Tag: nonfiction

I Love Data

June 13, 2013 Uncategorized 8

Title: The Signal and the Noise
Author: Nate Silver
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★★
Fun Fact: There was public outcry in 2001 when the weather channel attempted to change the color representing rain from blue to green.
Review Summary: I loved the topic and was incredibly happy that the author was able to clearly present complex computational topics without oversimplifying.

I thought I should just get that geeky admission out of the way in the title since my love of this book is largely based on my love of data and the cool things we can do with it. Nate Silver is an awesome statistician best known for his model that has done a great job predicting election winners. In this book, he looks at a lot of incredibly interesting topics from public issues to sports and policy decisions to natural disasters while analyzing the common mistakes people make when making predictions about the future. Read more »

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Investing in the 332’s

May 9, 2013 Uncategorized 1

Title: What You Need To Know Before You Invest
Author: Rod Davis
Source: library
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Fun Fact: The Dow Jones index was created in 1884, when it included 11 companies and was computed by hand.
Review Summary: This was mostly an easy read and seemed like a good introduction to the different types of investments.

Investing is a topic that makes me anticipate being confused, bored or both, so I approached this book with a certain amount of trepidation. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up at all if it weren’t for two things. First, my significant other and I are reaching a stage in our careers where knowing something about investing seems responsible. Secondly, my attempt to read through the Dewey Decimal system made this day inevitable. Fortunately, the majority of the book was a much easier read than I expected. Read more »

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Meeting Alfred Hitchcock

May 1, 2013 Uncategorized 3

Title: It’s Only A Movie
Author: Charlotte Chandler
Source: library 
Rating: ★★★★☆
Fun Fact: Hitchcock once had a set showing a city street in Holland built complete with working street cars and sewers to drain the fake rain.
Review Summary: The book was a very light read composed mainly of quotes that made me feel like I really got to know Hitchcock.

It’s Only a Movie is a very comprehensive biography, covering Hitchcock’s career from his beginnings as a title designer through the final movie he was never able to complete. Even the plots of his movies are included. Mostly though, this was an intimate portrait of the man, told through quotes from him and those who knew him. Read more »

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Guest Review – A Parent’s Playbook for Learning

April 24, 2013 Uncategorized 0

Recently I was asked to review a book of advice for helping your child learn and I immediately thought of asking my mother to review it because of her experience homeschooling me and my siblings. Today I’d like to share her excellent review with you. 

No matter how your child is educated—home, public, private—this book holds the key to academic success: Jen Lilienstein’s A Parent’s Playbook for Learning.  It gives you the tools to recognize your child’s learning personality and the strategies to use that information to help your child succeed in school. Read more »

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The Botany of Desire

April 3, 2013 Uncategorized 4

Title: The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World
Author: Michael Pollan
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★★
Fun Fact: A tulip grown from seed doesn’t flower for 7 years!
Review Summary: This was one of the most fun non-fiction books I’ve read, because of both the content and the author’s enthusiasm.

The author’s starting premise in The Botany of Desire has two fascinating parts. First, that plants benefit greatly from domestication, so our relationship with them could just as easily be viewed as them domesticating us. And second, that domesticated plants have evolved to meet some basic human desire, making plants of the past a great way to learn about what previous civilizations valued. The bulk of the book is devoted to stories of particular plants that illustrate this point. Although I expected more of a history of the plants in question (the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato), I very much enjoyed the collection of anecdotes presented instead.

Read more »

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An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England

March 27, 2013 Uncategorized 3

Title: An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England
Author: Venetia Murray
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Fun Fact: In Regency England it was considered a great honor to be invited to watch the fashion icon Beau Brummel get dressed.
Review Summary: The tone is straightforward and factual, but the information included is fascinating and engaging all on its own.

Regency England was a time period that technically lasted from 1811-1820 and which you might recognize as the setting of the genre known as “regency romances”. An Elegant Madness is an impressively thorough discussion of the time period, with chapters on everything from clothes to dinners, to society and scandalous sex lives. Although the author’s tone is fairly scholarly and dry, the topics and first hand accounts make for some fascinating reading. Read more »

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Salt: A World History

March 20, 2013 Uncategorized 10

Title: Salt: A World History
Author: Mark Kurlansky
Source: library
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Fun Fact: When mummies (preserved with salt) were moved into Cairo in the 1800’s, they were taxed as salted fish.
Review Summary: Mostly an engagingly written overview of history organized around salt, but with a few too many details of specific recipes and cod fishing.

Writing a world history organized by the way everything connects back to salt was a surprisingly brilliant idea. Because salt was a strategic concern in the organization of many countries and their wars, it’s possible to touch on many of the most interesting periods in history by talking about salt. This could very easily have led to a disorganized book, but each chapter focused on a specific country and the book generally moves forward in time. Together, that was enough to give the book a cohesive feel.

Read more »

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