Source: Library

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True Crime Review: The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist

August 12, 2019 Uncategorized 8 ★★★★

True Crime Review: The Cadaver King and the Country DentistTitle: The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South
Author: Radley Balko, Tucker Carrington, John Grisham
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: An informative and infuriating read that uses an engaging story to highlight areas where criminal justice reform is desperately needed.

“After two three-year-old girls were raped and murdered in rural Mississippi, law enforcement pursued and convicted two innocent men: Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks. Together they spent a combined thirty years in prison before finally being exonerated in 2008. Meanwhile, the real killer remained free.” (source) This was made possible by a criminal justice system that incentivized experts to give law enforcement the answers they wanted. This was particularly desirable to people in power when racially motivated killings were prevalent. Even today though, there seems to be little appetite for reform. Courts around the country still allow specious ‘science’ and prevent innocent people from being freed on technicalities. This book focuses on two men who took advantage of this system to make a profit while sending innocent people to jail. Read more »

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The Art of Mindful Reading in Review

August 5, 2019 Uncategorized 5 ★★★★

The Art of Mindful Reading in ReviewTitle: The Art of Mindful Reading: Embracing the Wisdom of Words
Author: Ella Berthoud
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: Sometimes this was more about living in the moment than reading thoughtfully, but it also included some helpful and fun ideas.

This book was a bit of a jumble. There were parts that were focused on the sort of mindful reading I want to do. They included suggestions like reading a page really focusing on words, then sentences, then paragraphs; and re-reading to get more out of a book. Other parts were focused on a sort of mindfulness that is more about being present in the moment. These sections include advice like thinking about the way the book you’re reading is produced. There were also suggestions for different ways to read (in yoga poses! outside! under the covers!); different ways to share books with others; and different ways to reflect on your reading. Read more »

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March: Book One in Review

May 20, 2019 Uncategorized 8 ★★★★

March: Book One in ReviewTitle: March: Book One (March, #1)
Author: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

I feel a little out of my depth reviewing graphic nonfiction, but I can tell you I definitely enjoyed March: Book One. Congressman John Lewis is, as the book description says, an American icon. I loved getting to hear about the historic civil rights actions he took part in. It was incredible to get his first person account of interacting with other civil rights legends, like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. The frame narrative, in which the congressman talks to two young black boys, worked well. It made sense for the narrative to then be in the congressman’s own words and it helped smooth some transitions between different parts of his story. Read more »

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A Book Club Review: Severance

March 4, 2019 Uncategorized 0 ★★★

A Book Club Review: SeveranceTitle: Severance
Author: Ling Ma
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: A fascinating idea with lots of interesting themes, but the themes and world building were both poorly developed.

Candace Chen is a millennial New Yorker, so devoted to her job and her routine that she hardly notices when Shen Fever turns the city into an abandoned wasteland. When work instructions stop coming in, she make her own routine, photographing the city and sharing her work as the blogger NY Ghost. When she eventually realizes she must leave the city, she’s rescued by a cult-like group heading to a place called ‘the Facility’. Supposedly the Facility will be safe, but the erratic behavior of the the group’s leader makes Candace wonder if she’d be better off on her own. Read more »

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Silicon Valley in Book Reviews – Part I

January 30, 2019 Uncategorized 7 ★★★

As another foray into reading more deeply (and in an effort to trim my to-read list), I decided to pick up a collection of books on Silicon Valley. Mostly, they’re focused on the tech companies that started here. It’s been an interesting experience spending so much time on one topic and I’m excited to share how it’s gone. As I’m trying to write more thoughtful reviews, I’ve found I like having the book around when I’m writing the review. Unfortunately, I’ve returned this first book to the library already, so I’ll just have to do my best without!  Read more »

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#NBAwards Longlist Review: The Tangled Tree

January 21, 2019 Uncategorized 2 ★★★

#NBAwards Longlist Review: The Tangled TreeTitle: The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life
Author: David Quammen
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

Summary: Fascinating material presented in an approachable way, but overall organization was lacking.

Many of you who enjoy natural history will have read about Charles Darwin. You may already know that he originated the use of a tree as a way to visualize the process of evolution. This story starts with that tree and covers several major discoveries that have caused to revise our understanding of that tree. In particular, the author covers horizontal gene transfer (transfer of genetic material between individuals in ways that aren’t from parent to child) and the discovery of a new taxonomic group, the Archaea. Read more »

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#NBAwards Longlist Review: Directorate S

December 20, 2018 Uncategorized 4 ★★★★

#NBAwards Longlist Review: Directorate STitle: Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Author: Steve Coll
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:four-stars

Summary: This was well written and the author provided a good amount of help (yay for cast lists!), but it was still a tough read.

I enjoyed reading the National Book Award nonfiction shortlist enough that I decided to keep going with the longlist! I was a little dubious about this book on the war in Afghanistan, because neither wars nor current events are my favorite topic. I also feel more concerned about the objectivity of books as their topics become more recent. This particular book was written by a journalist and depended on many primary sources to tell the story of how Pakistan’s Directorate S (part of the Pakistani intelligence agency) was involved in the war in Afghanistan. Read more »

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Reading Deeply Review: How to Read a Book

December 10, 2018 Uncategorized 13 ★★

Reading Deeply Review: How to Read  a BookTitle: How to Read a Book
Author: Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:two-stars

Summary: This did make me think more about how I want to read, but contained little advice I found useful.

While I sometimes struggle to stick with specific reading challenges, I’m happy that I have stayed focused on trying to read more thoughtfully. I had high hopes for this book helping my to do that. Unfortunately, I found that most of the advice either felt obvious to me or suggested strategies I vehemently disagreed with! Read more »

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Review: The Library Book – In Which I am Surprised

December 4, 2018 Uncategorized 31 ★★★★★

Review: The Library Book – In Which I am SurprisedTitle: The Library Book
Author: Susan Orlean
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:five-stars

Summary: A delightful mix of topics, all fascinating, held together by the author’s love of books and libraries.

I have to admit that right off the bat that I was wrong about this book. I was intrigued by the topic – a mix of the LA library fire and library history in general. I only gave the author’s previous book, The Orchid Thief,  three stars though and so I decided not to go out of my way to pick this up. Then I saw that Rennie at What’s Nonfiction had only good things to say about it and Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness mentioned how good it was at least once in her Nonfiction November posts, so I bumped it to the top of my to-read list after all. That was the right choice! Read more »

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#NBAwards Shortlist Review: American Eden

November 15, 2018 Uncategorized 6 ★★★

#NBAwards Shortlist Review: American EdenTitle: American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic
Author: Victoria Johnson
Source: Library
|Goodreads
Rating:three-stars

“On a clear morning in July 1804, Alexander Hamilton stepped onto a boat at the edge of the Hudson River. He was bound for a New Jersey dueling ground to settle his bitter dispute with Aaron Burr. Hamilton took just two men with him: his “second” for the duel, and Dr. David Hosack…. Hosack was one of the few points the duelists did agree on. Summoned that morning because of his role as the beloved Hamilton family doctor, he was also a close friend of Burr. A brilliant surgeon and a world-class botanist, Hosack—who until now has been lost in the fog of history—was a pioneering thinker who shaped a young nation.” (source) Read more »

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