I carried this book in my backpack and reserved it for reading a few pages on my 7-minute train commute or during my lunch breaks when my assigned sch...moreI carried this book in my backpack and reserved it for reading a few pages on my 7-minute train commute or during my lunch breaks when my assigned school readings for the week were done. And yet despite the way in which I was only able to devote myself to a few pages at a time, I was completely engrossed by HST's writing. I did not expect to be as wrapped up in this as I was. This was on my To Read list for years and I'm glad I finally gave it a go. Of course now I'm tempted to ignore my schoolwork and read more of his stuff...(less)
This social history is an excellent read for anyone seeking information about pre-Stonewall gay communities in urban America. Chauncey debunks the myt...moreThis social history is an excellent read for anyone seeking information about pre-Stonewall gay communities in urban America. Chauncey debunks the myth of the closet, demonstrating that contrary to popular belief, pre-WWII gay life was visible and vibrant. He also tackles the creation of the hetero/homo binary, arguing that pre-war gay life was fluid, multifaceted, and based on gender roles.(less)
This was cute -- definitely the book equivalent of junk food my brain needed after a semester of academic reading. I don't think I would have been as...moreThis was cute -- definitely the book equivalent of junk food my brain needed after a semester of academic reading. I don't think I would have been as into it if I'd wanted something good to read, though. Entire paragraphs of parenthetical asides? Annoying! But still, cute.(less)
This sat on my To Read list for 2 years before I finally pulled it off my shelf on a whim. And then I could not stop reading it. The back cover of my...moreThis sat on my To Read list for 2 years before I finally pulled it off my shelf on a whim. And then I could not stop reading it. The back cover of my edition says something about the Nebraska landscape being as much a character as the characters, and that's part of what drew me in so completely. Cather's Nebraska is harsh yet beautiful, and her writing reveals a deep respect and love for the land she grew up in. And then there's how she handles the plot, interweaving multiple storylines that are tied together in the Big Picture. I often found myself pausing to reflect on the masterful storytelling. This is a new all-time favorite for me.(less)
I loved this book on so many levels. As a dog owner who adores her pup more than anything in the world, I loved Steinbeck's interactions with Charley,...moreI loved this book on so many levels. As a dog owner who adores her pup more than anything in the world, I loved Steinbeck's interactions with Charley, particularly the personification and invented conversations. Reading this made me want to hop in the car with my dog and take off to see the country.
This book also taught me something that reading Steinbeck's fiction hasn't: Steinbeck is a funny guy. The humor was perfectly observed. But what strikes me most about this book is how so much of what he penned in 1962 rings true today. All of his cautions, predictions, and observations about America and Americans have come true.(less)
These two stories are perfection. My absolute favorite of Salinger's work. I've never identified with a character as strongly as I do with Franny Glas...moreThese two stories are perfection. My absolute favorite of Salinger's work. I've never identified with a character as strongly as I do with Franny Glass. I can't even think of anything to say as a book review; these stories speak for themselves. I love them.
If you are looking to read Salinger's Glass family stories but don't know where to start, start with these. These stories possess a depth that is lacking in The Catcher in the Rye, which is unfortunate for the multitudes who only read Catcher and think they know Salinger.(less)
My second favorite 'Nam book ever (after The Things They Carried.) Caputo is a Loyola grad and was in the first wave of Marines to go in-country in 19...moreMy second favorite 'Nam book ever (after The Things They Carried.) Caputo is a Loyola grad and was in the first wave of Marines to go in-country in 1965. People tend to think of 1968 as the bloody year in Vietnam, but as Caputo's book shows '65 and '66 were no cake walks. Dead American boys are dead American boys, and Caputo really makes you think about the price of war and the long-lasting legacy of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.(less)
This novella captures everything I love about baseball. Set in the 1951 "Shot heard 'round the world" Giants/Dodgers pennant game, the story drips wit...moreThis novella captures everything I love about baseball. Set in the 1951 "Shot heard 'round the world" Giants/Dodgers pennant game, the story drips with nostalgia for America's Pastime. DeLillo's imagery is so vivid, I felt like I was eating a hot dog at the ballpark on a warm summer day.
And the feeling I had while reading -- the simultaneous highs and lows, thrills and sorrows, wanting to puke your guts out because your team is down and then the absolute elation when your team stages a miracle bottom of the 9th comeback win... every baseball fan needs to read this. Especially now, in the dead of winter, when it doesn't seem that an afternoon at the ballpark could ever be possible again.
(58 days 'til Cubs opening day at the time of this review!)(less)
I was terrified to eat anything for a week after reading the book's first section on corn. Never has a book made me so radically call into question my...moreI was terrified to eat anything for a week after reading the book's first section on corn. Never has a book made me so radically call into question my lifestyle. I am a person who celebrates food; it is an expression of flavor, seasonality, and community. I love nothing more than sharing a great meal with friends. I worship the celebrity chef culture of Tony Bourdain and Top Chef more than I should admit. I thought I understood both the science and sociology of a meal.
And then I read this book.
The government-subsidized corn empire and the fast food meal. Cruel factory farming and humane grass-fed beef. Sustainability and the double-edged ethics of buying organic produce from Whole Foods that made a 2000 mile journey in a diesel-fueled truck to take part in your *guiltless* shopping experience. The surprising joys of hunting and gathering your own food and the limits of such a practice. Pollan manages to cover it all in a well-structured argument that is stuffed with personal experience and scientific research yet reads as fluidly as a novel.
This is a book that I will continue to reflect on for years to come.(less)
My hopes for this book were that Klosterman might actually stick to the premise: a cross-country pilgrimage to sites (both obscure and famous) where m...moreMy hopes for this book were that Klosterman might actually stick to the premise: a cross-country pilgrimage to sites (both obscure and famous) where musicians lost their lives, and an exploration of why through death these musicians were secured a place in rock immortality. And he did do that... kinda... but mostly this book was a collection of Klosterman's woman troubles and stories about how cool he is (although he insists he's not,) padded with obscure musical references and tales of the drugs he's tried. I should have known this, given his other works.
The musician death sites, when they exist, are background to Klosterman's musings on _______ (fill in any of the 4 or 5 girls he obsesses about throughout the book) and how their relationship is So Totally F-ed Up. He treats the actual arrivals at the death sites in a casual passing manner and usually acts entirely bored and unaffected by what he finds. It's as if he doesn't find a museum or gigantic memorial at the death site, he can't draw any meaning from it -- and most of the sites are just places, not museums (the exception being Graceland,) so you can imagine how bored and let down he is upon the moment of arrival at any given death site. He's so self-absorbed and misguided in his thesis, all he wants to do is get back on the road so he can think about the girls he loves who don't love him back. And all I want to do is be done with this stupid book.
My hopes that he might have created a rock version of the journey and reflection seen in Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation were dashed by the third paragraph. The only things that made me give this book two stars instead of one were the two references to Wilco/Jeff Tweedy and the humor, which Klosterman admittedly does well.(less)
It seems people either love or hate Tony Bourdain. I am in the love camp. Kitchen Confidential is the sex drugs rock n roll food memoir that caused a...moreIt seems people either love or hate Tony Bourdain. I am in the love camp. Kitchen Confidential is the sex drugs rock n roll food memoir that caused a huge uproar when it was published and helped establish Tony Bourdain as a punk rock celebrity chef -- whether he wants to admit that role or not, that's what he is. And that's pretty much what you get in Kitchen Confidential: a knife-wielding display of machismo in the kitchens of Tony's life. I couldn't help but hear the Stooges "Search & Destroy" in my head every time I read this book: I'm a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm...
But for those put off by this, consider Kitchen Confidential as a piece of the Bourdain puzzle. Read the book; watch No Reservations; watch A Cook's Tour; see him in action as a guest judge on Top Chef; read his blog -- good god, can this man write! An extraordinary palate and a sharp mind. Sure, he can be cocky and condescending -- but at least he's got the chops to back it up with.(less)
American history, food, celebrity chefs -- all are things I love, and all are things found in The United States of Arugula.
David Kamp traces the devel...moreAmerican history, food, celebrity chefs -- all are things I love, and all are things found in The United States of Arugula.
David Kamp traces the development of 20th and 21st century American culinary palates, trends, problems, and potential solutions in this easy-to-read history of how We The People have evolved in our approaches to food over the last century. From daily market trips to tv dinners in the freezer; from bland, heavy meals to the infusion of regional and international flavors; from factory farming to the rise of the organic/sustainable/Whole Foods world, Kamp does a good job of linking food movements from coast to coast while simultaneously demonstrating how trends and chefs impacted the American dinner table across recent generations.
Whether you're a fan of James Beard and Julia Child, Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower, or Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck, something in this book will appeal to the foodie in you. And the bibliography is a great resource for those looking to build their cookbook collections!(less)
Wilco is one of the most important yet understated bands of our time. This book is a great overview of frontman Jeff Tweedy's career, starting way bac...moreWilco is one of the most important yet understated bands of our time. This book is a great overview of frontman Jeff Tweedy's career, starting way back in his junior high days, coming up through Uncle Tupelo, Loose Fur, Wilco, etc etc. You learn so much about Tweedy, from his favorite music to his lifetime struggles with migraines and depression to his personal philosophy about the creation of music. Author Greg Kot's many hats as a journalist, Wilco fan, Chicagoan, and music critic all blend together to create a great narrative that is part history of the band, part making of the albums, and part rock critic description of the music. Being extremely familiar with Wilco, this worked perfectly for me. I'm not sure how people who are looking for a typical band biography would handle this, as it references the music and even a documentary about the band (I Am Trying To Break Your Heart) extensively and makes a certain amount of assumptions about the reader's familiarity with the Wilco catalog. Still, it is possible to read this book without being a Wilco superfan; but like any book about a band, you get more out of it if you are already familiar with the music.
My one regret about this book is it ends in 2004, just after Pat Sansone and Nels Cline joined the band, just after Tweedy entered rehab, and just before A Ghost Is Born really made its mark on the world. My hope is that a few albums down the line, Kot will write an updated edition of this book. So much has happened to the band since this book left off, which gives it a very To Be Continued feel. Sky Blue Sky (2007) is already a radical departure from A Ghost Is Born, and with the way Wilco is constantly reinventing itself and its music, there remains plenty to be said and explored.(less)
The music of Pink Floyd gains much more meaning when placed in the context of the band’s history, and that is precisely what Schaffner does in Saucerf...moreThe music of Pink Floyd gains much more meaning when placed in the context of the band’s history, and that is precisely what Schaffner does in Saucerful of Secrets. From the early days of Syd Barrett and the underground London scene to Dark Side of the Moon and straight on through the Gilmour and Waters solo albums, the book reveals the creative processes, internal conflicts, triumphs, and tragedies of this timeless band while progressing chronologically through Pink Floyd’s albums. Don’t expect major criticisms here—Schaffner was a huge Floyd fan and his love for the band oozes through his writing—but for those seeking a good overview of the band’s history and music, this is your book.(less)