[I've been
« March, 2016 »
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.

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.


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.


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.

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.