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I liked but did not love this book. I think I was expecting a YA nerd story but what I got was a tween thriller. Which is FINE, it was a fun book to read though maybe I was not its target demographic.

Useful, Usable, Desirable: Applying User Experience Design to Your Library

This book is really optimized to be a reference work for libraries wanting to do a UX overhaul. Schmidt and his co-author Amanda Etches do a great dissection of the many different ways a library interacts with users and then how to improve all of these ways. It can be a little overwhelming if you are a small library that can maybe only do a few things, but the tone is friendly and the examples are quite good. I’m happy I picked up this book and I plan to give it to a favorite library.

The Kill Artist

Read a thriller I liked off of the new shelf, enjoyed it, and then was happy to find out that it was one of a long series. Started at the beginning and the first book is pretty good so far. A little bit of Israel/Palestine relations stuff that I’m not totally sure I understand, but generally speaking, enjoyable with interesting characters.

The Fall of the Year

Its hard sometimes for me to read Mosher because he’s got this sentimentality to his writing that pushes all of my buttons exactly right. So if I’m not in a place in my life where it’s okay to be transported somewhere else, I sometimes stay away from his stuff. But this was the right time for the right book and I enjoyed this collection of loosely connected vignettes from the people who inhabit Mosher’s just-barely-fictional Kingdom County.

An Incomplete Revenge

I was worried about this book at first because it featured Roma characters and often novelists can use this effect for some “color” in the story without actually knowing or caring much about the Roma themselves. This was not a problem in this story which fleshes out some of Dobbs' background by way of what she knows about Roma culture. Not perfect, but not bad.

Your Money: The Missing Manual

A great easy to read book full of explanations and links and examples about how to get yourself out of debt and start saving money. I am pretty well-versed in this sort of thing and I felt like I learned a bunch of stuff.

The Takedown

I enjoyed this very tech-forward look from a high schooler’s perspective on the downsides to the social media panopticon. Kyle is a senior at a fancy prep school in Brooklyn with cool friends and a bright future when all of the sudden her world is turned upside down with a leaked sex tape that looks like it’s of her. How she and her friends respond to this fills up the bulk of this story which takes place in the near future where tech is slightly more advanced than now, or is it?

Appreciated a lot of the causal intermingling of tech and social lives in this book. Felt that some of it was a bit hand-wavey about some of the legal and moral implications (there is one specific part where people are talking about the sex-with-minors part that felt very not true=to=life about how such things are dealt with in America today) of all this tech. And, like many tech stories, this one is about the digitally plugged in and doesn’t really stop to give much time to class or poverty issues. Not that every book has to be everything to everyone, but it did seem noticeable in its absence.

I found the main character likeable but also sometimes unreliable in a way that felt refreshingly teenaged. Not sure how I felt about the ending but that’s mostly because I was really deep in to the story.

Presumption of Guilt

October is when the Mayor books come out. This one has a character form an older book, the Tag Man, as well as a good regular old “What is going on?” story. Mayor’s gotten a bit predictable to me but I don’t mean that in any way negatively, I just find his characters sort of reassuring. No big major surprises here (no one dies, no marriages get wrecked) and that was a pleasant aspect to this.

Messenger of Truth

Yet another in this series. They’re still holding my attention though I am concerned as we slip closer and closer to WWII times.

A Tale of Seven Elements

Wanted to like this book nut ultimately it was too chemistry-ish for me and seemed like it could have used some more editing (one story in the preface was repeated almost verbatim later in the book and it was not a short story). The stories themselves are interesting, learning how the periodic table has changed over time and arguments about naming and etc, but the author is a real chemistry nerd and I didn’t find his writing approachable enough to be able to keep moving through it.

The Trespasser

French has written some of my favorite mystery type novels. Weird sorts of stories where there are a lot of emotions wrapped up in what seems to be like a pretty normal case. This book is ... sort of not like that. It’s a very dry procedural (or maybe the emotions that are involved in it are ones I didn’t relate to) about a murder that is tricky and a whole lot of interpersonal cop stuff that goes on while figuring it all out. I liked it but it didn’t have French’s usual underlying hum of weirdness and deep feelings.

Death by Video Game: Danger, Pleasure, and Obsession on the Virtual Frontline

Got this off of the new shelf at the public library. I’d read some of it before as magazine articles. I appreciated how Parkin didn’t just go the normal boring “Video games are dangerous!” route and instead looked into the subtleties of the arguments about them. At times I found his explanations to be a bit too facile “Yeah woman are treated as playthings, but the men are sort of jerks too!” seemed overly simple and this book was missing a larger cultural critique but as it stands I did enjoy it.

Pardonable Lies

Continuing to enjoy these. We’re now more in the 30st, post WWI but before WWII. Maisie gets in some trouble with people following her around, has to ferret some things out. I like how these novels progress from one to the next, it’s not the same story over and over and the main character learns things.

Birds of a Feather

Second in the series. Also enjoyed it. it takes a few books in a series to figure out if you’re enjoying them since there’s a lot of exposition that takes place trying to fill you in on what has happened in past books. Some authors are better at this than others. Winspear does pretty well.

Maisie Dobbs

Excellent, a new series I can get into which will continue my enjoyment of sort of period mysteries that aren’t too gruesome or rapey. So far liking this one.

The Seas

Another moody seaside story, this one with a young unreliable narrator which makes you question what is really going on. I enjoyed this a lot, though enjoyed maybe isn’t even the right word. I liked the sense of place even though we could be in Maine or in Halifax by the descriptions. A lot of mermaid talk, weird families, small isolating towns and maybe some mental illness tossed in. Good that this book was short, it might have been tougher to take had it been longer.

The Woman in Cabin 10

This was a book that was at the BnB we were staying in in the UK and I read a few pages and then had to leave it behind. I got a copy when I got back and enjoyed it. Psychological thrillers aren’t usually my thing, I get tense and stay tense throughout them, but this one was suspenseful without being super creepy and the main character (though sleep and medication-deprived) is somewhat relatable and things do eventually mostly work out. Paged through it over the course of maybe a day and a half and now I want to look up what else Ware has written.

Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior

I read the 1983 version of this and so it has absolutely no helpful information about the internet. Which is fine since that’s the one place I seem to know what I am doing. I like the idea that very good manners is basically about putting OTHER People at ease but I don’t always know how to do that (since I am often awkward) so I enjoy getting to read about tried and true ways to get along with people. Miss Manners is frequently quite amusing on these topics and this book was gigantic and I read it slowly over several months. I hear there is an updated version.


I enjoyed this book about colonizing a new planet with a cast of characters who just happen to all be women. There is a certain kind of female scifi novel that I enjoy which has conflicts but not war and the general premise that “another wold is possible” and this is the sort of world that Griffith outlines in her novel. As someone who can get tired of the endless conflicts that seem designed primarily to move the plot along, this character-based semi-worldbuilder book was gratefully appreciated.


Brand new graphic novel by Tom Gault that tells a somewhat lonely story of someone assigned to police the moon as people gradually move away. Short book with a lot to look at, incredibly well done.

Spanish Fever

A great collection of short vignettes by Spanish artists along with an intro contextualizing the history of Spanish comics and sequential art. I didn’t know about almost all of these artists and while some of the selected pieces didn’t really do it for me, there’s a huge range of skills and abilities on display and it was a terrific read.

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me

Loved this book which outlines a few years during which Ellen Forney got diagnosed with bipolar and tried to work her shit out. It’s an honest and real look at both the highs of mania but also the real lows of depression and how she worked with professionals, family and friends to try to get a grip on managing her bipolar.

House of Discarded Dreams

Should have quit while I was ahead! This book was suggested in a thread of other books I really liked so I decided to try it despite my misgivings. I don’t like a lot of magical realism and when I do it’s usually stuff like Garcia Marquez’s work which is mostly story with some magical elements tossed in. This book, after the first few very good chapters was ALL magic. I mean it was used as the jumping off point for a lot of good thinking about the nature of things, families, life, etc, but ultimately it never came back around to not-magic and I was disappointed. Might be a great book for someone else, was irritating for me.

Put A Stamp On It

This was a fun collection of postal-adjacent stories about stamps told by a stamp collector who had been in the biz for decades. It was assembled posthumously by his son and while it’s a little rough around the edges, it’s still pretty interesting if you’re interested in stamps.

On Basilisk Station

I went to my local library and was browsing their great SF section and the librarian recommended this. I like geeky hard science stuff, and series and she thought this might be good. And it sort of was, but ultimately wasn’t. A little too militaristic (I like science but not necessarily warfare) and while I loved the treecat idea, I wasn’t that into most of the rest of the characters. Oh well. Trying to get better at not finishing books.

A Great Reckoning

Another one in the Gamache series and one I liked a lot. A lot of depth to it and the usual dead ends but a lot of good Three Pines community stuff and not a lot of people you like being terrible to one another. Thumbs up.


SO GOOD. This one was another by Crummey and more of an epic tale than Sweetland which was a bit of a “man vs. Nature” book. Loved the long rambling story about multiple generations of people in a down and out Newfoundland and some slightly fantastical things which happen within their community.

79 Short Essays on Design

I was definitely not the target demo for this. Seventy-nine essays, each in their own font, about the inside baseball of the design world. Occasionally I could pick up something that was really interesting, but a lot of the rest of the time I just felt mired in design drama. Unfinished.


Such a poignant story about an island community in Newfoundland that is being resettled and the people who are the last to go. This story is haunting both for the depth of emotions that are on display and also the tinge of magical realism that hovers around everything. A wonderful book.

The Changeling

Found this book on a list of YA books that everyone should read and was surprised I’d never seen it. Was SO GOOD, one of those great “growing up” books about young kids who have a fantasy life in the woods, one is from a sort of “normal” family and one is ... not. Snyder really captures that whole thing of being a weird kid and wanting your own world where you can accomplish things and not just fit into the mold someone else made for you. I’m surprised I missed this book when it first came out.

Outlaws, Mobsters and Murderers

Sort of a goofy remaindered book that had a lot of crime stories in sensational detail with photos. Most of them I knew about, a few were new. The mobster stuff in particular was sort of shruggo but I liked getting to leaf through this in the mornings over coffee.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

Did not know this book was out and saw it at the library. It’s a companion to the Lisbeth Salander series by a new author since Steig Larsson died in 2004. I liked this as a follow-up even though I know it’s somewhat controversial (who owns the rights to the stories, who SHOULD own the rights to the stories) but there were a few long slogging exposition paragraphs that could have done with a bit more “show me don’t tell me” Happy to get back into this story, however.

Science: Ruining Everything Since 1543

Another collection of stuff I’d only known about from the web. Weinersmith is a very prolific comics guy and I’d seen a lot of his stuff online. This is a collection of the science-only stuff he’s done. Enjoyable! Some of it makes more sense if you know him and where he comes from, I was a little confused because I actually didn’t know what SMBC (Saturday morning breakfast cereal) stood for. And as far as “comics turned into books” the repro is really good but some of the other design elements (page numbers, whatever) could have been more part of the design. I’m sure some of that stuff is costly though and this book is not just funny and a great gift for any scientist but it’s also super AFFORDABLE which is excellent.

Adulthood is a Myth

Such fun! I’d seen this comic online but didn’t know it had turned into a book. I laughed out loud at a lot of these comics which are basically short vignettes about trying to be an adult and also being incredibly awkward. Enjoyable and relatable.

Pass the Butterworms

So happy to getting back to reading books I enjoy. This was a fun collection of essays by Tim Cahill going to weird remote parts of the country and writing about them. While the book does suffer from some datedness (talking about cannibalism is something I think most people just don’t do anymore) I enjoyed his enthusiasm for his topics and his way of making even the most horrible trips really enjoyable to read about.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

I kept waiting for something to really happen in this book. I enjoyed the general narrative, felt it was about 40% too long and read it on Kindle so I missed the footnotes which is probably for the best.

If Then

I loved where this book started and it lost me partway through and never totally got me back. This is an interesting slipstream-y novel where you’re never really sure when “now” is and which version of the present tense action is actually real. Not that it totally matters, but I really liked the first version of reality, with its fully baked characters and a lot of interesting interpersonal dynamics nd just wasn’t as interested in the second part of the store which was basically... a war story. Not only a war story--with basically nearly all male characters talking about war--but one predicated on suffering. Which, had I known that going in, I would not have read. So, mostly a bad fit. De Abaitua is clearly a super capable writer who put a lot of work into this, but I felt like someone would have to, first off, enjoy war novels to be able to want to get at the more complex stuff going on behind the second (and to a lesser extend, third) part of this novel.

Disaster: Illustrated 200 Years of American Misfortune

I’m not sure if “fun” is the right word but this is a great collection of disaster stories, many which were contemporary, that come from newspaper accounts at the time. While many of these records have been superceded, it’s still fascinating to learn about some old-tyme disasters and what caused them and what was going on in the world at the time.

Scratching the Surface

Don’t remember where I got this from but one day I was out of things to read and the cover looked interesting. And this book is great! Greenwald travels to a lot of places, in this case primarily Southeast Asia. The stories of him looking for the sort of story behind the story are always interesting as are his little intros to each of these previously published pieces talking about who he wrote it for and why. Nearly every article had me going to Wikipedia to learn more about the topic he was discussing.

The Fabulous Clipjoint

A really fun noir-y old time mystery but Brown who is often better known in sci-fi circles. Apparently it’s the first of several and I’m looking forward to getting to read the follow-ups in the “Ed and Am” series of mysteries. A great gritty story.

Step Aside Pops

I continue to love everything that Beaton has done. This book is possibly even better, a little funnier, fewer experimental things, than her last one. Enjoyable all the way through.


Iranian women talking in an unfiltered way. Satrapi’s memories of the discussions that happened around her where women revealed their most private stories makes for really interesting reading.

One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw

This was basically a long New Yorker essay but in every good way. Rybczynski did a lot of fun research and he shares it with us including a lot of nice drawings and some great anecdotes about the world of fasteners (no one knows who invented the buttonhole! There is only one Roman nut left in the world!)/ Fun, worth reading, well illustrated.

Not Funny Ha-Ha: A handbook for something hard

I didn’t know what this book was when I picked it up. It’s a very well done book basically about “So you’ve decided to get an abortion, what does that mean exactly” and guides the reader through the two different major types of abortions, surgical and medical. Lots of good information and Hayes is really clear that people shouldn’t rely on it for medical advice but since we know people often go to book (or their friends) before they’ll check with a doctor, it’s very good that books like this exist. My only real concern with this book is that both the women look really really upset the entire time. Not that abortion isn’t serious but it definitely makes it look like they’re feeling one specific way.

God’s Kingdom

I really love Mosher’s unvarnished nostalgia style. His characters inhabit a world that is an only slightly old-timey version of the Vermont I currently live in and watching them work out their differences, deal with grief and loss and love and day to day life is always a calming part to my day. I enjoyed this book very much.

The Purple Land

I don’t even know why I had this book and I’m not sure why I continued to read it even as I stopped really enjoying it. It’s sort of a fascinating road/trail book from the 1880s about a snotty Englishman who is in Uruguay. He meets a lot of people and has a lot of adventures. And he’s sort of insufferable. This book has a few interesting prefaces and many neat original woodcuts but I really should have cut and run earlier on this, there was no clear ending and I think maybe I was hoping there would be one.

Oil on Water

Grabbed off of the shelf of the library this book about the Nigerian Delta is as fascinating as it is heartbreaking. Lots of little micro-stories about love and hope and lack of both are scattered throughout this narrative about a white woman possibly taken by rebels and one journalist’s search for her.

Beasts! Book 1

What fun! This just arrived on my mailbox from Jacob and I enjoyed it a great deal. It’s a collection of illustrations of beasts, some of which you have heard of (vampires, unicorns, werewolves) and most you haven’t. Lots of different illustrators have created full page images next to beautifully designed text. Great for flipping through on a grey morning with a mug of coffee next to you. (and a great palate cleanser from the last book I read)

Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss

This book was almost unreadable. I stuck with it because I liked getting at the SNL anecdotes but it was a rambly non-chronological memoir piece that was mostly about drugs and women. Davis has an interesting backstory but is a terrible writer. This book appeared to not have even been edited. I’m not sure I would recommend it for anyone but the most fervent of SNL (or Grateful Dead) fans.

The map of lost memories

An interesting travel mystery about people searching for lost scrolls in the dense jungles of Cambodia via Shanghai and Saigon. Some unreflective Colonialism and then some reflective Colonialist, this book has a heroine who is thoughtful and smart and a snappy dresser to boot and she has interpersonal mysteries to unravel as well as the ones of the lost temples and missing scrolls. Kept me interested all the way through to the end.


I got really excited after reading Seveneves that maybe Stephenson was back writing things that I would enjoy reading. I’ve always liked even most of his older stuff but got off the train at Baroque Cycle. Turns out this story (some sort of possible future where the braniacs are split off from the normals for thousands of years) was more like BC than the other books and I struggled through it hoping against hope that it would turn into something a little more accessible for me. I have friends who LOVED this book so I don’t mean to put anyone off of it but MAN was it a slog for me.

To Forgive Design

Another great book about bridge collapses! No, I am serious. If you like Petroski’s slightly rambling style, this is a great book about engineering, engineering education, bridge collapses and other engineering failures and how a profession “learns” over time how to do more good stuff and less bad stuff. A lot of great stories and a little overlong but generally quite good reading.

The World’s Strongest Librarian

This book is a quick read about Josh, a Mormon with Tourettes. Over time he learns strength training and after a long period of being worried that he’s unemployable, finds a good space for himself at the Salt Lake City Public Library. I liked but did not totally love this book because I felt the author took a lot of potshots at the library early on as a way of “setting the scene” and even though he talks a lot more and a lot more well about the library later, it was a weird foot to start off on. Hanagarne sounds like a nice guy with poorly-managed Tourettes and it was tough to tell from his narrative how much he’d tried and how much his story was a bit of a “we didn’t go to doctors much in my family” situation. Like many early-memoirs, it will be interesting to see where Hanagarne goes from here.

Delusions of Gender

Loved this book about the science behind a lot of the “neurosexism” people saying that men and women are different because their BRAINS are different. Fine has written a meta analysis that is cogent and enjoyable to read. She’s a delight and the book is full of good data, but for some reason I put it down about six months ago and it took me a while to pick it back up again. There’s a samey-ness to it which is not a bad thing but depending where you are in your life it may or may not be as useful to you.

Things Organized Neatly: The Art of Arranging the Everyday

Pictures and a little more detail from the blog of the same name. Fun and interesting and I learned a few things including the word knolling. A little surprised that only one of the featured artists was female (really?) but enjoyed a little peek into a blog that I’d already liked.

The Comic Worlds of Peter Arno, William Steig, Charles Addams, and Saul Steinberg

This book took me forever to read! And I enjoyed it but it’s a slightly dry and academic look of the lives of the four cartoonists whose names are in the title. I grew up often reading the New Yorker cartoons and I enjoyed getting a slightly wonk-y look at what made some of the more well known cartoonists tick, where they came from, what their personal lives were like, etc. It was super dry, however, and did not have as many cartoons in it as I might have wanted. Learned stuff, enjoyed it, had a hard time getting through it.

Hope, Human and Wild: True Stories of Living Lightly on the Earth

McKibben sometimes comes under fire for being a little toodoom and gloom in his books. This was true in the nineties and is true today. He’s got a lot to be gloomy about with climate change running amok and the same people still not handling things. I don’t blame him. This book--written in '95 and then republished with a new afterword that I have not read in 2007--attempts to shine a light on some good things happening in the world of development, in the world still having hope for becoming better and not worse. McKibben takes us to Curcubita and Kerala, two places with significantly lower GDPs than the US who still manage to have decent and innovative public services, high rates of literacy and other general good things. McKibben talks about why those places seem to mostly work and then shares a few things that are mostly working in the US. It’s a good book, good enough that I think I should track down the newer copy and see what else he has to say.

Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius

I enjoyed this book. Colin is a friend and I found a copy of this just because I found the topic intriguing. I was not disappointed. Using meticulous research he looks into the theft of some well-known skulls and traces them all through time. I had no idea! A fun, if ghoulish, idea for a book and more fun to read than you’d think it would be.


Took me a long time to finish this book both because it is really super long (it’s like three or four different narrative arcs in one which is NOT BAD) but also because I liked it and didn’t want it to end. It’s a complicated story of something bad happening (moon explodes, who knows why) and then humans have to get off of earth in a hurry (two years) and how that all works. Cut ahead 5000 years and we look at how things turned out. Both parts of the book are interesting, the space stuff which is meticulously explained (which sort of explains why the book is so long) is a little more credible-feeling than some of the race theory stuff later on in the book and “just so” explanations for why the new society does and doesn’t have certain kinds of technology. A great and well-recommended read.

Maximum Security Book Club

What an odd little book this was. I picked it up at ALA as an ARC so there were a few little weirdnesses that came from it being not quite done. I enjoyed it. The author is a literature professor who spends several years leading a book club in a maximum security prison outside of (I think) Baltimore. She breaks the book down into chapters that are each one book she decides to cover with the men. Some of the books go over well, some go over poorly. In a lot of cases Brottman thinks one thing is going to happen and a completely other thing happens. She seems to have a sort of naive understanding of prison life before she starts this program so watching the little collection of “aha” moments can be a little head scratching to people who have more of a social consciousness. All in all I liked this but did not love it.

The Squash: History, Folklore, Ancient Recipes

A classic book that mixes squash folklore with modern and old (and sometimes ancient) recipes for cooking with squash. A very European book so it includes wine pairings along with many of the meals but it’s a little hit or miss with some of the recipes having lovely photos and some just having generic squash pictures. I even found one recipe where they had forgotten to include the squash as an ingredient! Measurements are European and not that tough to translate but many baked goods rely on “crushed macaroons” for example. Very enjoyable to read as well as just to thumb through.


A prequel to the really good novel of people-living-in-silos which was Wool. I liked getting to know how something like this could have happened and getting to know some of the more minor players from the other book. Happy to note that there is yet another book that I can go read in this series. Hoping it’s good.

Written in Fire

I really liked the first two books in this trilogy which I read without really knowing they were a trilogy but this one just fell flat. Instead of complicated stories about what you do with a new type of human it was just One Big War.

The Sudden Arrival of Violence

I think I would have been pretty bummed out to have to read these books one every year. As it was I got to read the whole Glasgow Trilogy in about a month. Enjoyed it.

All Star

Set in a small Vermont town this is a classic townie versus jock story that Lonergan does a great job at explaining and showing without telling you how to feel about it. As someone who lives in a small Vermont town and deals with some of the same issues, it rang really true to me.

How a Gunman Says Goodbye

Second in the series, liked it very much. Some of the ethics of this whole trilogy are going to depend on who winds up doing well and who winds up doing poorly (a la House of Cards, which people are the good guys...?) but I’m enjoying reading about small town Scottish mobsters for now.

Wool Omnibus

Everyone said this book was terrific and they were not wrong. I have no idea why it took me so long to read it. Sort of like that terrible dystopian movie which winds up with a bunch of crazy zombies, this is just about a community of people who live, who have always lived, in a 130+ story silo buried in the ground. Of course it’s never that simple and there is drama afoot. Howey does a great job writing a story that is gripping but also doesn’t fall back on all the old tired tropes we’re all so sick of.Can’t wait to read the next one.

The English Spy

Pulled this off right off of the “new” shelf at my library. It was decent, totally okay, but it’s one of those stories where there’s this incredibly hard-to-kill person and they move heaven and earth to try to kill them and it’s all crazy and there’s a huge build up and then something goes wrong and the hard-to-kill guy stays alive and the denoument is that he winds up being killed sometime later. I found the characters a little hard to follow and there was a lot of spycraft stuff that was not to my tastes. It’s easy to see why this guy is a popular writer and it’s possible I just need to start earlier in the series than the total end but it just didn’t grab me though it was fine reading for a train trip.

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter

A random pick up from a library shelf, this is a book about a hit man for the Irish mob. Interesting and without some of the usual issues. Could use more female characters.

Pinky and Stinky

Fun and for kids, this short story about two intrepid piglets and their space adventure was fun and is worthwhile reading for anyone who enjoys Kochalka.

Yes, My Accent is Real

A fun collection of short essays a lot like Mindy Kaling’s. This is a lot less of some sort of memoir and a lot more like a collection of anecdotes from people who want to know more about where Nayyar came from and how he wound up marrying Miss India and getting on the Big Bang Theory.Light, easy to read, fun.