Marvelously written, this is half history, half biography of a remarkable woman.
Emma Gatewood lived a hard life in an abusive marriage, but she was aMarvelously written, this is half history, half biography of a remarkable woman.
Emma Gatewood lived a hard life in an abusive marriage, but she was a resilient woman with a powerful spirit, who set her mind to walk the AT and did so. Three times, in fact, with a number of other hikes, both short ones and epic journeys, over the last twenty years of her long life.
In a culture where you can spend years reading advice on how to hike, what to take, what to eat, etc., Gatewood just put one foot in front of the other, over and over, because she felt like taking a long walk. That might be the secret to happiness right there....more
This was... really disappointing. Only made it a hundred pages in before returning to the library.
I was expecting some accessible social science, backThis was... really disappointing. Only made it a hundred pages in before returning to the library.
I was expecting some accessible social science, backed by some interesting studies, but this was superficial and facile. I felt like author was writing for a mainstream magazine, regurgitating pop psychology for an audience with a thirty second attention span. Very lacking in evidence, or even deeper analysis.
The author's occasional mildly misogynistic jokes didn't help. Nothing deeply offensive, just the same tired jokes about women being inexplicable and alien, with the clear assumption the reader was male and would agree....more
Short, simple, but quite profound: I read this a few months ago, and it's stuck with me. I enjoy solitude, and doing things on my own, but usually feeShort, simple, but quite profound: I read this a few months ago, and it's stuck with me. I enjoy solitude, and doing things on my own, but usually feel vaguely guilty about it. This book explores the 'why' behind that guilt, and why it's not necessary, and how to embrace and thrive on voluntary solitude....more
Easily my favorite of this series! The conceit is very clever: our heroine has the gift of seeing and speaking to spirits. Naturally our hero is skeptEasily my favorite of this series! The conceit is very clever: our heroine has the gift of seeing and speaking to spirits. Naturally our hero is skeptical, but for the sake of his brother, who's haunted to the point of illness by numerous ghosts in their gloomy old castle, he asks our heroine to come down from London to lay them to rest.
A nice twist on the usual age difference with our heroine being forty, and the hero only in his late twenties. I found it refreshing that the both grew over the course of the book, realizing that there was more than passion to recommend their relationship. Both the ghost story and the mystery were entertaining to the very end....more
Eh. I still like this magic-filled high society setting, but the story ran parallel to the plot of the first, and I found myself rushing through to geEh. I still like this magic-filled high society setting, but the story ran parallel to the plot of the first, and I found myself rushing through to get to the end. Sadly, there were no pleasant surprises along the way.
Our heroine creates an illusory double of herself so she can sneak out on an errand in the night, but she's unintentionally in posession of one of the titular Artifacts. Thus the spell's considerably more powerful than she realizes, essentially splitting her into two: her daring, scandalous double, and her prim-and-proper original self. Sadly, the interconnection between the two isn't throughly explored. Our hero, a were-stallion, spends a lot of time dashing through London (and under it -- don't ask me why the tunnels under the city are suitable for a nineteen-hand horse), looking for either (a) his sister, (b) the Artifact, or (c) the heroine's double. The action sequences were difficult to follow, but eventually (a), (b), and (c) all came together with our lead characters and all ended percisely as expected....more
I'm... not entirely sure if I liked this book. Saw it on a couple best-of-2014 lists, and borrowed it from the library. Lamott's an excellent writer,I'm... not entirely sure if I liked this book. Saw it on a couple best-of-2014 lists, and borrowed it from the library. Lamott's an excellent writer, with a witty, conversational tone that had me giggling every few pages. And though I'm not a Christian, as Lamott is, she's a non-Evangelical, west coast Christian, radically liberal (y'know, the way Jesus of Nazareth was). So her focus on grace and presence, and being aware of what gifts God/the universe/fate is puttng in your path really resonated with me.
On the other hand, the individual essays focused on her troubled childhood, her very disfunctional relationships with her parents, watching several of her dear friends be diagnosed with cancer (or ALS, or another terminal disease), and accept death. Which was moving, but... I felt like this was book about finding peace in the middle of the toughest, most vicious corners of life. And I think I was expecting (hoping?) for more on finding grace in the mundane, everyday stretches of life. This was much more memoir of the darkest times (and boy, are there a lot of them) in her life.
TL:DR: Loved the writing, but the memoir didn't resonate for me....more
A dangerous book to read over dinner, given how frequently I laughed -- which is not what you might expect from a non-fiction book about Britain's bumA dangerous book to read over dinner, given how frequently I laughed -- which is not what you might expect from a non-fiction book about Britain's bumblebees. Goulson's style is so engaging, though, that I was as entertained as I was educated.
Though the focus is on bumblebees in the UK, the underlying theme is universal: that habitat destruction damages populations of creatures great and small, including some we typically only think about when a careless barefoot stroll leads to a sting. I had no idea of the complexities and variations amongst bumblebee species. The bit on cuckoo bees, which mimic and hijack the nests of ordinary bumblebees, was particularly fascinating, as was the description of the very peculiar genetics of bees. Spoiler: female bees are diploid, as we are, but males are usually haploid, which means they grow just fine from an unfertilized egg.
I also, as a scientist, particularly appreciated Goulson's recounting of his various experiments, which often didn't go as planned. They also involved a lot of hacking together of non-standard equipment (such as plastic hair curlers as temporary housing for queen bees), which was not surprising given Goulson and his teams are often running novel studies.
The book both begins and ends with the tale of the short-haired bumblebee, a species native to Britain which was introduced to New Zealand in the late 1800's, subsequently went extinct in its native region, and is currently being reintroduced into Kent. The description of this project was enough to make me order red clover and wildflower seeds for planting this spring: it's a small effort, true, but this book shows that many little things can make a tremendous impact....more
Like candy: delicious fun, though not recommended for every meal.
The worldbuilding is marvelous: an alternate Victorian England, where the titles of tLike candy: delicious fun, though not recommended for every meal.
The worldbuilding is marvelous: an alternate Victorian England, where the titles of the Ton reflect the magic they wield, and our heroine is a Duchess by birth, but her magical birthright's nowhere to be found.
The plot's as transparent as lace decolletage -- you'll know where the magic's gone within a chapter or two -- but the world's such an entertaining twist on the usual historical romance that I read it through in an evening. I found the heroine to be too passive for my tastes, and the hero a bit dull (and his were-lion nature more window-dressing than substance). I actually preferred Katie, or heroine's plucky maid, and Bentley, the hero's right-hand were-rat, to the leads.
But I'm looking forward to reading the next in this universe, to see where Kennedy goes with this set-up....more
Can you romp through the brain, learning as you go? I think that's what I just did. This was marvelously entertaining, rich in history with the gossipCan you romp through the brain, learning as you go? I think that's what I just did. This was marvelously entertaining, rich in history with the gossipy details that bring these historical doctors and researchers to life.
Kean recounts a history of brain research, starting from gross anatomy in the 16th century, to current debates over the nature of consciousness today. I'm a sucker for a book that's both educational and makes me laugh, which was certainly true here....more
Like the big con itself, this book drew me in slowly but surely. It begins with the story of J. Frank Norfleet, a Texan rancher who was taken in by aLike the big con itself, this book drew me in slowly but surely. It begins with the story of J. Frank Norfleet, a Texan rancher who was taken in by a stock market con in 1919. But instead of ruefully returning to his ranch, Norfleet become obsessed with revenge, becoming a rather good con man himself as he crisscrossed the country over the next decade, hunting down the men who'd fleeced him and seeing them sentenced for fraud and graft.
As fascinating a character as Norfleet is (and he's certainly a character; he clearly started to buy into his own press), even more interesting is the history of the United States as a land of optimistic opportunists, all to willing to buy into the promise of the Sweet Deal. Reading does a marvelous job of describing the rise of Wall Street from an investment hub for the select elite at the beginning of the 20th century into an obsession for the middle class by the end of WWI. It was fascinating to read about the transformation of the average American from thrifty saver (the 18th century ideal) into the modern consumer, the one willing to borrow and leverage and invest -- especially given the tumble the economy's seen these past five years.
By the second half of the book, Norfleet's obsessive crusading is eclipsed by the determination of Philip Van Cise, Denver's district attorney from 1921-25, to take down the intricately built network of bunco men who ran that city for many years. This is a true life version of The Untouchables, with con men taking the place of bootleggers, and to see Norfleet and Van Cise ultimately get their justice made for a most satisfying read....more
I wanted to like this book, particularly a this is a historical period that I've been particularly interested in of late. But I found the first hundreI wanted to like this book, particularly a this is a historical period that I've been particularly interested in of late. But I found the first hundred pages too dry to hold my attention and couldn't finish....more
Hullo, Goodreads; it's been an awfully long time since I've reviewed a book.
This one's an excellent selection for getting back into the swing of it, tHullo, Goodreads; it's been an awfully long time since I've reviewed a book.
This one's an excellent selection for getting back into the swing of it, though. This history of Bell Labs spans the 20th century, focussing on their heyday in the 40's and 50's in an excellent blend of history and science. As someone who was only passingly familiar with the Labs, just enough to know they had a significant impact on consumer electronics through the 80's, I found Gertner's descriptions of such wide-ranging innovations as the transistor and satellite technology fascinating.
I could've done with a slight bit more of the science, actually, but that's just a personal preference. Gertner frames the history by detailing the careers of a half dozen of the Labs most influential (and sometimes controversial) scientists. I was particularly taken with the biography of Claude Shannon, mathematician, father of Information Theory, and dilettante in whatever caught his fancy in the moment (unicycles for one).
The dissolution of Ma Bell is the focus of the final couple chapters, which is naturally something of a down note as we know the Labs will inevitably fade into an echo of what they once were, but Gertner manages to make even the political machinations of the Labs' relationship with Washington interesting. Though Bell Labs was a peculiar product of its time -- and funded by a monopoly of a kind that couldn't exist again -- I still found myself wishing we could see what a modern, far more diverse gathering of great minds would produce in a similar hotbed today....more