May/June 2019 ~ Which non-fiction books are you perusing?

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May/June 2019 ~ Which non-fiction books are you perusing?

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apr 30, 2019, 5:43 am

Interesting non-fiction adventures await us!

Redigerat: maj 12, 2019, 1:06 pm

It's Mueller time!

Yesterday afternoon, the Mueller Report was at the top of my
must-read-immediately list. I decided to download the 99 cent
Kindle offering (released report/no commentary). The obstruction
section was my starting point. The text-to-speech feature allows
me to go back and forth between the eBook and Alexa's narration.

General observations ~

The Mueller report is a two-part, historic government document describing in great detail the questionable actions of an unhinged leader and his enablers. Unfortunately, the report's findings do not appear to be alarming the public-at-large because many people believe Barr's summary, and Trumpism has become the drug-of-choice for at least 35 to 40% of Americans. The Trump administration has to be a dream come true for Putin and his ilk around the globe.

Mueller and McGahn are American heroes.
Lincoln must be shedding a waterfall of tears for the party he founded.

maj 1, 2019, 9:03 pm

I’ve been getting tutored by bell hooks on subjects discussed in her Yearning: race, gender, and cultural politics.

maj 3, 2019, 11:12 am

I'm almost all the way through Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. It's been slow going, but I should get a review up next week.

maj 4, 2019, 8:52 am

Continuing my reading of women's history, especially in science & technology, I'm about to start Lettice Curtis: Her Autobiography, about a women who flew many types of planes as a member of ATA during WWII, and spent her post-war years deeply involved in the fledgling UK aircraft industry.

maj 5, 2019, 12:37 pm

I'm slowly listening to The Mueller Report, free to Audible members. It's going to take me awhile. It does come with a PDF, but the library ebook has a six month waiting list.

maj 6, 2019, 12:15 pm

Giraffes on Horseback Salad: Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers, and the Strangest Movie Never Made
Josh Frank
3.5/5 stars
This is the interesting and absurdly true story about the famous painter Salavdor Dali who had written a screenplay and wanted the Marx Brothers to be in it. Josh Frank had been researching unmade film scripts when he found mention of Dali’s script originally titled The Surrealist Woman and from there he had his subject for this book. Through painstaking research he pieced together the story of Giraffes on Horseback Salad screenplay. Illustrated by Manuela Perte and adapted with Tim Heidecker, this book contains the graphic novel based on the screenplay and the written story of the strangest movie never made. One of my favorite trivia bits from the book was how did Harpo and Dali (who became friends) communicate. Neither spoke each other’s language but both wives spoke German so they could translate for their husbands. Graphic Novel/Non-Fiction

maj 7, 2019, 1:05 pm

I've posted my review of Staying with the Trouble (as promised), and my non-fiction reading efforts have turned back to the counterculture oral biography The Wizard and the Witch.

maj 10, 2019, 1:06 pm

I finished Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country by Steve Almond. In this series of clear and insightful essays, journalist/novelist Steve Almond investigates the faulty myths and societal delusions that led to the disaster that was the 2016 American presidential election and the resulting chaos. Essay titles such as "Economic Anguish Fueled Trumpism," "Nobody Would Vote for a Guy Like That," "American Women Will Never Empower a Sexual Predator" and "Our Court Jesters Will Rescue the Kingdom" give an idea of the "bad stories" Almond investigates. The essay that hit closest to home for me was "Our Grievances Matter More Than Our Vulnerabilities."

Redigerat: maj 10, 2019, 2:20 pm

>10 rocketjk:

I enjoyed reading "Our Grievances Matter More Than Our Vulnerabilities" online. Since the election, it appears that Trumpism has sadly become the drug-of-choice for between 35 to 40% of Americans.

I loved Steve's candy book ~ Candyfreak.

maj 10, 2019, 2:20 pm

>11 Molly3028: Don't get me started!

I've also finished Indefensible: One Lawyer's Journey into the Inferno of American Justice by David Feige. David Feige spent fifteen years as a public defender in the hellish court system of the South Bronx. He subsequently became a writer and a frequent guest on Court TV, whatever that it. At any rate, Indefensible is Feige's very well-written and often harrowing memoir/expose of his years as a severely over-worked advocate for those who had either fallen or jumped into the frequently entirely cold-hearted legal system.

maj 11, 2019, 4:51 pm

I'm reading Paper: Paging Through History by Mark Kurlansky, one of my favourite writers.

maj 12, 2019, 8:50 pm

maj 13, 2019, 6:33 am

>13 LynnB: and I still haven't finished Nonviolence... Another one for the wishlist.

Redigerat: maj 18, 2019, 11:55 am

Currently reading, among other things, The Power of Babel. It's a bit more academic than say, Bill Bryson.

...and finished. If you are a linguistics grad student, you are absolutely going to love this book. For me (strong back, weak mind) this was a heckuva lot of intellectual heavy-lifting. The only parts I really understood were the descriptions of English, French, Spanish...that's about it. Grammatical nuances of Bantu and Cheyenne? Not so much. My eyes glazed over. I'd give it 3 stars due to personal taste; it deserves four.

Currently reading The Rise and Fall of Alexandria. Excellent.

maj 18, 2019, 12:16 pm

By David Sedaris
4.5/5 stars
Sedaris (one of my favorite authors) writes about his life and his family in a no holds barred look using his oddball sense of dark humor to ease the pain of difficult times and to celebrate good times.

maj 20, 2019, 3:42 pm

Finished Invisible Agents by Nadine Akkerman. Started off quite dry and scholarly, but when she got into discussing individual women it became very interesting and readable.

Redigerat: jun 5, 2019, 8:26 am

Enjoying this eBook ~

Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children's Tales by Marta McDowell *****

(her bio/her gardens in 4 seasons/tours of her various homes and gardens/a listing of all the plants/includes photos and many of BP's exquisite drawings)

maj 22, 2019, 2:09 pm

I finished Theodore Dreiser Presents the Living Thoughts of Thoreau by Henry David Thoreau. This is a collection of excerpts from four different Thoreau books, selected by Theodore Dreiser and arranged by topic category ("Problem of Morals," "Society," "The Good Life," etc.). These bite-sized categories are a very nice way to gain an initial introduction to a writer, and particularly, I think, to a philosopher. Unfortunately, I did not care for Thoreau's writing much at all. I found his style dense, his self absorption irritating, and his ideas mostly obvious. Maybe Thoreau is one of those writers you need to read at a younger age, and certainly he is a writer/thinker of his time.

maj 23, 2019, 7:17 am

I finished Don't Knock the Hustle: Young Creatives, Tech Ingenuity, and the Making of a New Innovation Economy. Starting with the positives. I appreciated learning about some of the creative efforts being made to include a broader spectrum of people in design and idea think tanks along with their useful creations. My problems with the book were primarily in the first half which was very repetitious and touted technology as the answer to everything. One aspect of the innovation economy that the author does not address is its impact upon the consumer. Often products are well designed but have poor quality control. Many of these products are applications or application controlled. When the consumer has a problem or there's been a system update they're very apt to discover the makers are no longer there. They've trotted off to pursue another idea. We've had this happen with two sound/mute, hearing enhancing ear buds of significant cost.

maj 24, 2019, 8:03 am

Started Eruptions That Shook the World by Clive Oppenheimer - about how major volcanic eruptions from the Triassic to present day have changed the environment and human society. Some of it is a bit technical for me, but very interesting nevertheless.

Redigerat: maj 29, 2019, 10:09 pm

Just finished The Selected Papers of Bertrand Russell. 'Just a tinge of philosophy, with a good helping of education theory, early 20th century Chinese history, sociology and other societal musings. *** 1/2

Redigerat: maj 25, 2019, 9:03 pm

>22 SChant:
I saw that book on Book TV (CSpan?) Fascinating. Volcanoes are infrequent, but they're really climate, biome, and society changers.

I just pulled a speed-read session and finished with Unaccountable. It was excellent, certainly as good as The Checklist Manifesto.

maj 26, 2019, 8:32 pm

The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick
Mallory O'Meara
5/5 stars
Mallory O’Meara, the author of this book and also a horror screenwriter and film producer, through sheer tenacity was able to track down and put together the story of Milicent Patrick. Patrick came from an artistic family and grew up in the town near the Hearst Castle in California where her father worked as superintendent of construction on the Castle. Milicent, who was quite artistic, was involved in the designing of the monster from the movie The Lady From the Black Lagoon and also worked on the animation/drawings of A Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia but who eventually lost her job due to a jealous boss. What a wonderfully interesting book!

Redigerat: maj 29, 2019, 9:08 pm

Just started Dirt Work. It's good; the closest I'll ever get to Chick Lit.

Also, I just finished an audio version of The Rise and Fall of Alexandria. Plenty of amazing stories of intellectual superheros - including Hero. They produced a giant lighthouse, geography, steam devices, braille, siege engines, maps of the world, a philosophical framework for world religions, and so much more before Christians beat down the pagan philosophers in the streets. No, the library was not wiped out by fires from Caesar's ships. The destruction of these records of science, mathematics, medicine, technology, and philosophy occurred much later. This could be my pick for best nonfiction of the year. **** 1/2

Redigerat: maj 29, 2019, 10:10 pm

I just tore through Dirt Work. A solid adventure of a book about the romance and lure of manual labor on wilderness trails. Sometimes maudlin, trite and corny, as if it was written by someone trying a bit too hard. But usually, fascinating, with detailed descriptions of tools, work and lifestyles in temporary and permanent wilderness communities, a non-stop work ethic, and natural beauty. *** 1/2

maj 29, 2019, 10:15 pm

I first read Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape by Barry Lopez about 30 years ago and was impressed. Re-reading books one liked decades later can put fond memories at risk but this re-read seemed even better than what I remember. A luminous book.

maj 30, 2019, 8:30 pm

>28 dypaloh: I read it, 30 years ago, too! But frankly i found it's lyrical flow, well, baffling. I never re-visit books but it's time, i guess.

maj 31, 2019, 1:32 am

>29 Sandydog1: I’ve thought that the cover photo of floating ice predisposes me to like the book so much. The color (on my copy) is the blue of glacial ice. No other color I’ve seen seems so much more than just a color (Hmmm, I appear to be trying for the bafflingly lyrical here). If you give it another shot I’ll be interested to hear how it goes, however it goes.

jun 2, 2019, 12:07 pm

Currently reading Accessory to War. As for the subject, yuck.

jun 2, 2019, 12:11 pm

I'm reading Pigeons by Andrew D. Blechman. i wanted to learn more about these fascinating birds that come to my bird bath. And I am, but I'm also learning about the horrible things we do to them. Sad.

jun 2, 2019, 3:06 pm

I just read Spring on an Arctic Island. Written about a scientific expedition in 1954. A very nice portrait of how the natives lived.

Redigerat: jun 5, 2019, 11:44 am

Love, Ellen: A Mother/Daughter Journey
Betty DeGeneres
4/5 stars
This book covers the life of Betty DeGeneres up to 1999 when it was first published. Betty and her kids had a tumultuous life. Betty was divorced, remarried and divorced again. She talks about her marriages and life after marriage, her children and their lives and struggles and especially the events surrounding her daughter Ellen and her coming out. Well written and very interesting.

jun 5, 2019, 1:43 pm

I recently finished For the Sake of Shadows by Max Miller. Miller was a well-known San Diego journalist during the Depression, best known for his reportage on the San Diego docks, I Cover the Waterfront. Published in 1936, For the Sake of Shadows is Miller's probably somewhat fictionalized account of his very short and unsatisfying stint as a Hollywood scriptwriter. The book is basically a long complaint without enough detail to even make it satisfying to lovers of screeds. Kind of fun, though, at this late date, for its historical interest.

jun 6, 2019, 11:27 am

I finished The Fellowship. The Fellowship refers to the Royal Society (English science group) from the first ideas about scientific investigation to the society's healthy position some 100 years later. The professional biographies and where possible personal biographies of the key players are presented in an accessible and interesting manner.

jun 8, 2019, 12:47 pm

I finished Storming the Wall: Climate Change, Migration, and Homeland Security by Todd Miller. Relatively short and extremely clear, to the point, and well written, Storming the Wall outlines the politics and economics of climate change. Miller describes convincingly the ways in which the current waves of migration around the world are largely driven by environmental degradation caused by climate change, and the ways in which the political response to that migration is the response one would expect of the "haves" preparing to protect their status from the "have nots" rather than a world bringing its scientific expertise to bear on the ways to prevent and/or ameliorate the problems.

jun 9, 2019, 2:32 am

I'm reading Bad Girls a history of Holloway Jail, the women's prison in London.

jun 9, 2019, 4:32 am

>38 Helenliz: That's on my Wish List - would be interested to know your opinion of it.

jun 10, 2019, 11:50 am

Lab Girl
Hope Jahren
4/5 stars
This is the true story of the life of Hope Jahren and her career as a geobiologist. Her cohort and assistant Bill is by her side for most of the book and he is an quite a character! Alternating chapters discuss her life with her work. Sometime the science bogs down the flow of the narrative but overall I found it interesting and I learned a lot about the science of trees, flowers and soil.

jun 14, 2019, 11:58 am

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners
by Therese Oneill
Oneill, in a humorously satirical style, details the awfulness of being a woman in the Victorian Age. You will be glad you live in today’s modern era after reading what women had to do to keep up appearances and take care of their family and home. Interesting and a fast read!

jun 15, 2019, 8:27 am

I just finished Killers of the Flower Moon. This history must be read to be believed.

jun 15, 2019, 3:11 pm

>43 vwinsloe: I've been meaning to read that for quite some time now. I need to move it up my list, which really has no order to it at all.

I finished Michael Wolff's Siege: Trump Under Fire, and It was interesting but not as good as Fire and Fury, IMHO.

I'm still reading Pigeons by Andrew D. Blechman, but going slowly because it's hard to read what we've done and continue to do to these "flying rats."

My other current books are fiction.

Redigerat: jun 18, 2019, 9:10 am

FABULOUS OverDrive eBook reads ~

Heroes for My Daughter and Heroes for My Son (middle grade NF)

by Brad Meltzer

jun 19, 2019, 2:54 pm

I finished Born Fighting. Parts of this book, Scots-Irish history and culture and its impact on America, were fascinating and enlightening. Glorification of that culture and some of its champions like Andrew Jackson diminished my assessment of the book.

jun 19, 2019, 3:23 pm

I just read The Breakthrough Immunotherapy and Race to Cure Cancer by Charles Graeber and enjoyed the book while being very much informed. A great presentation of the evolution of Immunotherapy. A discipline that still has detractors in the Cancer field as I have experienced.

jun 19, 2019, 3:26 pm

>43 vwinsloe: I heard a presentation of the facts involved in the books topic on the radio some time ago, unreal avarice and criminality. On public radio it might of have been a review of the book. On my TBR list now

jun 20, 2019, 7:38 am

>48 DugsBooks: The writing style was a bit choppy for me, but the subject matter was truly enlightening.

jun 21, 2019, 3:58 pm

I finished Joe Falls: 50 Years of Sports Writing (And I Still Can't Tell the Difference Between a Slider and a Curve). This is a memoir told in essay form of the career of Joe Falls, a sports journalist who was active in the Detroit area and in the national publication, The Sporting News, for decades. Not particularly great writing, but interesting particularly for Falls descriptions of life at a daily big city newspaper when dailies were of much greater importance than they are now, and kind of significant to me because my buddies and I would read his Sporting News columns when we were in junior high and high school. In fact, my copy, which is signed by Falls, was a gift to me from one of those old pals.

jun 21, 2019, 8:53 pm

I also read Arctic Dreams many years ago and I loved it. I tried re-reading it a few years ago but I couldn't get comfortable with it. I'm happy to have been happy with it the first time.

Redigerat: jun 22, 2019, 8:22 am


A graphic version of the Mueller Report is going to be published in April of next year ~ a picture is worth a thousand words!

jun 23, 2019, 10:10 pm

Finished Traversa about a bit of a warm amble across equatorial Africa ***1/2

Also, finished an Early Reviewer copy of Alchemy the dark art and curious science. I love campy, snarky books about behavioral economics, group psychology and marketing. I've read many (Gladwell, Levitt, Ariely, McRaney, Miller, Lindsburg et multi al) and this one also, did not disappoint. ****

And I just finished Accessory to War. A monster of a book. The early chapters, from ancient history to oh, about WW II, were particularly fascinating easy to understand, and heavy on early scientific history. As things got a bit more technical in later years, the book was just a bit of a slog. Still, the authors provide a great review of recent political and international history. Well worth reading. ****

jun 25, 2019, 1:31 am

Finished Bad Girls, it was a good read, educational, interesting and though provoking. Laid out in time frames, there are several chapters dealing with different aspects of that time, so in WW2 there were foreign nationals held, concientious objectors and spies. Each of those is then the subject of a chapter, as they had quite different experiences. Each chapter tries to find case studies, both of the prisioners and the staff, which makes for a very well balanced work. Some of the case studies are the famous onces, but those are the exceptions, a lot are far less well known and none the less interesting for that. It raises the question throughout of who should be in prison and what should prison do, and I'm not sure that society has ever had a sensible answer to that question.