Last year I read Nicholas and Alexandra and discovered a whole new, extremely specific genre that I love: nonfiction books about some point in time where everything came together in a very particular way that changed the entire course of history. I’m very pleased to say that Dreamland is now the second book I can add to that category (which really needs a snappier name). Dreamland is actually two stories which fit together perfectly to create something really terrible: it’s the story of Purdue Pharma’s development and aggressive marketing of Oxycontin, and the story of how a small Mexican state […]
After watching John Leguizamo’s Netflix special Latin History for Morons, I felt a duty to learn more about the Hemisphere in which I live. I started with Mr. Leguizamo’s strongest recommendation: 1491, a 560-page tome with multiple appendices. The author isn’t a historian or archaeologist but a journalist who synthesizes all manner of information and makes it accessible. The result is so compelling, so dense and riddled with shocks big and small that I suspended my usual speed-reading. Unexamined assumptions that I wasn’t even aware of holding were upended right and left. The first book to leave me similarly dumbfounded […]
I like dreams. Dreaming, attempting to interpret dreams, unconsciously developing weird short ideas, hearing about others’ dreams – all of it is fun. While I thinks dreams can teach us, and that our unconscious mind helps us sort through problems and memories, I also like the mystery of dreams. Why is Person X on my mind? What’s with all the snakes? Why am I always close to water? Is flying cool or terrifying? (It’s both.) In the past I’ve read some books on dream interpretation and lucid dreaming, but they read more like hokey quackery or copied and pasted Wikipedia entries […]
L is for Love: A Heartfelt Alphabet is one of those odd little gems that looks like it is from 1950 but is very 2018. The illustrations show you the alphabet of love and friendship. The illustrations are casually modern. Nothing is forced, and things flow with the diversity of people (bi-racial copy, people of color). In fact, the P is for Poetry shows the girl reciting “How do I love thee?” (Or I assume she is…. She is kneeling, with paper in hand, boy in front of her. However, Greg Paprocki you goofed by having the soda pop/straw near […]
I picked this up because I absolutely loved Gurwitch’s book Fired; for a couple bucks at the library, that and a general regard for the former Dinner and a Movie hostess was enough to part me with my cash. There was a lot of good will going into the purchase. And this wasn’t bad, per se – I got my money’s worth at least, and Gurwitch has an amiable tone with some interesting stories – I’m just not sure there was enough to sustain a book here. I didn’t dislike it, but I’m not a fan, and it feels a […]
Oh boy! I have so many thoughts that I took notes on the things I wanted to write about for this one. Let’s do this: I read this book because I know a little bit about Senator Sasse. I knew he has a Ph.D in history from Yale and was a university president all before becoming a senator at age 41. I knew he was a Republican who was savvy on social media, specifically Twitter. He first gained notoriety, to me at least, by penning this letter that stated he could not support Donald Trump for president, even if he were […]
It Worked for Me is a collection of about 30 vignettes and stories intended to offer leadership advice from one of America’s most famous military leaders of the last 35 years. I think it does that and does it well. Powell reflects on a life of service, both military and civilian, and recounts instances when he made decisions and describes the generalized thoughts and ideas that led to the choices he made. This book, let’s call it a memoir, feels quite genuine and honest but Powell is reserved. He does not expose himself or cut particularly deep. That leads to […]
The last two-book review I wrote was compare and contrast, because the material in each book related to the other book. This time, not so much: one is non-fiction, and one is fiction, and without performing some mental calisthenics at a level I’m not willing to do right now I don’t think I could write a unified review.