One Woman’s Story of Life in the FLDS

Book review: Escape, by Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer Instead of playing hide-and-seek as children, we played Apocalypse. When I saw that Rachel Jeffs, daughter of Warren Jeffs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was releasing a memoir, Breaking Free, I figured I should tackle some of the other FLDS memoirs I’ve had on my reading list before getting any new ones. If like me, you’re … Continue reading One Woman’s Story of Life in the FLDS

An Obama Speechwriter On Work, Country, and Getting Things Done in the White House

Book review: Thanks, Obama by David Litt Few activities offer less upside than a staring contest with the president. But now, having started one, I didn’t know how to stop. I considered averting my gaze, like a shy maiden in a Jane Austen novel, but that would only make things more awkward. I kept looking at President Obama. President Obama kept looking at me. Finally, after … Continue reading An Obama Speechwriter On Work, Country, and Getting Things Done in the White House

Nonfiction Favorites for #NonfictionNovember

It’s #NonfictionNovember this month, with different sites hosting different topics each week to post about, all celebrating and exploring great nonfiction. I considered participating earlier, but it’s always nonfiction day/week/month in my life and it was easier to just write book reviews like usual instead of thinking about topics or lists. I’m a lazy blogger at the moment. But this week had such an great … Continue reading Nonfiction Favorites for #NonfictionNovember

An Expat Upstate: Perspectives on American Small Town Life

Book review: One Hundred Miles From Manhattan, by Guillermo Fesser Americans tend to get restless and move around a lot. They effortlessly leave one state for another. Don’t think it’s easy to guess their origin. Curiously, Americans tend to tell me they are from the place where they currently live rather than sharing the name of their city of birth. If I ask someone from … Continue reading An Expat Upstate: Perspectives on American Small Town Life

A Girl, Growing Up and Growing Wiser, in Leningrad

Book review: A Mountain of Crumbs, by Elena Gorokhova This memoir has one of the most beautiful and intensely evocative openings I’ve read in a long time: I wish my mother had come from Leningrad, from the world of Pushkin and the tsars, of granite embankments and lace ironwork, of pearly domes buttressing the low sky. Leningrad’s sophistication would have infected her the moment she … Continue reading A Girl, Growing Up and Growing Wiser, in Leningrad

The Road Will Always Open Before You: Business and Life Lessons from Nobu’s Heart

Book review: Nobu, by Nobu Matsuhisa Along the way, I have faced some major stumbling blocks. But each time, I have managed to overcome them. Whenever I hit an obstacle, I search for a solution and carry on. Gradually, the hurdles that appear before me have become smaller. I find that if I plow ahead, no matter how impossible that may seem, and just do … Continue reading The Road Will Always Open Before You: Business and Life Lessons from Nobu’s Heart

An American Real Estate Nightmare In Paris

Book review: L’Appart, by David Lebovitz People tell me I’m lucky to live in Paris. But I didn’t have any lucky stars (les astres) to thank. I was responsible for making it happen, but I was also to blame for the mess I was in. I adore charming, funny, upbeat American expat-in-Paris chef/blogger David Lebovitz. I discovered him when I was also an expat in France, though not … Continue reading An American Real Estate Nightmare In Paris

Sweet, Funny, Smart Takes On Life’s Wilderness

Book review: Vacationland, by John Hodgman “Nobody knows,” I said, meaning at least one person does not know, and that person is me. I didn’t know anything about John Hodgman (comedian, author, Daily Show and This American Life contributor, podcaster) at all before I picked up his most recent book, a collection of essayish memoirs, Vacationland. I came to it without any preconceptions about him or his material and finished … Continue reading Sweet, Funny, Smart Takes On Life’s Wilderness

Conversations About the Other Side

Book review: Psychics, Healers & Mediums, by Jenniffer Weigel It’s Halloween! Time for a ghosty post! I haven’t read much recently that’s Halloween-applicable, but as a favorite spooky read, I recommend Colin Dickey’s scary but skeptical Ghostland. Now for the less skeptical… Jenniffer Weigel is a Chicago Tribune columnist, radio host, and reporter who’s already written about her attempts to contact her father after his death, and her … Continue reading Conversations About the Other Side

A Modern Classic on the Surreality of Mourning

Book review: The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends. The question of self-pity. Those words were the first that Joan Didion wrote after her husband’s death. In case you’ve never heard of it, The Year of Magical Thinking is journalistic legend Didion’s highly praised, often stream of consciousness-style literary … Continue reading A Modern Classic on the Surreality of Mourning

Dark Roots and the Myth or Reality of a European Family History

Book review: A Crime in the Family, by Sacha Batthyany Swiss journalist Sacha Batthyany heard a disturbing rumor: near the end of the Second World War, his Aunt Margit was alleged to have participated in the massacre of hundreds of Jewish prisoners in the small Austrian town of Rechnitz. The crime took place during a party at her home attended by Nazi officers. He’s haunted, … Continue reading Dark Roots and the Myth or Reality of a European Family History