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« June, 2017 »

Tribe   book icon  
by Sebastian Junger (2016)

read: 30 June 2017
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

I like but do not love Junger. I think he is a great writer but he seems a little more... SRS BZNS than I am. So this book which talks about some heavy things, seemed like it would be in his wheelhouse. It’s one of those “essays turned into a short book” things about why we’re isolated, sort of. About how things like PTSD and depression are, seemingly, factors of industrial society and when people come together with a sense of purpose and community, people feel better. He discusses this in terms of soldiers coming back from a war zone (where they had purpose) to a country where they are people seen as victims and/or people with mental health challenges. He talks about how in colonial times White people would often run off with Native Americans and not the other way around. A lot of it seemed WAY too facile for me, but it got me interested enough in the ideas to want to at least learn more about them even if I wasn’t quite sure I believed what he was specifically saying.

Dogtown: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town   book icon  
by Elyssa East (2009)

read: 28 June 2017
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

Known about this book since forever but hadn’t picked it up. Glad I finally did. It’s a very evocative look at the history of a place, a slightly wild place in the middle of a very fusty New England locale. East gets enchanted with it via some artwork and then digs deeper. I recognized a lot of Massachusetts in her portrayals but I think it was useful that she’s actually not FROM there because it’s good to see that sort of thing from the outside. At its core this is a story about a murder, but there’s a lot more than that. It made me want to go walk in the woods which is about as good as I can say for a book.

Her Fearful Symmetry   book icon  
by Audrey Niffenegger (2010)

read: 24 June 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I read The Time Traveler’s Wife and loved in and was hoping this would likewise be good but maybe not as soul-crushingly poignant and ... it was and wasn’t. A very good story centered around a woman who dies and a bunch of people who live near a cemetery. And twins. Niffeneger’s author profile in this book claims she works at HIghgate Cemetery which is sort of true (she did in the process of doing research for the book) and sometimes the book veers a little too far off into factual recitation, but overall it was good and not quite as gut-punching as her debut novel.

The Great Starvation Experiment: Ancel Keys and the Men Who Starved for Science   book icon  
by Todd Tucker (2008)

read: 18 June 2017
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

A great book about a thing I’d mostly known about through a few iconic Life Magazine photos. Tucker tells the story about the starvation experiment--a one year program participated in by conscientious objectors during WWII--and along the way manages to impart a lot of information about science experimentation, CO status, and the general zeitgeist of the United States during wartime. It’s a really interesting well-told story, heavily footnoted at the end but not otherwise bogged down in the sort of teeny details that might get in the way of the narrative.

Another Brooklyn   book icon  
by Jacqueline Woodson (2017)

read: 18 June 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

Not sure how I hadn’t read anything of Woodson’s before. This is a great coming of age story of a young black woman whose family moved from Tennessee to Brooklyn after what we (later) learn was the death of her mother. The book is told in a series of vignettes flashing back to periods of her upbringing from the perspective of what we know is an accomplished professional woman. She tells the stories of her thick-as-thieves and we eventually learn what happened to all of them. Her father at one point finds religion with the national Of Islam and there is a lot of slightly-removed influence of these various parts of her life. While the novel is not autobiographical Woodson did draw from her life experiences and this book does seem very very real.

Suspended Worlds: Historic Theater Scenery in Northern New England   book icon  
by Chris Hadsel (2015)

read: 18 June 2017
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

This is an exceptional book that I was enjoying so much I brought it on vacation with me and had to mail it back to the library! A great peek into the history and restoration of Vermont’s (and Northern New England’s) painted theater curtains looking at who made them and why and how many of them got restores. So great, so loving, wonderful photography and a lot of nice side stories. This was a joy to read.

Cabinet of Curiosities   book icon  
by Douglas Preston (2014)

read: 10 June 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I love the Cabinet of Curiosities concept but after reading three of the Agent Pendergast series I have concluded that these books are a little too creepy for me. I guess I like my thrillers with a little less horror? This book is an excellent romp through not just the Museum of Natural History but also creepy weird old curio collections and random odd falling down houses of New York. It also has the occasional surgery on living humans which ... too creepy!

In This Grave Hour   book icon  
by Jacqueline Winspear (2017)

read: 5 June 2017
rating: [+]
category: fiction

So far so good. The most recent book by Winspear is a sort of “back to basics” with the old gang back again and a nice home grown mystery. Liked this better than the one before it. Now everyone’s old enough to have kids who are old enough to enlist and I find myself wishing they don’t get killed off in future Dobbs novels.

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