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« April, 2010 »
The Devil’s Bones

I was a little skeptical when the criminal justice teacher at the school I work at told me I’d like this. It was forensic criminology fiction which I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy. The author’s name, Jefferson Bass, is a pseudoynm that is made up of parts of the names of the two authors Bill Bass, the guy who created The Body Farm in Tennessee and Jon Jefferson a noted writer. They manage to create fiction that is at the same time based on real events and yet not seemingly sensationalized. This story combined a mysterious possible death-by-burning case and a ripped from the headlines mortuary that has been mass burying bodies instead of cremating them (sound familiar). The characters are likeable and the stories are compelling and a little less over the top than some of the other forensic type mysteries available today. I enjoyed this.

The First Counsel

Got this at a library booksale, read it in one sitting on a long plane ride. Good book.

The Last Templar

In the spirit of Dan Brown types of mysteries, this is a historical-sounding fiction book about a repressed religious mystery. It was more fun to read than the average book of this stripe, but there was a little too much pontificating in that “Let me tell you about the Templars” way in the middle.


This book took me years to finish. I enjoyed it, but kept getting dragged away and rarely found a reason to go back. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing about the book but just an observation. It’s about the year I was born, it’s chock full of facts, but the organizing principle is, I guess, sort of a timeline and sort of by incident [so the 1968 Olympics, the Republican Convention, that sort of thing] so it feels like it jumps around a lot. As individual essays, each chapter is excellent, having Kurlansky’s usual mix of well-researched facts and curious details that keep you adding little “look this up” post-its. Enoyed it, but it was hard to read and complete.

My Stroke of Insight

This book about Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke and subsequent full recovery is fascinating. I’m pretty usre my mom handed it to me, we have a tendency to swap “brain problem” books and I’m sure this was one of them. The story is pretty interesting, Taylor woke up one morning to a pounding headache and found she was having a massive brain stroke. She was [and is?] a neuroanatomist and so once she started on the road to recovery, took special note of her surroundings and what worked and what didn’t work to get her on the road back to wellness. Taylor has a brother with schizophrenia, who is mentioned early in the book as one of the reasons Taylor got into neuroscience in the first place. Most of the book chronicles her path to recovery after the stroke and what she’s learned as a result of having half her brain shut down and have to be rebuilt.

The later half of the book has a lot more of these sorts of insights, about how Taylor learned to let go of her ego and quiet her brain chatter and etc. I liked reading these parts but it wasn’t really what drew me to the book in the first place. I was really interested in Taylor’s story -- the role of her own mother in her recovery can’t be overstated -- and the more introspective chapters I found not quite as interesting.

The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft

Enjoyed this book. The Gardner Heist happened in recent memory for me and I’ve been reading books about art theft generally. That said, this is another one of those “magazine writer gets obsessed with story, in jects himself into the middle of it, writes personal story about topic” sorts of books. Boser is a great writer and I learned a lot about the heist, but the second part of the book is a lot more about his attempts to find the missing paintings himself and a lot less about what actually happened. Spoiler: he does not find them. A fine book, but not exactly what I was expecting.