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02 May 2013


Here are four I've read this year that you may find interesting:

The Library at Night - Alberto Manguel
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight - Alexandra Fuller
Atlas of Remote Islands - Judith Schalansky
The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime - Harvey Miles

I'm currently reading Stories from Jonestown by Leigh Fondakowski and have Kill Anything That Moves waiting for me at home, so I am not a whole lot of help on the cheerful front!

BuffaloCharlie, Chris,

Thanks for the suggestions!

Buffalo, sadly, of course, my eye went right to the Harvey Miles book--evidently words like "crime" just draw me. I have read the Fuller and think she is a talented writer--but for whatever reason I did not enjoy that memoir. Too far from a life I can picture or understand? I don't know. And I should try the Manguel again, although I don't know if I'd have the attention span right now.

Chris, ha! I hear you. I think what I have been finding scarier than these books' topics is the fact that I read them and AM NOT SURPRISED. Oh, so My Lai was not an isolated incident? Who on earth thought it was? I guess I rather assumed that war=atrocities on civilians that no one wants to talk about. Anyway. I may hold off on Jonestown just now too, but again--thanks for the ideas. And if you DO read KATM--would you pop back in and let me know if I should read it too? (If you are interested in the Vietnam War--have you read Tom Bissell's "The Father of All Things," about growing up with his father, a Vietnam vet, and their trip together back to Vietnam? One of the best books I've ever read, full stop.)


We have a woman training an adorable golden retriever as a guide dog sometimes in the library, and it's wonderful to see someone making such an effort to improve someone else's life in a few years.

Also, have you read AMERICAN NATIONS? Very interesting. And not too depressing.

I'm rereading Mary Roach's Packing for Mars - my go to fun book when nothing else is doing it for me. Also, she has a new one - Gulp: Adventures in the Alimentary Canal - that is pretty good too. Also, David Sedaris's new one is pretty good.

I know you're feeling anti-memoirish these days, but I listened to Frank Bruni's Born Round and it was delightful. Lots of nice writing about food and about the people in his life, with lots of giggly moments.

That's a good attempt, but that's a tough sell for me. I am a Cat Person (and the type of Cat Person who is Emphatically Not a Dog Person) and anything that's meant to be uplifting is just going to bug me right now, I fear.

I know. As Mr. CR would say, I'm a peach.

What I need, I suppose, is a list of "Accidentally Uplifting Books." Things that really aren't meant to be inspirational but kind of are. Something in the Norman Maclean school of "A River Runs Through It" and "Young Men and Fire." I'm not picky at all, am I?

But thank you for trying. And yes--American Nations looks quite good. Just put it on hold!

Yes, Mary Roach is fun, although I liked "Stiff" the best. I'm waiting for her new one too! (Ditto on the Sedaris--another great suggestion--although I'm still sad that David Rakoff has passed on and won't be writing any more of his even-more-bitter-than-Sedaris essays.)

I think I had to read "Born Round" when it came out for some kind of review--and really enjoyed it! So yes, something along those lines. Maybe something foodie in general--thanks for getting me thinking that way.

Cara, I just finished Shocked by Patricia Vogel and really liked it. It is a bery spare sort of memoir, about her mother and Elsa Schiaparelli. She also wrote Stuffed:Adventures of a Restaurant Family, which was great. Her mother is equally fascinating and terrifying, and "Schiap's" story before, during and after the war is remarkable. Bonus, lots of cool pictures.

My book group really enjoyed "Farm City" by Novella Carpenter. It's a humorous account of a woman who started an urban garden in an abandoned lot and then branched out to raising animals. It's pretty impressive, and quite entertaining, though as a vegetarian I shuddered during the descriptions of butchery and such.

Roberta Cara!
Sold! I just put it on hold. Thank you--(you know I love the pictures, don't you? Always the first thing I flip through).

Thank you so much for the suggestion! Sounds interesting and I'd never heard of it--might be just what I need for a springtime read.

I am SO with you when it comes to the dreaded "inspirational" story. I begin to retch.

So glad I'm not the only one!

The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne. A memoir encompassing his work as a public librarian in Salt Lake City, his faith and his quest for control over Tourette's (which involves a strenuous weight lifting regimen, hence the claim of strongest). It's lovely and funny and, I thought, a pure delight.

I like Jim Knipfel, too!!!

Susan Hand Shetterly's Settled in the Wild is about the intersection of nature and humans. It's poetic, thought-provoking, and just altogether beautiful without being saccharine or too hippie/back to the landish. Plus it's a book of essays, so you can feel satisfied getting a whole story one chapter at a time.

Thanks for the vote of confidence on The World's Strongest Librarian. I'm often disappointed by librarian memoirs but I had considered this one. I'll have to try it!

So glad to find another Knipfel fan. LOVE him.

MMMMMMmmmmm essays, enough said. Thanks for the suggestion!

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