I would give this book 4.5 stars. Highly recommended. This is an intriguing and psychologically complex book. Written by journalist Allison Hoover Bart...more I would give this book 4.5 stars. Highly recommended. This is an intriguing and psychologically complex book. Written by journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett who inadvertently finds herself in possession of a valuable and very old book. It is a German tome written in 1630 called Krueterbuch – plant book, by Hieronymus Boch. Its weight is 12 pounds.
Her curiosity takes her beyond her research for the owners of the Boch book. What she discovers about the nature of old books and the ease by which they are pilfered, leads her to believe that this is the probable story behind this ancient book as well. As she begins to explore, she comes across a community of old book lovers whose interests lay beyond that of the garden variety paperback book collector. They are book experts and aficionados whom care for, collect, and sell books with values of hundreds of dollars and beyond.
Interestingly, Bartlett finds that within the peripherals of this community there is a man named John Charles Gilkey. He is of questionable character and psychological health, and in an obsessive fashion values books beyond the norm. His goal is to acquire books through some very convoluted and interesting means, and his justification of those means is fascinating. He also triggers a series of events within the community. As the sellers become entrenched in their losses and their desire to capture this man, we find out about these experts, sellers, and collectors, as well as the inevitable obsessed “biblio-dick” (book detective), whom all in turn converge to find “the man who loves books too much”.
The Man who Loved Books too Much is a wonderful, interesting, and quirky read. I laughed. I reminisced. I was amazed and fascinated. I wanted to enter this world. To touch, smell, and read these old and special books.
I would recommend this book for book lovers, non fiction lovers, true crime fiction aficionados, persons interested in psychological intrigue, and those whom are “slightly older” since some of the references in the book are connected to the 1960’s and 70’s and may be lost on a younger reader.
On a more personal note since reading this I have had to restrain myself from creating my own little obsession. That would be researching these amazing texts, special books, and first editions, as well as purchasing them. This could be the figurative “rabbit hole” for me. My relationship with readable books is enough without bringing an additional obsession with ancient and valuable books too. *sigh*(less)
By the year 2042 white people will be a minority in the United States. With this in mind, Rich Benjamin takes a trip a...moreActually 4.5 stars
By the year 2042 white people will be a minority in the United States. With this in mind, Rich Benjamin takes a trip around the country where he explores the areas of the US where the majority of the population, curiously, is not a blend of color. He then strives to define these enclaves, which he terms “Whitopias”. They are popping up in spots all over the country for reasons which he questions in his book. As he does his personal research in this sort of “reverse ethnography”, he boldly goes into the territory to interview, live with, and experience the life style which defines these areas and the population.
Rich Benjamin is a very intelligent, highly educated, and extremely articulate individual. His writing is lyrical, satirically humorous and sensitive, and he has a very advanced fashion sense which adds some levity to the book. He is thorough and backs up his findings with statistics and references - be aware this book is somewhat academic in nature. But most significantly he’s brave, and goes into areas which for me as a white person would even be scary; areas where there are known connections with extremists who may threaten violence to people of color and/or their supporters.
He is welcomed warmly within these “white enclaves”, and what he finds is interesting, enlightening, and often quite difficult to swallow. It was for me. Although Benjamin specifically states that as a culture we have moved mostly beyond blatant personal racial discrimination, racism still exists within most static bureaucratic structures within the country. He also supports the adage that classism and racism are intimate partners. Knowing that both also exist among these “Whitopias” he further supports their link within the text.
This is a great book. My only negative thoughts around it is that it is so information packed it will probably not be a quick or easy read for most. It wasn’t for me. More importantly the subject matter is emotional and difficult, and one which many people do not want to deal with. Although the author does a brilliant job of attempting to making light of some situations, how can it be? Sadly, and most significantly, I also do not believe it will actually reach his intended audience. Considering myself for example, although white, to me I believe he is “preaching to the choir” - albeit I am the white kid in the back, who doesn’t quite know the words, and whom annoyingly sings a bit off key, but I certainly won’t stop singing. I give this excellent yet difficult book 4.5 stars. (less)
This is a great book. It transported me back to the college courses I took in the late 90s for a teacher's credential. It was basically an overview of...moreThis is a great book. It transported me back to the college courses I took in the late 90s for a teacher's credential. It was basically an overview of what I had learned over a two year period, except in a condensed, readable, and interesting format - although sometimes difficult to grasp and a few time to understand, due to my own lack of abilities. He writes about how he believes our brains work and tries to dispell the myth that the human brain is like a computer arguing that our humanity is the greatest part of what makes our minds so special. He addresses autism and other brain differences, as well as language aqusition, mathematical skills, creativity, illogical and imprecise thinking, and other interesting aspects of how we learn, think, remember, and create. Even as I accessed this book in a readable fashion it becomes apparrent how amazing Tammet is. He is an autistic savant and considered to have one of the greatest minds alive. Among many other gifts he learned the very difficult language of Icelandic in approximately one week, and spoke it fluently with native speakers in a TV interview. Incredible!(less)
Mini Synopsis: Bruce and Andrea Leininger married in the late 90s. This was his second marriage and her first - he a well paid top ex...moreActually 4.5 stars
Mini Synopsis: Bruce and Andrea Leininger married in the late 90s. This was his second marriage and her first - he a well paid top executive and she an ex ballet dancer. Soon after being married the couple gave birth to a healthy little boy. Everything was normal until James, their son, started having unusual and violent nightmares. In addition he displayed unexplainable knowledge of a technical nature regarding WWII air planes. To add to the family’s distress, Bruce’s personal belief system was at odds with the idea that his son could be a reincarnated soul. This is the story of a skeptic (Bruce) and his wife and their in-depth search for the truth. As the Leiningers find evidence that their little boy is experiencing the terrors of a man who was killed during an air attack on Japan during WWII, questions arise which invariably change the way they think about life and what they believe to be the meaning of death. My Thoughts: This books was wonderful. I even enjoyed the historical parts, although I disliked history in high school and college and for the most part still do. Amazingly, because of the Leniningers’ process and their in depth research, they begin to connect with a number of surviving and aging veterans and their family members, and they find it difficult to ignore the information connecting their son with the pilot’s death. As the veterans' connection with James and what is understood to be his previous life evolves, and the evidence keeps emerging it becomes difficult to disbelieve. I like to think of myself as rational and not prone to support things that are unexplainable. However, as the facts are brought to light, and experiences are remembered, the story becomes heartbreaking, undeniable, and ultimately redemptive. It was very close to the end that I cried which is very rare for me. (less)
This is not a self help book. That Wednesday Martin has a Ph.D in comparative literature helps the reader understand the methodology used within the w...more This is not a self help book. That Wednesday Martin has a Ph.D in comparative literature helps the reader understand the methodology used within the writing of Stepmonster. Where she does just that – compares literature from various sources. This provides the reader with a virtually seamless and multidisciplinary book about step mothering. It is a myth busting mélange of information to help the reader understand this complex and misunderstood relationship.
Examining fairy tales from all over the world about step mothers, including Hansel and Gretel and Snow White, Wednesday addresses some of the beliefs we hold in our cultural consciousness from the retelling of these stories – they are not the best. In addition she enlightens the reader through referencing data collected from sociobiology, anthropology, and psychology. All supporting the notion that step parenting is a challenge regardless of country or culture and in the animal kingdom as well. She reveals that there is an array of misinformation surrounding the relationship even with psychologists, and those whose job it is to help with the relationship. Where it becomes apparent that within our culture’s current child centered rearing practices it is often the stepmother whom is the least sympathized with and understood.
Warning: It is not an easy read. Several times is became esoteric due to scientific data (which also solidify the book’s concepts), as well as the fact that it addresses difficult emotional content. Ultimately, Stepmonster is enlightening. I truly believe it to be an absolute must read for every step mother, any woman considering being seriously involved with a man whom has children, and a recommended read for step children. (less)
I found this book in an international airport terminal's book store, and was really pleased to have done so. I have always been fascinated by men and h...moreI found this book in an international airport terminal's book store, and was really pleased to have done so. I have always been fascinated by men and how they think, feel, and behave. I always have felt to better understand a man or men would allow me to have better relationships with them. I believe that this is true. This book allowed me to do this and gave me further insight from the male perpective, ironically from a women experiencing what it is like to be a man by living as one. (By the way the process she goes through is very interesting.) The author does an amazing job giving the reader insight into what men are really like because she is sensitive and non-judgemental about the male experience. She is obviously an "evolved feminist" whom likes men, which contradicts the myth that lesbians hate men. I do recommend this book for anyone interested in human behavior, women or men whom are interested in the "male experience", or relationships.(less)
A great book with incredible pictures. It is perfect for the Halloween and fall season.
Synopsis: A preteen and children’s book based upon a group of people whose aim is to educate children (and adults too) about our fellow planetary inhabitants - bats. It is written by scientists with a love of this special but ugly animal.
Bats are an umbrella species – if they are protected then it naturally extends to the protection of other species, helping them to thrive and survive. Sadly many species of bats in the US and around the world are in danger of extinction due to habitat loss, incorrect beliefs and myths, as well as a mysterious disease called white nose syndrome which is addressed in the book.
This book helps to teach by giving children and young adults science- based information about the importance of bats to local ecosystems. It also includes some disgusting and buggy scatological information which children love.
My Thoughts: I love love love bats. They are so cute – ugly cute. Most with faces only a mother could love. They are also an indicator species. Their health is an indication of our planet’s health, our warning – the figurative “canary in the coal mine”. You can’t help asking the question, if bats are dying, what’s next?
This book is simple and intriguing, with some incredible pictures, and a bunch of enlightening facts that everyone should know. Its a great fall read for the classroom and a trick or treat gift instead of candy or sweets. And besides, did I mention that I love bats - 4 stars. (less)
If you love books and lists, and are an eclectic reader, you will adore this series. Each recommend...moreOriginal series review posted at Layers of Thought.
If you love books and lists, and are an eclectic reader, you will adore this series. Each recommends books which are organized into themes, with great little descriptions; all are softbound, small and easy to read.
Books reviewed: Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason ~ by Nancy Pearl More Book Lust: Reading Recommendations for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason Book Crush: For Kids and Teens
Thoughts: Nancy Pearl, librarian extraordinaire, has created this series of books (with the fourth to be released in a few days - its one for travelers) which contain organized collections of book recommendations, labeled under catchy little categories. Inside the categories are enticing snippets of the books in a very readable format.
The books are small and easy to handle with a soft cover. With her “lust” of reading, Pearl shares with the reader the books she loves and those which she knows about, creating more desire and adding to your ever expanding book list. I spent hours perusing these books, enjoying her fun and interesting recommendations.
Better yet, Nancy has a variety of philosophies which she labels “Pearlisms”. One is the “rule of fifty” which I have used recently when an abandoning a book (Pride and Prejudice – sorry Jane). What I love is that she gives you permission to stop reading a book when you are not enjoying it. It’s a free “get out of guilt card”. Here is her rule:
If you’re fifty years of age or younger, give a book fifty pages before you decide to commit to reading it or give it up. If you’re over fifty, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100—the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit. Since that number gets smaller and smaller as we get older and older, our big reward is that when we turn 100, we can judge a book by its cover!
I loved these little books and will be purchasing every one for my personal collection. 4 stars for Book Lust and Book Crush, and 4.5 stars for More Book Lust – since it has so many books I had never heard of. Highly recommend resources for teachers, librarians, and book lovers within every genre.(less)
A darkly hilarious, and almost unbelievable journalistic journey into how “madness” is defined, recognized, and treated within western culture and the mental heath industry.
In attempt to the question “what is it that defines madness?” Jon Ronson spent two years undertaking some intriguing travels and interviews and then carrying out further research. As he examines himself, journalism, the entertainment industry, psychiatry, pharmaceutical companies and more, he blends it all together with a reflective and self effacing style. On his travels he meets a psychologist who has created a check list that is used to define psychopathic individuals – hence the book’s title.
So what is a psychopath? (Also termed a sociopath or someone with anti-social personality disorder). And why a test? In his research Ronson finds that these are individuals who are lacking in common empathy and a moral sensibility. In other words they have no guilt. A psychopath’s very nature is often hard to recognize since they are charming, chameleon like, and blend well within the general population. They also prey upon unsuspecting people in order to satisfy their desires and perceived needs. Is there more of an excuse to define them? Ronson reports that it is believed that psychopaths account for as many as 25% of the prison population; by comparison, within the general population it is assumed or speculated that the respective figure is just 1%. He examines where these individuals are most likely to appear within the “free pollution”, including a theory that a much higher percentage of the world’s most powerful positions (CEOs, politicians, world leaders) are held by psychopaths. Not too hard to imagine.
Most interestingly the book contains some shocking evidence on just how far we have yet to progress in understanding what mental illness is and how best to treat it’s varying manifestations. Ronson includes some amazing situations - one in particular I would have believed could only exist in fiction (and maybe in his novel-turned-movie Men Who Stare at Goats). In this instance a prison psychiatrist, in an attempt to “cure” his psychopathic patients of their lack of empathy, grouped them together, isolated the group, and administered LSD for eleven day periods. The results were darkly hilarious and not at all shocking. Ronson does not stop there.
This is highly recommended for anyone interested in the mental health or medical field, journalistic writing, and those with a twisted sense of humor – and I score on all of those counts! Be forewarned that this book is not for the “faint of heart” or those wanting conclusive endings. I give this book a 4.5 stars. I completely enjoyed this informing, intelligent, and darkly funny read.(less)
Actually I would rate it as 3 1/2 stars. If you like trivia about authors, books, and characters... and their significance in history this books is fo...moreActually I would rate it as 3 1/2 stars. If you like trivia about authors, books, and characters... and their significance in history this books is for you. It's in chronological order and is in 1/2 page reviews. Theres also pictures, so it's really easy to pick up and thumb through.(less)
Scattershots is a sad/yet "realistic perspective" of a man whom has grown up within a family, including himself, which all but one has a chemical brai...moreScattershots is a sad/yet "realistic perspective" of a man whom has grown up within a family, including himself, which all but one has a chemical brain imbalance. They are also very religious, which compounds the situation in many ways. All of the afflicted Lovelaces have delusional religious experiences. Lovelace describes his descent into madness/mania in depth. This to me was a bit overdone - however it portrays the intensity of his experience from an almost poetic perspective. It gives the reader a sense of what it is like to manic and the feeling of power that it gives. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to someone who enjoys memoirs, anyone whom is interested in mental illness, anyone whom has a family member who is experiencing this disease, or someone who is interested in realistic situations which are akin to a train wreck where one cannot look away.(less)
I really enjoyed this book. I think, in part, it may be my inner child connecting to what we adults consider "poop humour" but in an adult way. Even though the issues in this book are not funny some of the situation described by the author are. The book takes a look at what we in the Western world take for granted, but for others - whom do not have access to safe disposal of their waste it is a serious life and death health issue. The author interviews a large number of "unsung heroes" whom are battling bureaucratic beliefs, cultural ideals and habits, and environmental issues around what we and other countries do with our/their waste. I think what I found interesting is how other cultures exhibit their "toileting habits". For example, the Japanese are open about this need and have as a result developed extremely high-tech toilets. Having traveled there it is a bit of a culture shock using the toilets for the first time. Trying to figure out all the little gadgets - front and back warm water spray nozzels, heated seats, and recordings of water running so that the potty sounds are not heard by others is daunting, comical, and interesting. I recommend this book to anyone interested in human behavior and cultural differences, as well as those whom are interested in environmental issues and the social costs of the lack of adequate disposal/reuse of human waste. (less)
I checked this out from the library after seeing several good reviews on the book. It is interesting because it has "little snippets" of insight from...moreI checked this out from the library after seeing several good reviews on the book. It is interesting because it has "little snippets" of insight from the contributors (whom remain anonymous) as they reveal very intimate and sad/funny/painful secrets. The format is realistic because each is kept in its original format - for example, written on a napkin or match book. It is one of those books that you can just pick up and skim through, or stay on one page for awhile. It makes you think about the angst/relief.... each one of these people must feel, as they disclose intensly personal information which, they really don't want anyone to know.(less)
I read this in one of my college courses. It was interesting to see history from the other side. That of the looser. Americans did some horrible thing...moreI read this in one of my college courses. It was interesting to see history from the other side. That of the looser. Americans did some horrible things to other human beings.(less)
A tastefully fun book for anyone interested in knowing the background for the ingredients that go into cre...moreOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
A tastefully fun book for anyone interested in knowing the background for the ingredients that go into creating your favorite alcoholic drinks, including chemistry, historical drama, archeology, recipes, and a fun layout with illustrations and intriguing snippets. This is an excellent book for the geeky imbiber and/or gardener.
Shellie’s thoughts: Definitely not dry, this book has been broken down visually and thematically for clarity, so it’s not like reading a text book. With an easy to digest visual style the book’s contents are divided into three major parts. The first is Distillation and Fermentation where the author alphabetically addresses the plants Agave through Wheat (including an end section called Strange Brews). The second part is Suffusions and it tells about the plant flavors which are added to the basic alcohols mentioned. It’s then broken down into Herbs, Flowers, Spices, Trees, Fruits, Nuts, and Seeds. The third part then covers the plants that are added to the drinks after they are mixed in a glass, using the topics Botanical Mixers and Garnishes.
Happily at the end of many of the sections for the book the author includes recipes for cocktail, syrups, infusions, and garnishes. She embeds short informational snippets on various subjects such as “A Field Guide to Tequila and Mezcal”, “Bugs in Booze”, “What’s the Difference between Ale and Lager”, “Know your Gins”, and more. The book also makes recommendation of what brands of liquors to use, which not to bother with, and other suggestions for creating upscale and finely crafted libations. It also has some gardening advice on growing plants for your own personal garden so that you can add them to your drinks.
I listened to the book in audio first then took a look at it in its hardbound format for further in-depth digging - and I loved both. The audio version was well read from a reader with a pleasant voice and featured a little clink of a glasses to designate the reading of each recipe. I did however feel the need to be able to look at the layout of the book’s organization, so the hardbound version may be little more practical.
This is a completely fun book which I would recommend. If you enjoy tasteful and upscale libations, are interested in how and what you are drinking is made, and would like some historical details and drama around the process in their creation then this will be a book for you. It would also make a wonderful gift for gardeners and drinkers alike. 4.5 stars.(less)
Easy, delicious and nutritional recipes all around 400 calories per recipe. Stats are given for the completed meals so you can see the calories and nu...moreEasy, delicious and nutritional recipes all around 400 calories per recipe. Stats are given for the completed meals so you can see the calories and nutritional content for each at the bottom of the recipe page. There are some pictures as well.
I particularity liked that there are a number of flavorful recipes form different parts of the world. Spices are used from locations like Greece, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Africa and Mexico.
The ingredients are easy to find in a grocery store, and although these recipes are for omnivores many can be "tweeked" for vegetarians and vegans.(less)