Life Lessons Learned in the Service of Death

Book review: The Education of a Coroner, by John Bateson “When it comes to county government, the coroner’s office often is the forgotten stepchild. People don’t want to think about it, and they definitely don’t want to know any details of how it operates.” Longtime Marin County, California coroner Ken Holmes tells tales from his line of work and a long, experienced career, and disproves … Continue reading Life Lessons Learned in the Service of Death

An American’s Ideas and Impressions From Istanbul

Book review: Notes on a Foreign Country, by Suzy Hansen This is a book about an American living abroad in the era of American decline…As an American abroad now, [post-Iraq and Afghanistan wars] you do not have the same crazy, smiling confidence. You do not want to speak so loud. You feel always the vague risk of breaking something. In Turkey and elsewhere…I felt an almost physical sensation of intellectual and emotional … Continue reading An American’s Ideas and Impressions From Istanbul

A Voice from the Gulag

Book review: The Day Will Pass Away, by Ivan Chistyakov So even my inner word recedes day by day into eternity until it reaches freezing point. You start believing they can make you lose all emotion. Yet every day brings you nearer to freedom. Only, what kind of path are you walking to get there? A path of defeats, misery and rage. A path that makes you even more … Continue reading A Voice from the Gulag

Insights for Introverting

Book review: The Secret Lives of Introverts, by Jenn Granneman “Say what you will about labeling. That little label changed my life.” Jenn Granneman, founder of the blog Introvert, Dear, a community site for introverts, relates advice, interviews, statistics about introversion, and ideas about how to make one’s way in the world as one. Adjusting to a world that’s not exactly geared towards introverts is a tall order. … Continue reading Insights for Introverting

A Memoir of Murder and the Male Gaze

Book review: The Hot One, by Carolyn Murnick New York magazine editor Carolyn Murnick was childhood best friends with Ashley Ellerin, growing up in suburban New Jersey. Attending different high schools, then Ashley’s relocation to her home state of California, the friendship began developing the natural divide that accompanies growing up and apart. But unlike many similar friendships, the two maintain some level of connection, and … Continue reading A Memoir of Murder and the Male Gaze

Culinary Biographies of Six Surprising Women

Book review: What She Ate, by Laura Shapiro Culinary historian and longtime Newsweek writer Laura Shapiro examines the lives of six very different women through the lens of their relationships to food, cooking, and culinary culture in this lively, readable group biography. “Tell me what you eat,” wrote the philosopher-gourmand Brillat-Savarin, “and I shall tell you what you are.’ It’s one of the most famous aphorisms in the literature of food, … Continue reading Culinary Biographies of Six Surprising Women

Devil In The Details: The Darkness of Steve Bannon

Book review: Devil’s Bargain, by Joshua Green “Trump, for his part, seemed to recognize that Bannon alone could focus and channel his uncanny political intuition with striking success. Bannon didn’t make Trump president the way Rove did George W. Bush – but Trump wouldn’t be president if it weren’t for Bannon. Together, their power and reach gave them strength and influence far beyond what either could have … Continue reading Devil In The Details: The Darkness of Steve Bannon

Anger As Illumination and Other Gandhi Wisdoms

Book review: The Gift of Anger, by Arun Gandhi “Bapuji often had a spinning wheel at his side, and I like to think of his life as a golden thread of stories and lessons that continue to weave in and out through the generations, making a stronger fabric for all our lives. Many people now know my grandfather only from the movies, or they remember that he … Continue reading Anger As Illumination and Other Gandhi Wisdoms

Midyear Recap (…A Little Late)

I wasn’t planning to do a midyear best-of list, and July is already half gone, so…well past the halfway mark. But realizing how many truly excellent nonfiction titles have come out already this year, I thought a year-end recap would be way too long if I didn’t collect some standouts from the year’s beginning! And I promise these are worth every minute of your precious … Continue reading Midyear Recap (…A Little Late)

Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

Book review: Among the Living and the Dead, by Inara Verzemnieks “This is why I had journeyed to my grandmother’s lost village, nestled at the edge of Latvia, which is itself nestled at the edge of Europe’s psychic north, south, east and west, or, as Pope Innocent III described it…’the edge of the known world’.  Because I imagined, maybe, I might find her again in the old … Continue reading Memory, History, And Family Roots in Latvia

The Life-Saving Magic of Poetry

Book review: Poetry Will Save Your Life, by Jill Bialosky “All poems become, to a certain degree, personal to a reader.” Poet, editor, and novelist Jill Bialosky writes a memoir structured around the poems that have helped her through life, imbuing it with deeper meaning and giving subtle guidance and reassurances through turmoil and joy. Sometimes they act as markers, anchoring her memory to a place or event. … Continue reading The Life-Saving Magic of Poetry

Virginia Burning

Book review: American Fire, by Monica Hesse In the American countryside, during five months from 2012 to 2013, a terrified county nearly went up in flames. The place was Accomack County, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, within the East Coast’s picturesque Delmarva (Delaware-Maryland-Virginia) region. “The Eastern Shore of Virginia is a hangnail, a hinky peninsula separated from the rest of the state by the Chesapeake Bay … Continue reading Virginia Burning