I think my favorite part about this book was the way the author continually emphasized how dirty and smelly and generally disgusting the late 1800's wI think my favorite part about this book was the way the author continually emphasized how dirty and smelly and generally disgusting the late 1800's were, from a modern perspective. That sort of thing is not mentioned that often in other books but I think, if time traveling, it would be the #1 first thing a modern person would notice.
I was interested in the research for the book - for Holmes in particular. While many documents and primary sources are still available about Burnham and the fair, since it was such a high profile event, in the epilogue & sources section Erik Larson talks about how many primary sources on Holmes were destroyed, missing, or unavailable. ...more
I enjoyed this book a lot, but only because I had previously seen An Idiot Abroad. This was sort of like a behind the scenes version from Karl's perspI enjoyed this book a lot, but only because I had previously seen An Idiot Abroad. This was sort of like a behind the scenes version from Karl's perspective - many of the same scenes & events were on the show, so they were recognizable. But there were also bits included about what it was like to be filming a travel tv show, which I thought were interesting.
I don't think this book would make much sense as a stand alone book to someone who hadn't already watched & enjoyed An Idiot Abroad. But it did make me laugh a bunch, I liked it....more
I listened to this in audiobook format, which was not ideal, because I kept wanting to check footnotes or sourI cannot stop thinking about megacolons.
I listened to this in audiobook format, which was not ideal, because I kept wanting to check footnotes or sources. I especially couldn't do this while driving, but that did not stop me from requesting two of the most promising full text versions of articles from NLM at NIH:
Dalton, J C M.D., Experimental Investigations to Determine whether the Garden Slug can Live in the Human Stomach. American Journal of the Medical Sciences April 1865, Volume 49, Issue 98, ppg 334-338.
Armstrong BK, Softly A. Prevention of coprophagy in the rat. A new method. Br J Nutr. 1966;20(3):595-8.
I especially am looking forward to seeing the pictures of the method in the second one....more
I wish there were footnotes instead of endnotes for this book. (Actually, I wish that about all books. Footnotes are awesome.) I felt like this was aI wish there were footnotes instead of endnotes for this book. (Actually, I wish that about all books. Footnotes are awesome.) I felt like this was a good overview of the current research about sleep medicine, but it did not really get into next steps, or future solutions. The writing style was great, though, very easy to read.
I wish more people (and by people I mean corporations) took sleeping more seriously. Especially since it can affect so many areas of health. I really hate the macho American culture of competing to see who can get by on the least sleep. The results from the school districts that changed their schedule were fascinating, I don't understand why more wouldn't make the same change to boost test scores, since it is a relatively low cost solution. Ah well.
My own body's personal sleep preference is ideally 8-9 hours, from midnight-2am to 8-10 am. Currently, I have to get up between 5-6am, which falls right in a slow wave NREM sleep cycle, which means I wake up every single morning in a state of sleep inertia. This is the number one thing I would immediately change about my life if I won the lottery or became suddenly wealthy, because it makes every morning terrible. This book did not have many solutions for this kind of problem. But I do know more about why it happens, now....more
I enjoyed this book enough to read it relatively quickly, and there were some sections and anecdotes that were just as funny as the blurb on the backI enjoyed this book enough to read it relatively quickly, and there were some sections and anecdotes that were just as funny as the blurb on the back implied.
The author said that the idea for this book came from her friends, who she was emailing with updates about her life while she was on sabbatical in her childhood hometown, with her parents. They thought her email updates were hilarious and should be made into a memoir. (Spoiler: They were.) BUT these friends apparently did not mention that there should be significant amounts of editing involved, because huge chunks of this book bounced around with no segue whatsoever, as though someone had just copied and pasted...email updates to their friends. It was a little hard to follow the author's train of thought sometimes. Most of the time.
So my suggestion would be to organize anecdotes into something more like a short story format, instead of free form thoughts.
There were some sections that were more coherent (many of the sections on religion and women), and I liked those a lot. I also had higher expectations for the writing, given that the author is an English professor and PhD.
I learned a LOT about Mennonites, who I had always assumed were pretty similar to the Amish, but this is clearly not the case. I appreciated the (funny!) Mennonite appendix in the back of the book.
I wanted to hear more about the author rebuilding her life post-divorce, but there were a lot of reminiscences about her ex-husband, who, to me, was an abusive jerk. It was not totally clear that the author fully realized how abusive her previous relationship was. She kept describing this guy as "artistic" and "creative" when he was obviously a mentally ill violent alcoholic. eg "In spite of Nick's depression, or because of it, he and I managed to achieve a working intimacy."
I really liked all the stories about her family, although I cannot imagine that many of them are speaking to her after she published this book. I really liked the sections about cooking and food and religion. I just wish there was a stronger editor involved in this book!...more
I bought this book in a gift shop at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, which I did not think was that far a stretch at tI bought this book in a gift shop at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, which I did not think was that far a stretch at the time, but looking back, this was an interesting decision on the part of the Smithsonian. Chapter 4 of this book covers in detail the ways in which the Smithsonian, in revamping their displays in the early 2000’s, systematically and needlessly destroyed irreplaceable artifacts of great historical, artistic, and biological value in the name of “cost efficiency,” even though there were other options available. For instance: one of three blue whale mounts in the world – hacked apart and stuffed into a dumpster to save money. Now there are only two - in New York and Tokyo. Dioramas that painstakingly recreated environmental biomes which are now no longer found in the wild were dismantled, hacked apart, and burned. Offers from other museums that would preserve and maintain historical displays were rejected. Ugh. This chapter made me almost literally sick, and simultaneously furious. And I can’t believe the Smithsonian decided to sell this book. In hindsight, this may have been a small act of rebellion on the part of some individuals, and the big bosses in charge of buying stuff to sell in gift shops obviously have never read it.
I am now very curious to go back to the museum and look at some of the displays described in this book in detail. So there’s that.
Emily Mayer sounds AWESOME. I love her art, and her attitude, and her personality. If the goal of taxidermy is to cross the uncanny valley and create animals that are as close to life as possible, she is the person included in this book who I feel is closest to that goal. I mean, I have had rodents as pets for years and years and years, and I am very familiar with what they look like - and even after looking at this mouse for a long time, knowing it is a mount, I cannot really pinpoint whether it is alive or not. And this dog? I wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell with a deer or a lion or a bird, but to succeed in the challenge of taking on an animal like a mouse or a dog, where people live with them and are intimately familiar with every detail of how they look - that’s amazing.
I think one of my favorite things about this book is the way the author immerses herself in the subject matter - she doesn’t just interview these guys by phone, she went and stayed in their houses (Ken Walker, Emily Mayer) and really got an in depth picture of who these people are personally, and the reality of the taxidermy field today. Her personal journey as detached sort of scientific observer to someone who then stuffs her own squirrel was almost as interesting as the people she interviews.
I really feel, as someone who knew practically nothing about taxidermy prior to reading this, that the author captured the spirit and essence of the field, the history and artistry of taxidermy as well as the occasional kitschyness of it all. There is a section towards the end of the book where she is describing the critique she is receiving from Jack Fishwick at the World Taxidermy Championship for her squirrel (Gray Squirrel, Yellow Dawn): “ I think it’s very good for a first attempt...but you have been hanging around taxidermists for the past two years - perhaps the best taxidermists in the world. You have an advantage! You are not starting at rock bottom. You have tons and tons of info you could have studied.” Personally I feel that his critique was a little off the mark - the author did succeed - what she was preserving was not a squirrel, but the field of taxidermy, through this book....more
I love the Survivorman show, and I have read an awful lot of survival stories – particularly about Arctic and Antarctic explorers. So I thought I woulI love the Survivorman show, and I have read an awful lot of survival stories – particularly about Arctic and Antarctic explorers. So I thought I would read this and see how it was.
Couple of things.
This was written with the help of a ghostwriter – it would have been MUCH better if they just let Les write it like a series of blog entries or essays. A lot of what makes Survivorman interesting to watch is his personality, and this book did not really have much of that in it. It was nice to have well known survival scenarios compared with his personal experiences as a guide and in filming the show – but the writing style was completely different from how he speaks on the show or how he writes in other places on the internet. It wasn’t BAD, just sort of obvious. At least the ghostwriter is acknowledged at the end.
Also – in the sections where the actions of other survivors were summarized – there have been whole books written about each scenario that are SO much better and more comprehensive. These are mentioned in the book & further reading section, and I would definitely recommend reading them. If someone wasn’t familiar with the survival stories included in this already this book had excellent summaries.
100% my favorite part of this book was the part that differentiated it from many other survival books - what Les Stroud thought about each scenario. I also appreciated that he included his own personal survival scenarios in which he did not do everything correctly or made stupid mistakes. But it was apparent that he was able to empathize with the people in each story.
The thing that I wish most about this book is that it was longer and more personal.
I read this because I love Project Runway (and keep up on what everyone is doing via Blogging Project Runway) so I knew a little bit about Laura BenneI read this because I love Project Runway (and keep up on what everyone is doing via Blogging Project Runway) so I knew a little bit about Laura Bennett already.
This was okay - I think in a lot of ways it was trying too hard to be funny 100% of the time, but there were some moments where in spite of that it was touching or real or made an important point about the sheer ridiculousness of helicopter parents. These moments were WAY better than the trying-too-hard-to-be-funny moments.
I LOVE that the nannies Alicia, Nicole and Blake are not only acknowledged, but featured prominently. I love that Laura does not ever apologize for being a working mother and having a good career making good money.
I was a little bummed that there was not more dirt about what it was like to be on Project Runway. ...more
I was looking forward to reading this, speaking as someone who has several draft versions of a craigslist ad for a local friend saved on their computeI was looking forward to reading this, speaking as someone who has several draft versions of a craigslist ad for a local friend saved on their computer. (Too afraid to ever post it, since craigslist users seem to be unclear on the definition of “platonic.”) My closest friend in the area when I moved here was Debbie, who I have known since I was 12, but she is an hour away at least. (DC and Baltimore are not so close, factoring in traffic. 25 minutes on a Saturday morning equals 2 hours on a Thursday evening for the same distance.) I would LOVE to join a local bookclub where all the other members are younger than 65. I would love to have someone to go to the movies with on a Thursday night who is not also the person I am dating. (Although is it dating when you own a house together? There is not really a good word for this.) I wanted to read this both for tips, and to see how this person’s quest worked out.
My problem when it comes to making friends is that I am nerdy and sarcastic and terrible at small talk and not incredibly outgoing and loud. I also have a really busy schedule because I work a lot. It is immediately obvious that this is not a problem at all for this lady – for many of the friend-dates she goes on, she already has a connection to the other party through a mutual friend, or summer camp, or work, etc. So it’s not exactly true when the blurb for the book says that she knows no one in a new city. I am coming at this from the perspective of someone who doesn’t even have 150 “friends” on facebook (the Dunbar number), which includes a whole bunch of people who flat out hated me in highschool, and people who are only “friends” with me because I have not set up a fan page for my dog.
The psychology sections were interesting, but would have been so much better with footnotes or sources. (Although I think most books could be improved with footnotes, so I am a little biased.)
I kept getting REALLY distracted by just how well off and privileged the author and her husband are. She would mention these little details, probably meant to be scene filler, such as her husband’s trip(s!) to Vegas with his highschool friends, jetting off to Miami or Croatia or Cape Cod or NYC or Maine or somewhere else to a family reunion AND a high school reunion, or the cost of going out to lunch, or dinner, or a show, or classes, or pedicures, etc etc etc with all these friend-dates, daily. (“O’Hare Airport is like my second home!” Oh, how droll!) Being able to just up and quit a job because it wasn’t bringing her inner peace or happiness. Going out for drinks and a shopping spree afterwards – I kept thinking – who are these people? Do they not realize how much $$ they have? And how much free time in which they do not have to work? If I had this lifestyle it would bankrupt me AND I would be fired for taking so much time off. The lady who wrote this book is the same age as me – but she lives in an entirely different universe, financially. She sort of mentions this but in a haha, isn’t this sort of out of budget, how amusing! way, not as though it is an actual problem. It felt incredibly tone-deaf, especially in the current economy.
I also wonder how many people stopped being friends with the author after this was published, because she was not very charitable in describing the people she knows. (This made for much more interesting reading, though!) But there were definitely some instances where I was cringing on behalf of the people she was describing. She was moderately successful at meeting lots of new people and getting to friend level status with a bunch of them, even though there was not ultimately a BFF in the cards at the end of the book. Reading about the process, though, was fascinating. I felt a little bad for the author – her husband was super unsupportive and came off kind of like an asshole; even though she would SAY, “Oh, Matt loves me so much,” Matt in person could not sit through a holiday party on her behalf because the other men who were invited were coming late, so he left her there and met up with some guys in a bar. And these are the incidents she HIGHLIGHTS about their relationship.
I generally enjoyed the concept of the book and the theory behind it, but I feel like the author and I would never be able to be friends personally (granted, not the point) – practically the only things we would agree on are Harry Potter and bookclubs. So it was a little hard to relate, given the extremely personal nature of the book. I feel that this article from The Onion sums this up well: Female Friends Spend Raucous Night Validating The Living Shit Out Of Each Other ...more
To be honest, I have not ever seen the American version of The Office, so I had no idea before reading this that Mindy Kaling writes for/plays a charaTo be honest, I have not ever seen the American version of The Office, so I had no idea before reading this that Mindy Kaling writes for/plays a character on that show, which is kind of embarrassing. (I have seen the Ricky Gervais version, which is great.) BUT I love comedy and in particular the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler/SNL style comedy, even if I am woefully out of date in actually watching it. I picked this up because I had this Curtis Sittenfeld article rolling around in my head while I was browsing at the library. (Is it weird how much I love Curtis Sittenfeld’s articles and reviews but at the same time I am not a fan of her books?) Also, I have a soft spot for memoirs and short stories, and especially memoirs composed of short stories, which this is. I listened to the audiobook version of this, which was perfect. (Except for the chapter towards the end, with pictures.)
So I looooved this book, it was as though Mindy Kaling and I could be best friends because we are so alike! (It appears many people thought this, in the reviews here, and either liked or hated this style.) Except for the fact that I do not have a successful career as a writer, have not graduated from an Ivy League school, am not funny, couldn’t act to save my life, and in fact I am not a very good writer at all, even of emails. But OTHER than that! We wear the same size, we could share clothes! We have the same basic outlook on dating/relationships/commitment AND dieting. I appreciated how context was provided for every story or situation that was dated or dependent on a timeline. I love how much of this took place in the 90’s.
The whole way through this, I was thinking to myself, “Can I give this 5 stars? This is not deep, serious, moving literature. I should give it 4 stars.” But then I would get to another part where I either laughed a lot, or agreed 100% with Mindy, and I changed my mind. This book was awesome. ...more
I don’t remember where I heard about this book – maybe from Goodreads? Maybe from an article somewhere else on the internet. But I am so glad I read tI don’t remember where I heard about this book – maybe from Goodreads? Maybe from an article somewhere else on the internet. But I am so glad I read this because it really resonated with me – it’s about aviation in Alaska, superficially, but more importantly it’s about life. I, for one, am not familiar with aviation in the slightest, but it didn’t matter, reading this.
I loved the writing in this book. I think the essay format was perfect for telling these stories.
I also loved the stories – the pseudonyms got a little confusing (Tony Sam Scott Frank Bob etc) – especially since it was obvious that every one of these people was living larger than life in the author’s mind, bland and interchangeable pseudonyms did not do them all justice.
What I most want to know is how the author got this book published without drawing down the legal wrath of, well, anyone. Did she time this specifically for after the Company went out of business, or did they go out of business because of stories like this? Or for some other reason entirely? This sort of tell-all style has gotten more than one person fired or sued, and I am sure there were a number of people who were not pleased that all the blatantly illegal details of how the business was run that are shared in this were made public. Especially since many of the deaths of the titular pilots in question were directly or indirectly caused by Company policies or procedures. ...more
I liked this a lot. Some of the suspense was missing, since the events took place in 1998 and the winner is well known. (And his record still stands tI liked this a lot. Some of the suspense was missing, since the events took place in 1998 and the winner is well known. (And his record still stands to this day! Although someone else is trying to break it this year - John Vanderpoel.)
But it was still exciting reading about this stuff - I was completely unaware of competitive birdwatching as a concept prior to reading this. ...more
This was okay. It's organized by month - but not really into any seasonal sort of order. There are a lot of interesting factoids about the year 1000 oThis was okay. It's organized by month - but not really into any seasonal sort of order. There are a lot of interesting factoids about the year 1000 or thereabouts. The authors are kind of loose in their requirements for "the year 1000" - as though I was writing a book about the year 2000 today and used info from 1900 to describe life at that time. Only 100 years apart, but wildly different daily life.
I think they ran out of known facts about the year 1000 and started including facts about other eras as filler. A better strategy would have been to include facts about the year 1000 that took place outside of England. Or they could have just made the book shorter? Or included more pictures? I dunno, if you have a really specific date like 1000 in your title, maybe you should not be writing about Henry VIII, it's a little disingenuous. ...more