What I’m Reading: 2 A. M. at the Cat’s Pajamas

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I am fourteen pages into this book and I love it. The author uses such rich, vivid imagery. Listen to this:

“As the dog awakens, the city awakens. Crust on its windshields and hungry. Snorting plumes of frustration in the harbor. Scratching its traffic on the expressway. Bone cold and grouchy, from the toes of its stadiums to the strands of its El.” -Marie-Helene Bertino

So far, this is one of those books you have to digest, to swish the words around in your mouth so you can fully appreciate every syllable. Can’t you just taste the grouchiness of the city?

I’ll let you know if I still love it by the time I’m finished.

Enjoy your Thursday!

What I’m Reading: The Feast Nearby

The Feast Nearby

I found my copy on Amazon.

This is not a “how-to” or cook book. Don’t read this book to shrink your budget either, because that’s not what it’s for. It is a lovely long chat with the author about her life in Michigan, and, being from Michigan, I love it. The author draws us into her tiny kitchen as she cans and preserves, she takes us on walks through the woods to pick quarts of glittering berries, she gives insight and provokes thought. She gives us toothsome recipes and happy anecdotes about coffee and chickens. For this home grown Michigander, that’s a wonderful thing.

Follow me on Goodreads to see what else I’m reading or send me a book recommendation.

What I’m Reading: The Disappearing Spoon

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Image found here.

This book is predominantly about science. Before you dismiss the book because it might be boring or you’re “just not a science person,” consider these interesting snippets: mercury (the element, not the planet) caused literal “mad hatters,” a toxic, non-dissolving laxative made of antimony was considered so valuable that families would often pass them down from father to son, and, much like Edison and the light bulb, German chemist Robert Bunsen didn’t actually invent the Bunsen burner, he improved and popularized it. Mr. Bunsen also had a penchant for arsenic and blowing stuff up.

Fun stuff, huh?

The author discusses “True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements.” Yes, he does get a little technical at times. It is a book about science after all. I think we can all appreciate the tale about the mother of the man, Dmitri Mendeleev, who invented the periodic table:  Her husband passed away and left her with fourteen children. So in 1847, she took over a local glass factory and bossed the men who worked there in order to support her family. Then the factory burned to the ground. So she took her son, Dmitri, 1,200 miles on horseback, over snowy mountains to a university in Moscow where he could further his education. They rejected him on the grounds that he was not a local. So she rode another 400 miles with him to St. Petersburg to enroll him in the university his father had attended. After he was accepted, she died.

What a woman.

This book is full of strange and wonderful tales of events that shaped the periodic table and how the periodic table has shaped our world. Five stars from me.

And if you like strange and wonderful tales, stay tuned! Next Monday I will post the first installment of the “cheese sandwich” story. You have been warned.

What I’m Reading: The Psychopath Test

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Image found here.

“The consensus from the beginning was that only 1% of humans had it, but the chaos they caused was so far-reaching it could actually remold society, remold it all wrong, like when someone breaks his foot and it gets set badly and the bones stick out in odd directions. And so the urgent question became: How could psychopaths be cured?” -The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

This book reads like you are peeking over the shoulder of the author as he interviews psychopaths and the people who study them. Among others, he interviews a brash CEO, a charming patient at Broadmoor, and the man who invented a 20 point checklist that tells you just how psychopathic you are. Do you have a superficial charm? How about a grandiose sense of self-worth? Maybe you are a pathological liar, or manipulative, or prone to boredom, or impulsive, or callous? Don’t fret, reader, because if you are worried you may have psychopathic tendencies, that’s actually a good sign you are normal. Well, whatever passes for normal these days.

You see, the author tell us that psychopaths are unable to feel a normal range of emotions. Anxiety is unknown to them, which is why they are often killers. They simply do not care. Some are excellent at aping the facial expressions we associate with grief, or anger, or fear, but they are disconnected from those emotions.

The author talks about how some thought LSD was the answer to curing this malady of the mind and the disastrous results. He mentions a Canadian serial killer (insert joke about how polite Canadians are and something about moose or maple syrup), how psychopaths only dream in black-and-white, Scientologists, and the reality of  reality TV.

Equal parts disturbing and fascinating, this book gets five stars from me.

Oh, and I’m on Goodreads now! Come see what I’m reading, recommend what book I should read next, or be my friend. Psychopaths need not apply.

 

 

What I’m Reading: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume Three

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”
Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Science fiction has always held a special place in my heart. One of my favorite sci-fi books is This Perfect Day by Ira Levin; it left me changed in way that only a good book can.

Reading The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume Three, I encountered a short story with such delicious language I told my husband he had to read it. He was not enthusiastic. So I read it aloud to him, with different voices for each of the characters, and by the end, he was enjoying himself. At least, he hasn’t had me committed to a mental institution yet.

The story is entitled, “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman by Harlan Ellison. It is ten and a half well crafted pages about a society where time is king, right down to the microsecond. Late ten minutes to work? Your life is docked ten minutes. If you are tardy too often, you are “turned off” by the all-powerful Ticktockman.

The Harlequin seeks to change this slavish devotion to time. He disrupts the schedule by seven whole minutes with-

Ah, but you’ll have to read the story to find out.That is, if you have the time.

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                               “He was not purring smoothly. Timewise, it was jangle.”                                                                                               (Image via Pixabay)

 

 

 

 

What I’m Reading: The Advanced Genius Theory

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Have you ever looked at a celebrity and thought they must be losing it? That almost everything they are acting in/writing/producing is complete and utter drivel? The book I’m reading, The Advanced Genius Theory by Jason Hartley, explains why you might be wrong.

Do you love Star Wars but hate Jar Jar Binks? Jason Hartley explains that George Lucas is an Advanced Genius, so in reality, Jar Jar is just ahead of his time (which doesn’t make the character any more likable to me, but at least there is an explanation). So, what does “Advanced Genius” mean? According to the author, you have to meet five criteria:

1) You must have done great work for more than fifteen years.

2) You must have alienated your original fans.

3) You must be completely unironic.

4) You must be unpredictable.

5) You must “lose it.” Spectacularly.

He explains his theory in depth from there. So if you want to figure out if your favorite actor/chef/politician/public figure is actually an Advanced Genius, or really is losing it, read the book. If you want to see people in a fresh perspective, read the book. If you want to learn an Advanced mind set, read the book.

I give this book five out of five stars. What are you reading?