Fidelity, Identity, Disappearance, Wanderlust

Book review: The Art of Vanishing, by Laura Smith Writer and journalist Laura Smith viewed her upcoming wedding quite differently than what might be considered standard. She didn’t relish being the center of attention. She deeply loved and wanted to be committed to her fiancé, but had trepidations about the institution of marriage and all that it entails – what it said about her identity as … Continue reading Fidelity, Identity, Disappearance, Wanderlust

2017 Favorites and Wrap Up

Are you completely sick of 2017’s best of/favorites lists yet? Personally, I’m a sucker for anything in list form. Anyway, here’s my last one for this year, I promise! As I’ve mentioned, these were my favorite reads from 2017’s new nonfiction. These were the books that stood out and made the most impact on me. My casual goal was to read less true crime, not … Continue reading 2017 Favorites and Wrap Up

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

A Sampler From the Best American Series 2017

Book review: The Best American Series 2017 The Best American Series is an excellent anthology collection, if it’s not already on your radar. An editor chosen for their own standout contributions to each genre curates selections from the year’s best previously published works across websites, journals, and magazines. Plenty are fiction, like Mystery, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Short Stories, but I find their nonfiction selections to usually be … Continue reading A Sampler From the Best American Series 2017

Beautiful Country Burn Again

Book review: South and West, by Joan Didion I am trying to place myself in history. I have been looking all my life for history and have yet to find it. The resolutely “colorful,” anecdotal quality of San Francisco history. “Characters” abound. It puts one off. In the South they are convinced that they are capable of having bloodied their land with history. In the West … Continue reading Beautiful Country Burn Again

Perspectives On Paris

Book review: A Paris All Your Own, edited by Eleanor Brown “My time in Paris was like no one else’s ever.” “In the end, I think Paris kept us married for an extra five years.” “I should probably write an article for a women’s magazine about this: ‘Lose Weight While Eating Your Feelings in Paris!’” A Paris All Your Own is a collection of impressionistic essays … Continue reading Perspectives On Paris

Vignettes of Life and Memories from the American Midwest to Italy

Book review: American English, Italian Chocolate, by Rick Bailey English professor Rick Bailey writes a sweet, soft memoir in vignette-style essays stretching from the American Midwest to northern Italy. Musings include high school dramas and levitation parties, medical issues humorous and otherwise, death, home insect infestations, historical perceptions of beans, how Nutella might taste better in Italy than in America, and, a favorite: observations on espresso making in … Continue reading Vignettes of Life and Memories from the American Midwest to Italy

An American’s Insights into Russia, 1995-2005-2015

Book review: Bears in the Streets, by Lisa Dickey No fewer than six people in six different cities (and four different time zones) had informed me that this is what Americans think. “Bears in the streets,” I realized, was the apparently ubiquitous shorthand for the Russians’ feeling that the West doesn’t take them seriously enough – that we think they’re primitive or backward. Lifelong Russophile Lisa … Continue reading An American’s Insights into Russia, 1995-2005-2015

Images of Apocalypse in the Everyday

Book review: The World is On Fire, by Joni Tevis Joni Tevis has a strange talent for writing essays that combine the most unlikely, unrelated subjects, skipping without any obvious connection between topics and somehow making it work as a coherent, emotional, interesting piece. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. As one example, she writes an essay contrasting her own struggles with fertility … Continue reading Images of Apocalypse in the Everyday

Lost is an OK State to Be In

Book review: All Over the Place, by Geraldine DeRuiter Geraldine deRuiter is the voice behind The Everywhereist, a funny, quirky travel blog. She started writing about her travels, and often her ineptitude in accomplishing them, after losing her job in the recession, thus freeing her up to accompany her husband, a workaholic SEO entrepreneur, to various conferences and speaking engagements throughout the U.S. and around the world. … Continue reading Lost is an OK State to Be In

Iran’s Culinary Culture and the Appeal of the Temporary Marriage

Book review: The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Food and Love in Iran Published in 2014 in the UK, Australian, and New Zealand markets, Jennifer Klinec’s Iranian food and romance memoir The Temporary Bride will be published on Valentine’s Day in the U.S. Klinec abandons a financially secure career in London to open a cooking school out of her apartment. In search of new recipes, she travels to … Continue reading Iran’s Culinary Culture and the Appeal of the Temporary Marriage

Field Guide to the Strange and Unusual

Quinta da Regaliera in Sintra, near Lisbon, Portugal. Me, in blue, in the deep, dark, moss-covered Initiation Well where Masonic ceremonies allegedly took place. One of the fantastic, fascinating sites highlighted in the book Book review: Atlas Obscura, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton How often do you hear of travel guides promising to lead you off the beaten path? And how often do those revealed … Continue reading Field Guide to the Strange and Unusual