Two books, very unalike, and yet sharing one general darkness. Death, spoken and unspoken, biogenic and anthropogenic. Non-fiction, and fiction. Come sit and have tea with me, won’t you? The sugar’s right there.
Most glad to be sitting on my comfortable couch right now, not having to resort to cannibalism. I mean, there’s cannibalism in this is what I’m saying, and while it’s not described in extreme detail, it is *described* . I feel like I might have gotten PTSD from having to read about these people I didn’t even really like (except for maybe the cabin boy) having to eat each other. So: that is my warning to you, and historical spoilers? I guess? This book climaxes in cannibalism. But it was really interesting! And harrowing. And infuriating. It’s almost as much […]
This book made me very cranky. In fact, I ended up disliking it so much I requested a refund from Amazon, which I guess they don’t normally do if you don’t like a book on Kindle. (They gave it to me, But just this once, because I’m such a loyal customer! Honestly, though, it was a $10 e-book and I did not tolerate it enough to permanently part with $10.) Honestly, I’m not sure how informative this review will end up being if you’re curios about the book, because I’m not sure entirely why I disliked it so much. It […]
The Poisoner’s Handbook is one of those rare non-fiction books that reads more like fiction. The basic narrative follows the head medical examiner of New York City and his chief toxicologist as they essentially help invent forensic science during Prohibition. Each chapter focuses on the problems, mostly murders, that revolve around a particular chemical compound including chloroform, wood alcohol, arsenic, radium, carbon monoxide, and thallium. There’s a lot of chemistry involved but it’s explained in a way that someone who hasn’t taken the subject since high school in the late 90s can still follow. Most of the tension in the […]
A few years ago I read Willie Nelson’s It’s a Long Story: My Life. Of course, the background of his music and influences is great. Additionally, I was very interested in my fellow Texan’s take on growing up in a Texas church and on religion in general. In that books he says: I’ve never doubted the genius of Christ’s moral message or the truth of the miracles he performed. I see his presence on earth and resurrection as perfect man as a moment that altered human history, guiding us in the direction of healing love. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve augmented […]
Last year I reviewed Bill Bryson’s delightfully dorky and cheeky At Home, calling it a treasure-trove of trivia. I love books that make you think Oh, that’s why it’s like that! This book is one of those books, and so I really enjoyed it. Whereas Bryson’s book focused on things like wallpaper glue and how dangerous stairs are, this book is all about how culture was shaped by humanity’s beverages of choice: beer, wine, liquor, coffee, tea, Coca-Cola, and water. (I don’t actually know which ones are the six in the title, but all are covered.) The books starts out with beer, […]
I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. That didn’t pan out, and I’m fine with that, but the interest in all things medical has lingered. Because I was planning to read more non-fiction anyway, I picked up this book on a whim, and although I wasn’t disappointed, it lacks a certain degree of depth. More subcutaneous than intraosseal, if you please. Van de Laar – who is a surgeon himself – takes us through the history of medicine, and specifically surgery, but instead of telling the tale chronologically he chooses to make his case based on famous cases and surgeries […]
As someone with a rather vulgar tongue myself, I love the ever-evolving language of slang and so this book was a delight, trawling through its history – how different terms were born, how they have evolved over time (some starting off respectable and becoming vulgar, and vice versa), how slang travels, and the different groups from which these words came. Often indeed very vulgar, derogatory, offensive and so on, slang also shows off best our creativity, imagination and wit, although obviously the perception of whether or not something is funny or downright appalling changes with time, along with the society […]