

Jun 23, 2014, 10:15am

>121 dchaikin:

The cover of my book follows...

I have to make the image of this picture very large...so you can appreciate it...and I can jump through it! :)

Edited: Jun 24, 2014, 12:34am

>159 janeajones: - I understand about WWII, Jane. Reading comes in themes and somehow I'm on world wars and related things. I would recommend The Linen Way to you. (It's WW-free)

>160 Linda92007: - good call about waiting for the right moment. Some people can just dive into these kinds of books. Other not. My brain needs to mental prep.

>161 baswood: - thanks Bas.

>162 SqueakyChu: - my first thought is to wonder how to get myself to Israel again.

Jul 10, 2014, 11:21pm

Just returned from a ten day road trip where we made a loop from Houston, through Baton Rouge, a few hours in New Orleans, a couple days along the Alabama Gulf Coast, then to Asheville, NC for four days, and home through Tennessee, with an overnight in Nashville. I didn't read anything...but I did hit three great book stores and came home with nine new books.

In Asheville, NC we stopped at two great book stores - Malaprop & Downtown Books & News. Malaprop is listed as one of best book stores in the country. One highlight is their bookshelf of staff picks which make up a nice grouping of high quality books. Each staff member adds a little blurb about the books they recommend. All three books I got there came from the blurbs. Downtown Books & News is just an amazing used book store. I just sat longing over their section of travel memoirs, and then their country by country sections with more travel memoirs.

In Nashville, TN we stopped at author Ann Patchett's book store, Parnassus, which has tons of signed books and generally good new fiction, not to mention very good kids books. Well worth the stop.

The list:

From Malaprop (Asheville, NC)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, published last year.
Reading Pictures: A History of Love and Hate by Alberto Manguel, published in 2000
Joe by Larry Brown, published in 1991 - This is the only book I bought with LT in mind, inspired by Polaris. The blurb said it was was Brown's best novel.

From Downtown Books & News (used books, Asheville, NC)
Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road by Anthony Weller, 1997, because one day I will read a bunch of books on India...really...
About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory by Barry Lopez, 1998, because it just sounded wonderful
The Liars' Club by Mary Karr, 1995, I have had this one in mind ever since I read a DFW biography.
Beyond the Pyrenees by Marcel Aurousseau, 1931, the gem of all my purchases, even it turns out to be unreadable. It's a beautiful 1931 hardcover about an Australian scientist's wandering through Spain on foot (he began in Paris, but that's a different volume)

from Parnassus (Ann Patchett's bookstore in Nashville, TN)
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett, 2013, couldn't resist, and of course, it's signed.
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination : a Memoir by Elizabeth McCracken, 2008, autographed. Wikipedia tells me "Ann Patchett in an interview on her novel "Run," mentions that Elizabeth McCracken is her editor and is the only person to read her manuscripts as she is writing." But, I didn't know that when I bought it.
Winter Journal by Paul Auster, 2012, because I've been interested in reading Auster.
The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth by Robert Graves, published in 1948, enlarged in 1952, and edited by Grevel Lindop and then released in 1997. A guy at the front desk raved about this and warned me it's a tough read. Information overload, apparently. If I can get in the right mood, could be a gem.

Also, before I left, I subscribed, electronically, to Poetry Magazine. I'm mixed on this because I prefer these magazines in print, and because the font it too large and you can't reduce it, but it's cool that they just show up on my iPad every month.

Jul 11, 2014, 3:48am

Some great books there Dan. Beyond the Pyrenees looks a good find.

Jul 11, 2014, 6:57am

That sounds like a great trip, Dan. I love it when bookstores have the staff picks. Our little indie store does that. They don't have a big selection, but they will order anything for you, and have it within a day or two.

Jul 11, 2014, 11:06am

That's great -- but not surprising, here on LT -- that you visited bookstores on your road trip. A little hot for that route, no? Nice haul, and nice to see you back.

Jul 11, 2014, 11:10am

>164 dchaikin: Next time you are in Houston, stop by Brazos Bookstore or Murder by the Book (mysteries, thrillers, crime, etc) or Kaboom Books or Blue Willow Bookshop. All independent bookstores!

Jul 11, 2014, 4:47pm

I just added We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves to my wishlist, just because of the title.

Edited: Jul 11, 2014, 9:02pm

>165 baswood: It's (Beyond the Pyrenees) one of those books I picked up, then put down, then got to the cash register and thought, "What am I doing?", then ran back to pick it up as the woman rang up our other books.

>166 NanaCC: Nothing is worse, when you are looking for inspiration, than walking into a Barnes & Noble and realizing most of the books they are pushing are crap...it makes me very hesitant to try something I haven't heard of already. So, I really like it when a book store has the high quality stuff sort of concentrated. Then I'll start picking books up and flipping through them. That's what the better indie bookstores are good for.

>167 rebeccanyc: Yeah, not a shocker, checking out bookstores. Asheville is nice in the summer. The rest was hot, especially Orange Beach, AL and this one place we stayed in northern Mississippi.

>168 lesmel: I live in Houston's outskirts! Ok, far far outter fringes. Four good Houston indies. Brazos was magnificent under the old owners. I haven't been there for a while, but the last time I was there it wasn't quite the same. Blue Willow isn't too far from my office. I like their guests, but not their selection, which is mostly children's books. Murdered By the Book is special...but, unfortunately, not my genre. Recommended though, highly. Love that they put blurbs in their favorite books. But I have never been to Kaboom...need to fix that. Wish I could recommend something to you, but that about covers the best ones...well there is Quarter Price books on Shepherd, which has a miscellany of used books. I'm still bummed Issues closed in November...

>169 FlorenceArt: Flo - the cashier told me it was one of her favorite books, and the blurb they had was really nice...it seemed to be a store favorite, not just one employee's recommendation. I put another book back to buy this one instead.

Jul 12, 2014, 10:20am

>170 dchaikin: HA! I always forget who is where. I live south of Shadow Creek Ranch. Hmm, wonder if we could revive the Houstonians group and get a meetup going. I've tried 1/4 Price. It's so freakin' CROWDED in that store. And the guy that was in the store the day I went gave me the creeps. *shudder* Have you tried Paperback Exchange in Bellaire? They have a second location. Good selection of used titles...mostly mass market (perfect for me). There are a couple used bookstores I still want to take a look at. Mustang Books in Alvin supposedly has a great selection.

Jul 12, 2014, 12:35pm

>171 lesmel: - Somehow a creepy guy in 1/4 Price doesn't surprise me...

I'm in Cypress. I'm not familiar with Paperback Exchange or Mustang Books (or Alvin). Thanks for the suggestions.

Looking on google maps, there is a Paperback Exchange near Blue Willow, 15 minutes from my office...

Jul 12, 2014, 3:02pm

>172 dchaikin: Got the name wrong: Laid Back Books on Mustang Road in Alvin. Just in case you decide to take a cross-country trip. LOL

Edited: Jul 20, 2014, 10:50pm

37. My Life as a Traitor (Audio) by Zarah Ghahramani, with Robert Hillman, read by Marjanne Doree (2006, 260 pages in paper format, Read June 18-27)

The topic seemed in theme with A Train in Winter (See >158 dchaikin:). Ghahramani was a 20-year-old Iranian college student in Tehran in 2001 who got involved in a crowd critical of the government. She found herself arrested off the street, and incarcerated in Iran's most infamous prison, Evin. She alternates chapters recounting her interrogation, beatings by guards, conversations with other inmates through cell walls, with chapters on her life before she was arrested, with a few thoughtful asides. Interesting and important, although the writing is maybe only OK. I appreciated her apparent honestly about herself. Her youth and still not fully developed or certain politics seemed to make her psychologically very vulnerable.

Among the interesting aspects here is her conclusion at one point that she thinks she was wrong to speak out as she did, that there were better, more productive, and more responsible ways to try to address the kinds of changes she wanted to address. I'll leave the many possible responses to that out of my review. I think the main value here is in what she documents.

Edited: Jul 20, 2014, 11:41pm

38. Poetry June 2014 (Volume 204, Number 3) (88 pages, Read June 16-28)
Edited by Don Share

Enjoyed this. I think the best poems were inside the front back covers, by two poets who passed away in 2014. One by Ned O'Gorman was originally published in April 1958, and one by Vern Rustala was from January 1972 (neither poem had a title printed). I really enjoyed Phyllis Levin's poem Anne Frank's High Heals. I never did figure out what to make of the 27 pages of poetry by Nathaniel Mackey, but enjoyed trying.

You can find the table of contents and links to all the poems here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/toc/2438

Edited: Jul 20, 2014, 11:39pm

39. The Guns of August by BarbaraTuchman (1962, 455 pages, Read May 28 – July 11)
I used an audio version for the first half, read by Nadia May

I don’t actually have anything to say about this. Just passively let it soak it. I hadn’t realized that Germany almost won the war in 60 days, and I was a bit surprised by the extent of German brutality to conquered Belgian and French citizens.

Edited: Jul 20, 2014, 11:42pm

40. Poetry July/August 2014 (?? pages, Read July 9-20)
Edited by Don Share

The first time I've tried an electronic magazine. (Poetry Magazine is available through Newsstand on iPad's and iPhones) Some issues with clunkyness and some things are missing here that are in the print version, notably any inside-the-cover poems. But I like the extra sections, called "Exclusives", especially reading lists provided by some of the authors, and I liked the links to each authors extended bio on the Poetry Foundation website.

As for the content, most I just kind of took it in without fully knowing what to make of things. I was struck by two poems by Rosanna Warren. I found one poem by Alice Fulton strikingly complex, but not terribly moving. Devin Johnston’s poem Telephone was fun. Dorothea Lasky has an important essay on color in poetry, which I found interesting but didn’t love reading.

You can find the table of contents and links to all the poems here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/toc/2440

Jul 21, 2014, 5:36pm

Nice to catch up with your reading, especially the poetry and the links. I've been thinking about rereading The Guns of August, which I loved when I read it some 25 or more years ago, but instead I'm reading a much more scholarly and much less lively book that is about the origins of WWI, The Sleepwalkers.

Edited: Jul 22, 2014, 7:30pm

Thanks R! I'm curious about The Sleepwalkers, so I'll look for your review.

41. Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (written in 1942, 1st published, in French, in 2004, 397 page e-book, Read July 9-22)
Translated from French by Sandra Smith, 2006

Instead of the book in mind I have the introduction from the French edition by Myriam Anissimov (which is at the very end in my Kindle Edition), and then the journal notes Nemirovsky wrote as she wrote the book, where, somewhat awkwardly, we read things she almost certainly never intended to share, her private thoughts on how the book would evolve, including the parts she was never able to write.

But before all that I read the terrific first two parts of a projected four or five part, 1000 page novel, one Nemirovsky saw as an effort toward a masterpiece. With vivid, and often hysterical characters, she chastises all ranks of Parisians for what is exposed as they flee Paris in front of the German invasion in 1939. This is easy reading, but fun and striking. In the second section she writes of occupation with the same penetrating depth of observation, but with a sincerity that rises above the humor.

I wonder what to make of the sum total, this window in France under German occupation, unfinished because the author was exterminated. This is not a political work. There is nothing Jewish in the novel, and there is nothing inhumane about the Germans. They are merely flawed young men, soldiers. It is a very human book, and it does, as she hoped it would, reach something timeless. This book is as good now as it would have been in 1942, or will be to one who, in some future somewhere, won't have any clear notion of this world war.

Jul 22, 2014, 8:40pm

Hi, Dan. I have The Guns of August on my Kindle, and really want to get to it this year. I have Suite Francaise on my iPod, and will eventually make the time to listen. My reading has suffered a bit because of a lot of activities with grandchildren. (not a bad thing) I am headed to Cape Cod at the end of next week, and all seven will be there. But they entertain one another, so I may get some quality reading time.

Jul 22, 2014, 9:52pm

Colleen - you might consider getting Guns of August on your iPod. Nadia May reads it very nicely. Enjoy the kids. It's funny how having more kids around can mean less work because they keep each other busy.

Jul 23, 2014, 2:27am

Enjoyed reading your thoughts on Suite Francaise. This is yet another book I must get to.

Edited: Jul 23, 2014, 11:46am

>179 dchaikin: The Sleepwalkers is very slow going, so don't expect a review any time soon! I am still only in the second chapter.

Jul 24, 2014, 12:31pm

>182 baswood: Thanks Bas

>183 rebeccanyc: hope it's a rewarding kind if slow. How long have you been actively reading it?

Jul 24, 2014, 3:00pm

>184 dchaikin: I started it this week but I can only read 10-20 pages at a time as it is full of detail (maybe more than I need/want). I have it in hard cover so have to read it at home (i.e., it is not a subway read). Maybe I'll read more over the weekend or in August when I have more time off. It probably doesn't help that I'm reading two other books at the same time.

Jul 25, 2014, 1:38pm

Hi Dan, I read Guns of August many years ago now and was amazed by how much I didn't know about WWI. It led me to read a number of other books on the subject. It is a great introduction in the sense that it leads one into a gripping subject.

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky sounds intriguing. Putting it on my wish list.

Jul 25, 2014, 11:28pm

>185 rebeccanyc: admittedly, my first though is that I could never read that. But, then again, sometimes I'm in the mood for that kind of book. I'll...patiently..await your review.

>186 Poquette: Hi S. I didn't know all those details about the war itself, but I was kind of surprised how much her lead up to the war was consistent with my own impressions. You might like Nemirovsky.

Jul 26, 2014, 12:09am

42. Being Wrong : Adventures in the Margin of Error (Audio) by Kathryn Schulz, read by Mia Barron (2010, 14 hours, 17 minutes, 420 pages in paper format, Read July 10-25)

I thought about my job the entire time I listened to this. Not sure that comes across as a compliment. It’s just that I’m wrong a lot. And this book has me thinking about that, about how often I am surprised when I discover, for sure, I was wrong, and about how valuable that is, how much I learn from it and get better at what I do because of it.

It’s long book, that covers a lot of topics and then goes on and on about them. So, it’s good thing I found so many topics interesting.

Thing I learned:

That being wrong is a human problem. Animals and computers are never in state of awareness that they were wrong (probably arguable with animals). But humans are never in a state of knowing they are wrong, only that they were wrong. We always assume we are right about everything. Once we are aware we are wrong, we instantly know we are right that we were wrong, so maintain our permanent sense of rightness.

Our power of inductive reasoning. How we make vast conclusions on the tiniest amount of information. Typically we make our conclusion from the first bits of data, and then take the remaining data only with a sense of confirmation bias, looking for proof our initial conclusion was right. We need to do this to get through day-to-day life and it’s actually a very impressive thing. Computers can’t do inductive reasoning. But it’s also, naturally, error prone.

About the emotional disaster of transition - which is kind of like being in a state of wrongness. For example, if you have a strong belief and it is suddenly shown to be wrong, and you don't have another belief to replace it, you are left in difficult state. Belief is critical to our confidence that the world is as we think it is, even at the most basic lever. The transition state results in a loss of confidence.

About the mechanisms we use to avoid being proven wrong. How the less secure we feel about a belief, the more ardently we fight for it. And how some of us are so stubborn as to refuse to see the wrongness, including going through exaggerated states of denial of confabulation.

About confabulation - or making things up. How we all do it even when we think we are simply explaining what we are doing. How stubborn people tend to confabulate more.

On the separation in our minds between the parts that confabulate and the parts that fact check. We make stuff up first; it’s a critical part of our imagination. Then we fact check it second. Except that when we dream, we aren’t able to fact check. It’s the only time our imagination can run loose.

And so on.

Not a book for everyone, as it’s a bit long and very long winded. But it’s a great collection of interesting stuff. There is a lot here that might change how you view humanity.

Jul 26, 2014, 5:49am

Interesting thoughts about being wrong Dan. The sort of work I did, it was never easy to prove whether I was right or wrong (human resource management) and so that was probably a good thing.

Jul 26, 2014, 6:43am

>188 dchaikin: Interesting review, Dan.

Jul 26, 2014, 11:30am

Being Wrong must be a very, very interesting book. I may have to look for this at the library. The bit about "confabulation" got my attention. I would call it "lying," and there is so much of that going around these days!

Jul 26, 2014, 12:46pm

Being Wrong has been on my wishlist, but now I see I need to actively track down a copy. Great review--thanks for sharing that.

Edited: Jul 26, 2014, 1:41pm

Nice to catch up on your reviews, Dan. You are making even books that normally wouldn't appeal to me (Suite Française) sound intriguing.

I think I have The Guns of August somewhere in the house.

Edited: touchstone issues

Jul 26, 2014, 1:58pm

Being Wrong sounds very interesting, but I have a feeling that it's one of those books I'll never get to. (Of course, I could be wrong about that!) So I appreciated your giving us a flavor of the ideas in it. In my work as an editor, aside from just copy editing/proofreading, so much is a matter of choice that only rarely do right and wrong enter into it.

Edited: Jul 27, 2014, 11:13pm

>179 dchaikin:

Dan, both my husband and I also really enjoyed reading Suite Française. I found the most interesting part of it just imagining what it must have felt like to have been French and experiencing France being occupied by the Germans.

The irony of Némirovsky's life is that she was a convert to Catholicism yet she was arrested by the Nazis and died of typhus in Auschwitz.

My husband and I also enjoyed Némirovsky's novel, Fire in the Blood. If you can find a copy of it, I think you would like reading it as well.

Edited: Jul 27, 2014, 10:13pm

>189 baswood: thanks Bas. Surely you were right a lot or they wouldn't have kept you around. : )

>190 NanaCC: thanks!

>191 Poquette: The confabulation was eye-opening. Rethinking myself after that (but then I know I'm a person overly stuck on honesty, and so realizing how dishonest I must be was striking)

>192 Nickelini: Joyce, you might like it. Check out Mj's very eloquent review, if you are on the fence.

>193 LibraryPerilous: thanks Diana!

>194 rebeccanyc: One might argue that we can never get something right with words, that they are merely a representation. Just a thought.

>195 SqueakyChu: I agree with you, it's the characterization of the French under occupation that is most interesting. And also, strikingly, of the Germans. She had housed German soldiers, so she knew what they were like.

My understanding is that Némirovsky's Catholic conversion was calculated, not based on a feeling. But, thinking of her mother, (what a monster!), she was unlikely to have any affection for Judaism with that mother of hers. From her writing here, my guess is that she might have been too much of a realist to hold any religious faith.

Jul 27, 2014, 11:21am

>196 dchaikin: I agree words are a representation, but they're one of the best/most common representations we've got, so I think it's worthwhile to make them as good as possible. Of course, in the end, it comes to personal taste.

Jul 27, 2014, 8:01pm

Dan - picked up Being Wrong from the library today. I'm off camping for a few days, so will explore it there. I'm sure my family will be amused--they just love telling me how wrong I am (to retaliate, I write something on a post-it note and stick it on my cell phone).

Jul 29, 2014, 12:29am

>197 rebeccanyc: fair enough, R.

>198 Nickelini: love that sticky note on the smart phone...but then surely I've done that too. Hope you are enjoying the camping.

Jul 29, 2014, 12:34am

>168 lesmel: Lesli - I have had the Kaboom experience...wow...had no idea there was such a good used books store in Houston.

I came in thinking about Malaysia, and had choices. I came out with three books (plus some kids books)

A History of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei by C.Mary Turnbull
Nusantara A History of Indonesia by Bernard H. M. Vlekke
My Michael by Amos Oz

Jul 29, 2014, 12:06pm

>200 dchaikin: YAY! I'm glad you enjoyed the visit!

Jul 31, 2014, 11:13pm

43. The Planets (Audio) by Dava Sobel, read by Lorna Raver (2005, 5 hours, 31 minutes, 285 pages in paper format, Read July 28-31)

Not a book that needs to be read (or listened in my case). It' OK. Sobel tries the make this more interesting by waxing poetic, quoting many poetic bits about planets and using some other gimmicks. I liked the quotes, but would have preferred a simpler straight forward prose. The core of the book is not the planets as much as the history of our understanding of them, and of their discovery. This I liked, but it's a rushed history. These histories are most interesting because of the people involved. But the coverage is too brief to ever meet anyone (or re-acquaint with them, since most of the people she covers are well known). The worst chapter for me was on earth where she jumps from maps to explorers, leaping through time without any chance to provide context. I just found it disorienting.

I don't regret the book, just feel a little underwhelmed by it.

(side note - I was mildly entertained that the audio book included the glossary)

Aug 1, 2014, 2:43am

Just wanted to drop by and and say I'm back from camping and had lots of time to read Being Wrong. I'm 3/4 through and have tagged many pages to go back and take notes from. Thanks for pulling this one out of my wish list and putting it into my hands. Enjoying it so much!

Aug 1, 2014, 9:10am

Aug 1, 2014, 4:32pm

Had not heard that Dava Sobel had another book out. I loved Longitude way back when, and I am realizing that I own but have not yet read Galileo's Daughter. Anyway, I'm adding this to my wish list.

Aug 3, 2014, 2:38pm

>136 dchaikin: Anne Frank Remembered goes onto the audio wishlist. I finally read The Diary of a Young Girl last year and see that tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of them being discovered.

>176 dchaikin: Just passively let it soak in Great way of saying it. I’m trying too hard to listen “actively” to Tuchman’s The Proud Tower and think I’d be more successful with your approach.

>188 dchaikin: I really liked the book Being Wrong, I wished I liked the actual experience more because there's so much benefit in that pain!

Aug 4, 2014, 10:35pm

>205 Poquette: Here I've been doubting how critical my review was, and you are adding to your wishlist. Funny that. Anyway, for the record, I like things I learned, such as that now when I look at the shadowy part of the moon you can barely see, I know it's sunlight reflecting off the earth that allows us to barely see that part.

>206 detailmuse: I didn't recall that about Anne Frank, I should have been more reflective about it...thanks for posting it. As for being wrong, I think I have a more comfortable relationship with it. It can be painful, but I've come to expect it as my norm. But, at least now I know it has some value.

Aug 5, 2014, 9:43am

>188 dchaikin: Catching up and enjoyed your summary of Being Wrong. Too bad it's not a couple hundred pages shorter.

Aug 5, 2014, 10:02am

Catching up here from way back at 174. Agreeing with everyone that The Guns of August is an excellent introduction to the War, but what really stands out is Being Wrong. That sounds like a fabulous book on so many levels! On confabulation though, I would add that it's something many people with brain disease or memory deficits use, often unwittingly, when asked a question they are unable to answer.

Aug 5, 2014, 10:20am

but what really stands out is Being Wrong. That sounds like a fabulous book on so many levels! On confabulation though, I would add that it's something many people with brain disease or memory deficits use, often unwittingly, when asked a question they are unable to answer.

Dan motivated me on this book too. You'll be happy to know that the author does talk about confabulation and brain disorders.

Steven - I wouldn't have wanted Being Wrong to be a couple of hundred pages shorter--I didn't find the author repeating herself at all, and most of it was very interesting. I'm quick to criticize books that I find overly long, but not this time.

Aug 5, 2014, 5:57pm

>207 dchaikin:Here I've been doubting how critical my review was, and you are adding to your wishlist.

Hi Dan! Don't mean to be discounting your comments. I was taking into consideration that you listened to the audio, and I am assuming that some of your complaints had to do with that. Also, I love Sobel's writing and the subject matter and am hoping that reading will prove to be more satisfactory than listening in this particular case. I'll let you know if I should have listened to you! ;-)

Aug 6, 2014, 12:36pm

Dan -- I felt the same way about the Sobel book. I wanted more substance. I do remember the Mars chapter being interesting though. Science books are also tricky on audio because I need to see diagrams for it to make sense to me.

What is going on with the Bible read?

Aug 6, 2014, 12:55pm

It's too bad about the Sobel book. I would like a history of the planets but it'd have to be bit more straightforward for my tastes.

Aug 6, 2014, 1:40pm

Hi all, I have been reading your posts, but I haven't had a chance to sit down with a clear head and compose any kind of reply (or review...I have one to do). I will when I get the chance.

>212 JDHomrighausen: everything is collecting dust. I stalled in the middle of psalms. Are you interested in reviving a group read?

Aug 7, 2014, 12:09am

>206 detailmuse: - MJ, I forgot to add that I love your review of Being Wrong. After I posted my review, I went back and re-read yours was struck by how eloquent a review it is.

>208 StevenTX:, >209 SassyLassy:, >210 Nickelini: - Surprised and happy my comments on Being Wrong caught your attention. I really liked it. And, I didn't expect much. I expected it to be mildly interesting. Instead I miss thinking about all that stuff while I was listening.

>208 StevenTX: - about the length of Being Wrong, I agree with Joyce that's it's not repetitive. What I noticed in audio form is that Schultz can't ever seem to satisfy herself that she has been clear enough. She continues to explains things in ever more precision. So, I found myself thinking she really spent a lot of time on what was already clear. From my own inductive reasoning, based on wikipedia and that this is Schultz's first and only book, I got the impression she is a very serious journalist and that she wanted to make sure she was absolutely and completely thorough, and got every important point correctly expressed in the book. She was thorough. It's really a top quality work for presumably a non-expert.

>209 SassyLassy: on confabulations, what Joyce said. But Schultz goes to show how we all do it regularly without realizing it. Of course, that's point with the brain disorders - the person has no idea they are making things up to justify what they are doing.

>211 Poquette: Suzanne, don't let me discourage you from The Planets (well you haven't, ; ) ). I wasn't complaining, just entertained. Anyway, I wrote the review practically as I finished the book, without much reflection. I'm actually more fond of it now then I was at 10:15 CST on Thursday.

>213 stretch: - Kevin - The Planets is a light read, but also a quick one. (ignore the page count. The unabridged audio was only 5.5 hours). I'm thinking you like science books that are more tome like...

Edited: Aug 7, 2014, 1:06am

44. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (2013, 306 page Hardcover, Read July 22 – Aug 3)

I'm having a tough time reviewing this. I just can't seem to figure out whether I liked it disproportionately to it's quality, or how to express that with the right amount of imprecision. I loved the collection. The quality is at least good, if not great. I mean Patchett clearly has some skills in writing personal essays (the essays are all about her life). She excels at bringing the reader in and making us interested, not dragging the essays along, and leaving the reader moved, sometimes in only a few words.

As these are all personal essays, cumulatively they work as something like a biography. She covers childhood experiences with divorced parents in two states, half siblings, grad school, bad marriages, affairs with the like of David Foster Wallace, dogs, aging, relationships, writing, her odd experience with freedom of expression, and how she has accidentally become the voice of the independent book store. For all she has accomplished, it was her book store, Parnassus in Nashville, TN, that got her on front page of the New York Times and on the Colbert Report.

I found I liked pretty much every essay. They were originally supposed to stand on their own, and they do. The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life is a short manual on how to write, or at least how she writes. It's quite brilliant, I think. How to Read a Christmas Story is simply about her dad telling her a Christmas story over the phone on Christmas day. But it's not a simple story. Thanks to her parent's divorce, her father calls Tennessee on Christmas Day from California where he spends the day alone...and just little details like that make this actually a fairly complex story that does a lot to the reader in a few pages.

For me, clearly the best essay was the title one, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Maybe I like this so much because this is where she talks about her relationship with David Foster Wallace (who she merely names David). But also it's just a great fairy tale version of her life. There is naivety, a tragic beginning, a terrible sin, variations of romance, and various snares and adventures that all lead up to a happy ending of sorts. And it was not till afterward that I started to think about how many different elements of the story captured me, or about all those distracting details that were stripped off, to keep simple, if you like.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I got a lot out of this.

Aug 7, 2014, 4:51am

You did a good job of reviewing This is a story of a happy marriage. Your enjoyment of the reading experience came across really well.

Aug 7, 2014, 7:51am

I used to love Ann Patchet but I've shied away from her recent work, not sure why. You do make her essays sound intriguing.

Aug 7, 2014, 1:27pm

>215 dchaikin: thanks Dan!

>216 dchaikin: I say "ditto" to every word of your review. Of her fiction, I've only loved Bel Canto; a handful of others were okay but I finally read her debut, The Patron Saint of Liars and thought it very good (>218 rebeccanyc: I think you've already read that, yes?).

Aug 7, 2014, 2:04pm

> 214

Yes, I am interesting in reviving. I want to get back into it myself!

Aug 7, 2014, 2:28pm

... I have been reading your posts, but I haven't had a chance to sit down with a clear head and compose any kind of reply (or review...I have one to do). I will when I get the chance.

So good to know it's just not me then. I have become a perpetual lurker ......

>216 dchaikin: For a minute I had Ann Patchett confused with Ann Tyler in my brain. Oops!
Sounds like a very interesting read. Her Bel Canto has been on my WL for a long time.

Edited: Aug 7, 2014, 2:38pm

>219 detailmuse: Yes, I've read The Patron Saint of Liars and enjoyed it, MJ. I had to be talked into reading Bel Canto because it had so much hype, but I loved it and went back to read her earlier work, so I also read The Magician's Assistant and liked it too. Then when she came out with her next novel, Run, the description of it didn't appeal to me, so I didn't read it, and then I just stopped reading her.

Aug 14, 2014, 1:51am

> 217 Thanks!

>218 rebeccanyc: Rebecca - I was thinking about it the other day. There is something in these essays that is missing in her style of fiction. I can't quite put my finger on what that is though. Anyway, they are intriguing.

>219 detailmuse: That's a nice compliment, thanks. Perhaps it's time I looked up The Patron Saint of Liars.

>220 JDHomrighausen: Jonathan - I've been thinking about this. On one hand I could really use your help, or someone's help with Psalms. I'm so not the right reader for them. On the other hand, I don't see a group read of any kind working. We are both too busy to lead it. Not sure where that leaves us, but I've targeted Sep 1 as a good time to pick up the Psalms again.

>221 avidmom: well...I actually meant my own thread, but that meaning works too. I've been unable to catch up on threads. I read quite a bit of what is posted, but I never get to the end of a thread, so I rarely post lately. Funny about the Ann's.

Aug 14, 2014, 1:57am

45. The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler (1996, 318 page Kindle e-book, Read August 4-13)

Read for my book club. I'm kind of surprised how little this is criticized. It's a readable and somewhat fun mystery. It can be lyrical, and has higher aspirations, but there are gaping flaws make it hard to take seriously on any level.

The mystery is set in the Lisbon massacre of 1506, an unusual and quite interesting setting. The story behind the massacre involves Portugal’s response to the Spanish inquisition. In 1497 Portugal forced all its Jews to convert to Christianity, en mass. These Jews became “New Christians”, or, marranos. Their conversion in doubt, the marranos were not trusted by the general population. However, the inquisition did not begin in Portugal until about 1536. During Easter/Passover in 1506 an anti-marrano mob, led and incited by Dominican friars, gathered hundreds of marranos throughout Lisbon and then tortured, burned or otherwise massacred them.

Zimler’s narrator is a young marrano manuscript illuminator in Lisbon who studies under his uncle, a master Kabbalist, and member of a small secret Kabbalist group that includes a priest. When someone close to the narrator is murdered early in the massacre, he sets out to find out who did it. As the book progresses, he becomes more obsessed, emotionally insulated from everything around him, abusive and more adaptable to other people’s repulsive activities. This is interesting.

The book wholly fails in creating an authentic a sense of experience. The initial setting simply doesn’t make sense. The reader is introduced to a group of secret “Kabbalists” who would fit better in the Blues Brothers movie than in any type of spiritual environment. At no point in the book do any of these characters pause to read, study or pray or anything of the like. Then, as the massacre takes place, none of the characters makes any emotional expression consistent with it. There is no sense of fear or confusion, desperation, uncertainty, or even discomfort. Life goes on. One almost gets the sense that the massacre was a late, and awkward, addition to the story. There are other oddities, but these two were the most glaring to me.

I did not exactly mind reading this, but I’m not sure I took much away, other than an awareness of odd history of Portuguese antisemitism.

Aug 14, 2014, 11:55am

So sorry The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon was such a disappointment. What a waste of a really neat title! It could have been so much more.

Aug 15, 2014, 6:15pm

Hope you are not the only one who didn't like The last Kabbalist of Lisbon when you get to your book club meeting.

Aug 15, 2014, 8:49pm

>224 dchaikin: I'd have to give it credit, though, it sounds a lot (at least it tried, right?) deeper than my reading of The Cubs and the Kabbalist. That one was lots of fun as I remember. It also taught me what a "golem" was.

... secret “Kabbalists” who would fit better in the Blues Brothers movie
Oh my!

Aug 16, 2014, 12:51pm

September 1 it is! Post on the thread for the group read as well. I'll see how many of them I can read in Hebrew.

Aug 22, 2014, 2:08pm

>225 Poquette: - yeah, disappointing.

>226 baswood: - Probably I will be. So far, I'm consistently the only one who really doesn't like any of the books, with the exception of the two we read by Chaim Potok and one other book. '

>227 avidmom: - I don't know, getting the Cubs a ring would be miraculous stuff...(although it might just happen in three or four years time with Theo Epstein in charge.)

>228 JDHomrighausen: - J, I'll start Sept 1, but I'm not posting. I know I won't be able to keep up any promises, so I don't want to make or imply any. I'll pm Flo.

Aug 22, 2014, 3:43pm

>229 dchaikin: Thank you for the PM! I did see that discussion and I will try to keep up, although I guess I'd better finish Job first. I'm not sure how I will react to psalms, so far biblical poetry has done nothing for me.

Aug 25, 2014, 7:40am

Dan, are you reading Alter's translation? I'm wondering whether I should buy it, but I was not convinced by his Job, and I remember reading a bad review of Alter's Psalms. What's your opinion?

Aug 25, 2014, 8:35am

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage sounds worthwhile. When they're done well, personal essays can be the best kind of writing, and usually they are done badly. I've added it to my list.

Aug 25, 2014, 10:30am

>231 FlorenceArt: - Flo - I was reading Alter and NSRV. I found Alter continually awkward. Any benefit he accomplished for rhythm was undone by other odd decisions. The notes are good, but did not really change anything for me that I can recall. NSRV misses some bits that Alter picks up, and focuses on accuracy, not sound and rhythm. But I liked NRSR a lot better, and it s generally much clearer. I would recommend something other than Alter.

>232 RidgewayGirl: - Kay - I agree with you, I have a lot of affection for personal essays. I find them easier to step into than other kinds of writing...of course, when they are done well. Patchett's are very good.

Aug 25, 2014, 11:07am

bas and >229 dchaikin: So far, I'm consistently the only one who really doesn't like any of the books My problem exactly! I am rethinking going to this particular book club this winter, especially given the 75km round trip in nasty weather, but it is the closest one. Maybe I'd be better off just staying home and reading something I would enjoy.

dan, how do the other members take your dissenting opinions?

Aug 25, 2014, 12:35pm

How do your book clubs pick their books? I've almost quit my club a few times, but then we would have a great meeting and I wouldn't. But I've gotten to the point where if I really don't want to read a book, I won't (this happens maybe once a year).

Aug 25, 2014, 1:00pm

>234 SassyLassy: - My disagreement doesn't cause any problems and generates some discussion, so I think it's positive. The only comment I didn't like was when it was hinted that I didn't like a book because it was a woman's book.

>235 Nickelini: Joyce - It's through my synagogue. Currently, one woman who organizes it does her best to make suggestions that will fit the group. The problem is that most of the readers aren't interested in the types of books I might suggest (I do occasionally make suggestions).

It's not an ideal group for me, but we have had some good meetings and it has gotten me thinking more about Jewish-American literature.

Aug 25, 2014, 1:00pm

I just set up my next part 3 thread here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/179643
This topic was continued by dchaikin part 3.