~ Books ~
Wild Thing - (P. Norman) Another Philip Norman rock and roll biography, this one on my favorite guitarist ever, Jimi Hendrix. A Christmas present from Brian. Thanks!
Lessons in Chemistry - (B. Gramus) A New Your Times best selling novel concerning a single mom chemist who becomes a television cooking show celebrity. I don't remember where I heard of this book, but I loved it. Very quirky, nerdy characters navigating rampant sexism.
Writing Down the Bones (N. Goldberg) A book about the writing process. My writing coach Susan told our group about it. I came across a copy and took it home. In the end, it was a short, fun and insightful series of vignettes about writing and teaching writing, but not tied together in a way I could use.
George Harrison - The Reluctant Beatle (P. Norman) Having enjoyed Philip Norman's Paul McCartney and John Lennon bios, I wondered if he'd gotten around to George, my favorite member of the band. It just came out in October, and was most excellent, though bittersweet. Very complicated guy. Nice bits about son Dhani, second wife Olivia, and his final reconciliation with Sir Paul.
The Unexpected Spy (T. Walter) An autobiography of a woman who worked for the CIA during the 9-11 era. I'm finding that true spy stories are fascinating. This was EXCELLENT. Turns out the CIA and FBI have radically different cultures.
Take Me Out to the Ballpark (J. Leventhal) This book has been kicking around my house for years. It's a tour of baseball stadiums, their histories and stories surrounding them. Great stuff for the baseball nerd in me! Not just big leagues, but minors and Negro League stadiums were covered. Remembering Robert.
Hyperion (D. Simmons) Recommended by a musician friend of mine, this won the Hugo Award (Best Sci-Fi novel) in 1989. It's the first of a 4-book series. Should keep me busy well into 2024 if I continue the series. This book really introduced characters and a plot.
Didn't finish anything. Weird month.
Whack Your Porcupine (B. Kliban) I got this from one of those little book loan boxes in my neighborhood. A paperback of incomprehensible drawings by the popular cartoonist, I got what I paid for.
Mysteries & Curiosities (Various) This was a 70-page magazine given me a couple of Christmases ago. It's a collection of things to see and do around the Bay Area, as well as a couple of interview with interesting Bay Area folks. I finally got around to reading it, and it's got some good stuff in it - mazes, ghost towns, even Bigfoot stuff. Fun to go through.
Yet You Cry When It Hurts (S. K. Quinn) This is the 4th of the 4-book series Nothing Is Promised. The series was recommended by my niece Linda, and concerns energy and the power industry. A wonderful, well-written futuristic sci-fi "what if" story. I loved it, though the ending was perhaps a bit predictable. Thanks, Linda!
Shin the Scholar - 2023
Last update: January 4, 2024
Books, DVDs and Other Scholarly Pursuits
~ DVDs & Other ~
Started "Mastering Stage Presence" to see what I've been doing wrong all these years. It may be geared too much to acting, rather than singing. We'll see. (Update: No progress made as of 9-6-23 / 12-6-23)
Odd to put it here, but after having a nice Mah Jong set that came down from my father's parents, I finally played a game with some neighbors. Good fun!
(Podcast) Ultra (R. Maddow) Rachel Maddow's 8 episode podcast chronicling an attempted coup involving Nazi Germany and several members of Congress back in the 1940s. Fascinating, and well-told. My first podcast and I binged it - one sitting!
Our Man (G. Packer) A biography of Richard Holbrooke, a U.S. State Department big-shot, almost famous. He was brilliant, hard-working, focused and, sadly, knew how to rub people the wrong way. Still, the book was a good survey of his times, covering Viet Nam, the Balkans, and Afghanistan. It was recommended by my friend Drew who manages the Inn Kensington restaurant.
See May, but I'm getting close. Bad couple of months for reading!
Didn't finish a bloody thing.
The Reagan Chronicles (D. Powell) A 1987 paperback of the artist's political cartoons from the era, a subtle reminder of just how good Reagan's administration wasn't.
The Left Hand of Darkness (U. Le Guin) Another gift from Wesley, this sci-fi novel is a total change of pace, crafted by a master of the genre. It won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, the 2 most prestigious in the genre. Sadly, my march was so weird I had to put it down and then start over. A GREAT read. Thanks Wesley!
March was such a difficult month I didn't get any reading done!
The Search for Ball Zero (T. Dormanesh) A sci-fi novel I received as a Christmas present from my grand-nephew Wesley. Totally weird, poorly edited, not particularly credible, but I was sucked in.
Married to a Bedouin (M. van Geldermalsen) She was in Jordan, fell in love, this is her story. Not a story so much as a book of essays, focusing mostly on the author's first few years adapting to Bedouin culture. I found it difficult to read because of the numerous Arabic phrases and names, but it was well worth the time and effort. Thanks Denise!