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March 2017

Kate Hennessy's Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty.

A week or so before Ash Wednesday I brought home the book Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty. I thought I would go all out this year for Lent and read this book during the weeks before Easter.*

Turns out that I started it on Fat Tuesday and finished it on Ash Wednesday.

Dorothy dayIt's a fascinating book, written by the youngest grandchild of Catholic activist Dorothy Day. It is a mix of biography (about Day, and also about Day's only daughter, Tamar), history (of Depression-era America and the Catholic Worker), and memoir (the author seeking to understand her relationship with her own mother, but even more importantly, the relationship between Dorothy and her daughter Tamar).

And really, could she have had a richer subject to explore than Dorothy Day, activist and co-founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper and movement? The stories of Dorothy's early life alone were worth the read:

"Dorothy was not a timid person. One night while working on the Call, she had forgotten her house key, and unwilling to wake the family, she visited police stations trying to find a women's lockup where she could spend the night. Failing that, she took a taxi to find friends and ended up being attacked by the taxi driver in a Jewish cemetery in Yonkers. She fought back, biting him until he bled, and then she demanded he drive her to the train station, which he did while cursing her until she got him to shut up by lecturing him all the way there. But the Night of Terror crushed Dorothy...

Eight of the women who were most brutally treated, including Dorothy, sued the superintendent of prisons for eight hundred thousand dollars in damages. They withdrew the suit in 1920 when wardens of both the DC jail and Occoquan were fired, and when women finally succeeded in getting the vote, a law that Dorothy, in her disinterest in politics and belief that change was more effectively brought about in other ways, would never take advantage of." (pp. 12-13.)

Those paragraphs were about Dorothy's experience picketing in support of the right to vote for women. She went because a friend asked her and because she was kind of a born protestor, even though Hennessy points out at the end that voting wasn't really a hot-button issue for her. I chose those paragraphs because there's so much there I can't believe: She fought off her attacker? And then MADE HIM DRIVE HER BACK TO THE TRAIN STATION? And she was involved in a protest and arrest that was noted for its barbarity? And still went on to live a life where she kept putting herself in dangerous neighborhoods? What a woman.

This book was a very personal story. I thought it was really beautiful, although much of it was very sad (Dorothy's relationship with Forster Batterham, Tamar's father, was a difficult one, and Tamar's relationship with her husband, David Hennessy, and the hardships of raising nine children "on the land" are also tough subjects to see described in clear-eyed prose). But still, very beautiful:

"And isn't this my history also? One of the elements of what makes a person extraordinary, I have come to believe, is when their inner and outer lives are in accord. When what they do in the world is what their innermost being leads them to do. This is why the history of the Catholic Worker is the history of my mother, the history of the relationship between my mother and grandmother, and the history of my family." (p. x.)

I am not doing this book justice. To read about this variety of people (some of the people who came to the Catholic Worker and just stayed and lived and worked there the rest of their lives--those are fascinating stories too) and the lives of work and service and intellectualism and challenging personal relationships they all lived--it was really something. Give it a read, even if you won't have time during Lent.

*As a kid I gave up chocolate. For the whole 40 days. I could never do it now. I'm pathetic.

Citizen Reading: 27 March 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

Becky at RA for All's latest call to action: Think like a reader. (And she has unveiled a new column: Advice on Dealing with Difficult Patrons. Awesome.)

Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter: has died. (Related: How he "changed the face of crime fiction.")

Robert Silvers, the founder of The New York Review of Books: has died at age 87.

Sophie Kinsella has signed a deal to write two YA novels.

A previously "lost" F. Scott Fitzgerald story is going to run in The New Yorker.

John Scalzi has a new novel out. I like John Scalzi.

Jane Austen's newest groupies: white nationalists?

YA novel Dumplin' film adaptation: news and casting.

George Saunders's new novel Lincoln in the Bardo will be adapted as a movie.

Charlaine Harris's Midnight, Texas, tv adaptation: premiere date.

2017 Whiting Awards: Winners.

Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards: Winners.

Romance Writers of America Awards: Finalists.

Audiobook of the Year Audie Award: Finalists.


Heard about this book on NPR and it sounds fascinating. Lost ships, polar exploration, Inuit hunters, this book has it all!

I want to read this book: Death by Video Game. (Update: just got it from the library today. It looks so good. Sadly there are a million other books on my TBR shelf that look good too. Sigh.)

New Yorker writer Ariel Levy has written a "thoroughly modern memoir." Oh, okay. I'm reading that article and thinking, I know her name, and now I know why. She's also the author of Female Chauvinist Pigs, in which she "wondered just how liberated the heroines of “raunch” culture actually were."

This looks good, but might make me hungry: a posthumous collection of food essays from novelist Jim Harrison.

Did you know that Duncan Hines was a real person?

Can the story of Adam and Eve help you learn how to better your marriage?

Like the movie Super Troopers? If yes, you'll probably love actor/director Jay Chandrasekhar's new memoir about making it in Hollywood.

Oh God, now Sheryl Sandberg can use the tragedy of her husband dying to write another book, this one about resilience. We get it Sheryl, lean in, be resilient, blah blah blah, you're just a better woman than we are, okay?

Why are books about the "hillbilly problem" so popular? The author of this piece (Elizabeth Catte) has a book coming out herself, titled What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia, that I'd like to see.

Jamie Oliver will publish a new "five-ingredient cookbook" this autumn.

Marie Kondo is back atop the bestseller lists after an appearance on CBS Sunday Morning.

A new micro-history...this one on dictionaries.

New York Times: The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution (about economic inequality; I kind of want to see this one); why do mountains "attract war"?; ooh, here's another one that smacks of micro-history: the tale of one very expensive stamp; how does a biography author actually work?; and, and this one I absolutely must get, a new book on "beauty, class, and the history of dentistry".


IndieBound: bestselling books the week of March 23.

Vogue: Must-read books of spring 2017. Can't say anything on this list appeals overly, but you never know.

Paste Magazine: Best new YA books of March.

Audiobooks about women who "worked the crown and owned the throne."

Bustle: 11 new historical fiction novels.

A new list service from Booklist: Further Reading. This month it's on Russia.

8 new graphic novels for teens.

Five fictional women detectives of note.

25 kid and YA books that "lift up immigrant voices."

New YA novels that explore themes of race and racial profiling.


I got Paolo Bacigalupi's novel The Windup Girl, because I thought his dystopian novel The Water Knife was fantastic. I started this one but am just not in the mood right now. Mr. CR started it and said it was too scary (in much the same way The Water Knife was scary--too "possible"); I still want to read it.

I got and read some of the essays in the updated collection The Bitch Is Back: Older, Wiser, and (Getting) Happier. I actually enjoyed it more than the first collection, The Bitch In the House. For one thing, this is largely an older woman's book, with older women's concerns (which I have always found more interesting than younger women's concerns, frankly). Mr. CR says that, by temperament, I've been a 60-year-old woman the entire time he's known me. I can't wait to catch up to my actual age!

I looked over Ann Gadzikowski's Creating a Beautiful Mess: Ten Essential Play Experiences for a Joyous Childhood, but didn't read it. It was nice and straightforward, and listed the following things kids should be doing for play: building with blocks, pretending, running around like crazy, cuddling something soft, laughing, making a mess, playing turn-taking games, collecting things, telling stories with toys, and making things happen with machines. Not only do we do most of that stuff, we did most of that stuff yesterday.


This is old news, but I don't think I listed it here before: Neil Gaiman is now a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador.

David Simon's Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.

I read a lot of True Crime books, and I've tried to research True Crime classics, so how on earth did I miss David Simon's Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets?

Simon is perhaps best known for being the creator, head writer, and show runner for the TV show "The Wire"* (or, before that, the TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street"), but before he took on TV, he was a journalist working at The Baltimore Sun. While there he got the idea to shadow several homicide detectives on the Baltimore police force, and after a year of doing that he published this book.

HomicideAnd it's a really, REALLY good book. I had difficulty putting it down (the younger CRjr was not best pleased that I was reading it at breakfast, until I went and got him his own book to look at while he ate his Cheerios--I know, I know, I'm a terrible mother, but I'm going to call that our "modeling the enjoyment of reading" for the day) even though it was not a lighthearted read. Mr. CR was also not best pleased because I simply had to tell him some of the stories in this book--and they were not cheery stories. There is something about what I think of as the "cop sense of humor" (read: DARK) that I really, really enjoy. Like how the detectives in this book called a riot and round of looting that took place in Baltimore during the winter of 1979 simply "the Winter Olympics."

I'm sorry. That's funny.**

But most of this book is NOT funny. And years before there was as much conversation about race and community policing as there is now (the book was published in 1991), the reader can quite clearly see where some issues between the police and the policed are going to come to a head.

Simon does a good job of introducing his characters, primarily homicide detectives and their many bosses, and he does a very good job of describing their investigative techniques and the heartbreaking details of the cases involved (including the rape/murder of an 11-year-old girl, as well as numerous shootings, knifings, a prison riot, and any number of other tragedies). But the structure of the book is what's really something to behold; Simon relates what he saw in a linear fashion throughout each chapter, but each chapter/month of the year also showcases a broader theme. How a case can get away from you and go cold, even if it's a high-priority case. Interrogation techniques. Investigating when cops are shot and when cops engage in "bad shoots." What happens at the morgue. How the legal system works. If you forget the details involved, this is really quite a stunning work of nonfiction reportage and writing. And that is rare. Many journalists tell fascinating stories well; many nonfiction authors put their larger narratives together beautifully. David Simon does both things at once.

It's not a happy read. But it is a fascinating one; I think it'll end up being one of the best books I read this year. (Although I'd like to do you this favor: if you do read this book, and you should, just skip pages 547-548, or the first few pages of the section headed Thursday, December 15. It is very, very hard to read, and you don't actually need to read the details there to understand the bigger narrative.)

*Actually, I've always kind of wanted to see "The Wire," but this trailer makes me feel like I don't want to. After reading this book, I don't think I'm in the mood to see these stories "dramatized," complete with soundtrack. The trailer makes me feel a little dirty, like the drug war and cop investigations are being played for my entertainment. Hmm.

**This is my other favorite story--on one case the main suspect actually called in and confessed, and one of the detectives thought another detective was playing a joke on him:

"'This is James Baskerville. I'm calling to surrender to you for killing Lucille.'

'Goddammit Constantine, you bald-headed motherfucker, I'm up here trying to do a crime scene and all you can find to do is fuck with me. Either come up here and help or--'

Click. Mark Tomlin listens to a dead phone line for a moment, then turns to a family member. 'What did you say was the name of Lucille's boyfriend?'

'Baskerville. James Baskerville.'

When the second call comes, Tomlin catches it on the first ring. 'Mr. Baskerville, listen, I'm real sorry about that. I thought you were someone else...Where are you now?'

Later that night, in the large interrogation room, James Baskerville--who would later agree to life plus twenty years at his arraignment--offers no excuses and readily initials each page of his statement of confession. 'I've committed a serious crime and I should be punished,' he says.

'Mr. Baskerville,' asks Tomlin, 'are there any more like you at home?'" (p. 164.)

Citizen Reading: 20 March 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

Scholastic's Dav Pilkey Summer Reading Educator contest is now open.

Three rules for a fabulous summer reading program. (And: summer programming inspirations.)

Boost your library program attendance: re-title your programs in a clickbaity way!

Booklist: Spotlight on middle-grade fiction.

Are the youngsters really turning away from ebooks?

Abortion and fiction. An interesting article at The Millions, on the subject of abortion in new fiction and nonfiction. I'm going to read the memoir listed at the end of the article; looks interesting.

Children's book and memoir author Amy Krouse Rosenthal has died. (Here is a booklist of her works.)

Jimmy Breslin, "chronicler of wise guys and underdogs," has died. I rather enjoyed the line in this obit referring to him as a "rumpled bed of a reporter."

Author Derek Walcott: Obituary.

A fan of the health books in the "Younger Next Year" series? Their writer, Henry S. Lodge, has died. At age 58.

Was Jane Austen poisoned by arsenic?

J.K. Rowling has announced the title of her next Cormoran Strike novel.

Nickolas Butler is back with a new novel, and I am not excited about it, but this reviewer is.

Why S.E. Hinton's novel The Outsiders lives on.

New material from Tolkien will be released by the Bodleian Library.

When did journalism become the "bastion of trust fund kids"?

Tee hee...MobyLives is sticking it to Amazon again. (And again.) You're doing important work, MobyLives, keep it up.

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks": First trailer. It looks good. Really good. Don't you think? I hope it's good...I loved the book.

At least one movie adaptation of a nonfiction book is doing well: "Hidden Figures has now made more money than the latest Star Trek, X-Men, and Bourne Films."

Netflix will make another season of its adaptation of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

A film sequel to "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is planned...but without the first film's star, Rooney Mara.

"American Gods": New trailer.

National Book Critics Circle Awards: Winners. I'm glad Matthew Desmond won the nonfiction award. I'm ambivalent about Ruth Franklin winning for Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life.

Romantic Novel of the Year Award (UK): Winner is a YA novel.

Bancroft Prize for History: Winners. All three of those books look really good; particularly that Remaking the American Patient one.

Historical Society Book Prize winner: Jane Kamensky.

Wellcome Book Prize: Shortlist.

Announcing: a new award for Midwestern Mystery.

Even the New York Times wants to help match you up with books.

Remember? The Tournament of Books is currently on at The Morning News.


A review of Jessa Crispin's new book I Am Not a Feminist. The reviewer is not a big fan of the book; I'm reading it right now and finding it refreshing.

DUDE: I totally had the idea to write this book years ago. Now I will just have to settle for reading it! A Generation of Sociopaths, How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America.

Just heard this author on NPR the other day; his book about how easy it is to become addicted to technology could be good.

I keep seeing things about this book on compulsive behavior; I think I'm going to have to read it.

I bought a Foxfire book at a book sale once, but never really understood what the series was about.

After Trump's election sales of both George Orwell's 1984 soared, as did Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism. I've always known Arendt's name but have never really known anything about her writing: here's a nice little intro on it for you.

Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a nonfiction bestseller on her hands.

Here's the skinny on Chelsea Clinton's new children's book.

Ivana Trump to write a memoir about raising her kids with the Donald. Well, at least someone is getting a job out of Trump's presidency.

New York Times: a book on the creator of the Rorshach psychological test; I've never really been a fan ofRay Kurzweil, but here he is reviewing some books on artificial intelligence and how we're all going to "merge with our technology"; I am running out of time to read all the new books on data mining and privacy, and now here's two more; a book about a man who lived as a hermit for 27 years--I just got this book from the library the other day!; three new books on biomedics; a biography of Liberia's president Helene Cooper.


IndieBound: Bestselling books the week of March 16.

Women's History on the Internet.

From the British newspaper, The Guardian: the top 10 novels on rural America.

Spring books are here.

Kids' books for Women's History Month. (And here's more: 15 STEM titles to celebrate women.)

Christian Science Monitor: Three terrific new novels for young readers.

Five novels about literary uncoupling. I totally hated the Lauren Groff Fates and Furies title on this list, and can't get myself to want to read any Elena Ferrante. Not the list for me, evidently.

Ten Japanese authors you should read.

Hi-Lo readers to "keep struggling readers" entertained.


This week I read John Darnielle's novel Universal Harvester, which has been getting a lot of rave reviews. I didn't like it. It was suspenseful, and it was short, so I polished it off, but let's put it this way: I don't like to work too much when I read my fiction. I really don't know what the point of this book was, and I don't feel like knocking myself out trying to figure it out. Disappointing (to me, anyway).

The rest of the week I was scattered. We picked up some old-timey Peanuts paperbacks at the library sale last week and I've been reading those. Very satisfying.

PrinzeI also took a look at Freddie Prinze Jr.'s cookbook, Back to the Kitchen, mainly because I was feeling nostalgic for Buffy the Vampire Slayer (his wife, Sarah Michelle Gellar, played the title role in the TV show). Actually, some of the recipes look pretty good--the book is overdue so I'll have to return it and then take it back out again to try any of them--but there are way too many pictures of Prinze smiling as though he's about to go for my throat. I much prefer the few pictures where he's just doing some cooking and not looking at the camera (and thank God, Prinze is just letting his hair go salt-and-pepper; good for you, buddy! Way too many men are coloring their hair these days.). Sarah Michelle Gellar and their kids, though? Adorable.


NPR: "Memes, Fads, and a Chat with Neil Gaiman."

Getting rather tired of Difficult Men, actually.

After first starting it, I actually didn't think I would end up reading Brett Martin's Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution--From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

Difficult menBut I did. I'm helpless when it comes to books about television. I did read the whole thing, although I'll admit to skimming quite a bit as well. The basic idea is this: TV has been evolving to the point where we are seeing a wide variety of characters that are really not that likable. And this is a good, nuanced thing. Here's some of the jacket copy, to give you a better idea of what this book is all about:

"In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the landscape of television began an unprecedented transformation. While the networks continued to chase the lowest common denominator, a wave of new shows, first on premium cable channels like HBO and then basic cable networks like FX and AMC, dramatically stretched television's narrative inventiveness, emotional resonance, and artistic ambition.

A new breed of auteur--given the chance to make art in a famously maligned medium--took full advantage, sometimes proving to be nearly as conflicted, idiosyncratic, and 'difficult' as the complicated protagonists that came to define the genre."

Everything I read about television lately seems to suggest that we are currently in a great age for high-quality storytelling. (And after getting sucked in to re-runs of "MacGyver" on MeTV the last couple of weeks, okay, I can see their point that there was a lot of dross TV in the 80s and 90s. Although I still find Richard Dean Anderson super-cute, even with a mullet.)

So far so good. But I find that I am tiring just a bit of all the glowing reviews and study of television programs that almost exclusively feature (and are created by) "difficult men." Perhaps I am not being fair to these programs, as I am largely uninterested in them. Of the shows listed in the book's subtitle, I know I had NO interest in "The Sopranos" because Mr. CR watched that series long before we had kids and I certainly would have had time to watch with him. I really don't want to watch "Breaking Bad," although I have loved Bryan Cranston since he played the hilarious dad Hal on the sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" (which was more my speed than a program about a teacher-becoming-a-meth-lord). "The Wire" sounds somewhat interesting but I think it's going to be as depressing as hell. I have seen most of "Mad Men" and it was okay, but I haven't seen the last two seasons and I can't say I'm in any hurry to correct that situation.

So I am not really the target audience for this book. I can't fault its writing; it's interesting and there's a lot of interview material and behind-the-scenes information about how these (and more) shows were created and filmed. It jumps around a bit and I don't really know what the author made his case that these "difficult men" are making TV shows about difficult men that are among the best ever made.

But at the end of the day I think I'm just kind of tired of everything that men touch and watch and create, particularly when such creations focus on such traditionally "male" worlds as crime, advertising, the mob, etc. (I'm also really tired of no one but men rating movies and doing TV writing.) And I really don't need to hear about such men complaining about their mid-life crises. Here's a quote from this book about Matthew Weiner, creator of "Mad Men," on how the show came about:

"As he told Terry Gross on National Public Radio's Fresh Air, he remembered the thought that led him to first hearing Don Draper's voice: 'I was 35 years old; I had a job on a network sitcom; it was rated number nine...there's 300 people in the country that have this job, and I was one. I had three children, and...this incredible life--you know, I was like, 'What is wrong with me? Why am I unhappy? Why is there so much going on in my head that I can't express to other people because it's all awful? And what is enough? And I'm going to die one day.' And I'm looking at it and saying, 'This is it?'" (p. 242.)

And I'm looking at THAT and saying, yeah, Matthew Weiner, why were you so unhappy? If that's the impulse that led to the creation of that show (and may be leading to the creation of a lot of similar shows), well, I guess I can see why I'm not too interested. Let me close by quoting a truly great movie, "Broadcast News." It's the exchange between William Hurt, the hot but stupid news anchor, and Albert Brooks, the smart but decidedly not-hot reporter:

Hurt: "What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?"

Brooks hisses: "Keep it to yourself."

I guess that's where I am right now. Are your real lives exceeding your dreams, boys? Keep it to yourselves.

Citizen Reading: 13 March 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

Oh ho ho, the old "blank book" joke. Evidently there's nothing new under the sun.

A reference librarian makes a patron happy. I do so love reference librarians.

Collection development: a centralized approach.

How a book club for middle school girls is "giving them the chance to grow."

I agree with this: did the Obamas really need a $65 million dollar book deal? Here's my absolute favorite quote from that article: "When John Edwards was first running for president, I remember thinking, Well, maybe? Then I read that he lived in a 20,000-square-foot house and, I thought, Forget it. Only an asshole wants to live in a house that big (and look how right I was about that)." That's all kinds of awesome. I don't know who this Rebecca Johnson is, who wrote this article, but evidently she's written a novel titled And Sometimes Why. Go buy it.

Robert James Waller, author of The Bridges of Madison Country, has died at age 77. Children's book author Nancy Willard: Obituary.

"Under the spell of James Baldwin." I should really read some James Baldwin.

Orson Scott Card: now entering contests to become a screenwriter.

Malcolm Gladwell: Do more choices make us happier?

Expect a new John le Carre novel this year.

A new novel by Marian Keyes is expected this autumn; Jojo Moyes plans a new release for early 2018.

"Wonder Woman: Official Origin"--Trailer.

Stephen King is reportedly happy with the new big-screen adaptation of "It."

"Game of Thrones": Season 7 teaser.

Elena Ferrante's Naples novels will be adapted for television.

I miss Buffy.

Book display idea: "Whose (first) line is it anyway?"

Happy 200th birthday, HarperCollins!

Introducing the New Yorker poetry bot.

The Story Prize winner: Rick Bass.

Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction: Longlist.

2017 PEN/Faulkner Award: Finalists.

Becky at RA for All has a new section for book suggestions called THE WAY BACK MACHINE.

Ah, my home state, making the news again, this time for trying to kill a magazine about conservation.


A new nonfiction genre of "anti-self-help"? I'm on board! (Although I read a ton of self-help; what can I say, I need a lot of help.) But this new genre promises a lot of profanity.

Remember the book Hillbilly Elegy, that we talked about? Here's a great article about how it's becoming the darling of everyone who thinks all poor people deserve to be poor because they don't work hard enough.

Nelson Mandela's presidential memoir will be published in autumn 2017.

A review of Joan Didion's new collection, South and West.

Advice columnist and frequent NPR "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me..." contributor Amy Dickinson has a new memoir out. I'm not really a big Amy Dickinson fan, but I feel bad for you: it's got to be hard to try and keep up with Paula Poundstone on "Wait,Wait, Don't Tell Me..."

The hot nonfiction graphic novel this month is "Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies that will Improve And/Or Ruin Everything."

Author "unravels her spy dad's life" in new memoir.

Ho-hum, another political memoir: this one by John Kerry.

Oh, George W. Bush's book of portraits he's painted of soldiers is a best seller. That's nice. Remember George? The man who sent a lot of people to their deaths based on lies? The braindead legacy president and his two evil henchmen Cheney and Rumsfeld? (Related: Jenna and Barbara are co-writing a memoir. Brother. That's got to be a scintillating read. "I was born rich and am now richer. And my dad got to be president! Yay, us!")

Somebody remind me about this in October, all right? Parker Posey to publish a memoir then.

David Shields, one of my least favorite authors of all time, has a new book coming out. Here's the tagline: "The essays in David Shields’s “Other People” reveal him to be an elusive, humorous ironist particularly interested in sex, sports, selfhood, actors and fiction." BORING.

The New York Times: on a feminism convention that energized the anti-feminism faction; why do people sign up for for-profit higher education?; a new book on anxiety and compulsions that I'm going to have to read, once I get a free moment from the million anxieties in my own head tonight; the brain and the nature of guilt and innocence; ; a new book about Oliver Sacks by the man he fell in love with only a few years before he passed away; a science journalist on the convergence of all things scientific.


IndieBound: bestselling books the week of March 9.

LibraryReads: April 2017.

Ten authors who will give your brain a workout.

Audiobooks that celebrate women's achievements.

8 books for March 8: International Women's Day.

Well, this list should keep you busy for a while: 150 Memoirs and Biographies of Women, by Women.

Christian Science Monitor: Favorite personal finance books. I don't know. Not really a huge fan of any of these titles and I reviewed a Dave Ramsey title once that had gotten some pretty basic IRA information wrong, so I haven't been able to take Dave Ramsey seriously since.

Men breaking the writing believable women's fiction.


Okay, here's an article about the college "hook-up culture" and how it works for high-status student athletes. I can see why I didn't have the heart to read the whole book. It's nothing you didn't already know, really, but it's so depressing to read it so starkly recorded. Except I've already read a whole book on the subject: the excellent Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity. That's a good book to read around college football bowl game time, or March Madness.

Not really book related, but this is the scariest fucking idea I've ever seen: Zuckerberg for President.

I take it back: I finished David Simon's Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, and THAT is a scary read.

I haven't gone to a book sale for ages, but when I was in my public library on Saturday and saw they were having a $3 per bag sale, I couldn't help myself. I got some AWESOME stuff. John Steinbeck's The Red Pony, oh so heartbreaking, I don't even know if I want the CRjrs to read it (but I really kinda do); a book of photographs of New York City; shark books for the elder CRjr; a puzzle book for Mr. CR. It felt so good to buy a pile of old books again.


Neil Gaiman journeys to Iceland to unveil American Gods' roots in documentary.

Cleaning nonfiction house: a whole bunch of titles I won't get read.

I carry a lot of books home from the library.

Normally this system works out quite well for me. Everything from the library is free, so I just request books I hear about from family members and friends, books I see on lists and other blogs, and books I find while meandering through my library catalog looking through other things. This means I almost always have something around I want to read, want to look at, or just want to dip into at random. Because I also fall on the minimalist side, I also try to keep few things in my house, but with small children and various freelancing jobs my house still always looks like a paper and plastic toy bomb just went off.* The point of this long, admittedly not-very-minimalist story is that sometimes I look at my overwhelming shelf of library books and feel the urge just to get them all out and start fresh.

So today I'm going to list everything that's going back. If you see anything on this list I should bother getting back, let me know, would you? Thanks!

Amy Gary, In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown. Bybee, who I trust for all recommendations bookish, suggested that this one is perhaps not worth the read. Mr. CR also took a look at it and thought it read mostly like a gushing fan tribute. I took a look at the index and was disappointed; the entry for Michael Strange, "the gender-bending poet and ex-wife of John Barrymore," with whom Margaret had a love affair, had no fewer than 50 page references and no subentries. That is not responsible indexing.

Beth Macy, Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest--A True Story of the Jim Crow South. For some reason I keep bringing Beth Macy books (she also wrote Factory Man) home and never closing the deal on reading them. Anyone read this one? Should I? Why?

Lisa Wade, American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus. Got a lot of press but gosh, I just can't face it right now.

Robert A. LeVine and Sarah LeVine, Do Parents Matter? Why Japanese Babies Sleep Soundly, Mexican Siblings Don't Fight, and American Families Should Just Relax. I'm just not in the mood for this. I might be done with parenting books for a while.

Eric Fair, Consequence: A Memoir. Memoir of a man who worked as an interrogator in Abu Ghraib prison. I just don't have the heart right now. This was another book on my shelf that prompted Mr. CR to ask, "Can you bring home some books that aren't as depressing as hell, please?"

James M. Stone, 5 Easy Theses: Commonsense Solutions to America's Greatest Economic Challenges. Actually, I read parts of this one, and it made several "best of" lists in the economics category. It seemed interesting but again, I'm just not in the mood right now.

So? Should I let all these go or are any of them worth getting back? What books have you seen or had lately that you just weren't in the mood for?

*Incidentally? All the bombs in the world should be required to be made of only paper and plastic toys. They wouldn't be as lethal as most of the weapons we use today, but such bombs, I can attest from seeing their effect on my house, are very disruptive.

Citizen Reading: 6 March 2017.

A weekly selection of reading and book news, sometimes with completely inappropriate commentary.

Thoreau's classic become a video game.

What topics really get books banned?

Another independent bookseller is hoping to withstand the new bricks-and-mortar version of Amazon.

How a mother-daughter duo helped prison inmates read with their kids.

Book recommendation bots still don't get the job done. Of course they don't.

The March 1 issue of Booklist: ALA's 2017 book lists and a look at women's fiction. Go look at it now; it's freely available for the next week or so only.

Ezra Jack Keats book awards: Winners.

Novelist Paula Fox: Obituary; novelist and biographer Nicholas Mosley: Obituary.

J.K. Rowling teases the Fantastic Beasts 2 script.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan will publish a new novel this year.

British comedian and actor Miranda Hart has a deal to write a children's book.

Call for chapters: for a new book called Library Services for Online Patrons.

RA for All offers a helpful post on book discovery service to homebound patrons.

YouTube is now going to offer YouTube TV, a subscription service meant to take on cable, for $35 per month.

Is someone FINALLY telling it like it is about The Shack (even if they're saying it about the movie version)? Here's a line from a review of the new movie: "This film version of Young’s book, which runs an interminable 132 minutes, is an offensively simple-minded, pseudo-religious sham that relies on kitschy imagery to put across its inane message of forgiveness." AMEN.

MMMMmmmmm...the smell of old and rare books.


I want to read this: The Complacent Class. Although: maybe not. Here's what I read about the author, Tyler Cowen, when I looked him up at Wikipedia: "In 2012, David Brooks called Cowen one of the most influential bloggers on the right, writing that he is among those who "start from broadly libertarian premises but do not apply them in a doctrinaire way." David Brooks, ugh. Bloggers from the right, double ugh, broadly libertarian premises, super ugh.

Gillian Anderson (Scully!) has co-written a book titled We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere. (Related: Novelist Chimamanda Adichie has written a book on a similar subject, titled Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.

A new trilogy of books about FDR is expected.

Alec Baldwin to be a co-author on a satirical book about President Trump.

A new "professional development" title for librarian types that looks good: Nonfiction in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Nonfiction Books Through Movement.

Barack and Michelle Obama both have new book deals.

Patricia Cornwell will not stop insisting that she knows who Jack the Ripper was.

New York Times: Stalin and his relationships with Russian scientists; YUMMY: a book on food and culture and history, and it's illustrated!; Kay Redfield Jamison tells poet Robert Lowell's story "through the lens of his bipolar disorder," Jamison is a noted expert on the topic of bipolar disorder; a new biography of Elizabeth Bishop; following a variety of women as they go walking in cities; on the "surprising role of Jesus in Islam"; a new look at Pontius Pilate, just in time for Lent and Easter (what Christian doesn't know this line from good old Pontius: "Truth! What is Truth?" Pontius could have been talking about the nature of nonfiction); a new book on physics (that I will not understand even if I read it).


IndieBound: Bestselling books the week of March 2.

Bustle: the 9 best fiction books coming out in March. I can't wait to read the new Jami Attenberg title; I LOVED her novel The Middlesteins.

GQ: The Best Books of March.

Library Journal: Best reference titles of 2016.

PBS Newshour: 5 books that will "make you think about what it means to be human." Here I want the book by a guy named Chuck Collins, titled "Born On Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good."

Flavorwire: Must-read books for March.

Amazon: Ten best books of March.

School Library Journal: 37 stellar new titles for March.

Ten Spanish-language authors you need to check out.

Not a book list but still a lot of fun: 15 most underrated genre TV shows of the last decade.


CRjr got a new book on sharks this week so we've paused on reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's book "Farmer Boy." CRjr could read about sharks until the cows come home.

I, on the other hand, re-read Wilder's "These Happy Golden Years" and "The First Four Years." The second book, about the first years of Laura's marriage to Almanzo Wilder, holy cow, what an unrelenting tale of misery and hardship on unforgiving farm land in South Dakota. And yet she managed to end it on an up note. When she talked in the end about farmers being optimistic, it made me remember my dad (a farmer) and cry.

Looking for something lighter, I am making my way through David Simon's (he who created the TV show "The Wire") investigative look at homicide detectives working in Baltimore: "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets." It's so sad, I can't read it at my usual speed; I have to break the bleakness up into twenty-page chunks or so. And this is coming from someone who reads a lot of True Crime! Mr. CR suggests that perhaps my sense of "lighter" reading is a tad messed up.


Neil Gaiman has signed a "first-look TV development deal."

Reading notes from February 2017.

I read or skim-read a few interesting books last week, but none of them really seemed to warrant their own review. So here we go with a few quick impressions.

Really good dayI got Ayelet Waldman's A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life. I've always kind of gotten a kick out of Ayelet, but there wasn't enough here to keep me reading. Basically she read somewhere about how microdoses of LSD can help with mood disorders (as well as studies about how use of mushrooms, for their psilocybins, increased peoples' sense of well-being), and tried out microdoses for a month. This is her diary of that month. It did improve many factors of her life, but at the end of the day, she had to stop the regimen because LSD is illegal and she only got her original stash from a friend of a friend who had a bit left from running his own experiment. I skim-read the first 100 pages, then skipped to the last couple of chapters and called it good. A few things: not sure a whole book was necessary here. And, as long as she wrote the whole book, it needs an index; it references enough scientific and historical information that an index might have been helpful (and would have been fairly easy and cost-effective to prepare; her book is not long or complex).

I did enjoy her honesty concerning her marriage, her children, her work, and other facets of her life. Particularly noteworthy was her stream-of-consciousness fantasizing about getting divorced, in which she ruminates on how she's priced small apartments in the area so she and her husband could split but simply co-parent ("bird-nesting") while letting the kids stay in the house all the time. Seeing as Ayelet is a woman who's largely famous for declaring that she loves her husband more than she loves her kids, that made me feel better about having similar fantasies.

Our lady of birth controlI also read the graphic novel Our Lady of Birth Control: A Cartoonist's Encounter with Margaret Sanger, by Sabrina Jones. It was all right. It was an interesting book but it is hard for me to get too excited about a book when I am no fan of the book's subject. I get what she was trying to do and I am sympathetic to the desire (particularly in the era when Sanger was working, when women regularly had double digit-numbers of pregnancies, miscarriages, and births) to control one's reproductive destiny, but the simple fact of the matter is that I think Planned Parenthood and the birth control industry still disproportionately place the burden of birth control on women. When Planned Parenthod a.) pushes to develop and market a viable birth control pill for men, and b.) runs a massive campaign to tell men to wear condoms whether they "like to" or not (the poor dears), I will have no time for Planned Parenthood.

I did appreciate that the author of this graphic novel addressed some of the controversies and charges that have sprung up against Sanger in past years, including the fact that she was a proponent of the eugenics movement. I'm not satisfied by Jones's conclusion that a lot of smart people were interested in eugenics, so it wasn't really that bad, but her awareness of some of the complexities of Sanger's legacy was nice to see.

ThreadbareAnother graphic novel that I mainly made it through was Anne Elizabeth Moore's Threadbare: Clothes, Sex, and Trafficking. Mr. CR saw this one laying around the house and said, really? Where do you keep FINDING these depressing books? To which my only defense was, I don't know, they keep finding ME. This was another interesting graphic novel, but it was a collection of comics by different illustrators, which I never like: I find it too jarring to go from one visual style to another.

I think this is an important book and well worth a look--particularly for its early chapters on the links between "fast fashion" and clothing waste and slavery worldwide--but at times the links it made between fashion, the apparel industry, and human trafficking were too complex for me to follow. Right now. I'm scattered even on my best days lately, and last week we all had killer colds in my house, so I definitely wasn't myself while reading this. But take my word for it: you might want to check it out. Also? Shop less. Evidently apparel companies and retail outlets now change their offerings every few weeks, rather than every season--wasting a lot of material and wearing out a lot of workers just so people can "see something new" every time they go to the mall. Uck.

I might just have to find a little something lighter to read for March. Any suggestions?