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« March, 2022 »
Someday the Rabbi Will Leave

Not too surprisingly, these books are getting kind of samey but I liked this one because it has some political machinations and a guy who wants to run the temple like a business which, hey hey, the rabbi doesn’t like. So the rabbi is, as per usual, threatening to leave but then has to help get the Jewish person off the hook when they’re accused of doing something dastardly.

The Warehouse

A really well done near-future dystopia where giant corporations (or one in particular, that seems an awful lot like Amazon) take over more of the day-to-day lives of Americans as the planet becomes more and more unlivable. There’s a great attention to detail about the surveillance state that crops up and how much of what is happening is evil people being evil and how much is people just trying to make the best of bad personal situations. I didn’t love any of the characters but you’re maybe not supposed to.

The Calculus Story

Every so often I feel I should try to get my head around calculus & some nice man offers me a book they say is “Not like all the other books.” And I read, once again, about a pissing match between Newton and Leibniz with a roller coaster on the cover. Basically there is a jump that happens between understanding the concepts (which I do) and understanding how to plug them into formulae (which I don’t understand) and I always wind up lost in the second half of these roller coaster books.

Last Exit

This would be a great book for someone, it was not a great book for me. A grimdark near-world dystopia which is trauma-laden from the getgo and each time you think “This can’t get more dire, can it?” it does. So much tragedy and just unrelenting pain and sorrow. I read at night, usually, and need less nightmare fuel.

The Cartographers

I loved this book and also wanted it to be 10-15% more subtle. Like there are some mysteries inside it where if you guess that the guy with the nickname is ALSO the other named character in a different part of the story, you kind of know what may be about to happen. It’s a wonderful story about maps and map libraries and the weird line between the map and the territory. And nostalgia. And just a little bit magical, but only a tiny bit. And based on some true history. It had some twists that I wanted to be a little bit twistier. Tiny gripe, great book

Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out

This was definitely my least favorite of the series. A lot of unlikable characters that you had to spend a lot of time with, and while there were a couple interesting twists it just didn’t do it for me. There is basically an antisemitic older man who dies and a LOT of people might have wanted to see him dead. Unfortunately he’s still alive for a lot of the earlier parts of the book and so you just have to listen to his awful tirades and poor treatment of those around him.

The Granite State’s Boston Post Canes

The Boston Post, a newspaper in Massachusetts, sent engraved canes to towns in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island in 1909 with a request to give them to the town’s oldest man. This book tracks the ones sent to New Hampshire and gives info who the canes were given to in 1909. Also, if known it discusses who currently owns the cane or if it’s still given out. This is clearly a bit of a homemade book, but it’s made with love and you learn a lot about what old timers were like in New Hampshire at the turn of the last century.

The Kaiju Preservation Society

A great snack of a book. It was really so nice to read something set in modern (i.e. COVID) times without leaning on that & having an entirely other plot. Funny and very relatable for the Extremely Online even as there’s nearly no internet in the book. A guy who gets shafted by his start-up get a random new gig which turns out to be even stranger than he imagines. And then he gets to get a teeny bit of revenge on the grifter CEO who shafted him. I enjoyed how aware of itself this book was, and how funny.

The Paradox Hotel

As I was reading this, I could easily see it being a time-slipping thriller movie with Charlize Theron in the title role. It’s a very visually compelling story of a hotel that is a stopover place for time travelers but then there’s some sort of anomaly that is hard to pin down leading to the hotel detective having to rty to figure stuff out all the while suffering from increasingly concerning “slippage” due to the mount of time travel she’s done. A lively book, with a bit of confusing timeline back and forth (not always easy to tell when “now” is which I think is intentional but still kind of vexing) but ultimately one that delivered.

The Secret to Superhuman Strength

This is a different tour through Bechdel’s life than some of her recent titles, it talks about her preoccupation with fitness through her whole life (before it was really a thing) and reflects on what that might have been, or is, about. She goes to a lot of discursive places some of which were more interesting than the others but to me what was so interesting is that I really didn’t know she was sporty at all. And as someone who had an upringing that was like hers in some ways and very unlike hers in other ways, I am always curious to read more meoir-style stuff from her.


I’ve been reading a lot of clone books lately, this is one of the better ones. It looks at ethical issues of making exact replicas of people--ones that emerge as the same general age as the original--while also just being being a solid colony-ship type of story. The main character is fallible yet likeable, and the histories of failed colonies are so interesting. While this book wraps up somewhat tidily there is a sequel planned and I am looking forward to reading it.

Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red

These are sort of ripped from the headlines and this one involves a bombing at a local college where the rabbi is teaching briefly and the real differences between the “tough on crime” establishment versus the “hey they’re just kids” folks. I felt like there was more that could be done with this and I felt like they set up the one Black student to attract a lot of suspicion and then you never really figured out what happened to him when his name was cleared.

Please Don’t Sit on My Bed In Your Outside Clothes

I really enjoyed No You Can’t Touch My Hair and this is another great book by Robinson. Funny and unapologetic, I really enjoyed how much she OWNS her life and is willing to talk about the good and the bad parts of it. She’s got a white boyfriend, they used to travel a lot and didn’t spend too much time together then the pandemic hit and they were ALWAYS in each others' space. There’s humor, there’s snark, there’s a bit of name-dropping. A really good romp of a book.

The Library of the Dead

Maybe a YA novel? This book takes place in Scotland, where there are a lot of haves and the have-nots are really just barely eking out an existence. There’s a weird library and some supernatural stuff going on. Our plucky hero is a young woman of color managing a lot of stuff--poverty, supporting her family, learning magic, threats--while trying to learn a bunch of stuff and figure out a bit of a mystery. Very engaging.

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

A really interesting collection of short stories, many with different positionings of what a “monster” is. Sometimes it’s someone with weird features, sometimes it’s someone with a bad attitude, sometimes it’s someone who treats others badly. Rarely is it an actual supernatural being or a Frankenstein type of thing. Some I liked more than others, but all of them were good and worth reading and some have continued to stick with me.

Monday the Rabbi Took Off

This title has a double meaning because Rabbi Small takes some time off and also takes off for Israel which is a very different place in the late 60s than today’s Israel, I’m guessing. The country is not as much of a country as it is now and there’s a lot more random violence that is a bit more mysterious. Small, as usual, is not sure what to do about his job at the synagogue and so he takes an unpaid sabbatical to think it over. Was interesting to learn some about this part of the world at this point in time, very snack-sized books, these.

Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home

There’s something comforting about these small-ish town, very Judaism-focused, New England mysteries. This one has some casual racism in it along with some white-savior stuff (pushed back against, mercifully). I liked it but it wasn’t quite as interesting as the others I’ve read in the series. A quick read.