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« March, 2018 »
The Heist

I feel like all of these books have sliders, how much is it about art/torture/politics/relationships. This one was more about relationships and art than it was about torture and politics. It also marks the last one I’ve read up to the point where I started this series, with the next book which I may actually re-read since I read it at the beginning of 2016 when life was a little different. Anyhow, this one has a lot of interesting art in it, some Swiss banking and not too much in the way of tradecraft and spy stuff, though there is some. Enjoyable.

Gunpowder Moon

Super creepy fiction about what if the stupid cold war era factionalism which we seem to be revitalizing in this country spreads to the moon? And how would we deal with it and figure out who was responsible? I really enjoyed this lunar thriller which is fast becoming a category of books that just can’t go wrong.

So You Want to Talk About Race

I found this book so helpful! I am one of those white women with a black friend or three who is trying to do the right thing but doesn’t always want to bother everyone with a zillion questions. This book answers some of those questions in a way that is friendly yet also firm (so not like “Oh it’s totally okay that you didn’t know this!” but a little “But it’s good that you know this stuff now") I’ve tried to do basic stuff like not be racist, but it’s more difficult to know if you are doing the right thing when you are, for example, trying to be anti-racist and this book is broken down into chapters basically talking about how to do things--help your friends deal with microaggressions, deal with street harassment, deal with being good listeners--better. Oluo is a blogger turned book author who writes in a way that is engaging and familiar without being like "Hey I am your best friend” I’ve passed this book along to a lot of people.

I’m not crazy, I just lost my glasses.

I vaguely remember reading a copy of this book, I thought when I was in high school but it came out the year I graduated so it may have been in college. This is a series of photos of people living with chronic mental illness. Shavelson interviewed them at length and then worked with the subjects to compress the interviews into short essays and then take a photo with the subject’s input. The result is a very poignant look at the wide range of ways people with serious mental illnesses experience the world. Some of this subjects are doing well and others not so well, but Shavelson imbues them all with a very human dignity, a sort of “This could be any one of us” that makes the storylines compelling.

Hidden History of Vermont

I love how even though I have been living here and collecting trivia here for over twenty years, there is still a lot to learn about this state. Bushnell is a journalist who has put together some interesting essays focusing on weird little aspects of the state. Did you know Vermont has a state terrestrial fossil AND a state aquatic fossil? I did not! The book is split into sections, some of which I knew more about (Vermont’s spiritualist history) and some I knew less about. An enchanting quick read for anyone who loves Vermontiana.

The English Girl

These get harder and harder to differentiate. I first got introduced to Silva via The English Spy (coming up, same orange cover) and so I got confused. This is a more classic Silva novel. An interesting disappearance, some intrigue. a few campaigns to sort things out, but not a lot of political blabla and not a lot of sketchy torture stuff. I enjoyed seeing where this one went.

Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America

So poignant, this book about why we look at oral health as a separate thing from medical health and how that division (and where it may have come from) has seriously impacted America’s poor. Otto does a great job weaving a narrative out of something that is fairly difficult to read about, lots of people with very bad teeth and winds up both castigating the people who work against good oral health while at the same time trying to give optimistic suggestions for how we can get out of this mess. So much more interesting than I thought it was going to be.

Shirley Jackson’s "The Lottery": The Authorized Graphic Adaptation

This is an adaptation of Jackson’s original short story by her grandson, a graphic novelist with his own reputation and style. I liked his intro where he talked about what little he remembered about Jackson and what he was told about her by his family. I liked the stark adaptation since it seemed so familiar. After reading reviews, it was interesting to me that one of the main critiques was that this is nominally a story that resonates with people of all ages and yet this particular version, since it’s illustrated and includes a bathtub scene and some frontal nudity, can’t easily be used in schools. Which made me think all over about what is an isn’t allowed within societies and if maybe that was part of Hyman’s point.

The Fallen Angel

This one was a lot more procedural wonkish than many of the other books. It’s not One Big Job, it’s a lot of little jobs all sort of intermigled with some backstory tossed in. Not as dramatic but overall still enjoyable.

How About Never - Is Never Good for You?

Mankoff was a cartoonist or the guy in charge of cartoons at the New Yorker for 20 years and founded their amazing Cartoon Bank where you can look up any cartoon. this book, published a few years before he left The New Yorker, is his story, both biographical and also a look behind the scenes of a magazine a lot of us have read but may not know too much about. The book is full of cartoons, Makoff’s specific sense of humor, and a lot of interesting stories, especially about other cartoonists. I really enjoyed it.