~ Books ~
Married to a Bedouin (M. van Geldermalsen) She was in Jordan, fell in love, this is her story.
Pirates and Patriots of the Revolution (C.K. Wilbur) This was a gift from Chip and Alice when I was visiting recently. Only 92 pages, lots of pictures. Was fun and informative, though if I had a sailing background it would have been better.
The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien) I read this well over 50 years ago. Of all the books I got rid of lately, this one I kept. It was indeed fun, though the differences between the book and the movies were (not surprisingly) many and profound.
The Known World (E.P. Jones) Recommended by a good friend who was cleaning out HER bookshelves! National bestseller, this should have grabbed me but didn't. I'll try again later. For now, book abandoned.
Specimen Days (M. Cunningham) I found this in one of the many book kiosks in my neighborhood. The author won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It's a novel in three parts, one past, one present, one future, all set in New York, and Walt Whitman figuring into all three. TOTALLY weird, but somehow satisfying.
Where the Crawdads Sing (D. Owens) Too many disappointing books lately. This novel was recommended by several friends and the NY Times Best Seller list. I concur. Very well laid out and as good a fictional character as I've ever read.
Cardinal Richelieu (A. Levi) A biography of the famous figure from French History. A review said "learned and highly intelligent", code for boring and confusing. Book abandoned.
Essays and Journals (R.W. Emerson) Never read any Ralph Waldo. This is a collection of his works. Can I deal with a style nearly 200 years old? Nope, too much of a plod. Book abandoned. Sorry Ralph.
The Green Hills of Earth (R.A. Heinlein) A classic work of sci- fi, published in 1951, the year I was born! I ran across it as I was paring down my library. Actually, it turned out to be a collection of short stories. Much of the material is a prediction of where we'd be today, having colonized the Moon! Oops. Fun, but I prefer Asimov and Doctorow.
The Swimmers (J Otsuka) This Novel was recommended by Vivian Pisano, who wrote "Living in Two Worlds" (below). The author writes very well, but (as multiple reviews forewarned) the book abruptly turns into a total downer halfway through, abruptly turning into a detailed discussion of dementia.
A Modern Man (G. Carlin) This is a collection of George Carlin's writings, many of which were either turned into or taken from his monologues. This book was published in 2021, 13 years after Carlin's death. I liked his standup better, but this was fun anyway.
American Secession (F.H. Buckley) I've been wondering about what the mechanics of secession would be if a state decided to do it. This book made the case for secession, though it made a stronger one for decentralization. It didn't get into how it might be done or projected obstacles. I'll keep looking.
Sea of Tranquility (E.S. Mandel) I found this perusing popular books. Time travel, space travel, and in the end quite satisfying. Very strange format, many 1-3 page chapters, and under 200 pages.
The French Revolution (I. Davidson) The book "A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians" got me curious about the French Revolution. This is rather dry but is oriented to what I wanted to know. And indeed, Robespierre was freakin' NUTS!
Shin the Scholar - 2022
Last update: January 7, 2023
Books, DVDs and Other Scholarly Pursuits
~ DVDs & Other ~
Mind-Blowing Science: Seasons 1 & 2 (Various presenters) This series is actually numerous separate articles adapted from Scientific American magazine by the Teaching Company, each around 15 minutes or so. Not really "mind-blowing" but a fun smattering of scientific information.
Einstein's Legacy - Modern Physics All Around You (C. Orzel) Yet another attempt to understand something of physics. Sometimes it works, more often it doesn't. Much of this was still over my head, but it explained a couple of things (the absoluteness of the speed of light and the structure of the atom) that had been a mystery to me. These were worth the price of admission.
Baseball (K. Burns) This is a 10-DVD set (each about 2 hours) of the PBS series on the history of baseball, done by Ken Burns. I found it while taking my daily walk through the neighborhood - someone had left it out to be taken by anyone interested. He gave a great account of minorities, women, scandals, unions, a great set even though in my opinion he messed up the 1968 World Series (won by my beloved Tigers!)
~ Mo' Books ~
Apr - May
Living in Two Worlds (V.M. Pisano) Vivian Pisano is a friend of mine who was in my writing group for some time. She took many of her essays and crafted them into an outstanding memoir of her life, first in Chile, then in the US. When I say "crafted", I mean to say that this was a seriously good book about the impact of growing up in two cultures on her and her family. Short (150 pages) but so well done. Thanks, Vivian.
A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians (H.G. Parry) Cool premise: treat historical events as though the authors of those events were wizards and witches. In this case, the French Revolution and slavery in the Caribbean toward the end of the 18th century are treated with Robespierre and William Pitt cast as wizards. Sadly, I found that this is only the first book in what will become a series. I liked the book but not enough to continue.
Accidental Presidents (J. Cohen) Caught my attention as I walked through my local Barnes and Noble. This is a series of short bios of the eight vice presidents who ascended to the presidency when the incumbent died in office. Ford was not included. Pity. There were no great conclusions or insights. Meh.
Liar's Dictionary (E. Williams) A whimsical novel about the making of a dictionary of rather dubious ends. Interesting concept, but I couldn't get into it and put it aside.
You Knew the Price / Of Kindness and Kilowatts (S.K. Quinn) The second and third installments in a 4-book story, Nothing is Promised. Sci-fi of the not-too-distant future. Recommended by niece Linda, I got hooked, enjoyed the first three, only to find out the final won't come out for another several months. CURSE YOU SUSAN QUINN!
New Rules (B. Maher) A book version of the recurring segment of the comedian's HBO show "Real Time". I'm a fan of both Bill and the segment, so when I saw it at a used book store in Arcata (Tin Can Mailman) I got it. Sadly, the book came out in 2005, so it's not nearly as topical as it really needs to be. Also, most of the pieces are only a paragraph with a picture and lots of white space in between, so not much "'meat on the bones." Still, good fun.