July/August 2021 What are you reading?

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July/August 2021 What are you reading?

jul 1, 2021, 9:49 pm

Non-fiction reads July-August 2021

jul 3, 2021, 4:05 pm

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Night. This has been on my TBR for years and finally have gotten around to starting it!

jul 4, 2021, 6:52 am

Starting The Five. Have heard mixed reports about how readable it is.

jul 5, 2021, 2:28 am

Reading Drunk by Edward Slingerland. There doesn't seem to be a touchstone for the book, maybe because it's very recent? First impression is that while the subject matter is interesting enough, it feels quite unbalanced. Maybe it could have used a better editor.
Also rereading The checklist manifesto and reading Wittgenstein flies a kite, both inspired by https://decorrespondent.nl/12470/wat-politici-van-piloten-kunnen-leren-onderzoek... (in Dutch).

jul 5, 2021, 3:47 pm

Read Frost, Freezes, and Fairs by Ian Curry. What a great book of information, told in a very readable style about the frosts and resultant fairs on the Thames rivers since 1634. The first 48 pages was nothing more than a chronological listing of great freezes. However, the remainder of the book detailed major frosts and resultant fairs in 1683, 1739, and 1814. Very interesting with info about food booths, "rides", and entertainment right upon the Thames river. Sketches were included as well as little ditties and poems that were sung by old and young alike. The last few pages explained why there haven't been any in modern times. One odd thing: The publisher is British, the author is British, but all the temps are given in Fahrenheit (which was ok for me), but just odd! My only guess is that they used the Imperial temperature scale because at the time of the frosts and fairs, the metric system has not yet been adopted/invented! I think someone from London would really enjoy this as they would be more familiar with the locations than I. Recommended 85 pages

jul 5, 2021, 9:47 pm

Finished . The Kingdom of Sicily, 1100-1250 A Literary History by Karla Mallette was a collection of poems and documents translated from Arabic, Latin, Italian and French. I enjoyed the translations (for literature really is history!), especially the Arabic work originally written by Ibn Jubayr about his travels. Jubayr describes William I and his court in detail. It was nice to finally read this as I've had it my shelf since 2005! 224 pages

jul 6, 2021, 11:23 am

Just started Afropeans which is already fascinating.

jul 6, 2021, 12:32 pm

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
Phil Knight
4/5 stars
What a well written book by Phil Knight, who maps out his journey to build a shoe brand and form his own company, NIKE with the help of his family and friends. This is definitely very inspirational for those building their own company but very readable for those who like a good biography.

jul 6, 2021, 2:30 pm

I finished We Band of Brothers: A Memoir of Robert Kennedy by Edwin Guthman. In the late 1950s, Guthman was a Seattle journalist who had already won a Pulitzer Prize. When Robert Kennedy came to town as a federal prosecutor to investigate corrupt labor leaders, Guthman, who had been writing about those same issues, decided to cooperate with the investigation, knowing that Kennedy would have subpoena power that would enable him to get at financial records that a journalist could never uncover. The friendship that grew between the two men led to Kennedy, upon becoming Attorney General, inviting Guthman to Washington as special assistant for public information in the Department of Justice. Essentially, he was RFK's chief press representative, as well as a trusted advisor, and as such was present for many important deliberations during Kennedy's time as AG. This book is Guthman's fascinating memoir of those times.

Guthman takes us through those initial investigations and his growing admiration for RFK's intelligence, tenacity and integrity, and then through the JFK presidency, including the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Cuban Missile Crisis and, most compellingly, the Justice Department's involvement, such as it was, in the Civil Rights movement during the JFK years. Most harrowing is Guthman's description of the hour-by-hour negotiations and decisions during James Meredith's attempts to enroll as the first black student at the University of Mississippi.

Guthman also provides a brief but moving picture of Robert Kennedy's intense grief over his brother's death, and goes into some detail about his clashes and eventual enmity with Lyndon Johnson. Guthman stayed on Kennedy's staff through his successful Senatorial campaign in New York, and gives an interesting description of those days, but then went back to his journalism career, and so offers only a few insights into Kennedy's time as a senator. He leaves the details of RFK's death to others to describe.

This is not a "warts and all" biography. Guthman was an unabashed RFK admirer. Given that this admiration comes from a hard-nosed journalist after years of close contact, we might give it some strong credence. But Guthman does not claim to be offering a comprehensive study of Kennedy, and I would guess that he had knowledge of skeletons in RFK's closet that he chose not to reveal.

jul 9, 2021, 9:05 am

I am reading The Yellow House which is the story of a large family who lived in New Orleans East. There is a lot of information here about that side of New Orleans, as the set up for the second half of the book which is about Hurricane Katrina.

jul 13, 2021, 11:27 am

I've just finished the essay on Maurice Maeterlinck in Prophets of Dissent. Now it's on to August Strindberg.

jul 13, 2021, 11:31 am

Finished The Five Which was interesting and needs to have been written, but wasn't necessarily the best read.

Now reading Uncle Tungsten

jul 17, 2021, 7:47 am

The History of Rome: The Republic Volume 1 by Mike Duncan a good overview of the history of Rome from its settlement through the crumbling Republic. A compilation of the author's podcasts on the same subject. 371 pages 4.5 stars

jul 18, 2021, 12:48 pm

Started Written in Bone by Professor Sue Black.She's a forensic anthropologist who has worked with police, war-crimes investigators, and in a lighter note, historians and archaeologists to investigate and identify human bones. Some of the stories are harrowing but she is alway respectful and professional, and has a wonderfully dark sense of humour.

jul 18, 2021, 12:58 pm

>16 SChant: She also wrote 'All that Remains' which is an interesting read, too. I attended one of her talks and she seems like a really nice person and very smart!

jul 19, 2021, 3:30 am

>17 genesisdiem: yes, I've read that one. I saw her in Sheffield a couple of years ago at an "Off The Shelf" event. She comes across as a very warm human being.

jul 19, 2021, 4:21 pm

Today, after a very long time, I finished reading the Federalist Papers. Hamilton, Jay, and Madison were brill!

jul 20, 2021, 7:55 am

I've had Destiny of the Republic on my shelf for years. I finally picked it up. Great read so far.

jul 20, 2021, 11:08 am

I finished A Promised Land by Barack Obama, Obama's memoir of his early political career and, especially, the first term of his presidency, which I found to be interesting indeed, and quite well written. In particular, I found the memoir to be a useful trip back through the events and issues of those years (2009-2013).

jul 20, 2021, 12:24 pm

>20 Lauriemol: Great book!

jul 20, 2021, 12:24 pm

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride
Daniel James Brown
3.5/5 stars
Daniel James Brown deals with the tragedy of the Donner party and their trek to make it to California. The book revolves around Sarah Graves and her family when her father, mother and 8 brother and sisters decide to try their luck in California. Disastrously, they take the advice of a Stephen Meek who told them a route which would be easier to take. However, this man never took this route but trusting him, the party followed his directions and so begins their harrowing trip followed by starvation, freezing temperatures, snow and death of several members of the party. Well written and thoroughly researched!

jul 20, 2021, 1:37 pm

Currently, Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl.

What finally brought me to it was Bruce Feiler's Life Is in the Transitions, one of three books I've read this year to help me deal with a drastic and devastating life change. Each has added some really helpful insights and direction.

jul 21, 2021, 3:13 am

I finished Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks. I'm not sure it was what I was expecting, more an exploration of his childhood interest in chemistry than a memoir of childhood. I wonder how a non technical reader would get on with it.

jul 21, 2021, 9:43 am

>25 Helenliz:: I read Uncle Tungsten in 2008. I'm not sure if it was intended as a memoire, or as a brief history of chemistry. The author gives us glimpses of his family life, especially the role his mother and uncles played in encouraging his love of chemistry. He spends a lot more time talking about chemistry and scientific discoveries, which was less interesting to me.

I found the book rather sad at the end. All the love of chemistry that permeated Oliver Sacks' life was repressed when he reached adolescence as it was expected he would become a doctor. Which he did -- and where he has made a large difference to many lives. But what would have happened had he followed his heart?

jul 21, 2021, 1:09 pm

>26 LynnB: I thought it was an odd weighting between the subject matter, more chemistry than childhood. The way that his treatment at the school he and his brother were evacuated to seemed to be over in a paragraph when I'm sure it had a wider impact than that. I'm not sure what it was trying to be and I'm not at all sure how someone not familiar with chemistry would make of it.

jul 22, 2021, 12:04 pm

The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute
Zac Bissonnette
4/5 stars
This is the story of Ty Warner who created the buzz that fueled the need to own, sell and trade Beanie Babies and oh what an interesting tale the author Zac Bissonnette weaves. I remember that time period, the looking for and buying beanie babies for my daughter though we never sold or traded any. Anyone who remembers that time period would probably be interested in reading this book.

jul 22, 2021, 2:22 pm

I completed The Pioneers by David McCullough. This was a super history of the Northwest Territory, specifically the Ohio River Valley (Marietta). 379 pages 4 stars

jul 23, 2021, 9:28 am

>29 Tess_W:, I really admire David McCullough's writing.

jul 24, 2021, 6:23 am

>20 Lauriemol: I really enjoyed that book.

jul 28, 2021, 5:08 pm

I finished The Book of Kells: Art -- Origins -- History by Iain Zaczek. This is a coffee table book, with relatively brief text but lots of full color illustrations, describing this amazing late 9th Century Book of Gospels created by Irish monks, most probably on the Island of Iona.

jul 29, 2021, 6:34 am

Reading The Dead Are Arising, a detailed account of the life of Malcolm X.

jul 29, 2021, 7:40 am

Reading Swimming to the Top of the Tide by Patricia Hanlon - she and her husband went from motorboat to sailboat to kayaks to eventually swimming in the tidal creeks and estuaries of the North Shore - near Gloucester, Essex and Ipswich Massachusetts. It's just a memoir of their time in progressively thicker wetsuits and the air and water temperatures drop. I love a good coastal marsh so love their descriptions of places even me and my kayak couldn't reach.

Redigerat: jul 30, 2021, 3:08 pm

I finished Scoundrel Time, Lillian Hellman's memoir of her dealings with the Red-baiting McCarthy Era version of the House Un-American Activities Committee. When Hellman was called, in 1952, she did refuse, essentially, to cooperate. She offered, in a letter to the committee, to answer all questions about herself fully but said she would not answer questions about anyone else. This offer was refused, and so Hellman was forced to take the Fifth. But the committee made the mistake of making this letter public, and the immediate support for her position in the press basically shielded her from further prosecution, meaning no jail time. But she knew her living as an author of plays and screenplays was over, and that her income would be drying up immediately. She instantly put the farm she'd lived on most of her life in Westchester, NY, up for sale. Her life was changed irrevocably, just by the fact of having been called and refusing to throw anybody else under the bus.

At any rate, Hellman was a wonderful writer, and this short memoir (around 115 pages all told), provides an extremely vivid account of the tension, sadness, anger and frustration of those times for her. She waited until 1975 to finally publish an account of the episode, saying early in the book that she'd tried twice before to write about it all but hadn't liked what she came up with. The fear of being called, the dread when the subpoena finally came, the tense weeks when she tried to figure out what to do about it, the fury her longtime lover, Dashiell Hammett, expressed at the strategy she came up with (Hammett was sure the strategy was madness and would result in substantial jail time for Hellman), at the encouragement of her lawyers, the actual experience of testifying and the impact of it all on her subsequent life are all vividly rendered, including not a small amount of dry humor in the telling.

jul 31, 2021, 11:03 am

To Sleep with the Angels: A Story of Fire by David Cowan was the tragic non-fiction read of the fire at Our Lady of Angels school in Chicago in 1958.

aug 4, 2021, 1:16 pm

I finished The Corporal Was a Pitcher: The Courage of Lou Brissie by Ira Berkow. This is a fascinating, well-written book biography. Lou Brissie's story is quite something. A teenage pitching phenom in his native South Carolina in the late 1930s, Brissie interrupted his promising baseball career to enlist in the Army after Pearl Harbor. When he went off to war, he already had a commitment from Connie Mack, the longtime owner/manager of the Philadelphia A's. Mack was going to sign Brissie and then pay for him to go to college for three years, an arrangement that provides an idea of how much potential Brissie was seen to have.

But Brissie's leg was shattered during an artillery attack in Italy in 1944 and he had to beg the doctors not to amputate. Luckily for Brissie, he found one Army doctor willing to try to save the leg. Brissie went through multiple operations--his leg bone was essentially fused together from the fragments the exploding artillery shell had left behind--and he had to wear a cumbersome brace to walk, let along pitch in the major leagues. And yet pitch in the major leagues, he did, and quite effectively, despite that leg brace and the essentially constant pain he endured. In fact, Brissie was extremely well known during the post-war years as an inspiration for wounded veterans and kids with handicaps. It's surprising and more than a bit sad that his story has been largely forgotten.

Brissie was still alive when Berkow was working on the book (the book was published in 2009 and Brissie died in 2013) and sat for extensive interviewing. He comes across as an extremely thoughtful fellow. Berkow, a Pulitzer Prize winning jouralist, is a fine writer who clearly had a strong connection to his subject for this biography. I highly recommend this book for readers with an interest in American history and with even a passing interest in baseball.

aug 7, 2021, 6:46 am

Dark Water: art, disaster and redemption in florence when we were in Florence I had just read 16 Pleasures about the mud angels that came to help save and restore works of art damaged in the flood of 1966. When I asked people about it, no one seemed to know of a book on it. Later found the Life magazine issue, and stayed fascinated by it. Found this title here and knew thats just what I was looking for. So I loved the first 2/3rds of this book; his review of art history, and then his day by day and year by year account of the flood and its effects was riviting. Then the last part turns on himself and involement with the politics of art. Anyway recommended to anyone interested in the event.

aug 8, 2021, 3:18 pm

Travels with Charley: In Search of America
John Steinbeck
4/5 stars
In 1960, Steinbeck at the age of 58 takes off in a camper with his dog, Charley to explore and talk with the people of America. He starts off on the East Coast and travels to the West Coast and back. It was wonderfully written and is an interesting look back at the slices of life in the US in that time period.

Redigerat: aug 9, 2021, 8:02 am

I am reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down which has been in my TBR stacks for a very long time. When I saw Sunisa Lee win the Gold medal in the All-Around Gymnastics competition at the 2020 Olympics, and they mentioned that she is a Hmong-American, I remembered that I owned this book and decided to finally read it.

aug 9, 2021, 12:04 pm

I finished Prophets of Dissent and posted my review about a week ago, and now I'm reading Women as Portrayed in Orientalist Painting.

aug 10, 2021, 11:29 am

Tippi: A Memoir
Tippi Hedren
4/5 stars
Tippi Hendren writes about her time in the film industry including problems with working for Hitchcock, her family and her famous daughters, her work in charity and her animal rights advocacy which resulted in starting Shambala, a big cats’ preserve in California. Very interesting!

aug 10, 2021, 12:11 pm

I've also started in on Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies by Carl Jung, after finally posting my review of Passport to Magonia.

aug 10, 2021, 3:10 pm

I completed Narrative of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition. This was a great narrative of an expedition written by George Kendall who was a soldier and a war correspondent. Kendall traveled to the Republic of Texas in 1841 to join up with and report on Gov. Lamar's attempt to take Santa Fe from the Mexicans and secure New Mexico for the Americans. This expedition met with disaster and Kendall and others were marched 2000 miles and put into a Mexican prison--a leper colony, where Kendall caught smallpox. Surprisingly he survived. While in prison he wrote letters which were posted daily. He spent about a year imprisoned before he was released upon payment by influential friends. One of my favorite parts of the book was his detailed description of Mexican food and customs. The military maneuvers were very dry and I oftentimes skimmed these. 878 pages 4.5*

aug 10, 2021, 6:05 pm

I finished the book Real Philly History, Real Fast. This book presents 51 sites of interest in Philadelphia. Other than 4 of them, they are all in Center City, east of Broad. Each is presented with a quick overview of its historical and/or architectural significance. Living in the City, the book did not add to my knowledge significantly but it did provide a few new places to check out.

Redigerat: aug 15, 2021, 1:00 pm

I finished Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This is an intriguing and memorable book that effectively melds memoir, Native American history and philosophy, ecology and plant science, with a reverie about nature and a sad, frustrated, pained warning about the destructive nature of Western civilization's highly commodified nature. Kimmerer is herself a Native American who has melded her people's ancient philosophies of humans' integral role and caretaker's responsibilities with Nature to the scientific establishment's perspective as scientist as observer rather than participant via her own academic studies as a botanist and ecologist. Kimmerer takes us through several personal memories, such as making maple syrup with her two daughters from the trees that stand on their own property, and shares a lot of fascinating information about the ways that diverse species of plants and animals cooperate in nature to the benefit of all. Her book is in many ways a plea that humans return to a role of participation in that cooperation rather and discard industrial society's determination to obstruct and destroy these cycles in the service of profit and material comfort for those with the wherewithal to buy it.

Kimmerer is a very good writer, an element that is particularly crucial to an ambitious endeavor like this one. I would think the book would be extremely thought provoking to anyone already inclined to read it. Our own lifestyle choices and even our daily decisions have meaning and consequence, and this book is a very good reminder of those truths. Some of Kimmerer's examples of the destructive nature of industrialized society's policies are heartbreaking, and it's not hard to feel chagrin (to put it mildly) at the degree to which it is all too easy to turn a blind eye to things that are in plain sight before us.

aug 14, 2021, 12:43 pm

Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express
Christopher Corbett
3.5/5 stars
This was quite an interesting tale of the first Pony Express (which ran from Missouri to California) and the riders who worked the line, unfortunately a lot of the material can’t be backed up and the author discusses that problem. I found it interesting that the first Pony Express did not last long - from April 1860 till October 1861 when the trains took over the route, though other Pony Express routes lasted longer.

aug 15, 2021, 7:41 am

>49 rocketjk:. I put that on my list, thank you.

Redigerat: aug 16, 2021, 8:34 pm

Det här meddelandet har tagits bort av dess författare.

aug 15, 2021, 12:59 pm

>51 vwinsloe: Hope you like it. I'll look forward to reading your thoughts once you've read it.

aug 16, 2021, 8:18 pm

Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico by Susan Shelby Magoffin This was a delightful account of a wagon caravan from Independence, Missouri, to Chihuahua, Mexico in 1846-1847 (during the Texas-Mexican War). The author was 18 year old, newly married, Susan Shelby Magoffin. It was obvious she was well educated and well-read. This was a very enjoyable read with copious footnotes, sometimes 3 pages in length, but added much to the explanation of the some of the personages mentioned within Ms. Magoffin's entries. 260 pages

Redigerat: aug 16, 2021, 8:36 pm

sorry , didn't notice this was for non fiction. Just picked up Allegorizings Read most of her travel works, this is a collection of essays about travel, reminiscenses, and aging. "She decided not to publish this until after her death, not because she had anything to hide, merely in parting" should be an interesting read

Redigerat: aug 16, 2021, 8:37 pm

I've recently started reading The Empty Space, a set of four essays by theater director Peter Brook, first published in 1968.

aug 17, 2021, 12:25 pm

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
Michelle McNamara
4/5 stars
This is the amazing story of the search for the Golden State Killer (also known as the East Area Rapist) in California. Author and TV consultant Michelle McNamara put her heart and soul into writing this book before dying of an undiagnosed heart condition. Unfortunately, she never lived to see her book come out or the capture of the killer since she died two years before he was caught. This is definitely, a page turner. FYI - https://www.biography.com/news/michelle-mcnamara-golden-state-killer

aug 17, 2021, 2:28 pm

I finished The Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker, one of the most disturbing, depressing books I've read in a long time. This book is exactly what the title suggests, a history of the process of bringing slaves to the Americas from Africa. Rediker has created a comprehensive and very well written narrative. He tells of the cultures and kingdoms of Western Africa who took part in kidnapping members of other groups, marching them sometimes hundreds of miles to the coast and selling them to European slave traders. He uses first person accounts to describe what it was like to be one of those captured in that way. He finishes up by talking about the abolitionist movement and how the practice was finally brought to an end. But mostly Rediker describes the horror and despair the kidnapped experienced aboard the slave ships themselves. And, in addition, the violence, cruelty and high mortality rates experienced not just by the enslaved, but by crew members as well. The book, very well written, as I said above, is a detailed horror show from beginning to end. If you can put yourself through it, though, it is important reading, a crucial, fundamental part of the American and European story.

aug 17, 2021, 5:13 pm

I'm reading Wine Girl, the story of a sommelier, by Victoria James

aug 18, 2021, 2:52 am

I finished The Wife's Tale, which was interesting, but curiously un-engaging.

aug 18, 2021, 10:08 pm

Finished Rosemary The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson. This was the very sad story of Rosemary Kennedy, child number 3 and first girl in a family of 9. She was brain damaged at birth and for 20+ years the entire family tried to make her "normal." They provided the best care money could buy. However, in 1941, during the war, when the family was scattered, her father, Joe Kennedy, decided she should have a lobotomy and proceeded with it against the wishes of several members of the family. She was unable to walk, speak, etc. following that surgery. Very very sad.

aug 19, 2021, 8:30 am

>61 Tess_W: I read that book a while ago and found it to be very distressing. Nevertheless, it is worth noting the work that was done as a result by the Kennedys, particularly Rosemary's sister, Eunice, in raising funds and providing advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.

aug 20, 2021, 11:01 am

>62 vwinsloe: I agree!

Last night I read The Abduction of Seraglio, which was the libretto (in English) for an opera by the same name by Mozart. I also read all the afternotes about the history of this opera and why it isn't performed much today.

aug 21, 2021, 6:32 am

About to start Ancestors: the Prehistory of Britain in Seven Burials by the wonderfully enthusiastic and knowledgeable Professor Alice Roberts.
Also, the thoughts of one of my cricketing heroes Michael Holding on BLM and racism in sport, Why We Kneel, How We Rise.

aug 22, 2021, 12:56 pm

Redigerat: aug 23, 2021, 10:38 am

sorry I keep doing this - wrong thread

aug 23, 2021, 10:19 am

I finished Michael Holding's Why We Kneel, How We Rise and was deeply moved by it.

Michael Holding is one of my cricketing heroes, part of the great West Indies teams of the 1980’s & ‘90’s who first got me interested in cricket. He was a superb fast-bowler who’s bowling could make grown men tremble, and is a very knowledgeable cricket commentator, so when I saw the short video piece he and fellow cricketer/commentator Ebony Rainford-Brent made in 2020 in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, with tears in their eyes and voices cracking, I was shocked. Yes, I knew about racism and have read a lot of Black history and politics, but somehow these two people expressing their pain and shock at encountering such things made an impression.

This book is partly Mikey’s personal story of how he grew from shrugging it off – “These people are sick. I’ll soon be on a plane out of here” – to gradually learning more about Black history and pride, institutional racism and its wide impact, and then with the BLM movement being motivated to speak out. It also carries discussions with other sports stars about their struggles, achievements and activism, including Usain Bolt, another Jamaican; Naomi Osaka, tennis player who walked into the US Open wearing covid masks bearing the names of African-Americans killed by police; and many others who contacted him in response to his video comments.

Mikey is a great believer in education, and hopes that if the truth of Black history is taught to everybody then trust and respect will flower where now there is ignorance and hatred. I’m not so sanguine, but hopefully this book will make a start in that discourse.

aug 24, 2021, 7:57 am

I finished the book Big Friendship, part memoir, part treatise on friendship, its importance and joys. Its primary point is that any close friendship will go through rough patches that will have to be addressed for the friendship to last. The authors are young (30's) and their friendship has lasted 10 years so from my vantage point being in my 70's, their experience seems small. Nonetheless, many of their points do resonate.

aug 24, 2021, 12:25 pm

>67 SChant: Fascinating. Great review. Thanks.

aug 26, 2021, 8:29 pm

I just read Don't Retire... Graduate! by Eric Brotman and it sounded like it was for old people but it was really interesting and helpful at 26. Helps you start saving for the future and getting out of debt.

aug 27, 2021, 2:29 pm

Just finishing Robert Wuthnow’s The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America. Wuthnow, native of Kansas, is a social scientist who studies rural America. He argues that rural America is best understood in terms of Emile Durkeim’s concept of “moral communities”. Interesting analysis, fairly light read.

aug 30, 2021, 1:17 am

Finished Todd Tucker’s The Great Starvation Experiment which is about an experiment carried out by Ancel Keys during WWII to study the effects of near starvation on men. There were about 40 conscientious objectors who volunteered to participate in the experiment. The research helped us understand how people change during periods of food deprivation, how their concerns change, etc. Also, the research suggested how to help people recover from near starvation. I was first introduced to this research back in the late 70s when I was in grad school. Interesting to know the story behind the research.

Started Ross King’s The Bookseller of Florence which is about the manuscripts that were bought, sold, discovered and read in Renaissance Florence and the people and culture that was involved. Found it on the new book shelf at the local library.

aug 30, 2021, 9:22 am

>72 WalkDogs: They needed an experiment to how starvation effect people? Dear lord. but ok....

I have been looking forward to the Ross book, read his other two. This looks very interesting

aug 30, 2021, 1:41 pm

I finished The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. The book is psychologist/ethicist Jonathan Haidt's attempt to understand and explain why humans can come to see things so differently from each other and, most importantly, to become so set in our ways that we see people who disagree with us on important matters as enemies and/or fools.

The book, for me, works best in its first half, as Haidt lays out his research and his theories about human perceptions, how we form opinions, and what drives our responses. The book's second half was less effective for me, as I felt that Haidt was trying to force all of the foregoing information over his own ideas of politics and culture. He begins doing things like describing another researcher's theory and then proceeding to further conclusions based on that theory as if we had reason to accept the theory as fact. Towards the end, I must admit, I began skimming. So I give the first half of this book 3.5 stars, and the second half 2 stars. I do give Haidt credit for clear writing, relatively free of doze-inducing scientific jargon.

aug 30, 2021, 2:18 pm

Started Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem At America's Most Storied Hospital - this book is so interesting that it is hard to put down.

aug 30, 2021, 2:42 pm

>72 WalkDogs: aha! my indie has it! Gorgeous cover. Wanna finish a few reads and that will probably be next

sep 1, 2021, 2:55 pm

I finished the LTER book The End of Bias. It was an excellent presentation of the ubiquitous nature of bias, the damage that it causes, and a look at various experiments to diminish it. The methods to overcome bias are admitted to be a beginning and range from structural changes to personal ones. It is well thought out recognizing the advantages and pitfalls of various approaches. It also acknowledges the painful nature of self growth.

Redigerat: sep 1, 2021, 7:20 pm

Just started bookseller of florence which so far is proving just as wonderful and interesting as the other two books Ive read of him Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture and Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling oh and Ex Libris Haven't read his about Da Vinci, should do so at some point

Also starting Allegorizings by jan morris (wrong touchstone, cant get it to come up)

sep 2, 2021, 5:46 am

>77 snash: I've got that via NetGalley, I was hoping to read another book I have on bias first though!