What Non-Fiction Are We Reading Now (April to June, 2022)?

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What Non-Fiction Are We Reading Now (April to June, 2022)?

Abr 2, 2022, 3:36 pm

Abr 3, 2022, 6:34 pm

Alexander Hamilton - A Life
by Willard Sterne Randall
4/5 stars 4/3/2022
I knew little about Hamilton’s life before reading this book but Randall paints a portrait of a very smart and interesting man who was willing to become involved in the building a nation. Highly recommended!

Abr 3, 2022, 9:25 pm

His Promised Land: The Autobiography of John P. Parker, Former Slave and Conductor on the Underground Railroad
John Parker tells his tale of escaping slavery and helping others to escape. He often faced extreme danger. Everything is related in a very matter of fact manner. Relates how his retelling of an escape he was not personally involved in inspired Harriett Beecher Stowe to include Eliza's escape across the ice floes of the Ohio River with hounds barking at her heels in her book.

Abr 4, 2022, 4:28 pm

I finished Julian of Norwich which would serve as a good primer should I ever get around to reading Revelations of Divine Love

Abr 5, 2022, 2:44 pm

I finished Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes. This is a somewhat flawed but mostly well-written and interesting bit of reportage about how Joe Biden managed to navigate the turbulent currents of a wild Democratic Party primary season and batten down the hatches during the general election to prevail as the Democratic nominee and defeat Donald Trump to become President of the United States. This is a mostly "inside baseball" report. That is, a lot of time is spent on describing the political machinations and the processes from inside the various campaigns, and those sections are often quite fascinating, though we learn a lot more about, for example, the rivalries and personal conflicts within the Biden, Sanders and Trump campaigns than we do about the candidates themselves. Nevertheless, it's interesting to learn that sort of history, the undercurrents of the election season that were mostly not on view to the general public. According to this narrative, Biden believed that his name recognition, the body of work he'd turned in over his decades-long political career, his association with Barak Obama via his two terms of Obama's vice president would serve to make his case to the country that he was experienced enough, well meaning enough and calm enough to serve as the antidote to Donald Trump and get him elected president. What America wanted, went Biden's theory, as a compassionate, non-controversial figure. Especially during the primary season, the attraction would be to nominate someone capable of projecting the kind of calm needed to defeat Trump. Also, and very importantly, Biden was help in high regard by many in the African American community and was thought of as the candidate who could attract high vote totals from people of color in general. In other words, he was at the same time the Anti-Trump and the Anti-Sanders. This book is, basically, the narrative of how this theory in the event played out successfully, though, as the title tells us, not without huge dollops of good luck at just the right times.

Abr 6, 2022, 2:00 pm

Helter Skelter- The True Story of the Manson Murders
Vincent Bugliosi
4/5 stars
This is the fascinating and horrible story of the Manson murder spree when 5 people were killed in an attack masterminded by Charles Manson that occurred in August 1969 near Hollywood. Vincent T. Bugliosi Jr. was a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and the lead prosecutor in the trials and this book was written by him. I thought this was a well written, detailed account of the crimes and the trials of the people involved in the crimes.
I was curious to see who was still alive of the people involved and found this article from March 2022. https://laist.com/news/criminal-justice/manson-family-guide-where-they-are-now

Abr 6, 2022, 2:17 pm

I am currently reading the 1619 project

Abr 11, 2022, 9:04 am

I'm about halfway through Catch and Kill. Yikes.

Abr 11, 2022, 12:08 pm

Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?: The Lost Toys, Tastes, and Trends of the 70s and 80s
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
3/5 stars
The authors talk about the bygone products, TV shows, stars and trends of the 70’s and 80’s. If you grew up in that time period you will probably get a kick out of this book. Anyone up for a candy cigarette?

Abr 12, 2022, 11:05 am

I'm reading Decoding Enochian Secrets, which promises some interesting primary research on Elizabethan angel magic, but seems to have a disappointingly credulous perspective overall.

Abr 13, 2022, 1:05 pm

Chuck Amuck: The Life and Time of an Animated Cartoonist
Chuck Jones
4/5 stars
Chuck Jones who worked for Warner Brothers, discusses his life growing up and his career in animation, drawing Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pigs and many more toons. This book contains lots of his sketches and drawings. I enjoyed it and all the sketches, cartoons and pictures.

Abr 15, 2022, 12:05 pm

I've just finished reading and reviewing Decoding the Enochian Secrets, and the hold fairy has brought me Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob, which I'll be picking up from the public library today.

Abr 16, 2022, 1:21 am

Still working on The Future Is History, by Masha Gessen, my fourth or fifth book on Russia and Putin. I have to take it a little at a time. Also reading Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem and marveling at the crystalline precision of her prose.

I need a lightweight novel on the side to balance these things out. Things are relatively dire in my personal life, and I'm a faithful believer in escapism.

Abr 20, 2022, 5:22 pm

Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls
Mary Downing Hahn
4/5 stars
Set in 1956, two young high school girls are killed in the woods causing great consternation in their community. Buddy, a young man is thought to have killed them but is let go. Will they ever find the killer(s)? This is based on a true story. This is also considered a Juvenile book but I really enjoyed it and wondered why it was in that section because I think adults would enjoy it. I have read Hahn’s other books and would like to read more of her.

Abr 21, 2022, 4:31 am

I finished listening to An Atlas of Extinct Countries. A fun listen with a series iof short paragraphs about a number of countries that are no longer in existence, for whatever reason. Lots of snide remarks about tin pot dictators. Some countries did not deserve their fate.

Abr 21, 2022, 11:55 am

I'm reading On Risk by Mark Kingwell, subtitled: Or, If You Play, You Pay: The Politics of Chace in a Plague Year.

Abr 21, 2022, 4:26 pm

>16 JulieLill: Do you think (or does it say in the book) that that title is a reference to the e.e. cummings poem, "Buffalo Bill's"?


Buffalo Bill's
who used to
ride a watersmooth-silver
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
he was a handsome man
and what I want to know is
how do you like your blue-eyed boy
Mister Death

Abr 22, 2022, 12:30 pm

>19 rocketjk: I don't know but it could be - the titles are very similar!

Abr 24, 2022, 11:45 am

I finished The Man Who Had Been King which was a scholarly biography of Joseph Bonaparte. Well written and interesting although the lists of visitors and of his art and possessions were often more than I was interested in.

Editado: Abr 30, 2022, 6:15 pm

Gladwell is a target in the book I just finished reading, the sadly not-so-dated Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob. I've posted my (longish) review.

I'm now pivoting to Memory Palaces and Masonic Lodges, which will be my second read on this topic in as many months.

Edited to add: I just picked up a copy of The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes at my local public library.

Maio 6, 2022, 12:06 pm

The Brown's Chicken Massacre
Maurice Possley
4/5 stars
Maurice Possley discusses the shockingly, true story of the massacre of the staff of a Brown's Chicken in Illinois, as they closed down the store one night in January of 1983. It took 10 years and advances in DNA testing before they could solve the case. Well researched and written.

Maio 7, 2022, 2:30 pm

I finished Prodigal Son: Dancing of Balanchine in a World of Pain and Magic which was a fascinating account of Villella, Balanchine, and ballet, particularly the intricacies of method and artistry. 5 stars

Maio 9, 2022, 12:10 pm

Wizard of Oz: An Over-the-Rainbow Celebration of the World's Favorite Movie
Ben Nussbaum
4/5 stars
This is a short book celebrating the movie - The Wizard of Oz. The author discusses a myriad of topics on the film, the actors who performed and even talks about the Broadway musical - Wicked. Definitely for fans of the movie.

Maio 11, 2022, 4:47 pm

I recently finished Sex, Cult, Nun: Breaking Away from the Children of God.

Maio 11, 2022, 5:23 pm

Have started Face It: A Memoir by Debbie Harry. She's the same age as my mother, but oh so different. I can't picture my mom making the same choices or having nearly the same opinions and attitude to life. Crazy.

Maio 12, 2022, 12:27 pm

>27 loraineo: How was this book?

Maio 15, 2022, 1:02 pm

I finished Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach. This is another entertaining and informative book by Mary Roach, blending globetrotting research and attention to detail with Roach's light-hearted sense of humor, acute powers of observation and unostentatious but extremely engaging writing style. I will observe that the second part of the title, "When Nature Breaks the Law," is a bit misleading. "When Animals Run Afoul of Humans" would be more accurate, but of course not as catchy. That's an extremely minor quibble. What gets reported in Roach's latest book are things like the ways in which monkeys are overrunning many cities in India, the Navy's futile attempts to deal with the large, troublesome albatross population at the airfield on Guam, the poisonous elements to be found within legumes and the uses those toxins have been put to, bear break-ins in rural North American communities, and the history of farmers' battles against crows and other supposed crop destroying birds. I found the chapter on mountain lions particularly interesting because I live in mountain lion country. (I've only gotten one quick glimpse of a mountain lion in the wild.) I've seen others on LT mentioning that this book lacks, somewhat, the level of humor and absurd observations of most of Roach's earlier books. I would concur, but point out an obvious (to me) reason for this: Roach's earlier books were about some aspect of human society and human nature. This book is, for the most part, about animals and animal behavior.* Simply put, animals are just not as absurd and do not lend themselves as well to absurdist humor, as we humans are. Any attempt by Roach to reproduce fully the tone of those earlier books would have, I'm guessing, ultimately seemed forced in ways that might have sabotaged the effort overall. At any rate, in the end, Roach comes down on the side of the animals in pretty much every case.

*As well, to be sure, and about human reactions to that behavior.

Maio 15, 2022, 3:34 pm

>30 rocketjk: I haven't read this book but I have read several of her books and I always find them interesting.

Maio 15, 2022, 10:35 pm

sovietistan read this as a background for the Asian Challenge for this month. Fascinating book about the five former soviet republics. The author is a norweigan journalist who know how to combine history with local color and politics isn't afraid to ask difficult questions, and does not take herself too seriously. Highly recommended

Maio 16, 2022, 2:54 pm

The Uninnocent: Notes on Violence and Mercy is a very excellent consideration of violence and mercy but so much more: the judicial system, sanity, grief, the origins of violence in the history of the nation and of families. I got this book from the library and immediately upon finishing it, I ordered a copy to keep. I don't do that often

Maio 17, 2022, 12:21 pm

The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters With Extraordinary People
Susan Orlean
4/5 stars
I always enjoying read Susan Orlean’s books and this book has her original interviews with the famous and not so famous people she encountered. This book was published in 2001 but is still entertaining though it would be interesting to see where those people are today.

Maio 17, 2022, 3:07 pm

oh I loved that book. Have you also read my kind of place? and then there is the excellent Library Book

Maio 17, 2022, 5:45 pm

I finished The New Breed: The Story of the U.S. Marines in the Korea by Andrew Geer. This book was not what I was expecting. It was written while the Korean War was still going on. On the book's front cover flap, we're told that the author, a WW2 Marine veteran who'd returned to duty for the Korean conflict, serving in 1950-51, "had access to the complete file of Marine combat reports and was able to gather material at firsthand as an active Marine field officer during the dreadful spring and summer of 1950-51 in Korea. He interviewed 697 Marines individually in preparing this history." It was those 697 interviews that gave me the impression that the book was going to be a series of oral histories about frontline life and combat during the war. What Geer did instead was lean more on those official combat reports to create detailed narratives of the troop movements, battles, down to individual skirmishes, throughout the Marines' first years of combat in Korea. Geer's accounts get very, very detailed, down to orders given and followed by individual rifle companies on a day-to-day basis. Battle scenes are often detailed by the acts--frequently the heroics--of individual enlisted men, non-coms and officers during battle, including the specifics about what individual Marines were doing, or attempting to do, when they were killed, and what they said just before their deaths. I assume that these details come from those 697 interviews. The time period related here spans from the Marines' first entry into Korea shortly after the beginning of hostilities, their fight to liberate Seoul, their march northward to the Chosin Reservoir, where they became surrounded, and their fight to break through this containment and make their way to the sea and evacuation. The enervating and deadly cold and the effects of frostbite and malnutrition, as well as the horrifying attrition as Marines are wounded or killed, are described in detail effectively enough to give the reader a feel, even from the remove of decades, of what the men experienced.

You won't find much if anything here about the politics or larger command strategies of the Korean War. Instead, this is a report of the day to day experiences of soldiers within a hellish cauldron of war. It should be noted that as realistic and well written as the book is, it's also essentially a work of propaganda. No matter how poorly a particular battle goes, for example, it is never described as having been the result of a strategic mistake. And while there are occasional references to "slackers" or "stragglers" among the Marines, for the most part, everyone is a hero. There is, I am grateful to be able to say, no description of the Korean War itself as a noble cause. The war is simply taken for granted as an assignment.

Maio 18, 2022, 1:05 pm

>35 cindydavid4: I have read her book on libraries. I enjoy all her work!

Maio 19, 2022, 4:17 pm

I just finished The Case Against Reality and posted my review. It was really a terrific read.

Maio 24, 2022, 9:21 pm

That first looks like a good one for the Korean theme in the Asian Challenge

Now readingThe border : a journey around Russia through North Korea, China, Mongolia,…

Maio 27, 2022, 1:12 pm

Maio 28, 2022, 2:20 pm

The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America
John F. Kasson
Kasson relates the story Shirley Temple, one of the most popular child actress of her time period amidst the background and history of the Great Depression. He explores the films she was in, her popularity with the public who had sent her four thousand letters a week at the height of her fame and her parents who supported her but also spent most of her money, leaving her very little after her career was over. Highly recommended.

Maio 31, 2022, 10:14 am

been reading mixed reviews on that one; be interested in what you think of it when you are finished

Editado: Maio 31, 2022, 10:33 am

>43 LynnB: I found that one very much worth reading. It did make it easier for me to think and talk about the values that are underneath your (political) views instead of arguing about the views themselves.

Maio 31, 2022, 11:09 am

>43 LynnB: I thought The Righteous Mind only partially successful, but I'll hold off on saying why until after you've finished it.

Maio 31, 2022, 11:14 am

I'm curious about that book too. Haidt has been making the video interview rounds lately on the strength of his recent Atlantic piece, to share his views on the pernicious effects of "social" media. I think he acquits himself well in the article and the subsequent conversations.

Jun 1, 2022, 11:50 pm

I finished Good Rockin' Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll by Colin Escott with Martin Hawkins. This is a fun, briskly written history of one of the seminal record labels in American popular music and it's founder and driving force, Sam Phillips. Phillips, in his relatively primitive Memphis recording studio, had an ear for unique, forceful--even raw--singers and musicians. His genius was that what he wanted to do was not to make these musicians fit popular molds, but instead to highlight each musicians raw qualities, to enhance the elements that made them stand out. Rather than smooth over the rough edges, Phillips wanted to make that roughness stand out in sharp relief, and he was skilled at getting the best of these musicians in the studio. He would listen to anybody, always hoping to find a diamond in the rough. In this manner, Phillips, through his famed record label, Sun, first brought to national prominence such stars as Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and, most famously, Elvis Presley. None of them stayed very long with Phillips and Sun--his inability to promote more than one or two musicians at a time saw to that, as did the larger contracts that national record labels could offer once a musician's initial contract with Sun had run its course. But many of these musicians made their best and most enduring music in their early recordings with Phillips.

Jun 2, 2022, 4:47 pm

>44 cindydavid4: >45 wester: >46 rocketjk: >47 paradoxosalpha: I had mixed feelings about The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. All in all, I liked it. It made me think about political discourse and want to learn more about some topics raised. That is what, for me, makes a good book.

That said, his outline of the history of moral philosophy was complicated and dry. It was when I got to the moral foundations chapter and the book grabbed me. I spent some time enthused by the insight that liberals rely on primarily two moral pillars (caring and fairness) and conservatives rely on those, along with authority, loyalty and sanctity. It explained why I often find it so hard to argue morality with conservatives.

Upon further reflection, I became less enthused. I don’t like the implication that conservatives have a broader moral base. I think liberals and conservatives have different definitions of sanctity (e.g. over our own bodies -- leading to issues around reproductive rights and sexual consent), and loyalty, and definitions of legitimate authority.

I think Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow gives a superior understanding of intuition vs. reasoning. It’s not that a reasoning rider is serving an intuitive elephant….it’s that the elephant reacts faster….necessarily so in many cases…but it isn’t in charge.

I was intrigued by the idea of a genetic basis for political ideologies. I found the discussion of both moral and group evolution fascinating, but not yet convincing….I’d need to learn more.

Editado: Jun 2, 2022, 4:56 pm

>49 LynnB: My reaction to Righteous Mind was pretty close to yours, all in all. The final paragraph of my review reads thusly:

" . . . . All that's fine, and there are other interesting points made, as well, especially Haidt's description of the idea that group/societal evolution has gone hand in hand with individual human evolution. His ideas about the benefits of religion seem much more forced, however. And in the book's second half, he seems more to be trying to force all of the foregoing information into his own ideas of politics and culture. He begins doing things like describing another researcher's theory and then proceeding to further conclusions based on that theory as if we had reason to accept the theory as fact. Towards the end, I must admit, I began skimming. So I give the first half of this book 3.5 stars, and the second half 2 stars. I do give Haidt credit for clear writing, relatively free of doze-inducing scientific jargon."

Jun 2, 2022, 5:59 pm

>49 LynnB: I spent some time enthused by the insight that liberals rely on primarily two moral pillars (caring and fairness) and conservatives rely on those, along with authority, loyalty and sanctity. It explained why I often find it so hard to argue morality with conservatives.

yeah I can see why you thought differently about it. I really dislike generalizatios, I think they are the cause of what is so wrong about our discourse. Agree with you about different definitions of all those terms. We are all human and all have those traits in differnt amonts,often changing with events and age.

Not sure about genetic basis for political identity, unless you are talking about a persons innate way of thinking or interacting. Im really sure that environment is much more at play here; not just from the home, but from a childs own experience as they grow

Jun 9, 2022, 12:13 pm

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II
by Sonia Purnell
5/5 stars
This is the amazing story of Virginia Hall, a woman who had lost her leg in a hunting accident at the age of 27 and who ended up becoming a spy in World War II for the SOE (Special Operations Executive), helping to organize and aid the French Resistance. After the war, she ended up working for the CIA. Highly recommended!

Jun 9, 2022, 6:15 pm

Recently finished A history of Britain in thirty-six postage stamps by Chris West. A light read to be sure, but a fun way to read history for anyone with an interest in philately or collections in general.

Jun 9, 2022, 10:52 pm

Wanderlust: real life tales of Adventure and Romance Its summer, time for another travel narrative! Just learned about this writer and so far most of the stories are interesting.

Jun 9, 2022, 11:30 pm

What's Eating The Universe: Paul Davies

Best all around cosmology book in decades--twist and turns that will make you think he's proving a point and then he makes you see other possibilities from other data and perspectives--a MUST READ.

Jun 10, 2022, 8:43 am

>52 JulieLill: A Woman of No Importance is sitting on my TBR shelf. I'll move it up based on your recommendation. Thanks.

Editado: Jun 12, 2022, 8:05 am

I finished Between Rock and Hard Places by Ann Urness Gesme about Norway and Norwegians. I read it for my upcoming trip to Norway and for the genealogy on my husband's side of the family as his mother was of Norwegian heritage. Very interesting and informative.

Jun 15, 2022, 8:46 am

I'm reading La gravité de l'amour by Catherine Chalier, a book about Love in Judaism. It's a complex read and I've been dragging it for a while for some reason, but I'm finding it quite interesting

Jun 15, 2022, 1:22 pm

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
Adam Kay
5/5 stars
This is the diaries that Adam Kay kept while being a resident in the National Health Service in the UK. After 12 years in school and working as a doctor, he quit his job. Fortunately for him, he wrote this book and ended up selling about 1.5 million books. I enjoyed this immensely and could empathize with him and the pain he dealt with treating the sick and their families, working non-stop, missing meals and sleep, dealing with administrators and the constant change in policies. Great book!

Jun 18, 2022, 4:58 am

Reading You Don't Know Us Negroes, a collection of essays by Zora Neale Hurston.

Jun 18, 2022, 4:13 pm

Fisnished The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat which consists of a series of short descriptions of a number of patients with neurological problems, from omissions, excesses, and other aberrations. They are portrayed with compassion and an appreciation for their mechanisms for coping.

Jun 19, 2022, 11:21 am

>52 JulieLill:, >57 vwinsloe: I read it last year, a very interesting story.

Jun 19, 2022, 4:53 pm

Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies
Alastair Bonnett
4/5 stars
While most of us live in suburbs, cities and in the countryside, Bonnett explores the unusual places that people live in, including cities that have changeable boundaries, islands where people live on that can disappear and reappear with the changing of sea levels, people who live on ships year round and he also discussed the re-population of cities that had been abandoned like Chernobyl and Wittenoom in Australia which was closed due to asbestos which was mined there. Very interesting!

Jun 20, 2022, 8:26 am

Editado: Jun 20, 2022, 6:41 pm

I wrapped up Memory Palaces and Masonic Lodges and posted my review. I'm already on the penultimate chapter of Dark and Magical Places: The Neuroscience of How We Navigate, and I hope to review it tomorrow.

Jun 22, 2022, 7:33 pm

I finished 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows. This is the memoir of Ai Weiwei, a famous Chinese conceptual artist, architect and activist. Although Ai Weiwei has struggled determinately and consistency against the censorship and other oppressions of the current Communist Chinese regime, and has presented his conceptual art in major exhibitions and museums around the world, this is the rare memoir in which the portrayal of the author's childhood is actually more interesting (or at least that was my reaction) than the portrayal of his or her adulthood. That's because Ai Weiwei's father, Ai Qing, was also famous, a world renowned lyric poet, who was targeted and harshly oppressed by the forces of Mao's Cultural Revolution. In approximately the first half of his memoir, Ai Weiwei relates his time as a child, moving with his father and his half-brother from one remote and desolate punishment outpost to another, with only intermittent contact with his mother. From his father's early comradeship with Mao, through the descriptions of these horrible work settlements and Ai Qing's day to day degrading humiliations as a "Big Rightist" who is made an example of on an hourly basis, Ai Weiwei walks us through the events and repercussions of the Cultural Revolution and describes the profound loss of history and Chinese cultural identity that resulted.

Oddly, though, once Ai Weiwei grows to adulthood and, especially, once he becomes a noted artist and activist, the narrative flattened out for me. Perhaps some of this has to do with the translation from Chinese to English. Ai Weiwei certainly has led a fascinating and, it seems, a quite admirable life. His conceptual art installations have been aimed at promoting ideas of freedom and individuality, of protesting against the harshness and absurdity of the repression of the Communist regime, and of pointing out the regime's corruption and ineptitude as they steer the country toward capitalism under the guise of communism. One of the issues for me, as I think back on the reading experience, is that Ai Weiwei often presents his own activities in isolation, as if he were the only activist in China. Occasionally other names are mentioned, but I found it off-putting that so much of Ai Weiwei's narrative consisted of statements along the lines of "I created this work in order to say that." Well, it's a memoir, so of course he'd be talking about his own accomplishments, but he seemed to me to be entirely self-focused. With a few exceptions, the entirely of Chinese history during the time under discussion seemed to me to be focused too sharply through the lens of his own perspective.

One example of this sort of thing: In his role as an architect, Ai Weiwei had an active role in the designing of the stadium (referred to by Ai Weiwei as "the Bird's Nest") to be used for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The description of the teamwork and creative process in this work was very interesting. But Ai's final comments on the endeavor had me scratching my head:

"The design of the Bird's Nest aimed to convey the message that freedom was possible: the integration of its external appearance whites exposed structure encapsulated something essential about democracy transparency, and equity. In defense of those principles, I now resolved to put a distance between myself and the Olympics, which were simply serving as nationalistic, self-congratulatory propaganda. Freedom is the precondition for fairness, and without freedom, competition is a sham."

I found Ai Weiwei's assumption that any more than a slight handful of observers would notice a message of freedom in the design of a stadium to be unfortunately self-absorbed, and his shock that the Chinese government was using the Olympics as a propaganda tool, despite the artistic splendor of the stadium design, to be more than a little disengenuous.

I have waited much too long to say that Ai Weiwei is clearly a man of courage who has inspired a great many of his internet followers, and admirers of his art, to maintain a resistant attitude toward the oppression of the Chinese regime. He has done so despite the constant threat to his own freedom, even to his life. In this, we has clearly been inspired by his father's example. Also, I have a lot of respect for conceptual artists, those who attempt to challenge our preconceived notions of reality, life and politics through their work. Ai Weiwei's output, and the degree to which he is clearly admired and respected by other artists and curators, speaks volumes about the value of his accomplishments. Many of the installations and exhibits Ai Weiwei describes sound like works I would love to see and experience, and there's quite a lot of interest in the memoir about the creative process in general. And as a tour through Chinese history from the end of World War 2 through the present day, and as a close-in look at the threats, oppressions and dangers experienced by artists fighting to stay relevant within oppressive regimes, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows is a valuable narrative and testimony.

Jun 23, 2022, 3:59 pm

I read Unspeakable: the Tulsa Race Massacre, winner of multiple awards, by Carole Boston Weatherford.
This is a children's book for middle readers, gr 3-6.

Jun 23, 2022, 8:57 pm

>68 nrmay: and no doubt will be banned in libraries and schools throughout the country :(

Jul 1, 2022, 7:29 am

I finished the biography, The Courage of Hoa Ngoc Pham. It was written by a friend and recounts an amazing life, from rural Vietnamese farmer, soldier, prisoner, US emigrant.

Jul 1, 2022, 12:04 pm

Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers
Deborah Cadbury
4/5 stars
Deborah Cadbury, a Quaker family relative of one of the famous chocolate makers relates the history of chocolate, the manufacturers who made the chocolate and the rivalries between the chocolate manufacturers including Cadbury, Milton Hershey, Nestle, Lindt and Forrest Mars. Very interesting!

Jul 1, 2022, 5:49 pm

last month I read packing my library which was a journey of how a library starts and the decisions made, with many essays about books and reading. The one I m reading now the history of readingstarts out with the history of his own readiing, when he started, what he remembered.

There are many dirctions he could have taken with this history: facts of dates, names, inventions; instead he focuses on the necessary sense for reading - sight, and gives us theories proposed by many in ancient and medievl times that explain how our eyes perceive sight, how they read. Really fascinating how much they got right. All this early in the book. Cant wait to find what comes next

Jul 2, 2022, 1:40 pm

>72 LynnB: That was really good!

Editado: Jul 2, 2022, 7:08 pm

I just picked up a couple of public library holds, so my queue now includes Opposing the System and Finding the Mother Tree.

Jul 4, 2022, 6:54 am

I finished the disappointing LTER Our Mothers of Invention. The short descriptions of 16 women and their inventions might be suitable for a teenager although the writing sorely needed editing. Asides made by the author were distracting

Jul 4, 2022, 7:30 am

I've almost finished A Village in the Third Reich by Julie Boyd. It's about the people of a small Bavarian village in the far south near (before the Anchluss) the Austrian border. It was also a holiday resort. Very interesting and an amazing mix of people including a good number of non-Germans. Some heart-warming stories and some tear-jerking. It starts soon after WW1 and now the Russians are nearly upon us in 1945.

Jul 4, 2022, 12:39 pm

>77 PossMan: Added to my reading list!