This book arrived at my office for preview and I picked it up. I wasn't expecting much, but instead thoroughly enjoyed reading about the history of prThis book arrived at my office for preview and I picked it up. I wasn't expecting much, but instead thoroughly enjoyed reading about the history of pre-revolutionary France and a women who was incredibly modern for her time. She elaborated on Newton's theories and Voltaire had a hell of a time trying to keep up.
Voltaire was also pretty amazing, not only was he a renegage poet and playwright but he was also a savvy business men who bought and sold in order to fund his writing habit.
I also really liked Galileo's Daughter, which was similar thematically. ...more
This book made me fall in love with physics all over again. Much like spinning together a crazy plot or fairy tale, scientists must think "out-of-the-This book made me fall in love with physics all over again. Much like spinning together a crazy plot or fairy tale, scientists must think "out-of-the-box" in order to take a theory to the next level. You kind of feel lighter than air as you read about their thought process.
I loved picturing Einstein at his home with his newborn son on his knee, plotting how light affects the conversion from mass to energy. There is something fantastic about equations--the way all the pieces fit together is quite inspiring. Bodanis also describes how the atomic bomb was developed and other applications of of E=mc(squared).
Anyway, Bodanis is one of my favorite authors. I would also recommend his book about Emilie du Chatlet and Voltaire. He manages to merge science with history and make his vignettes come alive with oodles of odd factoids and anecdotes.
I see here that one reviewer thought that some of the mathematics in this book were incorrect. For me, I wasn't as concerned with accuracy, preferring to read about how people solve problems, build off of each others ideas, and how jealous and ego-centric scientists can be. A great read. ...more
This gift book offers advice about how to grow and maintain 30 different moustache styles. Lumberjack or vaudevillian, if you're channeling your innerThis gift book offers advice about how to grow and maintain 30 different moustache styles. Lumberjack or vaudevillian, if you're channeling your inner Tom Selleck or Charlie Chaplin, this book is for you. I like how they award points for difficulty with tiny little moustaches. ...more
Full disclosure: I've met this author before; I think she's cool and a great journalist who also happens to write for the Economist. In the past I hadFull disclosure: I've met this author before; I think she's cool and a great journalist who also happens to write for the Economist. In the past I had read snippets of this book, but it was satisfying to finally read this through to the finish.
I've covered the art world for the past 10 years or so and I think Sarah does a great job of explaining how a lot of the pieces of the art market fit together. I also like that she's not afraid to show some of the not-so-pretty sides of the art world. It's a strange planet, but it's also an interesting economic system that manages to blend old world traditions with new markets, sometimes to great success, other times in ways that as mysterious to me as I'm sure they are to people unfamiliar with this ecosystem.
I wrote an article about the Baja-based Rancho La Puerta cooking school when it first opened three years ago. In the class we made this amazing AztecI wrote an article about the Baja-based Rancho La Puerta cooking school when it first opened three years ago. In the class we made this amazing Aztec Guacamole that I still make when I have the time (and the patience). Chef Jesus Gonzalez taught the class, and he couldn't have been nicer. One memory that will always stand out in my mind is when I asked the members of the class (all were women in their mid 40s and up) what they thought of the instructor, and woman looked at me and said in a husky voice, "All I know is I like him."
Regardless of his dashingly good-looks, I will say that every one of Jesus' recipes I've tried in the book is delicious and inspired. I also continue to make the recipes from the class--a rarity for me.
The idea of structuring the book around the seasons is useful as well. I enjoy buying produce from the farmers market and having recipes tailored to the time of year is really quite helpful.
One other note: Rancho La Puerta is a fabulous health resort/spa--although it's way, way too hot at the beginning of September. Make sure your car is in working condition and doesn't break down as you cross the border. I spent several hours in the middle of the desert waiting for a tow! ...more
If you want to read great criticism, this is the go-to woman. She wrote for the New Yorker for years and years. Kael's film reviews are laugh-out-loudIf you want to read great criticism, this is the go-to woman. She wrote for the New Yorker for years and years. Kael's film reviews are laugh-out-loud funny. It may not be in this book, but I loved her review of The Sound of Music--which she hated. She called Andrews "sexless" with her boyish hair and unflappable optimism.
I actually like the movie, but I cracked up all over the place in the library when I read her review. She rocks. ...more
Another excellent biography of George Balanchine. I like this one because Teachout, a drama critic for The Wall Street Journal, breaks down his choreoAnother excellent biography of George Balanchine. I like this one because Teachout, a drama critic for The Wall Street Journal, breaks down his choreography and finds meaning in much of his patterns of movement. Pretty cool. ...more
I just love this book! It's a great way to learn about how the French wrested control of the fashion industry (prior to them, it was in the hands of tI just love this book! It's a great way to learn about how the French wrested control of the fashion industry (prior to them, it was in the hands of the Dutch and the Venetians). You also learn about the evolution of champagne, city lights (one of the Sun King's many achievements), Women's Wear Daily, mirrors, diamonds (the Renaissance people loved the pearl), and coffee houses among other things; basically all things fun and decadent! ...more
A Moroccan Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Well, not quite. But there is something of the wistfulness of Francie in Fatima Mernissi, a young girl growing up wA Moroccan Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Well, not quite. But there is something of the wistfulness of Francie in Fatima Mernissi, a young girl growing up within the confines of a harem in Fez. The idea of a harem in the 1940s is somewhat different than the stereotype, and the definition of the word is something that Mernissi goes into in great detail. Let's just say that there are no eunuchs waving palm fronds or scenes from The History of the World, Part I, or Scheherazade. Although, the tales of Scheherazade do feature prominently in the female culture of the harem.
I loved this book. It's absolutely fascinating. I love how Mernissi mixes her own lively childhood experiences of hiding in olive jars, trips to the hammam, homemade beauty treatments, her extended family's love of storytelling, the role of slaves in their home, and then contrasts it with the frustration her mother feels from living in a traditional household and being illiterate. The role of women during this time period sounds like a real challenge.
There are also some great observations about the American soldiers who arrived in Morocco during WWII. Apparently, they went right for the ladies.
A few quotes that I found striking: "Once I asked Mina why she danced so smoothly while most of the wother women made abrupt, jerky movements, and she said that many of the women confused liberation with agitation. 'Some ladies are angry with their lives,' she said 'and so even their dance becomes an expression of that.' Angry women are hostages of their anger. They cannot escape it and set themselves free, which is indeed a sad fate. The worst of prisons is a self-created one." p.162
"'Mothers should tell little girls and boys about the importance of dreams,' Aunt Habiba said. 'They give a sense direction. It is not enough to reject this courtyard--you need to have a vision of the meadows with which you want to replace it.' But how, I asked Aunt Habiba, could you distinguish among all the wishes, all the cravings which besieged you, and find the one on which you ought to focus, the important dream that gave you vision? She said that little children had to be patient, the key dream would emerge and bloom within, and then, from the intense pleasure it gave you, you would know that that it was the genuine little treasure which would give you direction and light." p. 214
"Maturity is when you start feeling the motion of zaman (time) as if it is a sensuous caress." p.216...more
This book was odd, fascinating, strange, depressing, tedious, poignant, old-fashioned and profound.
I've heard so many different things from people asThis book was odd, fascinating, strange, depressing, tedious, poignant, old-fashioned and profound.
I've heard so many different things from people as I read this book. A few fellow readers called it racist. Others went on and on about the beauty of the writing.
I enjoyed it, but now that I've set the book aside, I feel unsettled. This book encapsulates the receding tide of African culture. Dinesen writes, "It was not I who was going away, I did not have it in my power to leave Africa, but it was the country that was slowly and gravely withdrawing from me, like the sea in ebb-tide. The procession that was passing here,--it was in reality my strong pulpy young dancers of yesterday and the day before yesterday, who were withering before my eyes, who were passing away for ever. They were going in their own style, gently in a dance, the people were with me, and I with the people, well content.'
Perhaps it is the natural passage of time that affects every location and gives life such a bittersweet quality. Dinesen's book is so much about the end of things. But maybe that is what is attractive about books about this continent, where the line between life and death is razor-sharp.
On a structural level, the book is a pastiche of anecdotes about life in Africa, some interesting, some dull. Dinesen's points of view are sometimes terribly dated, other times sublime. She's a brilliant writer and lines such as "The air in Africa is more significant in the landscape than in Europe, it is filled with loomings and mirages, and it is in a way the real stage of activities. In the heat of the midday the air oscillates and vibrates like the strings of a violin, lifts up long layers of grass-land with thorn-trees and hills on it, and creates vast silvery expanses of water in the dry grass," make me want to go back. ...more
One of my favorite textbooks from my favorite course in college. This book goes through all of the visual arts, architecture, fine art, photography, cOne of my favorite textbooks from my favorite course in college. This book goes through all of the visual arts, architecture, fine art, photography, crafts, set within the major movements of civilization (Greeks, Romans, Buddists, Islamic, Byzantine, I could go on and on). The book makes a valiant effort to explore art from a variety of civilizations and I like how well Honour places everthing within a historical context....more