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June 2015

New Nonfiction (with commentary): 29 June 2015

A new series, published each Monday, sharing a selected list of new nonfiction titles to be published during the week. List originally published at The Reader's Advisor Online. Text in bold is commentary.

Atkinson, Rick - The Battle of the Bulge [Oh, my god, I barely have the energy to list yet another book about World War II, much less read one. People: OTHER WARS happened during the 20th century. OTHER WARS are happening now. Spread the interest in injustice, death, and atrocities around a little bit, wouldja? Other info to know about this one: Atkinson is a well-known author of WWII nonfiction for adults, but this is called a "YA adaptation from Atkinson's adult The Guns at Last Light."]


Cruz, Ted - A Time for Truth [Oh, my god, I don't have the energy to even mock this one. Politician + "truth" in your book title=Hilarious lack of irony. 250,000 first printing.]


Hart, Gary - The Republic Of Conscience [Oh, my god, I don't have the energy to even mock this one. Politician+ "Conscience" in your book title=Hilarious lack of irony. Not sure why Gary Hart's trying to get back into the public spotlight, but here's the description of this one: "Focusing on the years after World War II, Hart tackles major American institutions—the military, the CIA, Congress—and outlines how these establishments have led the country away from its founding principles, not closer to them."]


Laqueur, Walter - Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West [Laqueur's a well-known and prolific author of history.]


Pike, Francis - Hirohito's War: The Pacific War, 1941-1945 [Oh, my god, WWII again. Please see above.]


Powell, Jonathan - Terrorists at The Table: Why Negotiating is the Only Way to Peace [The book cover here helpfully explains Powell is the former chief of staff to Tony Blair.]


Wilson, Charlie - I Am Charlie Wilson [Here's the ad copy: "The long-awaited memoir of seven-time Grammy-nominated artist Charlie Wilson, the iconic R&B and Funk singer-songwriter-producer—interwoven with his recollections of collaborating with fellow artists such as Stevie Wonder, the Rolling Stones, and Snoop Dogg." 75,000 first printing.]

So. What do you think? Anything look good there? Nothing is really turning me on in this list, but as you can tell, I might be rather low on energy lately.

In other news, is anyone watching Poldark? I totally enjoyed this recap of last night's episode at the Wall Street Journal. So far the series seems like a pale imitation of the books--disappointing considering it's been written for the screen by a woman, and the women in the show seem particularly vanilla--but it would be hard to be as good as the books.


Book Menage 2015

Remember our Book Menages?

They're fun. We read two books, and we discuss. I think it's time for another one, mainly because I have a book for you to read. Boy, do I!

The book in question is Thomas Keenan's Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy.

And we'll pair it with John Scalzi's science fiction novel Old Man's War, which many people have been telling me to read.

How's about it? Two nice futuristic reads. I'll give you a long summer month to read them both. Shall we meet back here on August 1st to discuss?

I can't wait!


British Television: Shameless

So I know what you're thinking. CR's never seen a British TV series she didn't like, right?

Wrong. And it wouldn't be fair if I didn't talk about ALL British TV, even the shows I didn't much care for, right? So here we go.

I could never quite get into Paul Abbot's series "Shameless." And when I say "couldn't get into," what I mean is that I watched a couple of episodes, even though I wasn't really enjoying it, and then gave myself a firm talking-to about spending time I didn't really have on a TV series that made me, for lack of a better phrase, somewhat depressed deep down in my soul. So of course I had to watch a couple more episodes. But then I stopped. I read some more series' episode summaries at IMDB.com for closure, and called it a day.

The story is this: Six kids live with their drunken dad in a Manchester (northern England) housing project, basically raising themselves. The eldest, Fiona, looks after the others while her dad lurches from one drunken debauch to another; meantime, she falls in love with Steve. They spend the rest of the first season hanging out with the rest of the kids and their neighbors and doing what people in Manchester housing projects do, according to series creator Paul Abbott.

It hurt me not to like this one, frankly, because the first couple of seasons featured two of my favorite Brit/Scot actors: Anne-Marie McDuff and James McAvoy. Actually, I liked the whole cast, and the writing is snappy, and I loved the music, but the whole thing is just a bit too, um, too much for me. It's one thing to know what's all going on offscreen, but "Shameless" really shows a lot ON screen (just watch the first few minutes of the first episode if you wonder what I mean). And although the series as billed as an unconventional family "surviving by their wits--and humor," the idea of children raising children, drunk fathers, and urban poverty makes me too nervous to watch. I haven't actually thought about this one in a while, and was surprised to see that it's now gone 11 seasons, into 2013 (and it's also been remade for American television, starring William H. Macy as the drunk father).

So there. I have met some British television I couldn't watch!

Fun trivia: Anne-Marie Duff and James McAvoy met while filming this show, and are now married.


Conferences, reference books, RA training, oh my!

Just a quick repeat of my post about ALA Annual from last week.

If by any chance you're a librarian type, and you're attending the ALA Annual conference this week in San Francisco, I wanted to reiterate my offer of "Buy a Book--Get Email Training!" The deal is simple: Buy a book from the Real Stories series of readers' guides* (books designed to help you find NONfiction books that your patrons might enjoy), I'll offer you a free session of RA training (your choice: general readers' advisory or nonfiction-specific) over email. We can discuss ways to widen your RA services, put together compelling nonfiction booklists, find great title awareness websites, anything!

So please do consider stopping by the ABC-CLIO booth (#814) and looking at the books. All you have to do is buy a book from the Real Stories series, either at the conference, or, if you're not going, buy one through an online bookstore or the ABC-CLIO site, through the end of June. Then just contact me at realstory@tds.net, tell me what book you bought**, and we'll use that as a jumping-off point for an email conversation/training about nonfiction reading, readers, and RA.

What do you say? A great reference book and an email training. That's got Google beat, right?

*Full disclosure: I'm the current series editor for these books, so of course I might be biased. But they really are great.

**I'm not offering this through the publisher, or the marketing department, or anything like that. So no proof or receipts required; just tell me you bought the book and we'll be good to go. Gotta love the honor system; it really cuts down on paperwork.


New Nonfiction (with commentary): 22 June 2015

A new series, published each Monday, sharing a selected list of new nonfiction titles to be published during the week. List originally published at The Reader's Advisor Online. Text in bold is commentary.

Clay, Alexa  - The Misfit Economy: Lessons in Creativity from Pirates, Hackers, Gangsters and Other Informal Entrepreneurs
Fechtor, Jessica - Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home [Memoir by a woman who suffered a brain aneurysm at 28, and whose recovery included learning to stand at the stove and cook again.]
Goldstone, Nancy - The Rival Queens: Catherine de' Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom [Oooohhh, this sounds good, I think.]
Hepola, Sarah - Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget [Fairly self-explanatory title there. 200,000 first printing.]
Jamali, Naveed - How to Catch a Russian Spy: The True Story of an American Civilian Turned Double Agent[Here's the description: "or three nerve-wracking years, Naveed JamaliF spied on America for the Russians, trading thumb drives of sensitive technical data for envelopes of cash, selling out his own beloved country across noisy restaurant tables and in quiet parking lots. Or so the Russians believed. In fact, this young American civilian was a covert double agent working with the FBI."]
Madison, Holly - Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny [Memoir by the woman known as "Hugh Hefner's former #1 girlfriend." 100,000 first printing. Just thinking about Hugh Hefner makes me want to take a shower, so, probably won't pick it up.]
Oren, Michael B. - Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide [By the former Israeli ambassador to the United States.]
Robertson, Jep & Jessica - The Good, The Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness [Memoir about recovering from sexual and other abuse, by the youngest son of Phil Robertson--the star of reality show "Duck Dynasty"--100,000 first printing.]
Schickel, Richard - Keepers: The Greatest Films—and Personal Favorites—of a Moviegoing Lifetime
Sherman, Scott - Patience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library [Of course, a must-read for librarian types. Here's the ad copy: "In a series of cover stories for The Nation magazine, journalist Scott Sherman uncovered the ways in which Wall Street logic almost took down one of New York City’s most beloved and iconic institutions: the New York Public Library."]

So. What do you think? Anything look good there?


Fiction, nonfiction, and something "in between"?

Last week I came across this headline:

Fiction...Non-Fiction...and Something in Between?

I was completely annoyed by this article. To clarify, I should say I was annoyed by the article that the above link refers to. A post at Forbes by a George Anders suggests that:

When Authors Embellish, Let's Dub Such Books 'Beautiful Stories'

Anders's article is a response to allegations that yet another nonfiction book contains inaccuracies. This time the title in question is Wednesday Martin's memoir/anthropological study Primates of New York. This book, ostensibly about the author's own experiences living on the Upper East Side of New York City and studying the Wives/Mommies living there while living among them as one herself, got a lot of press before publication, but got even more after, with Simon & Schuster finally saying they would include a clarifying note about the facts of the book (or Martin's massaging of them) in its future printings.*

Brother. I take his point--I know more and more "nonfiction" books, especially memoirs, are popping up with inaccuracies, plagiarism issues, and truth-stretches. But still. 'Beautiful stories'? Do we really think that a third genre, whatever we call it, will really cut down on fudges and inaccuracies in whatever is left over as "true" nonfiction? Nah. As long as we exist in an era of "publish it fast, and do a half-assed job doing it," there's going to be shoddy nonfiction turned out. Let's face it. There has always been shoddy nonfiction turned out. I think the trick with nonfiction (and with life, actually),is to read it, learn what you can, and take it all with a grain of salt.** If it turns out later that something you read wasn't completely accurate, well, try to find something else that might be.

And also? For the love of god, everyone, stop thinking of memoirs as "the truth." Or "the absolute truth." You ever tried to get the same account of any one event from different people? Everyone's take--and everyone's memory--is different. I'm not saying calling a book a memoir is an invitation to just make stuff up. What I am saying is to look for the story behind the story--when memoirs were the super-hot publishing category, publishers were knocking themselves out to publish as many as possible, and that sort of thing is always going to lead right back to...you got it...shoddy nonfiction. In fact, that's my vote for the proposed "something in-between" category. "Shoddy Nonfiction."

*Wednesday Martin, by the way, is coming out swinging: “Primates of Park Avenue” author calls out critics as sexist: “I really attribute the backlash to this new kind of misogyny”

**And, by the way, when you're reading nonfiction, search out (and buy the books of) authors like Stacy Horn who knock themselves out fact-checking. And then tell everyone else about those authors, too. Do that instead of wasting time coming up with non-genres like "beautiful stories."


I don't want a guy writing my romantic fiction.

The Rosie Project
by Graeme Simsion
Powells.com

A few weeks ago a friend recommended I read the romance The Rosie Project, written by Australian Graeme Simsion. This friend and I actually met when she came into my library and I suggested a Melissa Senate book to her (I think she was asking for chick lit-ish suggestions, if I remember correctly), which she liked, so you can see a big part of our relationship is talking over books.*

So when she suggested The Rosie Project, I went right to the library to get it.

And it was okay. It's set in Australia (a nice change of pace, that), and the main character is Don Tillman, an academic and genetic researcher who is described on the book jacket as "brilliant yet socially challenged," and who may or may not have some Asperger-like tendencies. A case in point? His logical approach to finding a mate: the Wife Project, wherein he asks women to complete a detailed survey to assess their qualifications for the role of his potential life partner. Which is an okay plan, until he meets Rosie, who doesn't really fit any of his Wife Project criteria, but who does bring an interesting genetic quandary to their relationship: she wants to find out who her biological father is (and she's got a small sampling of candidates to test).

So yeah, it was okay, and I finished it, and even enjoyed it in bits--Don's not an unlikable main character and Rosie has her charms--but I wouldn't say it was a great book.** There were never really any moments where I went, "Awww...," and when reading romance or chick lit, I kind of need that "Awww..." moment. And then it struck me that at least part of the problem here was that I don't really care for the protagonists of my chick lit to be male. And I really don't want my romance books to be written by guys either.*** Go ahead and accuse me of reverse discrimination. But I'm trying to think of any love story written by a guy that I've really liked...and right now nothing is coming to me. I certainly didn't enjoy Shotgun Lovesongs, that's for sure.

*Which is just so awesome. It might be close-minded, but I'm at the age now where I'm pretty much looking to only associate with people who read, and who talk about reading.

**In a hilarious turn of events, Mr. CR, who rarely reads books I bring home and never reads romance (the last "romance" I suggested to him that he read was W. Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage), read it, liked it, and seemed disappointed that I wasn't more enthusiastic about it.

***Unless that guy is Norman Maclean, whose novella A River Runs Through It is one of my favorite love stories of all time. But more general love, not dating-relationships-marriage love.


British Television: Poldark Poldark OMG POLDARK!

If you can't tell from the headline, I'm just a bit excited that the BBC miniseries Poldark, based on the Poldark series of novels by Graham Winston, will start to air in the U.S. on Sunday, June 21.

Happy Father's Day to all you women out there! We host a little midday FD get-together at House CR, and I love doing it*, but next Sunday night, when Poldark begins, I am going to stop cleaning up and let Mr. CR tuck in the CRboys. Poldark Poldark OMG POLDARK!

Actually, I've seen previews and snippets, and it already looks like it won't live up to the books. (For one thing, the heroine, Demelza? She's a brunette with dark eyes, NOT a blonde with light eyes, like the woman who's been cast as her. Boo hiss. Although I have no complaints in re: the casting of Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark.) But it would be tough to live up to the books; they're so awesome.

Can't wait to see this one--further bulletins as events warrant.

*For introverts, throwing parties trumps going to parties every time. You're surrounded by people who come talk to you, because you're the host, and most of the time you're just trying to keep on top of logistics, so you don't have time to be nervous.


New Nonfiction (with commentary): 15 June 2015

A new series, published each Monday, sharing a selected list of new nonfiction titles to be published during the week. List originally published at The Reader's Advisor Online. Text in bold is commentary.

Ansari, Aziz - Modern Romance [50,000 first printing. Actually, I wasn't that interested in this one until I read the description; it's an exploration of modern love, complete with research and interviews, but written by comedian Ansari.]
Apatow, Judd - Sick in the Head [I think Apatow's movies, like Knocked Up and The Forty-Year-Old Virgin, were okay, but they're always at least 30 minutes too long. I'm guessing even if this book is good it will be 100 pages too long. 100,000 first printing.]
Bingham, Emily -Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham [It's hard not to be interested in any book about the Jazz Age, I think.]
Bourne, Joel K., Jr. -The End of Plenty: The Race to Feed a Crowded World [Mr. CR has begged me to stop bringing home downer books, so I can't get this one just yet.]
Carlson, Gretchen - Getting Real [I'm so proud of myself for not knowing that Carlson is a FOX news anchor before I went to look this book up. 100,000 first printing.]
Dotti, Luca -Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother’s Kitchen
Pope Francis - Encountering Truth: Meeting God in the Everyday [Around here we call the pope Frankie Argentina, and we do so with all due respect, because I am a fan. I am not a big reader of religion or spirituality books, though.]
Keret, Etgar - The Seven Good Years [Keret is an Israeli writer best known for his fiction and short stories; this is is first collection of nonfiction; a memoir of sorts.]
Kurson, Robert -  Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship [100,000 first printing. True Adventure title from the author who brought you the very popular Shadow Divers.]
Lacey, Robert - Model Woman: Eileen Ford and the Business of Beauty [OOooohh, I love Robert Lacey, author of titles like The Year 1000, Great Tales from English History, Ford: The Men and the Machine.]
Masear, Terry -Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood
Mr. Kate (Kate Albrecht) - A Hot Glue Gun Mess: Funny Stories, Pretty DIY Projects [I'm completely bored by DIY projects and the lifestyle. The thought of making anything with a hot-glue gun makes me die inside.]
Princenthal, Nancy - Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art
Smart, Geoff - Power Score: Your Formula for Leadership Success
Thomas, Evan- Being Nixon: A Man Divided [Actually, I should read something about Richard Nixon. I never have.]
Witt, Stephen - How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Privacy [This one sounds interesting too.]

So. What do you think? Anything look good there?


Have you bought any fun reference books lately?

Come on. If you're a librarian type, you remember buying actual books to use as reference sources, right?

Wasn't that fun? Sometimes it was just thrilling to buy a new reference tool that you could actually hold, leaf through, refer to, mark up, etc. Well, if you're a librarian type, and you're going to ALA Annual in a couple of weeks in San Francisco, I'm here to ask you to consider buying a reference book. Have you seen our Libraries Unlimited series of Real Stories readers' guides? I'm the current series editor, so I'm biased, but these are great books. They break up nonfiction books into more digestible chunks of genres, types, and subject interests; they provide ready-made reading lists and book group title suggestions; they can help serve as training tools by helping you to learn big names in the nonfiction writing biz; and they're just a lot of fun to read and use.

I know there's no budget for it. I know that anyone with an Internet connection can Google up any number of free booklists. But still--I'd ask you to consider any one of these titles. If you want to see them or have questions, and you'll be in San Francisco, consider stopping by the ABC-CLIO booth (#814) and looking at them. I'll even sweeten the deal--buy any one of the books on the list I've linked to above, and I'll offer you a free email consultation/conversation about nonfiction RA, books, and ways to train your staff or create your own nonfiction booklists and displays.

All you have to do is buy a book from the Real Stories series, either at the conference, or, if you're not going, buy one through an online bookstore or the ABC-CLIO site, through the end of June. Then just contact me at realstory@tds.net, tell me what book you bought*, and we'll use that as a jumping-off point for an email conversation/training about nonfiction reading, readers, and RA.

What do you say? A great reference book and an email training. That's got Google beat, right?

*I'm not offering this through the publisher, or the marketing department, or anything like that. So no proof or receipts required; just tell me you bought the book and we'll be good to go. Gotta love the honor system; it really cuts down on paperwork.


A tale of two titles.

So here's two books sitting on my nightstand right now: What Should We Be Worried About? Real Scenarios that Keep Scientists Up at Night (edited by John Brockman), and Retrain Your Anxious Brain: Practical and Effective Tools to Conquer Anxiety (by John Tsilimparis).

Yes, perhaps not the best concurrent reading choices. But it turns out I'm really, really enjoying the What Should We Be Worried About? book, while I haven't really gotten that far retraining my anxious brain. The thing about my anxious brain is that it tends to run in fairly predictable circles: we're all going to die on the highway; health care costs are going to bury us all; the CRjr's are going to fall off playground equipment and directly onto their heads. Thinking about that sort of shit (plus whatever doctor or dentist appointments anyone has coming up) makes me crazy.

John Brockman's book, on the other hand? Well, that's just a bunch of super-smart people worrying about the really BIG stuff. Here's some chapter titles to illustrate what the contributors think we should be worried about:

"We are in denial about catastrophic risks"

"The fragility of complex systems"

"Are we homogenizing the global view of a normal mind?"

'The mating wars"

"The rise in genomic instability"

Contributors include Charles Seife, Nicholas Carr, Sherry Turkle, Brian Eno, Daniel Goleman, Robert Sapolsky, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and a ton, ton more.

I have yet to read a dull chapter in this thing and although I know it's presenting a lot of big, ugly, doomsday scenarios...but I'm actually using it to fall asleep. For some weird reason it's more calming to me to worry about the big picture. Some of these speculations really make the little stuff (like: why is my back so sore? Do my brakes feel like they're going? What kind of medical help and support are my parents going to start needing? And so on and so forth) seem, well, little.

I know. It makes no sense. If you don't enjoy thinking about worst-case scenarios, the Brockman book might not be for you. It's one of the most interesting things I've read this year, though.

And I'll keep you posted if I have any luck retraining my anxious mind. Training of any kind, either of myself or others, has never been my strong point, so we'll see.


Goodbye, Vincent Bugliosi.

Helter Skelter: TheTrue Story Of the Manson Murders
by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry

Powells.com

Vincent Bugliosi, the attorney who prosecuted at the Charles Manson trial and then wrote the True Crime classic Helter Skelter, about the crimes and the trial, has died.

I only read Helter Skelter when I was researching my reader's advisory guide The Real Story because I thought I should.* And then I kept reading it, because it was a really, really good book. And then I went on to read another True Crime book of his, And the Sea Will Tell. Which I also enjoyed.

But then Vincent Bugliosi wrote something that will make me love him forever. And that book? Was titled The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.

RIP, Vincent Bugliosi. I know no higher compliment than one that my brother uses: you were a true supertalent.

*I'd heard about the title a lot, and considered it a True Crime classic. This is the way I ended up reading a lot of True Crime--thinking I should, but then ending by finding that a lot of True Crime books are really well written.


New Nonfiction (with commentary): 8 June 2015

A new series, published each Monday, sharing a selected list of new nonfiction titles to be published during the week. List originally published at The Reader's Advisor Online. Text in bold is commentary.

Butler, Brin-Jonathan- The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba [Meh, boxing. Meh, Hemingway.]
Caddy, Dan Awesome - Sh*t My Drill Sergeant Said: Wit and Wisdom from America's Finest [After watching "Full Metal Jacket," the idea of finding a drill sergeant funny is hard for me to envision. 75,000 first printing.]
Clynes, Tom- The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star [That many "extremes" just seems like it would make me tired.]
Dunaway, Dennis and Chris Hodenfield- Snakes! Guillotines! Electric Chairs!: My Adventures in the Alice Cooper Group
Fry, Stephen - More Fool Me: A Memoir [Of course I love Stephen Fry because he is British, but I don't know if I'll need to read this.]
Goldberg, Michelle - The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West
Green, Kristen – Something Must Be Done about Prince Edward County: A Family, a Virginia Town, a Civil Rights Battle [There are a lot of interesting, midlist books out there about civil rights. This sounds like it might be one of them; I'm going to look into it.]
Hajari, Nisid-  Midnight's Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India's Partition [I don't know anything about this subject but would like to.]
Ham, Mary Katharine - End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun) [Politics, politics, blah blah blah.]
Lythcott-Haims, Julie - How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success [40,000 first printing. You know parenting manuals are catnip to me lately; I'll have to get this one.]
Mullin, Gerard E. – The Gut Balance Revolution
Posnanski, Joe - The Secret of Golf: The Story of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus [Here come the Father's Day books!]
Quinn, Colin - Coloring Book: A Comedian Solves Race Relations in America [Is Colin Quinn a big enough name to sustain a 75,000 first printing? I used to find him funny and I'm always searching for humor I can stand; maybe I'll try this.]
Ryan, Shane - Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour
Tattersall, Ian - The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack: And Other Cautionary Tales from Human Evolution [I just like the title of this one; I'll check it out.]
Vanderkam, Laura -I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time [Brother, this woman's making a real career out of this 'use your time better' shtick. I thought about it, briefly, but I'm not interested in doing as much as everyone else. Really what I want is for everyone else to do less. Let's have a slow-in!]

Wentworth, Ali – Happily Ali After [Humor, but I've never found Ali Wentworth all that funny.]

So. What do you think? Anything look good there?


A quick word about the Christian Science Monitor.

Are you reading the Christian Science Monitor?

So yeah, I know newspapers are dead, etc. I used to get our local newspaper, first because I really liked reading a newspaper, at least on Sundays.* As the paper got progressively thinner and crappier, pretty soon I really was just getting it for the grocery store coupons. Now my mom hooks me up with those, so I was able to drop my subscription. I did feel a little bad about that, but you know what? Sadly, I cannot afford to support all the dying industries I used to enjoy.

But in my daily reading of Internet headlines in my work for the Reader's Advisor Online blog, I often come across headlines that I find personally interesting. And those headlines are almost exclusively from the Christian Science Monitor. I find that it typically offers quite balanced, well-written, and very wide-ranging news stories. These are the last three links I clicked on:

"A 'rape glut' on TV: How TV Viewers Can Respond" (I clicked on this because I just read Diana Gabaldon's bestselling novel Outlander and was totally grossed out, and now it's been made into a TV series, and was listed in this article)

"Has Apple's CEO Put a Price Tag on Privacy?"

and

"How to Make Your Laptop Last Longer"

And that's an entirely typical sample. They also offer book news and book recommendations from readers, great recipes, and a lot of personal finance articles (these, I find, are usually ridiculously simplistic, but they're still somewhat fun to read).

The Monitor used to be published daily in print (I know, because I used to check it in and put it out at the public library, and I never ever bothered to read it, which I still can't believe), and now they publish weekly. God help me, I've often thought of subscribing, and only knowing that I have way too many other things sitting around here going unread has stopped me.

So what does it mean that it's the "Christian Science" Monitor? Well, it was founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, who was the founder of the Christian Science religion, and to this day it includes a "religious" article (I come across these often and they're not religious in an unctuous way, so they even do that well) in every daily web edition, but it is not really a religious paper. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about its founding:

"The Monitor's inception was, in part, a response by Eddy to the journalism of her day, which relentlessly covered the sensations and scandals surrounding her new religion with varying degrees of accuracy...

Eddy declared that the Monitor's mission should be "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind."

And here's how Wikipedia further describes it: "The paper has been known for avoiding sensationalism, producing a "distinctive brand of nonhysterical journalism"."

Yeah, I can get behind that. Give the Monitor a try.

*Although I freely admit I didn't actually read the news in the newspaper. I read the comics, the lifestyle section (with book reviews, if any), the classifieds, and maybe the local, in that order. I never even read the ads (in fact, I used to just strip them out and toss them, until my roommate said, "Could you save the ads? They're really the only part of the paper I read," which I thought was such a great line, and made me love her all the more).


British Television: North and South

I'm so, so glad I watched the British miniseries North and South* before I had kids. That's because it was split into four episodes, and even though I started watching it way too late at night, I couldn't help myself: I just kept watching episode after episode, until I was through them all and it was early the next morning. Mercifully, if I got no sleep in those days, I was just grouchy at my job and with Mr. CR the following day and no real harm was done. Now if I don't get enough sleep there are two small boys around just waiting to push my buttons, and I really prefer not to lose my temper with them from sheer exhaustion. For the most part, now, when I say to myself, CR, you have GOT to go to bed right now, I actually do listen, and I go.

But I digress. The real point is this:

"North and South" is the best BBC adaptation ever. (And many British viewers might agree with that assessment: when it first aired, so many viewers visited the BBC's website message boards to talk about it that they crashed the site.)

I'm not exaggerating.

It's a 2004 adaptation of the Elizabeth Gaskell** novel by the same name, and it focuses on the story of Margaret Hale, whose family must move from their comfortable position in the warm "South" of England (due to some dust-up of her pastor father's, when he has a crisis of faith), to the industrial and cold "North" of Milton--which is based on the city of Manchester. Once there, Margaret's father takes up tutoring, and she tries to help the poor in much the same way she did when she held a more privileged social position. They meet John Thornton***--a prosperous self-made man and mill owner, who lives with his forceful mother and his sister--when Thornton visits Margaret's father for tutoring.

I'm describing it terribly. Would it help if I tell you the cast is superb? That there's a heartbreaking scene where Thornton desperately begs Margaret just to look back at him (in which the actor portraying Thornton does some of the best acting I've seen)? That it contains some great labor history context? That it also contains the best kiss ever put on film? That the soundtrack is gorgeous?

Okay, I'll admit, it's not much of a laugh-fest. People die in it at a somewhat alarming rate, and it's totally typical that Thornton, who tries to be a somewhat decent mill owner, is not as prosperous as his colleagues, who work their employees as cruelly as possible. But it is very, very satisfying romantic melodrama.

Go watch it. Just don't start it at ten p.m., or you will be beyond tired the next day, because you will have to watch the WHOLE THING.

*By the way, if you want to find the Anglophiles around you, just talk about this miniseries. Most non-Anglophiles will think you are referring to the American miniseries "North and South," about the Civil War. But if someone responds to you by saying something along the lines of "Oh, my God, North and South, John Thornton," or by quoting something like "I wish to marry you because I love you!" you'll know that you have found a kindred spirit.

**Here's some fun trivia: evidently there's also a 1975 BBC adaptation, starring Patrick Stewart.

***Played by the totally hunky Richard Armitage, also known to my friend (and to me, forever after, once she told me) as "Red Hot Dickie."


New Nonfiction (with commentary): 1 June 2015

A new series, published each Monday, sharing a selected list of new nonfiction titles to be published during the week. List originally published at The Reader's Advisor Online. Text in bold is commentary.

Angelos, James - The Full Catastrophe: Travels Among the New Greek Ruins [About recent Greek history. Could be interesting.]
Bright, Jake and Aubrey Hruby - The Next Africa: An Emerging Continent Becomes a Global Powerhouse
Brooks, Amanda - Always Pack a Party Dress: And Other Lessons Learned From a (Half) Life in Fashion [By the fashion director for Barneys New York.]
Cadjan, Nancy - Baby Signing Essentials
Crocker, Betty - The Big Book of Chicken
Douglas, Ron - America’s Most Wanted Recipes Kids’ Menu [Evidently there's a whole series of these. 75,000 first printing.]
D'Souza, Dinesh - That’s Not Fair! Progressivism and the Politics of Envy [D'Souza is a well-known conservative writer. 200,000 first printing.]
Dundas, Zach - The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes [Sherlock Holmes is, of course, very big right now.]
Ezarik, Justine - I, Justine: An Analog Memoir [Another big YouTuber memoir, 100,000 first printing.]
Fertig, Judith - The Cake Therapist
Helwig, Jenna - Smoothie-Licious
Kidd, Chip - Judge This [The ad copy is: "A fun, playful look at the importance of first impressions—in design and in life—from acclaimed book designer Chip Kidd."]
Kim, Joseph & Stephan Talty - Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America [The author received help in escaping privation in North Korea. This one could perhaps be of interest to fans of Barbara Dimick's Nothing to Envy.]
Kozol, Jonathan - The Theft of Memory: Losing My Father, One Day at a Time [Kozol is best known for his writings about education and segregation, and I am a big fanSavage Inequalities is one of the few books I remember reading in college. This is a memoir about his father's struggle with Alzheimer's, made all the more immediate because his father was also a noted doctor in the field of neurology.]
Luzzi, Joseph - In a Dark Wood: What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing, and the Mysteries of Love [I was surprised this one has a 100,000 first printing, when the Kozol only had a 40,000. This is a memoir about how Luzzi's wife died from an accident while she was pregnant, but their daughter survived.]
Martin, Wednesday - Primates Of Park Avenue [Another big first printing: 100,000. Memoir by a woman who married into money and the Upper East Side of New York contingent of wealthy and secretive group of Upper East Side mothers.]
Mcdowell, Christina - After Perfect: A Daughter's Memoir [This must be the week for books about wealth and NYC. A memoir by the daughter of a formerly wealthy "wolf of Wall Street."]
Meyer, Joyce - Let God Fight Your Battles: Being Peaceful in the Storm
Mezrich, Ben - Once Upon A Time In Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs [By the well-known author of Bringing Down the House and The Accidental Billionaires. Actually, I'm a fan, although Mezrich has been faulted for not being 100% accurate or truthful in his nonfiction. 125,000 first printing.]
Moore, Peter - The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future [About "nineteenth-century meteorologists (who) had to fight against convention and religious dogma." I'm totally gonna get this one.]
Morris, Bob - Bobby Wonderful: An Imperfect Son Buries His Parents [Memoir about caring for his elderly parents. Might appeal to fans of Roz Chast's graphic novel Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?]
Oliver, Isaac - Intimacy Idiot [They're billing Oliver as the next David Sedaris,but I can't say the cover on this one does much for me.]
Phillips, Stevie - Judy & Liza & Robert & Freddie & David & Sue & Me...[Memoir by the agent of Judy Garland, Robert Redford, etc.]
Robertson, Brian J. - Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World
Roth, Alvin E. - Who Gets What -- and Why [The ad copy: "A Nobel laureate reveals the often surprising rules that govern a vast array of activities — both mundane and life-changing — in which money may play little or no role." I'm going to look into this one too.]
Schwartz, Peter - In Defense of Selfishness: Why the Code of Self-Sacrifice is Unjust and Destructive [In this one Schwartz is "Basing his arguments on Ayn Rand's ethics of rational self-interest." Ugh. Must be a real treat to be married to this guy.]
Smith, Mark Haskell - Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist's Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World [Investigative journalism; a guy investigates "naked culture" today. My biggest complaint about going to the doctor is that they are always telling me important stuff when I don't have underwear on. I really do prefer to have underwear on when people are telling me important things. I will not be reading this, most likely.]
Styron, William - My Generation: Collected Nonfiction [Essays, reviews, etc., from the novelist best known for Sophie's Choice.]
Unkefer, Agent Dean - 90 Church: Inside America's Notorious First Narcotics Squad
Zaleski, Philip, and Carol Zaleski - The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings [About C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams.]

So. What do you think? Anything look good there?