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Agnes by Tony Cochran 3/20/22

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The Book That Pulled Me Out of a Reading Slump: 10 Readers Share. 2/17/22

Next Year in Havana Chanel Cleeton

Amy says: "I was definitely in a reading slump last year. I found it difficult to finish books I’d started, and when I was done, I wasn’t really reaching for the next one. Then I was introduced to Chanel Cleeton’s novel Next Year in Havana. I was mesmerized by the unfolding story of a granddaughter honoring her grandmother’s last wishes to spread her ashes in her homeland. While she is visiting Cuba, she learns how the Cuban Revolution shaped her grandmother’s life and changed it forever."

Rebecca Daphne du Maurier

Barbara says: "I was in a bit of a lull one day and picked up Rebecca, which I hadn’t read for years. Even though I knew what was going to happen, I still found myself on pins and needles. This is what great writing does!"

Taste: My Life Through Food Stanley Tucci

Kristin says: "Stanley Tucci’s Taste: My Life Through Food snapped me out of my slump. Part memoir, part recipes, his love of food through his heritage has been fascinating!"

Falling T. J. Newman

Terri says: "Read a book so bad that I didn’t even pass it on to my book exchange group! I was so disappointed that I wasted two weeks trying to get through it! Then, I picked up Falling by T. J. Newman! Great book! What a ride!"

Matrix Lauren Groff

Edith says: "Recently, I was losing interest in a sci-fi series and stopped reading it. Soon after I read a review about a book called Matrix by Lauren Groff and bought it because it sounded different from my usual taste. Well, I was unable to put it down, and I just loved it!"

12 Mysteries and Thrillers Featuring Older Sleuths By Angela Erickson•February 10, 2022

The pandemic has given us a bad case of narrative vertigo. Literature can help. 2/1/22

This village was a book capital. What happens when people stop buying so many books? By Reis Thebault and Quentin Ariès 12/26/21

La Librairie Ardennaise, one of the oldest bookstores in Redu, Belgium, has about 30,000 volumes. Owner Paul Brandeleer expects they'll have to be tossed out when he retires. (Virginie Nguyen Hoang/Collectif Huma/For The Washington Post)

REDU, Belgium — Nearly 40 years ago, books saved this village.

The community was shrinking fast. Farming jobs had disappeared and families were moving away from this pastoral patch of French-speaking Belgium.

But in the mid-1980s, a band of booksellers moved into the empty barns and transformed the place into a literary lodestone. The village of about 400 became home to more than two dozen bookstores — more shops than cows, its boosters liked to say — and thousands of tourists thronged the winsome streets.

Now, though, more than half the bookstores have closed. Some of the storekeepers died, others left when they could no longer make a living. Many who remain are in their 70s and aren't sure what'll happen after they're gone.

It's not just the businesses at risk. It's Redu's identity.

This is a place that celebrates itself as a village du livre, a "book town." Its public lampposts and trash cans are adorned with bibliophilic hieroglyphs.

But what happens when the main attractions become less attractive? This is the challenge the village du livre must now confront.

"Life is changing, but nothing is dying," said Anne Laffut, the mayor of Libin, the municipality where Redu sits. "Everything is evolving."

Redu holds a vaunted place in the history of book towns, an honorific that originated with an eccentric Brit who brought hundreds of thousands of books to the Welsh market town Hay-on-Wye in the 1960s.

Richard Booth, who died in 2019, transformed Hay into a global capital of used books, attracting numerous booksellers and opening a half-dozen shops of his own.

Richard Booth obituary

Booth's success inspired struggling rural communities around the world to remake themselves as book towns, hoping to attract tourists and jump-start their economies. Redu was the first copycat.

De Eglantier and Crazy Castle, a bookshop in a former barn, with an English section in the hayloft, reflects Redu's last transformation. (Virginie Nguyen Hoang/Collectif Huma/For The Washington Post)

Spurred by a visit to Hay in the late 1970s, part-time Redu resident Noel Anselot hatched a similar strategy for his weekend home, according to a brief history of the place by Miep van Duin, who at 76 is one of the village’s longest tenured booksellers.

On Easter weekend in 1984, roughly 15,000 people descended on Redu, perusing the used and antiquarian volumes vendors sold out of abandoned stables and sidewalk stalls. The booksellers decided to stay. Others soon followed, along with an illustrator, a bookbinder and a paper maker. It was an eclectic, countercultural crowd. Young families arrived, too, and new students trickled into the faded schoolhouse.

The pièce de résistance: For the first time in years, Redu had its own bakery.

The village, van Duin concluded, had been reborn.

"It was much more lively then than it is now," she said.

Miep van Duin, owner of De Eglantier and Crazy Castle, plans to run it until she's no longer able. (Virginie Nguyen Hoang/Collectif Huma/For The Washington Post)

Now there are 12 or fewer bookshops, depending on how one counts - and, perhaps, who is doing the counting. Those who are more optimistic about the future of the bookstores tend to cite a higher number.

Those who are less hopeful say their trade has fallen out of fashion, and that people, especially young people, are reading fewer books.

"The clientele is aging and is even disappearing," said Paul Brandeleer, owner of La Librairie Ardennaise.

Brandeleer was among the pioneers of Easter '84. His inventory includes tomes that are hundreds of years old.

Now, at 73, he’s living off his retirement pension. A sign in front of his store used to advertise his services as achat - vente, buying and selling, but the former has been crossed out. He doesn't want any more books.

"I have 30,000 books, but when we disappear, they will go to the trash," Brandeleer said. "We have no kids to take over, they are not interested."

Surveying his shop's rows of books, its low ceiling and brick walls, he offered a metaphor pulled from the stacks: "I think we are the last of the Mohicans."

Brandeleer no longer buys books to resell. He says his shop doesn't need any more. (Virginie Nguyen Hoang/Collectif Huma/For The Washington Post)

Down the road, the owner of Bouquinerie Générale - a store that specializes in bandes dessinées, French-language comics also known as BDs - had his own genre-appropriate comparison.

"We are like Asterix: The last village fighting everyone," said Bob Gossens, invoking the French comic book series about a small Gallic village that resists the Roman Empire.

In his telling, the Romans might be global tech companies or Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, pulling his clientele away one app at a time.

"The Internet is breaking everything," the 73-year-old said.

Nowadays, Gossens gets few customers aside from a core group of regulars who come for his rare editions. Those who do stop in, he has noticed, tend to treat the place like an exhibit of artifacts from another age, rather than a still-functioning store.

"They come here like they go to the museum," he said.

Bouquinerie Generale specializes in bandes dessinées, French-language comics. (Virginie Nguyen Hoang/Collectif Huma/For The Washington Post)

Gossens does not predict a storybook ending for the shops in his village: "We will die a natural death," he said.

A founding member of the International Organization of Book Towns, Redu is part of a network of similarly situated communes. Van Duin, who was the group's first board president, said the still-thriving book towns are in Britain, including Scotland’s Wigtown, which hosts a renowned literary festival.

International Organization of Book Towns

Scotland’s Wigtown

"When you go to a book town in the U.K. in November, sometimes you have to wait before you can pay," van Duin said. "And here, when somebody comes in in November and buys a book, I could kiss him."

While a return to the glory days is probably out of reach, van Duin is hopeful that Redu will retain its artistic vibe, even if the bookstores continue to become less plentiful.

"It will stay a special village, because that's the reputation and that doesn't die very quick," she said.

This is a natural process in a village life cycle, said Maarten Loopmans, a geography professor at Belgium's K.U. Leuven. If a community like Redu is to survive, eventually a new generation must take over and strike a balance between "livability for themselves and, at the same time, an asset to sell to the outer world," he said.

"I'm pretty sure it will still be attractive to tourists," Loopmans added. "But it will need to reinvent itself with a new story that is more attractive these days."

When Johan Deflander and Anthe Vrijlandt moved to Redu about six years ago, the couple's friends warned them they were making a mistake.

"Everyone said, 'Oh you’re going to buy a house in Redu? Isn't that the village that's going to die? Where they used to have bookshops?'" Deflander said.

The couple, who are in their early 50s and live part of the year in Kenya, wanted to open a new kind of establishment, one that moves beyond the "stuffy, old, bankrupt secondhand bookshop idea," Vrijlandt said.

"It's all in the narrative, you know?" Deflander said. "Some of the people who have been here for a longer term, they have difficulties changing the narrative. While we - "

"While we have the luxury of not being stuck in the past," Vrijlandt finished.

Their shop, La Reduiste, hosts jazz nights and film screenings, in addition to selling books in multiple languages and serving espresso and Belgian beer. Books - or, perhaps just as important, the IDEA of books as symbols of comfort or quaint sophistication - remain at the center of the business, which is a model the two say could be replicated villagewide. La Reduiste, they said, is profitable.

La Reduiste, its owners say, is making a profit, even while other bookshops in town struggle. (Virginie Nguyen Hoang/Collectif Huma/For The Washington Post)

"The future is looking in the linkages between books and art in general," Deflander said, as he and Vrijlandt took turns running the bar and greeting customers. "You can do a lot of interesting cultural activities if you open it up from just selling books."

One of Redu's most immediate concerns revolves around the schoolhouse, a stately but abandoned stone building at the center of town. Laffut, the mayor, called a meeting to discuss possible future uses of the building and some 70 people showed up - nearly a quarter of the village's population. The enthusiasm was uplifting, she said.

"There is a change of mentalities," Laffut said. "The elders think the village is changing because there are fewer bookstores and it is a disappointment. But there is a new generation, which is very active in Redu. Many volunteers are teaming up with the same desire for the village to continue to endure."

Mayor Anne Laffut said she is encouraged by the enthusiasm she sees from people invested in Redu's future. (Virginie Nguyen Hoang/Collectif Huma/For The Washington Post)

Laffut, who has been the municipality's mayor for 15 years, said she is no longer worried about Redu's future. The village's location in the Belgian Ardennes, a vast region of forests and rolling hills, means it should continue to bring in nature lovers, she said, and its handful of restaurants and proximity to the Euro Space Center also help.

But perhaps the most significant recent development was the arrival of Mudia, an interactive art museum that opened in 2018 in a former vicar's house, which displays works by Picasso, Rodin and Magritte. The museum has bolstered Redu's reputation as a viable destination for sculptors and painters, and it is the most prominent example of the book town's transition to an arts town.

Roland Vanderheyden has a foot in both Redu's past and future. He worked full time as a bookbinder for six decades until cutting back in recent years to become a painter. Now, in the four rooms where his workshop used to be, he operates a gallery with his wife, Annie Kwasny. They're both 75 and convinced this is Redu's path forward.

"We created this gallery to move the village toward the arts," Kwasny said. "We are in the middle of a transition, really."

Some, like van Duin, are content watching such changes unfold. Her shop, De Eglantier and Crazy Castle, is connected to her home, and she plans to run it until she's no longer able.

Her bookstore - a renovated and well-appointed barn with an English-language section in the former hayloft - exemplifies Redu's last great evolution, from a farming community in decline to a locus of letters.

"There's a natural process of change," she said. "It's inevitable, I think."

After a recent interview, van Duin flipped the sign on her shop's front door back to open and took her seat behind the till, awaiting the village's next chapter.

Redu has been welcoming book lovers since 1984. Some of its residents say it will have to evolve to survive. (Virginie Nguyen Hoang/Collectif Huma/For The Washington Post)

America’s False History ICH By Paul Craig Roberts, September 14, 2018

David Ray Griffin writes books faster than I can read them. Therefore, I am going to borrow Edward Curtin’s review of Griffin’s history of the United States: The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic? which Curtin suggests should have been titled: A Diabolic False Flag Empire.

Griffin’s book is a humdinger and will certainly upset brainwashed American super-patriots, but it throughly documents how Washington’s aggression toward other lands is covered up by politicians, media, and court historians with moral verbiage. In my view the hubris, arrogance, and ignorance of “American exceptionism” has the world locked on a trajectory to its extinction in nuclear Armageddon.

Curtin points out that Griffin makes an extraordinary mistake, unusual for a scholar as careful as Griffin, in his assessment of President John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy was the president who tried to move America’s trajectory off of its demonic path and was murdered by his own government for his attempt. But as I have said, none of us knows everything. We often have to rely on others, and others, also, make mistakes.

Washington’s aggression and war crimes against the Confederacy. The Union’s aggression included warring against civilians and the intentional destruction of their livelihoods. It was the same for its time as the US and British firebombing of German cities and Washington’s destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic bombs.

Washington has never let morality stand in the way of its empire.

Washington has never permitted treaties and domestic laws to stand in its way either. For example:

–The Cheney/Bush regime violated the Non-Detention Act passed by Congress in 1971 and signed by President Nixon.

–The Cheney/Bush regime violated The Convention Against Torture, ratified by the Senate in 1994 and bolstered by a US law that prohibits US officials anywhere in the world from torturing anyone.

–The Cheney/Bush regime unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-ABM Treaty.

–The Trump regime unilaterally withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

–The Obama regime dismissed the due process protection in the US Constitution and arbitrarily assassinated US citizens without indictment, trial, and conviction.

The above examples merely scratch the surface. Just think of all of the treaties with the various American Indian tribes that Washington dishonored.

As Washington’s word means nothing, it is a puzzle that Iran and Russia make worthless agreements with Washington. The answer must be that hope prevails over experience.

A Diabolic False Flag Empire

By Edward Curtin

September 08, 2018 "Lew Rockwell" - The past is not dead; it is people who are sleeping. The current night and daymares that we are having arise out of murders lodged deep in our past that have continued into the present. No amount of feigned amnesia will erase the bloody truth of American history, the cheap grace we bestow upon ourselves.

We have, as Harold Pinter said in his Nobel address, been feeding on “a vast tapestry of lies” that surrounds us, lies uttered by nihilistic leaders and their media mouthpieces for a very long time. We have, or should have, bad consciences for not acknowledging being active or silent accomplices in the suppression of truth and the vicious murdering of millions at home and abroad.

But, as Pinter said, “I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory."

No one is more emblematic of this noble effort than David Ray Griffin, who, in book after book since the attacks of 11 September 2001, has meticulously exposed the underside of the American empire and its evil masters. His persistence in trying to reach people and to warn them of the horrors that have resulted is extraordinary. Excluding his philosophical and theological works, this is his fifteenth book since 2004 on these grave issues of life and death and the future of the world.

In this masterful book, he provides a powerful historical argument that right from the start with the arrival of the first European settlers, this country, despite all the rhetoric about it having been divinely founded and guided, has been “more malign that benign, more demonic than divine." He chronologically presents this history, supported by meticulous documentation, to prove his thesis. In his previous book, Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World, Griffin cataloged the evil actions that flowed from the inside job/false flag attacks of September 11th, while in this one – a prequel – he offers a lesson in American history going back centuries, and he shows that one would be correct in calling the United States a “false flag empire.

The attacks of 11 September 2001 are the false flag fulcrum upon which his two books pivot. Their importance cannot be overestimated, not just for their inherent cruelty that resulted in thousands of innocent American deaths, but since they became the justification for the United States’ ongoing murderous campaigns termed “the war on terror” that have brought death to millions of people around the world. An international array of expendable people. Terrifying as they were, and were meant to be, they have many precedents, although much of this history is hidden in the shadows.

Griffin shines a bright light on them, with most of his analysis focused on the years 1850-2018.

As a theological and philosophical scholar, he is well aware of the great importance of society’s need for religious legitimation for its secular authority, a way to offer its people a shield against terror and life’s myriad fears through a protective myth that has been used successfully by the United States to terrorize others. He shows how the terms by which the U.S. has been legitimated as God’s “chosen nation” and Americans as God’s “chosen people” have changed over the years as secularization and pluralism have made inroads. The names have changed, but the meaning has not. God is on our side, and when that is so, the other side is cursed and can be killed by God’s people, who are always battling el diabalo.

He exemplifies this by opening with a quote from George Washington’s first Inaugural Address where Washington speaks of “the Invisible Hand” and “Providential agency” guiding the country, and by ending with Obama saying “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being." In between we hear Andrew Jackson say that “Providence has showered on this favored land blessings without number” and Henry Cabot Lodge in 1900 characterize America’s divine mission as “manifest destiny." The American religion today is American Exceptionalism, an updated euphemism for the old-fashioned “God’s New Israel” or the “Redeemer Nation."

At the core of this verbiage lies the delusion that the United States, as a blessed and good country, has a divine mission to spread “democracy” and “freedom” throughout the world, as Hilary Clinton declared during the 2016 presidential campaign when she said that “we are great because we are good," and in 2004 when George W. Bush said, “Like generations before us, we have a calling from beyond the stars to stand for freedom." Such sentiments could only be received with sardonic laughter by the countless victims made “free” by America’s violent leaders, now and then, as Griffin documents.

Having established the fact of America’s claim to divine status, he then walks the reader through various thinkers who have taken sides on the issue of the United States being benign or malign. This is all preliminary to the heart of the book, which is a history lesson documenting the malignancy at the core of the American trajectory.

“American imperialism is often said to have begun in 1898, when Cuba and the Philippines were the main prizes," he begins. “What was new at this time, however, was only that America took control of countries beyond the North American continent." The “divine right” to seize others’ lands and kill them started long before, and although no seas were crossed in the usual understanding of imperialism, the genocide of Native Americans long preceded 1898. So too did the “manifest destiny” that impelled war with Mexico and the seizure of its land and the expansion west to the Pacific. This period of empire building depended heavily on the “other great crime against humanity” that was the slave trade, wherein it is estimated that 10 million Africans died, in addition to the sick brutality of slavery itself. “No matter how brutal the methods, Americans were instruments of divine purposes," writes Griffin. And, he correctly adds, it is not even true that America’s overseas imperialistic ventures only started in 1898, for in the 1850s Commodore Perry forced “the haughty Japanese” to open their ports to American commerce through gunboat diplomacy.

Then in 1898 the pace of overseas imperial expansion picked up dramatically with what has been called “The Spanish-American War” that resulted in the seizure of Cuba and the Philippines and the annexing of Hawaii. Griffin says these wars could more accurately be termed “the wars to take Spanish colonies." His analysis of the brutality and arrogance of these actions makes the reader realize that My Lai and other more recent atrocities have a long pedigree that is part of an institutional structure, and while Filipinos and Cubans and so many others were being slaughtered, Griffin writes, “Anticipating Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s declaration that ‘we don’t do empire,' [President] McKinley said that imperialism is ‘foreign to the temper and genius of this free and generous people.’”

Then as now, perhaps mad laughter is the only response to such unadulterated bullshit, as Griffin quotes Mark Twain saying that it would be easy creating a flag for the Philippines:

We can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.

That would have also worked for Columbia, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, and other countries subjugated under the ideology of the Monroe Doctrine; wherever freedom and national independence raised its ugly head, the United States was quick to intervene with its powerful anti-revolutionary military and its financial bullying. In the Far East the “Open Door” policy was used to loot China, Japan, and other countries.

But all this was just the beginning. Griffin shows how Woodrow Wilson, the quintessentially devious and treacherous liberal Democrat, who claimed he wanted to keep America out of WW I, did just the opposite to make sure the U.S. would come to dominate the foreign markets his capitalist masters demanded. Thus Griffin explores how Wilson conspired with Winston Churchill to use the sinking of the Lusitania as a casus belli and how the Treaty of Versailles’s harsh treatment of Germany set the stage for WW II.

He tells us how in the intervening years between the world wars the demonization of Russia and the new Soviet Union was started. This deprecation of Russia, which is roaring at full-throttle today, is a theme that recurs throughout The American Trajectory. Its importance cannot be overemphasized. Wilson called the Bolshevik government “a government by terror," and in 1918 “sent thousands of troops into northern and eastern Russia, leaving them there until 1920."

That the U. S. invaded Russia is a fact rarely mentioned and even barely known to Americans. Perhaps awareness of it and the century-long demonizing of the U.S.S.R./Russia would enlighten those who buy the current anti-Russia propaganda called “Russiagate."

To match that “divine” act of imperial intervention abroad, Wilson fomented the Red Scare at home, which, as Griffin says, had lasting and incalculable importance because it created the American fear of radical thought and revolution that exists to this very day and serves as a justification for supporting brutal dictators around the world and crackdowns on freedom at home (as is happening today).

He gives us brief summaries of some dictators the U.S has supported, and reminds us of the saying of that other liberal Democrat, Franklin Roosevelt, who famously said of the brutal Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, that “he may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch." And thus Somoza would terrorize his own people for 43 years. The same took place in Cuba, Chile, Iran, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, etc. The U.S. also supported Mussolini, did nothing to prevent Franco’s fascist toppling of the Spanish Republic, and supported the right-wing government of Chiang-Kai Shek in its efforts to dominate China.

It is a very dark and ugly history that confirms the demonic nature of American actions around the world.

Then Griffin explodes the many myths about the so-called “Good War” – WW II. He explains the lies told about the Japanese “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor; how Roosevelt wished to get the U.S. into the war, both in the Pacific and in Europe; and how much American economic self-interest lay behind it. He critiques the myth that America selflessly wished to defend freedom loving people in their battles with brutal, fascist regimes. That, he tells us, is but a small part of the story:

This, however, is not an accurate picture of American policies during the Second World War. Many people were, to be sure, liberated from terrible tyrannies by the Allied victories. But the fact that these people benefited was an incidental outcome, not a motive of American policies. These policies, as [Andrew] Bacevich discovered, were based on ‘unflagging self-interest.'

Then there are the conventional and atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nothing could be more demonic, as Griffin shows. If these cold-blooded mass massacres of civilians and the lies told to justify them don’t convince a reader that there has long been something radically evil at the heart of American history, nothing will. Griffin shows how Truman and his advisers and top generals, including Dwight Eisenhower and Admiral William D. Leahy, Truman’s Chief of Staff, knew the dropping of the atomic bombs were unnecessary to end the war, but they did so anyway.

He reminds us of Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s response to the question whether she thought the deaths of more than 500, 000 Iraqi children as a result of Clinton’s crippling economic sanctions were worth it: “But, yes, we think the price is worth it." (Notice the “is," the ongoing nature of these war crimes, as she spoke.) But this is the woman who also said, “We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall…”

Griffin devotes other chapters to the creation of the Cold War, American imperialism during the Cold War, Post-Cold War interventions, the Vietnam War, the drive for global dominance, and false flag operations, among other topics.

As for false flag operations, he says, “Indeed, the trajectory of the American Empire has relied so heavily on these types of attacks that one could describe it as a false flag empire." In the false flag chapter and throughout the book, he discusses many of the false flags the U.S. has engaged in, including Operation Gladio, the U.S./NATO terrorist operation throughout Europe that Swiss historian Daniele Ganser has extensively documented, an operation meant to discredit communists and socialists. Such operations were directly connected to the OSS, the CIA and its director Allen Dulles, his henchman James Jesus Angleton, and their Nazi accomplices, such as General Reinhard Gehlen. In one such attack in 1980 at the Bologna, Italy railway station, these U.S. terrorists killed 85 people and wounded 20 others. As with the bombs dropped by Saudi Arabia today on Yemeni school children, the explosive used was made for the U.S. military. About these documented U.S. atrocities, Griffin says:

“These revelations show the falsity of an assumption widely held by Americans. While recognizing that the US military sometimes does terrible things to their enemies, most Americans have assumed that US military leaders would not order the killing of innocent civilians in allied countries for political purposes. Operation Gladio showed this assumption to be false."

He is right, but I would add that the leaders behind this were civilian, as much as, or more than military.

In the case of “Operation Northwoods," it was the Joint Chiefs of Staff who presented to President Kennedy this false flag proposal that would provide justification for a U.S. invasion of Cuba. It would have involved the killing of American citizens on American soil, bombings, plane hijacking, etc. President Kennedy considered such people and such plans insane, and he rejected it as such. His doing so tells us much, for many other presidents would have approved it. And again, how many Americans are aware of this depraved proposal that is documented and easily available? How many even want to contemplate it? For the need to remain in denial of the facts of history and believe in the essential goodness of America’s rulers is a very hard nut to crack. Griffin has written a dozen books about 11 September 2001, trying to do exactly that.

If one is willing to embrace historical facts, however, then this outstanding book will open one’s eyes to the long-standing demonic nature of the actions of America’s rulers. A reader cannot come away from its lucidly presented history unaffected, unless one lives in a self-imposed fantasy world. The record is clear, and Griffin lays it out in all its graphic horror. Which is not to say that the U.S. has not “done both good and bad things, so it could not sensibly be called purely divine or purely demonic." Questions of purity are meant to obfuscate basic truths. And the question he asks in his subtitle – Divine or Demonic? – is really a rhetorical question, and when it comes to the “trajectory” of American history, the demonic wins hands down.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out one place where Griffin fails the reader. In his long chapter on Vietnam, which is replete with excellent facts and analyses, he makes a crucial mistake, which is unusual for him. This mistake appears in a four page section on President Kennedy’s policies on Vietnam. In those pages, Griffin relies on Noam Chomsky’s terrible book – Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture (1993), a book wherein Chomsky shows no regard for evidence or facts – to paint Kennedy as being in accord with his advisers, the CIA, and the military regarding Vietnam.

This is factually false. Griffin should have been more careful and have understood this. The truth is that Kennedy was besieged and surrounded by these demonic people, who were intent on isolating him, disregarding his instructions, and murdering him to achieve their goals in Vietnam. In the last year of his life, JFK had taken a radical turn toward peace-making, not only in Vietnam, but with the Soviet Union, Cuba, and around the globe. Such a turn was anathema to the war lovers. Thus he had to die.

Contrary to Chomsky’s deceptions, motivated by his hatred of Kennedy and perhaps something more sinister (he also backs the Warren Commission, thinks JFK’s assassination was no big deal, and accepts the patently false official version of the attacks of 11 September 2001),

Griffin should have emphatically asserted that Kennedy had issued NSAM 263 on October 11, 1963 calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, and that after he was assassinated a month later, Lyndon Johnson reversed that withdrawal order with NSAM 273.

Chomsky notwithstanding, all the best scholarship and documentary evidence proves this. And for Griffin, a wonderful scholar, to write that with the change from Kennedy to Johnson that “this change of presidents would bring no basic change in policy” is so shockingly wrong that I imagine Griffin, a man passionate about truth, simply slipped up and got sloppy here. For nothing could be further from the truth.

Ironically, Griffin makes a masterful case for his thesis, while forgetting the one pivotal man, President John Kennedy, who sacrificed his life in an effort to change the trajectory of American history from its demonic course. It is one mistake in an otherwise very important and excellent book that should be required reading for anyone who doubts the evil nature of this country’s continuing foreign policy. Those who are already convinced should also read it, for it provides a needed historical resource and impetus to help change the trajectory that is transporting the world toward nuclear oblivion, if continued.

If – a fantastic wish! – The American Trajectory: Divine or Demonic? were required reading in American schools and colleges, perhaps a new generation would arise to change our devils into angels, the arc of America’s future moral universe toward justice, and away from being the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, as it has been for so very long.

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This mind-bending French bestseller should take off here, too. 11/30/21

12 Clever Mysteries with Curmudgeonly Detectives By Natalie Noland•December 2, 2021

If you like grumpy inspectors with eccentric personalities and Sherlockian deduction skills, we've compiled the perfect list for you! Here are some of the best mysteries with curmudgeonly detectives, from classic whodunits to recent capers and Nordic noir. These puzzling tales will have you on the edge of your seat as you solve the mysteries alongside your new favorite sleuths.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie - known as the Queen of Crime - made her debut with this almost impossible-to-solve whodunit featuring Inspector Hercule Poirot, who has become a beloved figure in the world of crime fiction. Poirot investigates the poisoning of his neighbor Emily Inglethorp, who was found dead in her locked bedroom. The New York Times Book Review says, "You will be kept guessing at its solution and will most certainly never lay down this most entertaining book."

Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout

This classic yarn from a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master is told in the style of Holmes and Watson - wherein an eccentric and brilliant sleuth solves the crime, and his trusty companion helps narrate their adventure. Nero Wolfe is shocked, and more than a little intrigued, when he receives a deadly snake from an anonymous source. He knows it's a warning related to his current case, but can he twist his way through the bewildering clues before even more danger is sent his way?

Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

Edgar Award–winning and New York Times bestselling author Ian Rankin originally wrote Knots and Crosses with the idea of creating a contemporary Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. John Rebus is an irritable, grumpy, and haunted Edinburgh cop who keeps to himself and does the bare minimum at his job. But when a series of murders wreaks havoc on the city, Rebus must confront his inner demons to solve the case.

Last Bus to Woodstock by Colin Dexter

Known for using highly skilled levels of deduction, Inspector Morse is a staple in British crime fiction — he even inspired a long-running, award-winning TV show! In his first appearance, the prickly yet brilliant detective sets out to solve the killing of Sylvia Kaye, a young woman last seen hitchhiking near Oxford but found dead hours later. When a witness proves unhelpful and the clues run dry, Morse must rely on wits and observational skills as he takes the investigation in a new direction.

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Tense, humorous, and compelling, The Keeper of Lost Causes follows Carl Mørck, an intelligent Copenhagen detective relegated to Department Q after a homicide case mishap. In charge of cold cases, Carl spends his days going through file after file - until a missing politician case snags his attention, and he sets out to solve it. Publishers Weekly raves about this unputdownable mystery, saying "the pages fly by as the twisty puzzle unfolds."

*Don't Ever Get Old by Daniel Friedman

Rife with wickedly funny dialogue, this highly original mystery was nominated for an Edgar Award and has been optioned for a limited TV series. Eighty-seven-year-old retired cop Buck Schatz is abrasive, forgetful, and out of shape - but that doesn’t mean he's past his prime! When he discovers that an old enemy of his is still alive, and in possession of stolen gold, he teams up with his know-it-all grandson to track down the treasure... Now, they just have to outsmart the murderous crew on their trail.

**Summer of the Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara

Mas Arai has many titles: He's a widowed husband, an estranged father, a Hiroshima survivor, and a stubborn, elderly gardener in California. But when a private investigator from Japan comes sniffing around, asking questions about an old acquaintance who winds up murdered, Mas finds himself taking on one more role - amateur sleuth - as he plunges into the past to discover what really happened in the present. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly raves that "this perfectly balanced gem deserves a wide readership."

The Conjure-Man Dies by Rudolph Fisher

Written during the Harlem Renaissance, this gripping read follows Perry Dart, one of Harlem's 10 Black police detectives. When a local conjure-man is found dead in his consultation room, Dart and his sidekick, Dr. John Archer, set out to narrow down the list of suspects and solve the suspicious murder. Hailed as "a puzzling mystery yarn" by The New York Times, this hard-boiled procedural will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint

This intriguing page-turner introduces the beloved Inspector Singh, "whose timeless, idiosyncratic personality will draw all types of mystery readers," according to Booklist. A Singaporean detective is convinced that Chelsea Liew - a model convicted of murdering her husband - is innocent. The only problem: She's the obvious suspect. She has the means, she has the motive, and she denies the guilt of Jasper, a man who confesses to the crime. Inspector Singh is determined to crack this baffling case, but when the Malaysian police refuse his help, can he find the real culprit on his own?

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

Discover the origins of classic detective fiction with this epistolary whodunit, which T. S. Eliot hailed as "the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels." Rachel Verinder is set to inherit a coveted moonstone diamond on her 18th birthday, but at her birthday dinner, the jewel is stolen. Can Cuff - a stolid and highly skilled British police sergeant - track down the thief?

The Gray and Guilty Sea by Scott William Carter

Haunted by his wife’s murder, self-proclaimed curmudgeon and former private investigator Garrison Gage is hiding out in a small seaside Oregon town, cracking crossword puzzles and trying to forget the past - until the discovery of a girl’s corpse forces him to confront his own secrets in order to solve her murder. This riveting mystery was praised by New York Times bestselling author Michael J. Totten as "outstanding."

The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

This international sensation introduces readers to Inspector Salvo Montalbano: an astute, witty, and principled detective - who is also a bit of a loose cannon. When a local politician is found dead, and his powerful higher-ups try to obstruct the truth, Montalbano has no problem going rogue to expose the suspicious circumstances and startling reality that led to the murder. USA Today calls Montalbano "one of the most engaging protagonists in detective fiction."

The Best Holiday Reads, According to BookBub Readers By BookBub•December 2, 2021

We asked BookBub readers to share their favorite holiday reads - check out the list below for their recommendations!

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

Elaine says: "A beautifully written book of love and loss and love found once more, set against a backdrop of a wintry Scottish village celebrating the Christmas season. I read this book every single year around this time and I love it as much as I did the first time I read it."

Is there a better setting for a cozy holiday tale than a Scottish village during wintertime? This heartwarming tale follows five lonely souls who all find themselves in a large Victorian home - and together, they discover that Christmas doesn’t have to be a time of loneliness.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Karen says: "Dickens’s classic is a must-read every year."

If you’re looking for a classic holiday tale with a timeless lesson, you can’t go wrong with A Christmas Carol. In Victorian London, Ebenezer Scrooge is an elderly miser who loathes the Christmas season — but a visit from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future will transform his life. We recommend reading this one and then watching one of the many film adaptations to really get in the festive spirit!

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Susan says: "When the kids were young, we decorated the tree, then listened to the cassette of William Hurt. Official opening of the season!"

All aboard the Polar Express! On Christmas Eve, a young boy is invited on a magical, life-changing train ride to the North Pole. This beloved children's book is the perfect holiday read to enjoy with the whole family - and afterward, you can watch the delightful film adaptation starring Tom Hanks!

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Karin says: "The couple give up their most precious possession to buy a gift for the other. It is such a heartwarming story of love."

This classic short story is sure to tug at your heartstrings. As the holidays draw near, a young married couple struggle to buy gifts for one another with very little money — but the sacrifices they make demonstrate the strength of their love for each other.

A Lot Like Christmas by Connie Willis

This collection of short stories is the perfect holiday read for fans of speculative fiction! From a bookstore clerk who happens to be the Spirit of Christmas Future to aliens responding to a Christmas carol, these tales put a twist on classic holiday traditions. According to Kirkus Reviews, this book has "just the right blend of sugar and spice."

The Gift by Cecelia Ahern

The New York Times bestselling author of PS, I Love You delivers a holiday tale filled with magic, family, and redemption. On a cold winter day, successful businessman Lou Suffern invites an unhoused man named Gabe into his office. After buying Gabe a cup of coffee, Lou gets him a job in his company’s mailroom - but Lou doesn’t know that Gabe will teach him a valuable lesson...

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Meet the Season's Hottest Debut Mystery Authors

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Beyond Goodreads: Four tools that help readers track their books. By Angela Haupt July 10, 2021

Serious readers, much like sports fans, often relish keeping track of stats. Many turn to Goodreads, a large social cataloguing website that allows users to log, discuss, review and rate the books they read. (Goodreads is owned by Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.)

But increasingly, there are websites and apps beyond Goodreads for analyzing your reading habits. Whether you want to boost your reading speed, keep track of your growing personal library or find just the right book to fit your mood, here are four reading tools to consider.


Instagram already has a thriving literary community where people post photos of and talk about books. Litsy, a book-centric social network, takes that to the next level. On the free app, you can follow other readers to cultivate a steady stream of bookish content. It looks like a pared-down version of Instagram — minus the occasional kid or dog photo.

When readers post about a book, they can rate it "pick," "so-so," "pan" or "bailed." Each post is directly attached to that book's searchable catalogue page, where you can add it to your list. The search function works well. I typed in Emily Henry's novel "Beach Read," and thumbed through pretty photos of the book beside a dog, next to a scrumptious muffin and - fittingly - on a beach. Some photos simply featured favorite passages.

Library Thing

If you obsess over your home library and thrive on organization, LibraryThing might suit your needs.

The platform, available on the Web and as an app, recently dropped its membership fees and is now free. Getting started is easy: Import your books from Goodreads, plug them in manually or scan the bar codes on your physical copies using your phone’s camera. You can also catalogue movies and music.

While sites like Goodreads are convenient for keeping track of what you read, LibraryThing is an excellent place to keep track of what you own. You can organize books into different collections and add tags to note whether you own a certain title or borrowed it. For example, you might categorize books to indicate that they're on your living room bookshelf or in a box in the basement. (I like that I can also log library books I'd like to own, so if I come across something interesting at a book sale, I can easily confirm I need it.)

LibraryThing's recommendations are great: Its No. 1 pick for me was "The Vanishing Half" by Brit Bennett, which I devoured. The site also fosters a nice sense of community: One popular group, called "Name That Book," is designed to help people remember the name of a book they once read. "Girl sent to island for being sick," a recent query read. (It turned out to be "The Scourge" by Jennifer A. Nielsen.) On message boards, there is near-constant chatter about every bookish matter you could imagine.

The StoryGraph

Whether a book resonates often depends on how you're feeling when you pick it up. The website StoryGraph delivers on a big promise: to steer you toward books that fit your mood.

After signing up, I filled out a survey that included a dozen questions, including: What are your favorite genres? What characteristics do you appreciate the most in books right now? (Options: plot twists; women-heavy cast of characters; morally ambiguous characters.) What turns you off from a book? (Flat characters; confusing ending; dense writing.)

I whittled my recommendations down by noting what I was in the mood for ("funny" and "light-hearted"), whether I wanted fiction or nonfiction (fiction), and number of pages (300-499).

My selections generated a list of books that was remarkably spot-on... None had previously been on my radar, but all appealed to me.

Stellar recommendations aside, StoryGraph - which is free - also allows users to categorize books into various piles, such as "currently reading," and create yearly reading goals.


If you think of reading as a competitive sport, you'll appreciate Bookly, an app that doubles as a personal trainer. The goal: to make reading a habit and increase your "performance" - which basically means reading more often and, ideally, faster.

Bookly's app is easy to navigate and centers on a timer that keeps track of reading sessions. When you're done reading, the app prompts you to log what page you're on and calculates how much longer it will take you to finish the book.

Bookly is a statistician's delight: You can comb through reports on your reading speed and compare your performance on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The app is also big on goals. I entered that I wanted to read for 30 minutes a day, and I set an alarm to get a friendly nudge if I hadn't done so by 8:30 p.m. The app's tone is chirpy and encouraging - "Hey! It's reading time," it announces, in a notification with a smiley face and book emoji. Half an hour later, when I hadn't resumed reading, another appeared: "With 21 pages to go, you need 10 minutes of reading time to finish your book today."

Bookly is free to use, but there's also a paid version. It offers additional perks such as PDF summaries of your stats, including your best reading day and all-time fastest speed - which sounds like the literary version of a baseball card.

21 of the Best Books of the Year (So Far). 7 July 2021

Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner

Grief, food, and identity are at the heart of Michelle Zauner’s moving and honest memoir, expanded from her 2018 New Yorker essay. After losing her mother to pancreatic cancer, Zauner reflects on their complicated relationship, the connections that can be made through food, and growing up Korean American in Oregon.

The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris

At first, editorial assistant Nella is thrilled when Hazel joins Wagner Books — her arrival means Nella will no longer be the company’s only Black employee. But that excitement is quickly dampened when a threatening note appears on her desk, telling her to “LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.” Offering sharp social commentary on racism and privilege in the workplace, this buzzy, genre-bending debut is a must-read.

The Maidens, Alex Michaelides

This eerie thriller from the author of The Silent Patient follows group therapist Mariana Andros, who returns to her alma mater, Cambridge University, after her niece’s friend is killed on campus. Once there, Mariana becomes convinced that Greek tragedy professor Edward Fosca is responsible for the murder — but he has an alibi in the form of The Maidens, a secret society of female students. Packed with twists and turns, The Maidens will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Project Hail Mary, Andy Weir

From the start, this sci-fi thriller — which already has a big-screen adaptation in the works — will have readers glued to the page. When Ryland Grace wakes up, he finds himself alone on a spaceship, unsure of how he got there, with the rest of his crew dead. His situation only becomes more dire when he realizes he’s in a race against the clock to save humanity. With its high stakes, wealth of scientific detail, and self-deprecating humor, Project Hail Mary is an unforgettable ride.

Infinite Country, Patricia Engel

With lyrical prose, Infinite Country weaves together the story of a Colombian family grappling with the effects of deportation. This poignant and timely novel will stick with you after the final page, and Publishers Weekly’s starred review says, “Engel’s sharp, unflinching narrative teems with insight and dazzles with a confident, slyly sophisticated structure.”

28 of the Best Science Fiction Books About Space By Vicki Lindem•Updated: April 25, 2021

7 New Book Club Books to Read Based on Old Favorites By Melissa Flandreau•April 30, 2021

"Circe" by Madeline Miller
Madeline Miller’s New York Times bestseller put a spin on The Odyssey, breathing new life into the legend of Circe. A thought-provoking retelling of the Trojan War and its aftermath

"A thousand Ships" by Natalie Haynes
A Thousand Ships is another chance to revisit a story you thought you already knew. Told from an all-female perspective, this epic novel centers on the experiences of women like Calliope, Helen, and Penelope, with each perspective offering fresh insight. As with Circe, the result is an absorbing read with complex, well-drawn characters.

"Band of Sisters: The women of Smith College Go to War" by Lauren Willig
Although Band of Sisters takes place during World War I rather than World War II, readers will undoubtedly be drawn to it for the same reasons they enjoyed The Nightingale. Inspired by true events, it’s filled with rich, atmospheric detail that pulls you in from the start and tells a gripping story of resilience and the bonds that tie us together. Band of Sisters follows the Smith College Relief Unit, a group of alumni who travel to France in the summer of 1917 to help villages devastated by German occupation. Among them is Kate Moran, a scholarship student who was brought into the unit by a former friend. In France, Kate and her fellow Smithies do what they can to offer aid while facing hardship as the war rages on.

"The Hunting Wives" by May Cobb.
Big Little Lies captivated readers with its plot packed full of suburban secrets and scandal, and The Hunting Wives is the perfect pick for anyone searching for another thriller filled with murder, drama, and twists and turns to keep you guessing. When Sophie O’Neill and her husband trade Chicago for small-town Texas, the resulting boredom leads her to socialite Margot Banks and the Hunting Wives, a clique where skeet shooting, partying, and adultery are the activities of choice. Sophie is soon caught up with the club — and when a teenage girl is found dead, she finds herself the main suspect.

"The Chosen and the Beautiful" by Nghi Vo
If you liked The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, read The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo... Love dissecting the classics with your book club? Try this inventive reimagining of Fitzgerald’s famed novel. The Chosen and the Beautiful follows Jordan Baker, a queer Vietnamese adoptee and magician. Along with praising the “immersive prose,” Publishers Weekly says, “The Gatsby-related details and hints of magic will keep readers spellbound from start to finish.”

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I was always drawn to Mariah Carey’s music. After reading her memoir, I understand why.

Mariah Carey performing during a concert in Dubai in 2019. (Kamran Jebreili/AP)

It’s been 30 years since Mariah Carey released her debut album and stunned audiences with her seemingly ever-accessible whistle register. Over the years, she has alluded to a painful past, but no thinly veiled song reference or shade-tinged interview has painted a full picture of Carey, one of the most prolific and best-selling pop stars of our time.

The singer’s new memoir, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey," fills in the gaps and reminds us of all that Carey has overcome, largely on her own, and well ahead of our cultural reckoning on racism and gender inequality. In one of her shrewdest insights, Carey (who wrote alongside Michaela Angela Davis) notes that she was one of the first artists to cultivate an ongoing relationship with her fans, and give them a name -- the Lambily -- laying the groundwork for the Swifties, Beliebers and Little Monsters to come.

Carey’s music and backstory have always resonated with me. Like Carey, I grew up with a White mother and a Black father. I didn’t know many multiracial people then, and Carey gave me a reference for the otherness I felt every day. My Mariah fandom became part of my identity, one of the few things about myself I didn’t have to hide.

14 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About C. S. Lewis

The Bestselling Book the Year You Were Born

1935: Green Light by Lloyd C. Douglas
1936: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
1937: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
1938: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
1939: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
1940: How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
1941: The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin
1942: The Song of Bernadette by Franz Werfel
1943: The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
1944: Strange Fruit by Lillian Smith
1945: Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
1946: The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier
Du Maurier’s book is set during the English Civil War, shown through the eyes of Honor Harris, separated by tragic circumstances from her love, Richard Grenvile. The novel follows the course of their lives and the impact of the war on their families and loved ones.

1947: The Miracle of the Bells by Russell Janney
1948: The Big Fisherman by Lloyd C. Douglas
1949: The Egyptian by Mika Waltari
1950: The Cardinal by Henry Morton Robinson

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Fans of Moby Dick by Herman Melville should read: The Essex Serpent Sarah Perry

Fans of 1984 by George Orwell should read: Vox Christina Dalcher

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The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le! One of the most beautiful things I have read."

Moby Dick
Herman Melville

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Betty Smith

The Last Policeman
Ben H. Winters
Kathleen says: “The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters... kept popping up on best of lists but I was put off by the use of the word “apocalyptic” in the reviews and descriptions. When I finally got past my preconceived notions and read it, it was just an incredibly intriguing story, apocalyptic or not."

The Shell Seekers
Rosamunde Pilcher

The Fifth Season
N. K. Jemisin
Francis says: “I’ve always like fantasy, and this is something that would have always enjoyed. It took me a long time to read it because, at the time, I was reluctant to pick up new books. I had such a focus on older books that I’ve missed a few new ‘classics’ that I’m working through now."

Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese

East of Eden John Steinbeck

Milk and Honey Rupi Kaur

Swing Time Zadie Smith
Caleb says: “I’ve had several friends strongly recommend Zadie Smith to me. I think I was overwhelmed with where to start, but once I got into Swing Time, I instantly knew what all the hype was about."

A House in the Sky Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee

Up the Down Staircase Bel Kaufman
Candy says: “My high school teaching career was long finished when I finally read Up the Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman. If only I’d known! The hilarious side of the administration’s attempts to legislate children (and staff) into orderly behaviour, as well as those moments of genuine but ultimately futile connection with a needy child, are captured in a manner as fragmented and scrambled as the average teacher’s day. Just brilliant, and 100% relatable."

The Alchemist Paulo Coelho

Crazy Rich Asians Kevin Kwan

A Discovery of Witches Deborah Harkness

Gone Girl Gillian Flynn

Harry Potter: The Complete Collection (1–7) J.K. Rowling

Anne of Green Gables L. M. Montgomery

Shadow and Bone Leigh Bardugo
Finally read them last summer. The Grishaverse very quickly became my favorite universe to visit."

Educated Tara Westover

The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood

Little Fires Everywhere Celeste Ng
Little Fires Everywhere is a compelling story that touches on many crucial topics in our society today -- it is a must-read!"

Book controversies that you had no idea were going on.

This diary is going to address three book controversies currently going on. They are about three different issues but they all have a centralized theme. I hope my writing does them justice.

Drama 1: Romance Writers of America

For the more detailed version of this story:…

This controversy happened right around Christmas time. Courtney Milan is a popular Asian American writer on the board of RWA that regularly calls out diversity issues that often plague this genre. She had responded to a series of tweets and called out examples of cultural appropriation in a book called by “Somewhere Lies the Moon” by Kathryn Lynn Davis (white writer) written in 1999. Mrs. Davis, none too happy about being called out on Twitter, filed a complaint along with Suzan Tisdale, a publisher and lover of MAGA to the Romance Writers of America board. If you have time, I highly recommend reading the complaint. They compare Mrs. Milan to a I’m not kidding!

The board/secret committee/secret ethic committee (this story has more turns than an actual mystery novel) kicked Mrs. Milan off the board and banned her from ever serving again for life right before Christmas. Mrs Milan express her displeasure on Twitter and the response from the community was outrage. The board reversed their decision in the wake of the outrage. It came out that the incoming president, a scheming man named Damon Suede (I know, amazing right!!) had pretty much orchestrated the entire thing. Half the board quit, Damon Suede said he was going to hand pick the rest of the board and boohoo to anyone who didn’t like it. Mrs. Davis complained that it was unfair she was being picked on for her stereotypical descriptions of Asian women in her book because she a) spent a LOT of time research it and b) It was 1999 so she can’t be held accountable because times were different.

The members of the Romance Writers of American put together a petition to get Mr Suede to resign and wanted a full audit of what was going on. To his credit, Mr Suede held on for quite some time (probably because he has an upcoming book coming out with a publisher who doesn’t pay it’s writers) but finally resigned.

Drama 2 American Dirt

For more details see:…

Jeanine Cummins wrote a fictional book about a Mexican family being forced to immigrant to the United States due to drug cartels. The book was part of bidding frenzy that got the author a 7 figure advance. Oprah made it part of her book club and it’s considered one of the most anticipated books of 2020. The author is a white woman, although she recently has shared she has a Puerto Rican grandmother. Latinx Twitter has not been pleased about this book. It did initially get praise from some prominent Latina/o authors but there has been a much bigger uproar from the rest of the community.

The main story pushed by the media is that the Latinx community is upset because a white lady culturally appropriated a story for profit. So a larger discussion has arisen about who can write about what. I have zero issues with people writing about things they don’t know. Hell women have been reading men’s portrayal of them for years as have POC. The bigger issue is who publishers pick and promote. Many authors of color talk about the struggles they have in getting published. Very rare for an author of color to get a 7 figure advance on a book.

And although the publishing world has gotten much better about uplifting and promoting people of color, its a small percentage of writers. I bet if you aren’t a person of color, you can name a few prominent authors of color but outside of that not many. There seems to be this idea that while...we published one this year so all is good. There is the added problem of Ms. Cummins book launch party where the flower arrangements were set in barbed wire. See my diary picture.

The final issue with American Dirt is that it riddled with bad Spanish and incorrect cultural stereotypes.

Drama 3 My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa is also on the 2020 most anticipated list. It was written by Kate Elizabeth Russell. Stephen King LOVED it, (I think he also loved American Dirt as well)… The book deals with the subject of a teacher taking advantage of an underage student. Ms Russell is a young white woman who is not a victim of sexual abuse. Again this doesn’t mean the topic is off limits to her.

The problem is that one of the books that she references as inspiration is Wendy C. Ortiz, Excavation. Ms Oritz is a young Latina writer who wrote a memoir about her actual experience as the survivor of this type of abuse. See a running theme… Ms Oritz has written about how hard it was for her to find a publisher for her memoir as a woman of color. Although she has not directly commented on the book, she does write that her issue is this hunger for books about trauma porn written by people who have not actually experience it.

In addition the publishing world always has the next young white woman that is going to be the biggest thing ever because they wrote some edgy book. My Dark Vanessa is being hailed as some ground breaking piece because it explores the “nuances” of this type of “relationship”.

Books truly are a way for us to allow our imaginations to run wild. I love reading and I don’t believe in censorship. However I do feel an obligation to make sure that I read authentic books. That I read authors that have roots in the source. That I make sure I’m allowing experts to inform my opinions on topics. Fiction or non fiction, it does us no good to read books sanitized from reality. And it is a larger conversation about who publishers give a microphone to and why.

Studies show that reading makes you a better person -- but don’t do it for that

January is a time for reading resolutions -- and declarations that reading good books will make us better people. At the end of 2019, for instance, New York Public Library President Anthony Marx challenged city residents to resolve to read for at least 20 minutes a day, arguing that “reading helps generate empathy, something our world needs more than ever before."

Marx’s statement is backed up by studies that correlate reading and aspirational qualities like compassion and emotional generosity. One suggests that nurses who work with dementia patients would do well to read more literary novels. Another argues that a capacity to intuit others’ feelings falls like sunlight upon those who read novels “by the likes of Salman Rushdie, Harper Lee and Toni Morrison," (though not so much upon those who read genre fiction.) Another report implies that Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s affection for audiobooks may increase her emotional intelligence. And a study of a host of such studies concludes that reading fiction produces a “small, statistically significant improvement in social-cognitive performance."


I value openheartedness and goodwill as virtues, of course. And I don’t question the scientific rigor of these studies, or their conclusions. Or, at least, I don’t have the intellectual chops to question them. In part I’m irked by how readily news of these studies goes viral, the way that they’re so often taken as opportunities to run a victory lap for one’s own good habits. These studies always seem to unleash approving noises of self-congratulatory self-regard -- ironically betraying a narcissism that seems to counter the argument all these studies are making.

Where do you read books? I read at the mall

But I also think that these studies miss a bigger point by implying that reading fiction is, at its best, a tidy cause-and-effect process. Enter intellectually weak and benighted, exit emotionally toned and trim, as if a novel were the psychological equivalent of kettlebells or a Peloton bike. Fiction’s strength, though, is that it delivers not order and clear direction, but mess and evocations of our unsteady state of being. I’m uncertain what wisdom I can take from the March family, Anna Karenina or Karl Ove Knausgaard that I can apply to my daily life. Nor do I wish to read so programmatically.

For me, fiction is a kind of Schrödinger’s box -- a way of simultaneously being in the world and not being in the world. Some books deliver that uncanny feeling better than others, but in the right context any book can do that, not just the “literary” ones that studies typically advocate.

Here’s how I came to that conclusion: About 15 years ago, I had a breakdown. Not the kind that puts you in a facility, but serious enough -- one that made me decide to quit the job I started after a month because I was vibrating with anxiety, terrified of conversation for fear of veering into a panic attack. It was, I think, the culmination of years of an A-student’s low-boil anxiety over desperately needing not to fail at something, and then failing at a number of things professionally, in quick succession. I was inconsolable for reasons I couldn’t articulate, and I’d become the sort of person that friends and colleagues made concerned phone calls about.

One of the clearest measures of my adrift-ness during that period, which made me wonder whether I was truly going to be okay, was simple yet troubling: I could not read. I could not pick up a book, look at the words inside them, and process them for meaning. At my worst, the idea of consuming a paragraph felt unthinkable. How could you read an entire paragraph? How could somebody write one, and then another, and then a whole book full of paragraphs? It was all I could do to process the headlines in the morning newspaper. If I was going to get better, the effects of interventions by friends and clinicians would provide one measure of it. But being able to read a book would provide another.

What’s the best American novel? A PBS vote is a revealing look at our (limited) taste.

If only I could say that Philip Roth or Yukio Mishima or Alice Munro delivered me from that emotionally paralytic state. The fact is, the book that helped get me where I needed to be, eventually, was a paperback that somebody left in the lobby of my apartment building: Sidney Sheldon’s 2000 thriller “The Sky Is Falling." Sure, it’s entirely nutrient-free. Indeed, I don’t think I’ve read a work of fiction more bereft of insight into the human condition. I recall there were sophisticated jet-setting journalists hunting central-casting Russian bad guys. Gunplay and skulduggery abound; at one point a person gets decapitated by a helicopter rotor. How was that going to replenish my stockpile of empathy?

And yet, what better place to be at that moment, I felt, than inside that dumb, overheated plot? Things were happening! To people! In a world where things happened to people! It was reassuring in a way, to be in such a world. What I valued was the simple happening-ness of life. The book reknitted my conception of reading, demonstrated that it wasn’t a stoic march to edification but a way to be open to experience.

If you feel that reading fiction has made you a more empathetic person, that’s to your credit. But I wonder whether the emphasis on achievement that comes with all these studies and reading prescriptions is more off-putting than encouraging. In 2013 Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, two self-declared “bibliotherapists," published a well-intentioned book called “The Novel Cure," which proffered “fictional plasters and poultices” for a host of ailments. For anxiety, they suggest “Portrait of a Lady”; for depression, “Herzog," “The Bluest Eye” and “Revolutionary Road." I love all of those novels, but I doubt any of them would have done me a lick of good during my months in the wilderness. I didn’t need a book that mirrored my own emotional world so much as a window into a different one.

A couple of months ago I finally caught up with Larry McMurtry’s 1985 western, “Lonesome Dove," and that old feeling welled up again -- the sense of being seduced by a plot that presented a world not my own yet that still rang true. I suspect that fine book, as lavishly plot-driven and simply delivered as it is, might have been as much a comfort to me at my low point as that trashy Sheldon novel was. (I confess: I resent my neighbor a little for not leaving better books in the lobby.) When it comes to literature, not all books are created equal. But when it comes to healing, sometimes just about any book will do.

Mark Athitakis?is a critic in Phoenix and author of “The New Midwest."

The Biggest Debut Novels of 2019

Along with novels from our favorite writers and long-awaited sequels, many of 2019's biggest books were from first-time authors. These breakthrough books were released in a range of genres, but they all made a huge impact -- whether by hitting #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, receiving a National Book Award nomination, or nabbing a pre-publication movie deal. Curious if you missed any of the year's must-read books? Check out the biggest debut books of 2019 below, along with why they made such a splash in the book world.

The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides

Readers are flocking to this suspenseful novel about a psychotherapist, Theo, trying to discover the secrets of a privileged London woman who shot her husband in the face -- then stopped speaking.

Miracle Creek, Angie Kim

Earning starred reviews from major publications such as Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal, Angie Kim's Miracle Creek was one of the biggest suspense reads of 2019. In it, the Yoos, an immigrant couple, run a therapeutic oxygen chamber designed to help those with autism, among other conditions. When the chamber unexpectedly explodes, it kills two people. But who is to blame?

Fleishman Is in Trouble, Taffy Brodesser-Akner

You'd be hard-pressed to find a funnier 2019 release than Fleishman Is in Trouble, which The Nest author Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney called "blisteringly funny, feverishly smart, heartbreaking, and true." After 15 years of marriage, Toby and his wife Rachel separate. But just as Toby is starting to enjoy the single life, Rachel drops the kids off and bolts, leaving him with a whole new life. This hilarious New York Times bestseller was longlisted for a National Book Award.

Kingdom of Souls, Rena Barron

This young adult fantasy has already been optioned for a film adaptation produced by Michael B. Jordan and Warner Bros! Arrah is the daughter of a powerful priestess in a line of witchdoctors. The trouble? She can't summon her own magic. But when her kingdom is in danger, she'll have to do whatever it takes -- including selling years of her life for power. With two sequels coming to round out this exciting trilogy, it's only bound to get bigger!

Here and Now and Then, Mike Chen

Readers love the unique and fun plot of this Mike Chen debut. Kin is living in modern-day San Francisco with his family, trying to hide the fact that he used to be a time-traveling secret agent (like you do). But when his former life comes knocking, he'll have to complete one big time-traveling mission before his daughter suddenly ceases to exist. Combining science fiction with a warm family story, it's easy to see why this book has earned such critical praise.

The Secrets We Kept, Lara Prescott

This debut historical thriller was chosen for Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine Book Club in September -- and a film adaptation is already in the works! During the Cold War, two secretaries working at the CIA are assigned a mission to smuggle a copy of the controversial Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR so it can be published worldwide. Combining history, suspense, and romance, the book has caught the attention of not only readers, but celebrities and production companies.

The Whisper Man, Alex North

Readers are terrified flipping the pages of this New York Times bestseller -- yet they keep picking it up! Tom moves to a new community with his son, Jake, after his wife dies. But their new town of Featherbank has a deadly past as the former home to a notorious serial killer known as "The Whisper Man." When another boy disappears and Jake starts hearing whispers, the town starts wondering if a copycat killer has come to claim more victims… The frightening debut has been heaped with praise, including from bestselling author A. J. Finn, who called it "a seamless blend of Harlan Coben, Stephen King, and Thomas Harris."

Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams

Described as "Bridget Jones's Diary meets Americanah," Queenie was one of the most addictive debuts to come out this year. It centers on a young Jamaican British woman struggling with her career and love life -- not to mention her sense of worth and identity. Fellow author Jojo Moyes loved it, hailing it "brilliant, timely, funny, heartbreaking."

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong

This Ocean Vuong novel has pleased both critics and readers alike, earning a spot on both the National Book Award longlist and the New York Times bestseller list. Written as a letter from a son to his mother, Vuong's novel tells the story of a family's roots in Vietnam and the shocking turns of the son's own life. You'll be absorbed by the tale, so much so that you'll be begging to put it on your book club's lineup.

Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston

Romantic comedy readers fell hard for this debut about Alex, the son of an American president, who spars with British prince Henry. After the two are forced to make nice for the press, they discover that their mutual animosity may be hiding some seriously intense feelings, and a secret affair begins. Filled with fun pop culture references, Red, White & Royal Blue shot to the New York Times bestseller list, and film rights sold to Amazon after a bidding war.

The Farm, Joanne Ramos

With its shocking premise, The Farm is a book that has readers eagerly flipping pages to find out what happens next. Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines, needs money so badly that she agrees to be a "Host" at Golden Oaks, a retreat in New York where women are paid to carry a baby for a couple. Though the pregnant women are lavishly pampered, the rules of "the Farm" are strict, and soon Jane starts questioning her decision. A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, this is the kind of novel that seems made for book clubs -- thought-provoking, eye-opening, and unputdownable.

Evvie Drake Starts Over, Linda Holmes

For readers who love witty women's fiction, Evvie Drake Starts Over is a home run. This New York Times bestseller follows young widow Evvie and Major League pitcher Dean, who is boarding at her house in Maine. Evvie's emotions since her husband's death are complicated, to say the least, and Dean is struggling to discover why his game is off. Between them, a friendship simmers into a lovely romance, sprinkled generously with the warmth and humor of author Linda Holmes, who's also the host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast.

A Woman Is No Man, Etaf Rum

Family sagas rarely goes as deep or as captivating as this New York Times bestseller from new author Etaf Rum. The novels follows three generations of Palestinian-American women as they struggle against their lives, their culture, and each other. Eighteen years ago, an arranged marriage brought Isra from Palestine to Brooklyn. Now, her daughter Deya clashes with her grandmother's traditional beliefs. Once you dive into the story, you'll understand why the Washington Post calls it "a tale as rich and varied as America itself" that "complicates and deepens the Arab American story.

Know My Name, Chanel Miller

Even if you don't recognize her name, you will likely remember Chanel Miller's story. She was the woman sexually assaulted by college student Brock Turner, who was sentenced to just six months for the crime. At the trial, Miller shared a powerful statement with Turner about the effects his attack had on her, which was later posted on BuzzFeed News and read by millions. In this New York Times bestselling book, she reveals her identity and the full story of what happened, from that horrible night to the tremendous impact she's had on other survivors and the American legal system.

We Cast a Shadow, Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Set in a future where a medical clinic promises to make black people appear white, We Cast a Shadow had one of the most shocking premises among 2019 releases. The story centers on a father in a violent Southern town who considers the procedure for his biracial son to protect him from the dangerous world they live in. Shocking, disturbing, and occasionally funny, many readers devoured this -- and begged their friends to read it so they could discuss it.

Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid

It may be the newest release on this list, but Such a Fun Age is already being eyed for a screen adaptation. Exploring issues of race and relationships, it's about a younger black woman who is accused of kidnapping the white child she is babysitting, and the white mother's complicated response to this false accusation. The film and television rights have been bought by Grad Productions and Sight Unseen Pictures, run by the producers of the show Dear White People. Read it before the adaptation is out!

Why You Should Make Reading Every Day Your New Year's Resolution By G.G. Andrew - December 17, 2019

Is reading every day one of your New Year's resolutions? If not, you might want to make this reading resolution for the coming year! Reading comes with all sorts of incredible benefits for your mind, body, and social life -- from familiar benefits (it's fun!) to reasons that might be new to you. We've compiled a list of five reasons you should spend each day reading, even if it's only for a few minutes. Read on for why you should make opening a book every day one of your New Year's resolutions.

1. Books boost your brain power.

2. Reading is incredibly relaxing.

3. Reading novels can help you connect with others.

Want to improve your social life? Books can do that! Research shows that reading literary fiction can increase your empathy, so you're more understanding of the people in your life, making connection easier. A 2013 experiment also showed that reading romance is correlated with greater interpersonal sensitivity, or ability to determine someone's emotional state from their facial expression, which can help you respond appropriately to others' moods.

4. Stories can make us more understanding of different people and cultures.

Incredibly, reading stories about people, places, and events outside your own culture may reduce prejudice. Research shows that even reading books set in a fantasy world like the Harry Potter series, which features a marginalized group, can increase cultural sensitivity in general. Yet another reason to love the boy wizard!

5. Opening up a book is a fun way to experience many worlds -- all from the comfort of your armchair!

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13 recommended books about and by American Indians, Daily Kos, 5-28-19

Over the years, one question I have been asked repeatedly is for a recommendation of a book that comprehensively tells the story of American Indians. In fact, there’s no book that does that because, just like other people who live in the USA, Indians aren’t monolithic. Hundreds of federally recognized tribes, hundreds more that are unrecognized, 29 language groups and 10 times that many languages, different traditions, different religions. It’s Native American cultures, not culture singular. Our ancestors didn’t all wear feathered headdresses or hunt bison on horseback. And they don’t all own casinos or wish they did.

There are, however, many good books that can help readers of whatever age learn about ancestral and modern Natives (and the First Nations peoples of Canada). I have two bookcases filled and a few boxes as well, several hundred in all. What follows are brief takes on an eclectic baker’s dozen of such books. At some levels, all these books are political, but that doesn’t make them heavy-handed or preachy.

Before beginning, I want to strongly recommend the work of Debbie Reese, a Nambé Pueblo Indian woman who for years has done prodigious evaluation of books for kids about American Indians. She does so at American Indians in Children’s Literature and speaks widely on the subject. I’ve learned a great deal from her critique of children’s books about or featuring Indians, much of which applies to books written about Indians for adults. Some readers may be surprised not to see certain books on this list—for instance, Dee Brown’s seminal Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee or Charles C. Mann’s 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. Those and others have been left out not because they’re bad—both those are excellent—but because they are so well-known and not written by Natives.

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship & Freedom, by Tim Tingle (Choctaw) and illustrated by Jeanne Rorex Bridges (Cherokee).

It’s 1808 in this picture book for children ages 4-9, and Martha Tom, a young Choctaw, lives on the Indian side of the Bok Chitto River in Mississippi. On the other side are plantation owners and their slaves. Any slave who escapes the plantation to the other side of the river is free, and slave owners cannot by law cross to the other side. Martha goes picking blackberries one day and cannot stick to the rules her mother has laid down about never crossing the river. She does, meets a slave, and eventually leads seven slaves to the free side of the river. On the back cover, Tingle writes, “Crossing Bok Chitto is a tribute to the Indians of every nation who aided the runaway people of bondage. Crossing Bok Chitto is an Indian book and documented the Indian way, told and told again and then passed on by uncles and grandmothers. In this new format, this book way of telling, Crossing Bok Chitto is for both the Indian and the non-Indian. We Indians need to know and embrace our past. Non-Indians should know the sweet and secret fire, as secret as the stones, that drives the Indian heart and keeps us so determined that our way, a way of respect for others and the land we live on, will prevail."

Rain is Not My Indian Name, by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee).

This book for middle schoolers ages 10-14 explores the grief, conflicts, and epiphanies of a Muscogee/Cherokee/Scots-Irish girl, 14-year-old Cassidy Rain Berghoff, who lives in a mostly white Midwestern town. She’s just emerged from six months of seclusion after her best friend was killed in a car accident. Having already lost her mother, she has plenty of emotional pain to ponder. She decides to return to the world and go to her Aunt Georgia’s summer “Indian Camp." Rather than immersing herself there, however, she keeps her distance by getting a job shooting photos of the camp for the local newspaper. When the town council considers cutting off funding for the camp, she becomes involved in ways she hadn’t intended, which contributes to her healing. With humor and zero preachiness, Smith’s poignant telling benefits from her technique of beginning chapters with short excerpts from Rain’s journal.

The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa).

Erdrich is one of the leading lights of the second wave of the Native American Renaissance. Her poetry glows, and her prose is saturated with poetic imagery. Plague begins with the racist response after a white family is murdered in the early 20th century and four Indians, including a young boy, are hunted down and lynched while the real killer roams free. But Erdrich is not given to the simple and predictable. She brings to life a fictional town in western North Dakota far beyond those opening scenes. From the arrival of the first colonizers centuries ago, the interaction and interchange between them and Native peoples have been complex, contradictory, and filled with betrayal, tragedy, and abundant connection. Erdrich’s superb tale weaves all that together with characters of fullness, some of them strange, some dedicated to trouble, none of them uninteresting.

First and Second Wave Native American Literature, Yale, byTara Ann Carter

Navajo Long Walk, by author Joseph Bruchac (Nulhegan Abenaki) and illustrator Shonto Begay (Navajo).

Ages 8-12. Most Americans have at least heard of the Trail of Tears, the forced removal across the Mississippi of the Cherokee and several other tribal peoples during the 1830s. This cost the lives of thousands of Indians. Few, however, have heard of the forced removal in the 1860s that the Navajo call the “Long Walk." It’s another instance of how the dominant culture has done so much to make Native Americans and much of our history invisible.

Bruchac and Begay bring this shameful episode to life. Bruchac, who has written more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books for both children and adults, discusses how the Navajo were treated by the Spanish invaders, and how two-and-a-half centuries later they were forced by the U.S. government from their land onto a provisional reservation in New Mexico Territory, a 500-mile trek with severe hardships that included many deaths. Unlike the cases of most other tribes who lost their land, however, the reservation at Bosque Redondo was closed after a few years, and a treaty signed to allow the Navajo to return to their homeland, where they still live today.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, by author Traci Sorell (Cherokee) and Australian illustrator Frané Lessac.

$9.99 kindle, $14.99 hardback Amz

Sorell is a fine storyteller who combines modern concerns with a traditional Cherokee presentation in this nonfiction book that follows the story of Cherokee life and ceremonies for an entire year, demonstrating the lasting strength of the Cherokee way of life. This seasonal arrangement is both entertaining and educational.

The new year begins in autumn, a time of basket-weaving and remembrances of The Trail of Tears, and ends in summer. Traditions continue to play a major part in modern Cherokee life, which includes stickball and stomp dancing at the Great New Moon Ceremony, as well as planting strawberries and making cornhusk dolls. There is a conscious attempt by Sorell to trample on stereotypes of indigenous people, and, among other things, we see a father in a positive parenting role and Cherokees of a variety of skin colors, dark and light, which gives force to the book’s message of diversity.

The book includes a complete syllabary invented by the Cherokee Sequoyah some two centuries ago and a glossary. One word there is otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah). Sorell writes: “Cherokee people say otsaliheliga to express gratitude. It is a reminder to celebrate our blessings and reflect on struggles—daily, throughout the year, and across the seasons."

Like a Loaded Weapon: The Rehnquist Court, Indian Rights, and the History of Racism in America, by Robert A. Williams (Lumbee).

This densely argued book by a noted professor of law and expert in Indian law, indigenous rights, and critical race theory at the University of Arizona's James E. Rogers College of Law is a bit of a tough read for nonlawyers. But it’s worth the effort for those willing to make it.

Williams explores the bases of modern court decisions affecting Native Americans, both legally via stare decisis and via the racist perspective found in the language of three 190-year-old rulings of the John Marshall Supreme Court, specifically Johnson v. McIntosh (1823), Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), and Worcester v. Georgia (1832).

For Williams, the 21st century consequences of continuing to lean on these long-ago rulings from a time when the U.S. government was engaged in wars of conquest are, as Kristin Ackley wrote in a 2006 law journal review, “that Indian rights will never be protected as long as the court continues to talk about Indians as if they are lawless savages." Rulings with roots in the conquerors’ oh-so-convenient “Doctrine of Discovery”—essentially: We found it and that makes it ours—need to be reassessed, he writes. Challenging the impact of these rulings and the language therein is, according to Williams, a "postcolonial approach to Indian law [that] asserts that the justices need to be directly confronted with the fact that a Supreme Court decision on Indian peoples' most important human rights is an action that ought to involve a great deal of serious thought, instead of unconscious racial stereotyping."

There, There, by Tommy Orange (Cheyenne/Arapaho).

Taking the title from Gertrude Stein’s famous statement about the loss of the rural Oakland, California, she once knew—“There is no there there”—Orange’s novel follows the lives of a dozen Indians of various tribes living in Oakland as they prepare for a local powwow and navigate urban life, battling the problems affecting so many Native peoples, from alcoholism and unemployment to domestic abuse, and fundamental issues of identity in a world that for most of them is far different from that of their parents.

Nearly 70% of American Indians don’t live on reservations today, and those who don’t, whether tribally enrolled or not, are often unique blends of mixed heritage, torn by internalized stereotypes and frequently eager to recapture lost traditions, culture, and language, but without a clear path for how to do so. Teenager Orvil Red Feather takes the 21st century route to such knowledge by pulling up Google to answer, "What does it mean to be a real Indian?" In the mirror, as he puts on the tribal regalia that he has found in a closet, he sees only "a fake, a copy, a boy playing dress-up."

Himself a straddler of two worlds, like so many Indians, Orange is the offspring of a Cheyenne father and white mother who clashed, then divorced, over Native spirituality and evangelical Christianity, Orange told a reviewer, "I wanted to have my characters struggle in the way that I struggled, and the way that I see other native people struggle, with identity and with authenticity."

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

$12.99 kindle, $13.21 paperback Amz

A prize-winning historian and longtime activist with the American Indian Movement whose mother was Native but never wanted to admit it, Ortiz has reframed the history of American Indians, taking the original concept from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and challenging the still widespread view in school textbooks that Europeans arrived to find a mostly empty land populated by inferior beings living in a primeval wilderness.

This overview of 400 years of indigenous history takes a bottom-up approach to the subject. At its heart, her book is about making visible what so many other books have sought to hide away or, all too often, flat-out deny—this being the genocidal nature of the policies imposed on the peoples who were already here when the colonists arrived. Using their own words, often to devastating effect, Ortiz quotes prominent politicians, generals, writers, religious ministers, and heroes among the Founding Fathers, including George Washington, the "father of our country," who began his military career with a scorched-earth policy against Natives who refused to sell or surrender their land. In a letter to Major General John Sullivan, he wrote that he should "lay waste all [Indian] settlements around ... that the country may not be merely overrun but destroyed ... [Y]ou will not by any means listen to any overture of peace before the total ruin of their settlements is effected. [...] When we have effectually chastised them we may then listen to peace and endeavour to draw further advantages from their fears. But even in this case great caution will be necessary to guard against the snares which their treachery may hold out—They must be explicit in their promises, give substantial pledges for their performance and execute their engagements with decision and dispatch. Hostages are the only kind of security to be depended on."

Everything You Know About Indians is Wrong, by Paul Chaat Smith (Comanche/Choctaw).

$12.99 kindle, $15.32 hardback

Although he is best known for his exceptional book on Native activism-Like a Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee (written with Robert Allen Warrior, Osage)—Smith uses relentless humor as a mostly good-natured jab in Everything, and not just to needle non-Natives. "Many Indian folks" he writes, "and our so-called friends in the Wannabe Tribe make a pretty good living dispensing jukebox spiritualism and environmental teachings" that they describe as Native heritage.

Smith has, since 2001, been associate curator for the National Museum of the American Indian, and a fellow curator, Lowery Stokes Sims of the Museum of Arts and Design, writes of the book: "Through references to contemporary and popular touchstones he sweeps away generations of sentimentality, nostalgia and accommodation that mark the relationship of Indians to the mainstream. We may flinch at his analyses where there are no innocents, no villains, but we cannot hide. Smith pushes the ‘minority experience’ past victimhood and infantilization to self-agency and determination."

National Museum of the American Indian

Blue Horses Rush In, by Luci Tapahonso (Diné aka Navajo).

Having grown up in a home where no English was spoken, Tapahonso ultimately became the first poet laureate of the Navajo Nation, and her elegant storytelling in both poems and prose demonstrates why. Her work was inspired by the stories she heard when she was young, wrapped in blankets and looking at the stars on summer evenings that were "filled with quiet voices, dogs barking far away, the fire crackling, and often we could hear the faint drums and songs of a ceremony in the distance." Paraphrasing can’t capturing her voice, so here’s a short excerpt:

The last time I returned from home, I checked as luggage an ice cooler full of mutton, frozen chile, and dry ice, and the airline agent had to inspect the contents because of recent terrorist activity. "What's in here?" she asked. "Mutton and chile." I replied. "Mutton?" she asked, puzzled. The chile she could understand since we were in Albuquerque. Her supervisor came over and said, "You have mutton in there?" "Yes," I said. "It's meat," clarifying things. "Hmm-mm," he mused. Then I picked up a square of frozen mutton and let him inspect it. "We can't get this kind in Kansas," I explained. "Okay," he said. "Tape up the cooler and label it." To the delight of many in Kansas, I returned with mutton that we ate sparingly and only on special occasions. Others heard about it, so it was divided into smaller portions so that there would be enough for all who wanted some.

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present, by David Treuer (Ojibwe).

For Frederick Jackson Turner (and the U.S. census), the American frontier ended in 1890, the year of the U.S. Army’s slaughter of Lakota men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Likewise, that year was seen as the end of the Indian wars and, in so many ways, the end of American Indians. David Treuer sees it differently, and he takes up where Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee ends.

The story of Native America isn’t over, he writes; Indians have not vanished, and, despite all the well-known problems, there is a thriving vitality among indigenous Americans in the 21st century. He has brought it all to life in this ample, beautifully written book that braids the lives of many individuals and tribes, including his own. Treuer writes that his book "is adamantly, unashamedly, about Indian life rather than death. That we even have lives-that Indians have been living in, have been shaped by, and in turn have shaped the modern world-is news to most people. The usual story told about us-or rather about 'the Indian'-is one of diminution and death, beginning in untrammeled freedom and communion with the earth and ending on reservations, which are seen as nothing more than basin of perpetual suffering. [...] This book is written out of the simple fierce conviction that our cultures are not dead and our civilizations have not been destroyed. It is written with the understanding that our present tense is evolving as rapidly and creatively as everyone else's." He does that brilliantly, poignantly, with the fierceness of a warrior and the comprehensiveness of a scholar.

>U? Brave Are My People: Indian Heroes Not Forgotten

, by Frank Waters (Cheyenne).

Before he died in 1995, the author wrote more then 20 books, was nominated five times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and turned his early experiences among the Utes, Navajo, Hopi, and Taos Pueblo into stunning stories, including his best-known, The Man Who Killed the Deer, a novel about Taos Pueblo still in print 75 years after it was first published. Brave Are My People takes its title from a speech that the Shawnee warrior-statesman Tecumseh gave to the Osage in 1800. It gives us 5- to 10-page flashes of the life stories of a selection of American Indian spiritual leaders from Deganawidah, the Huron known as "Peacemaker," born before Columbus stumbled ashore, to Irataba, the Mohave peacemaker who lived 400 years later.

Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science, by Kim Tallbear (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate).

$21.82 kindle, $22.97 paperback Amz

Native identity has long been complicated by government rules, non-Indian attitudes, tribal politics, and racial stereotyping based on appearance and skin tone. But for the past two decades or so, it’s been made more difficult by the rise of DNA testing. People who have no cultural or linguistic or other traditional Native ties but may have heard some family lore about an alleged ancestral aunt or grandfather with Indian lineage in some unknown tribe take DNA tests because they believe genetics makes the Indian. In a scholarly but imminently readable scrutiny, Tallbear’s densely interdisciplinary book dismantles that and the myth of race being the defining characteristic of who is and is not a Native. And she speculates on how past white definitions of who meets the criteria could now be reinforced by a focus on DNA that undermines both tribal identity and sovereignty.

A half-dozen other books may also be of interest:

Confounding the Color Line: The Indian-Black Experience in North America, edited by James F. Brooks.

Dressing in Feathers: The Construction of the Indian in American Popular Culture, edited by S. Elizabeth Bird.

The Last Indian War: The Nez Perce Story, by Elliott West.

Custer’s Fall: The Native American Side of the Story, by David Humphreys Miller

As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance, by Leanne Betdasamosake Simpson

The Rights of Indians and Tribes (Fourth Edition), by Stephen L. Pevar

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The Purpose of Life Is Not Happiness Harry J. Stead Aug 25

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry,
I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Aldous Huxley spent the entire summer of 1931 writing ‘Brave New World’. He was living in France at the time and had already established himself as a writer. Huxley had published four satirical novels prior to Brave New World, as well as a book of poetry. He also edited the literary magazine Oxford Poetry.

‘Brave New World’ is Huxley’s most famous novel and rightly so. I do not think there is any other book that has had such a profound impression on me. The comparison with Orwell’s ‘Nineteen-Eighty Four’ is fitting, but the vision and foresight in Brave New World, the sheer audacity it displays is unrivalled. Clearly, Huxley was a genius, a rather bold, daring intellectual eager to discover the delicate realms of both utopia and dystopia.

The context for ‘Brave New World’ is an international scientific empire that has managed to manufacture a society where truth and reason are less significant than happiness and comfort.

The entire society has been sterilised; there is no disease or emotional pain. The people are ignorant of the concept of love, it is traded for promiscuity and casual relationships. Old age, nature, thought and anxiety are removed and a rigorous structure of psychological conditioning is practiced upon the youth. A strict ban on books, philosophy and religion is in place?--?the people view this as protection from harmful material. Each of these pursuits are a distraction from happiness for they are all too uncomfortable and confusing for a people in pursuit of pleasure.

A drug called ‘soma’, an opiate with no withdrawal symptoms, is widespread and used to numb emotions and feelings. It is necessary to maintain social order; the people cannot imagine a life without it for it carries “all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects."

“In Brave New World the soma habit was not a private vice; it was a political institution…” writes Huxley. “The daily Soma ration was an insurance against personal maladjustment, social unrest and the spread of subversive ideas. Religion, Karl Marx declared, is the opium of the people. In the Brave New World this situation was reversed. Opium, or rather Soma, was the people’s religion."(Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited)

All of those beautiful human emotions?--?pain, sorrow, trust, delight?--?are never experienced and people are instead reduced to a nothingness existence.

Huxley’s idea of the perfect totalitarian state would not punish wrongful behaviour, but would instead ease people into loving their servitude through pleasure and desensitisation. There would be an exchange from the black leather boot and the cracking whip to drugs, sex, pleasure and gentle conditioning. This would provide the people with no reason to rebel against authority. No discontentment could come between the ordinary man and the state.

The principles of Henry Ford’s assembly line stretch throughout the novel, indeed the people view Ford, alongside Sigmund Freud, as the creator of their civilisation.

It is a society of predictability, certainty, pleasure and comfort.

The novel introduces a foreigner, John the Savage, to the civilised World State. John was born outside civilisation on the Savage Reservation. He falls in love with the works of Shakespeare early in his life. Through Shakespeare, he learns of tragedy, love, loyalty and pain?--?all foreign ideas to the civilised people. He is able to verbalise his own feelings with the words of Shakespeare and in doing so, he recognises the true beauty of human emotions.

Shakespeare provides John with a framework to rebel against the civilised world. John commits himself to the language and ideal of poetry and to nature’s truth and consequently, he rejects the sterilised essence of the world he has found himself in. John is the tragic hero of Brave New World, a character whose idealism eventually leads to his demise.

“Men can only be happy when they do
not assume that the object of life is happiness."
- George Orwell

The force that drives Huxley’s dystopia is the Western culture of seeking the end, the belief that one’s reason for being here is only for happiness. It is supposed, perhaps unknowingly, that there will come a time when our suffering will be finished and the journey will finally come to an end. There is a destination somewhere over those blue remembered hills where all our struggles will end?--?where heaven and horizon will collide. We will be happy, healthy, without depression, worry or anxiety, sitting comfortably with total harmony within ourselves.

Life, by its very nature, is never free of struggle. But, people are incessant in their belief that the day will come in the future when it will all be over.

Brave New World, Huxley believed, would be the end consequence of this foolishness. Because ultimately there will come a time when people will value their happiness over freedom. Pleasure, then, would be followed to its conclusion and willingly allowed to become the foundation of society.

“Give me television and hamburgers, but don’t bother me with the responsibilities of liberty” (Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited)

Huxley understood the myth of arrival, the idea that life is a journey, to be an illusion. Many will come to appreciate this, some sooner than others. The ‘good life’ is seen as beyond reach and such a realisation can cause disillusionment and despair. Even when one finally grasps all that is believed to fund happiness, the initial haste eventually withers away. For humans are accomplished at acclimatising to new heights.

It is this misery and despair, caused by the myth of arrival and life’s constant struggles, that creates the quiet desperation necessary for a people to accept happiness over their freedom. But, the question must be asked as to what we will miss once we make this decision. Truly, reflection and thought is needed about what matters and about what makes us who we are.

Because the faster the world becomes and the less time we have to stop to reflect, the more we are amnesiacs, sleepwalking towards a destination that we did not choose.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not."

- Seneca

Aldous Huxley was presenting a choice between freedom or pleasure. Humans have a natural instinct for freedom, a drive to follow the beat of one’s own heart. There is no dignity, no pride or love without freedom as to be free is our most natural state and to lose it in such a mindless way betrays all that we are. It is a sad time when many would not only welcome their enslavement, but would rejoice when finally all responsibility is taken away.

Freedom is inseparable from responsibility. We have the freedom to speak our minds, yet the responsibility to make sure we are clear and meaningful. We have the freedom to act, but the responsibility to act appropriately. See, responsibility only brings ache, pain and burden. It almost never brings pleasure. But, without responsibility, without autonomy, we can no longer find the answers within ourselves, but must instead seek guidance elsewhere.

However, with careful reflection, we have to stop and question the conventional wisdom surrounding the idea of happiness. And so the question arises, do people truly want happiness?

Or do they want to struggle against the wind, to fight for their family, to bleed against their misfortune, to break their own heart, to bite their own lip, to put down bribery, to follow their omens, to hang on tight to their past, to move beyond the edges, to love so passionately that they lose themselves, to slay their demons and to discover new creations?

No, happiness is never as virtuous as it seems. Rather, you only believe so whilst you are sat alone in the cellar, distant with the memories of the past. But, this, of course, is amnesia.

Aldous Huxley was warning the individual against the belief that the object of life is happiness. Those moments of happiness that everyone has experienced are rare and fleeting, yet we cling onto them for dear life as if the same script is supposed to extend forever. Instead, rather like John the Savage, each person should follow a purpose, a vocation, an ideal, a fight or a love.

A meaning to one’s life should embrace a struggle for it is necessary to move through time believing your suffering holds a great purpose. Thus it is not a question of a meaning to life itself, but instead a meaning to the suffering endured through life.

A purpose to life, a struggle against nature or a deep breath amid chaos is almost always more glamorous than happiness. How dull those people are who lay on the beach all day and how foolish we are to think so highly of them. For where there is no darkness, dirt or filth, there is also no light, health or life.

Aldous Huxley believed that a shift in our perspective, amongst other things, is needed if we are to avoid what at this moment seems inevitable.

“Man, the bravest of animals, and the one most accustomed to suffering, does not repudiate suffering as such; he desires it, he even seeks it out, provided he is shown a meaning for it, a purpose of suffering. The meaninglessness of suffering, not suffering itself, was the curse that lay over mankind so far." - (On the Genealogy of Morals, Friedrich Nietzsche)

Thus in the spiritual world we find the formative forces that belong to our moral life. The moral world becomes for us a reality. We see how an ethical impulse cannot in one earth-life effect a change in the physical body, but when it passes over into the next life on earth, can work there quite definitely as a health-giving influence, no less truly than heat works in the physical world, or light, or electricity. Source: Rudolf Steiner - GA 231 - Spiritual Knowledge: A Way of Life - The Hague, November 16th, 1923 Translated by Mary Adams

The Polymath Project: The Simple Truth Behind Reading 200 Books a Year Somebody once asked Warren Buffett about his secret to success. Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said,

“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will..."

In January of 2015, I found Buffett’s quote. I decided to read. I was going to read and read and read and never stop until I got some damn answers. I didn’t quite make 500 pages a day, but, in these last 2 years, I’ve read over 400 books cover to cover. That decision to start reading was one of the most important decisions in my life. Books gave me the courage to travel. Books gave me the conviction to quit my job. Books gave me role models and heroes and meaning in a world where I had none. I want to say reading 200 books a year is an amazing thing. But the truth is, it’s not. Anybody can do it.

All it takes is some simple math and the right tools.

1. Do Not Quit Before You Start

When average Joe hears the advice “Read 500 pages like this every day”, his snap reaction is to say, “No way! That’s impossible!" Joe will then go on to make up reasons to justify his belief without doing any deep thinking at all. These might include “I’m too busy”, “I’m not smart enough”, or “Books just aren’t for me." But what if we go a little deeper? For example, what does it actually take to read 200 books a year? Two years ago, I stopped to do the simple math. Here’s what I found: Reading 200 books a year isn’t hard at all. It’s just like Buffett says. Anyone can do it, but most people won’t.

2. Do The Simple Math

How much time does it take to read 200 books a year? First, let’s look at two quick statistics:

The average American reads 200–400 words per minute. (Since you’re on Medium, I’m going to assume you read 400 wpm like me)

Typical non-fiction books have ~50,000 words.

Now, all we need are some quick calculations…

200 books * 50,000 words / book = 10 million words
10 million words / 400 wpm = 25,000 minutes
25,000 minutes / 60 = 417 hours

That’s all there is to it. To read 200 books, simply spend 417 hours a year reading. I know, I know. If your brain is like mine, it probably saw “417 hours” and immediately tried to shut off. Most people only work 40 hours a week! How can we possibly read for 417 hours? Don’t let your monkey brain turn you away yet. Let’s do a quick reframe for what 417 hours really means…

3. Find The Time

Wowsers, 417 hours. That sure feels like a lot. But what does 417 hours really mean? Let’s try to get some more perspective. Here’s how much time a single American spends on social media and TV in a year:

608 hours on social media

1642 hours on TV

Wow. That’s 2250 hours a year spent on TRASH. If those hours were spent reading instead, you could be reading over 1000 books a year! Here’s the simple truth behind reading a lot of books: It’s not that hard. We have all the time we need. The scary part?--?the part we all ignore?--?is that we are too addicted, too weak and too distracted to do what we all know is important… All it takes to start reading a lot more is to take “empty time” spent Twitter-stalking celebrities or watching Desperate Housewives and convert some of it to reading time.

The theory is simple. It’s the execution that’s hard.

4. Execute

We all know reading is important. We all know we should do more of it. But we don’t. The main reason this happens is a failure to execute. I’m not so perfect at it yet, but here are some tactics that have helped me get results.

I. Use Environmental Design

If you were quitting cocaine, would you keep it lying around the house? Of course not. Media is designed to be addictive. Moving away from media addiction can be as difficult as quitting drugs. The biggest bang-for-buck changes here are environmental. If you want to read, make sure (1) you remove all distractions from your environment and (2) you make books as easy to access as possible. As an example, here’s my immediate environment:

I travel a lot. That doesn’t stop me from reading. The picture on the left is of my “bookshelf” in Thailand. I try to keep books everywhere so I can just pick one up and start reading. The picture on the right is my smartphone desktop. Notice there are only two apps. One of them?--?the Kindle app?--?is for reading. The other is for habits… Which brings me to my next point.

II. Upload Habits

Willpower is not a good tool for lifestyle change. It always fails you when you need it most. Instead of relying on strength of mind, build a fortress of habits?--?these are what will keep you resilient in tough times. If you’re not familiar with habit science, my favorite book on the subject is Tynan’s Superhuman by Habit. It’s infinitely practical, and practical is all I care about. Getting good at habit formation took me years. Many of the mistakes I made were avoidable. If I could go back, I’d find a habit coach. Here’s how I see it. One game-changing idea from a good book is worth thousands of dollars. If a coach helps you read ONE more good book a year, you already get your money’s worth.

III. Go Multi-Medium

When it comes to reading, be a jack of all trades, not a specialist. If your goal is to read more, you can’t be picky about where you read or what mediums you use. I read paper books. I read on my phone. I listen to audiobooks. And I do these things everywhere?--?on park benches, in buses, in the toilet… Wherever I can. Make your reading opportunistic. If you have a chance, take it. If you don’t have a chance, find one.

“I read a book one day and my whole life was changed."?--?Orhan Pamuk

If I hadn’t started reading, perhaps I’d still be at my dream job. Perhaps I’d still be at my desk, taking peeks at the clock and wondering if that was how I was going to die… If you’re looking for answers, give reading a try. You may find much, much more than what you were looking for.

9/11 Unmasked: An International Review Panel Investigation by David Ray Griffin ppb $16.81

Many Americans have been embarrassed by the Trump presidency. But Americans should also be embarrassed by the fact that this country's foreign policy since 2001, which has resulted in millions of deaths, has been based on a complex deception.

9/11 Unmasked is the result of a six-year investigation by an international review panel, which has provided 51 points illustrating the problematic status of all the major claims in the official account of the 9/11 attacks, some of which are obviously false. Most dramatically, the official account of the destruction of the Twin Towers and World Trade Center 7 could not possibly be true, unless the laws of physics were suspended that day. But other claims made by the official account including the claims that the 9/11 planes were taken over by al-Qaeda hijackers, that one of those hijackers flew his plane into the Pentagon, and that passengers on the planes telephoned people on the ground are also demonstrably false.

The book reports only points about which the panel reached consensus by using the best-evidence consensus model employed in medical research. The panel is composed of experts about 9/11 from many disciplines, including physics, chemistry, structural engineering, aeronautical engineering, and jurisprudence.

Bush and Cheney: How They Ruined America and the World by David Ray Griffin pb $15.86

The events of September 11, 2001, set off a chain of global crises and civil perils that have normalized a climate of fear and conflict. Starting with assaults on the U.S. Constitution, Griffin reviews various ways in which the world has been made worse over the past fifteen years by the Bush-Cheney reaction to the attacks and by power plays for global influence enabled by 9/11. These include the disastrous effects of regime-change operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya; the war on terror, the rise of ISIS, the Syrian conflict and European refugee crisis; the explosion of Islamophobia and the American acceptance of extrajudicial murder-by-drone; and the growing existential threats of ecological and nuclear holocaust. Looking back, it is clear that the story of 9/11 has been used to legitimize and manufacture support for disastrous policies.

In Bush and Cheney, Griffin analyzes what Noam Chomsky, Paul Craig Roberts, and many others across the political spectrum consider the most serious threat today the threat to global survival. He argues that ripple effects of 9/11 have become so destructive and dangerous that the press, policy elites, and citizens should finally confront what we have allowed to happen. A national reckoning has become essential, in the words of William Rivers Pitt, to stop the dominoes of September from continuing to fall.

Gulp, Mary Roach. AK interested.

Quench, Dana Cohen

The 5 Books You Won't Be Able To Put Down This September mbg 9/18

Reading is undeniably a key wellness practice—and one that many of us have ignored for far too long. It’s proven to build empathy, reduce stress, and even lessen sugar cravings (yes, really!). With that in mind, we’re excited to share Well Read, a column that curates the absolute best fiction and narrative nonfiction picks of the month. Here’s what you should read this August.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

If you were one of the millions of people who quoted Noah Harari's first two books, Sapiens and Homo Deus, to sound super smart at dinner parties, you'll love his 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. While his former works relied on his history background to explore the past and the future, this one deals with the pressing issues of the modern day, offering in-depth, intellectual dives and pragmatic solutions to topics like big data, nationalism, terrorism, meditation, and more. It's as readable as his first two books, but far more actionable, and will leave you with conversation-starters for long into the future.

Transcription: A Novel by Kate Atkinson

Famed novelist Kate Atkinson (Life After Life) is back with this World War II novel, which has the writing and character development of literary fiction and the daring page-turner quality of a spy thriller. It centers around Juliet, who, at age 18, is recruited to work undercover for the British government. Jumping between those years and her life as a television producer a few years later, the book expertly unwinds the mysteries of the events that have shaped Juliet's life. The book wonderfully illustrates the oft-forgotten role of women in World War II, while telling an engaging story of a single woman's transformation.

Good Things Happen in Book Stores Which is why we should spend more time in them

by Ryan Holiday Aug 7, 2018

It was in Athens in the 4th Century BC that a man named Zeno walked into a bookshop. He had been a successful merchant, but suffered a terrible shipwreck on a journey out of Phoenicia, losing a priceless cargo of the world’s finest dye. He was 30 years old and facing financial ruin, but this catastrophe stirred his soul to find something new, though he didn’t quite know what. One day, immersed in browsing a bookstore collection, many volumes of which have been lost to history forever, Zeno heard the bookseller reading out loud a passage from a book by Xenophon about Socrates. It was like nothing he had ever heard before. With some trepidation, he approached the owner and asked, “Where can I find a man like that?" and in so doing, began a philosophical journey that would literally change the history of the world.

That book recommendation led to the founding of Stoicism and then, to the brilliant works of Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius?--?which, not lost to history, are beginning to find a new life on bookshelves today. From those heirs to Zeno’s bookshop conversion, there is a straight line to many of the world’s greatest thinkers, and even to the Founding Fathers of America. All from a chance encounter in a bookshop. It would be an understatement to say that great things begin in bookstores, and that countless lives have been changed inside them.

Stephen Greenblatt’s wonderful book The Swerve was inspired by a chance discovery of Lucretius at the Yale Co-Op almost fifty years ago. George Raveling, the Hall of Fame basketball coach, stops at the local indie in every town he visits and leaves with a bag or two for that reason. He discovers authors and subjects he wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to at home or online. In 2012, a woman tweeted her adoration for whoever was behind the Twitter account for the Waterstones Bookstore in London; the two were married four years later. In my own life, I remember quite fondly where I came across certain books and the effect they had on my life. There were the Louis L’amour books I got at Bookworm in Sacramento when I was in elementary school. I remember reading Flint under my desk instead of paying attention to my fourth grade teacher. Mrs. Whittaker was so happy when she caught me, she sent a note home to my parents.

There were the countless hours spent in the philosophy section of the Borders in Riverside, California while I was in college. Today it’s a Forever 21, but it was where I bought my first copy of Epictetus, and it’s where the woman who would become my wife bought her copy of Marcus Aurelius shortly after our first date.

There was Robert Greene’s 33 Strategies of War, purchased at the front table of the Barnes and Noble in Union Square, who I became lucky enough to work for. There were the used copies of Aeschylus and Euripides and Sophocles from The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA, which taught me that I could understand plays. There was discovering Walker Percy’s novels at Faulkner House Books in New Orleans?--?which happens to be in the very apartment complex where William Faulkner once rented rooms and worked on his first novel?--?and returning the favor as the epigraph to my book, Conspiracy.

There were the Hemingway novels I got at the airport bookstore in Oslo, and Ambrose Bierce’s Civil War Stories from The Strand. There was the copy of Mama Lion Wins The Race, which the saleswoman at Book Passage in San Francisco recommended for my son, and which we have now read together at least 150 times. There was the time I was in a Barnes and Noble in Portland and a man buying some manga books seemed to be a couple dollars short. I fished some money out of my pocket and paid the difference. He started to cry. “I’ve just recovered from cancer," he told me. “I was buying these books tonight to restart my normal life. I’m supposed to begin looking for a job tomorrow." It was an experience far more gratifying to me than the first time I saw my own name up on a bookstore marquee for a signing.

These are not special experiences, although they were special to me. They are, in fact, incredibly ordinary experiences in the sense that they happen constantly, day-in-and-day-out, wherever bookstores exist. One only need see the nostalgic memes inspired by the Scholastic Book Fairs to be reminded of that. In these divided, distracted times, we need the unmitigated joys that bookstores offer more than ever, to say nothing of the knowledge contained within them.

These are not special experiences, although they were special to me. They are, in fact, incredibly ordinary experiences in the sense that they happen constantly, day-in-and-day-out, wherever bookstores exist. One only need see the nostalgic memes inspired by the Scholastic Book Fairs to be reminded of that. In these divided, distracted times, we need the unmitigated joys that bookstores offer more than ever, to say nothing of the knowledge contained within them.

We are a bookshop. Bookshops are all about ideas and tolerating different opinions and not about verbally assaulting somebody, which is what was happening.

Damn right. It’s exciting to see authors like James Patterson take active steps to support local indies. Ann Patchett even owns her own bookstore?--?Parnassus Books, in Nashville. A few years ago I followed the lead of an author I knew and started offering signed copies of my books through my local indie, Book People. I could probably make extra money buying the copies from the publisher and selling them directly, but I’d much rather create another reason for people to support a retailer.

Amazon has done wonderful things for the publishing industry?--?there are millions of titles in print and the average independent can only carry a small fraction of that?--?but the local bookstore provides an irreplaceable service (so do libraries, but there is something special about owning and writing in books). Bookstores curate and support and get behind authors that would be otherwise lost in the noise?--?particularly local or regional authors. There has been some worry about “showrooming," where customers discover books at retail shops but buy online. In reality, the relationship cuts both ways. I have an “Amazon Wishlist” of books on my phone that I often pull up in bookstores when I am looking for something to buy right then and there.

Bookstores also host events. Bookstores get kids hooked on reading with weekly story time. Ethnic bookstores provide community for refugees and immigrants; feminist bookstores are a launching pad for political activism; for over a century, Christian Science Reading Rooms have provided a quiet place for prayer and study. Porter’s Square Books in Boston recently launched its own “writer in residence” program. Recovery Cafe and Bookstore in Florida hosts meetings for recovering addicts. Great things begin in bookstores, and have for centuries. They serve, along with libraries, the function promised in an ancient inscription above the books belonging to King Ozymandias: Ψυχησ ιατρειον, or, “A House of Healing for the Soul." So here’s to bookstores: A haven and a lighthouse guiding us beyond the catastrophes and discord of our daily lives.

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, by Melanie Rehak

The plucky “titian-haired” sleuth solved her first mystery in 1930—and eighty million books later, Nancy Drew has survived the Depression, World War II, and the sixties (when she was taken up with a vengeance by women’s libbers) to enter the pantheon of American culture. As beloved by girls today as she was by their grandmothers, Nancy Drew has both inspired and reflected the changes in her readers’ lives. Here, in a narrative with all the page-turning pace of Nancy’s adventures, Melanie Rehak solves an enduring literary mystery: Who created Nancy Drew? And how did she go from pulp heroine to icon?

The brainchild of children’s book mogul Edward Stratemeyer, Nancy was brought to life by two women: Mildred Wirt Benson, a pioneering journalist from Iowa, and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, a well-bred wife and mother who took over her father’s business empire as CEO. In this century-spanning, “absorbing and delightful” story, the author traces their roles—and Nancy’s—in forging the modern American woman (The Wall Street Journal).

“As much a social history of the times as a book about the popular series . . . Those who followed the many adventures of Nancy Drew and her friends will be fascinated with the behind-the-scenes stories of just who Carolyn Keene really was." —School Library Journal

25 of the Biggest Debut Novels of 2018 (So Far)

30 Nonfiction Books That Are Sure to Make You Smarter

A Beautiful Truth: A Novel, by Colin McAdam This novel told from the perspectives of both humans and chimpanzees “packs a huge emotional punch” (The Gazette, Montreal).

"At the Girdish Institute, a group of chimpanzees has been studied for decades. There is proof that chimps have memories and solve problems, that they can learn language and need friends. They are political and altruistic. They get angry, and forgive."

Finnegan's Week, by Joseph Wambaugh A toxic spill causes a lethal chain reaction for a San Diego cop in this “very funny” New York Times bestseller by the author of The Choirboys (Kirkus Reviews).

Fin Finnegan, a San Diego police detective and wannabe actor heading straight for a midlife meltdown, is assigned a routine truck theft that turns into a toxic chemical spill, setting off a bizarre chain reaction of death and murder on both sides of the Mexican border. Fin is forced to team up with Nell Salter, a sexy female investigator, as well as an equally fetching US Navy investigator who wants to learn all that Fin can teach her—and that’s saying a lot. The New York Times Book Review called it “a frolic, a joy, a hoot, a riot of a book." And Entertainment Weekly said, “superbly crafted and paced, deliciously funny, but fundamentally, as always, deadly serious."


The Dark Water: The Strange Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes, by David Pirie Kindle Price: $2.99

The detective team of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Joseph Bell star in this “ingenious” historical mystery (The New York Times Book Review).

As many fans of Sherlock Holmes know, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle found inspiration for the great fictional detective in a brilliant Scottish surgeon named Joseph Bell. In an era when science was not often considered in the course of criminal investigations, Bell’s emphasis on observation and deduction made him a pioneer in forensics.

In The Dark Water, Holmes’s creator joins forces with Dr. Bell to take on Victorian vagabonds, criminal masterminds, and all manner of mysteries. The pair relentlessly pursues the vicious killer Thomas Neill Cream—and visits a sleepy seaside town where a seventeenth-century legend known as the Dunwich witch has taken on new life.

With “a gripping plot and psychologically sophisticated characters” (Publishers Weekly, starred review), The Dark Water is a thrilling, atmospheric adventure for historical mystery lovers, offering “an intellectual treat and a downright guilty pleasure” (The Washington Post).

Sentimental Education, by Gustave Flaubert Gustave Flaubert (12 December 1821 – 8 May 1880) was an influential French writer widely considered one of the greatest novelists in Western literature. He is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary (1857), for his Correspondence, and for his scrupulous devotion to his style and aesthetics. He was a tireless worker and often complained in his letters to friends about the strenuous nature of his work. He was close to his niece, Caroline Commanville, and had a close friendship and correspondence with George Sand. He occasionally visited Parisian acquaintances, including Émile Zola, Alphonse Daudet, Ivan Turgenev, and Edmond and Jules de Goncourt. The 1870s were a difficult time for him. Prussian soldiers occupied his house during the War of 1870, and his mother died in 1872. After her death, he fell into financial difficulty due to business failures on the part of his niece's husband. He suffered from venereal diseases most of his life. His health declined and he died at Croisset of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1880 at the age of 58. He was buried in the family vault in the cemetery of Rouen. A monument to him by Henri Chapu was unveiled at the museum of Rouen.

A book I am reading about Paris mentions this book being the most influential novel of the 19th century.

Oakshot Complete Works of Robert Louis Stevenson. (Illustrated/Inline Footnotes) (Classics Book 22) Kindle Edition Robert Louis Stevenson is the famous Scottish author who wrote TREASURE ISLAND and KIDNAPPED and numerous other classic adventure novels, the spooky DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, short stories, poetry (including A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES which must be a part of every young child's reading or listening experience), plays, travel-accounts, and other nonfiction. Along with his letters, Stevenson's works are all here, nicely formatted, and accompanied by biographical material. Stevenson's story-telling technique reflects a more leisurely, older style than many modern readers are used to, but even so, he is still, surprisingly, quite readable and, therefore, very enjoyable. Various active TOCs permit direct access to all content and the formatting is handsomely done. This is a great bundle.

Any fan of RLS will want a complete set like this, and if you are not yet a fan, reading this may just make you one. I would, however, recommend comparing this Oakshot edition to the complete Stevenson set from Delphi to see which you might prefer -- though in truth, you can't go wrong with either one. (Or you can do what I did; I got BOTH.)

The Odd Women Kindle Edition, by George Gissing Like the odd women of the title, this is an odd book in many ways. It opens oddly by focusing on characters who turn out to be secondary and it takes a while to really anchor itself and get going. The book also contains big chunks of dialogue towards the middle as characters debate ideas which is unusual.

Although unconventional, the book is very thought-provoking and even revolutionary for its time. The "odd women" are unmarried women who were in abundance in England in the late nineteenth century when females significantly outnumbered men. Denied access to meaningful work, these women were objects of pity who could only look forward only to empty lives.

Two of these women, Mary Barfoot and Rhoda Nunn, refuse to accept this sad state of affairs and several years before the book opens took matters into their own hands by opening a school to train "odd women" in office work. At the time this was a bold move because women weren't considered capable of anything beyond domestic duties. These women also have very progressive views about the role of women's in society and much loftier ambitions than just training women to type, including starting a newspaper for women.

But wow! I'm agog! I thought, with all the arrogance of Alexander, that there were no more great 'Victorian' English novels to conquer. I was premature; "The Odd Women" is deep, well-constructed and entertaining, a veritable Platonic Form of the 19th C novel of manners. It's a didactic, reformist novel -- what else? -- but its moral tenor is well incorporated into its character development and its reformism is neither pious nor dogmatic. The subject IS marriage and the liberation of women from patriarchal inanition; George Gissing certainly presented himself as a advocate for "the new woman" of self-reliance and unconventionality. Nonetheless, he was an Englishman of his times, highly sensitive to social class, burdened with assumptions and prejudices of class; he positioned himself at the forefront of progressive opinion, no doubt, but still within the spectrum thereof.

Gissing bears comparison in many ways to the American novelist Henry James. Gissing was 14 years younger than James, though one would not easily guess it from their novels, yet died a decade earlier. James was by far the more adventurous stylist, but Gissing's characters are more flesh-and-blood, more likely to compel a reader's empathy. Gissing is also a plainer story teller, less susceptible to parentheses and adverbial subtleties. The comparison to the late novels of George Eliot, especially "Middlemarch", probably gives a better idea of Gissing's literary manner, but his psychological insights match those of James and Thomas Hardy. Anyway, that's the 'company' he will keep from now on, on my mental bookshelf.

"The Odd Women" is an ambiguous title - deliberately, I think - referring to the demographic imbalance between the sexes in late 19th c England, with half a million more women than men of marriageable age, but slyly also to the blunt truth that the 'liberated' women of the novel would surely have been regarded as "odd" by many. Gissing portrays women very plausibly, and unlike many 19th C novelists, he gives us women of quite distinct individuality. In this book, and in the one other Gissing book I've read, the women are more vital, more appealing, more substantial than the men, but those men are no mere cartoons. They're also flesh-and-bloody, though they tend to be bloody fools. My one previous Gissing novel was "The Nether World", an earlier production, quite interesting but not nearly as well-crafted as "The Odd Women." My thanks to amazoo cagemate Robin Friedman for badgering me to read this unfairly neglected author. Now let's see what other titles by Gissing are in print ...

Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson, by Alan Pell Crawford Twilight at Monticello is something entirely new: an unprecedented and engrossing personal look at the intimate Jefferson in his final years that will change the way readers think about this true American icon. It was during these years–from his return to Monticello in 1809 after two terms as president until his death in 1826–that Jefferson’s idealism would be most severely, and heartbreakingly, tested.

Based on new research and documents culled from the Library of Congress, the Virginia Historical Society, and other special collections, including hitherto unexamined letters from family, friends, and Monticello neighbors, Alan Pell Crawford paints an authoritative and deeply moving portrait of Thomas Jefferson as private citizen–the first original depiction of the man in more than a generation.

The Enlightenment and the Book
29 Cloth ISBN: 978-0-226-75252-5 $43.00
Your Price: $10.00

The Greeks
1995 326 p. 6 x 9
161 Paper ISBN: 978-0-226-85383-3 $25.00
Your Price: $10.00

The Phantom of the Temple
1966 214 p. 51/4 x 8 11 line drawings
467 Paper ISBN: 978-0-226-84877-8 $13.00
Your Price: $7.00

What's Become of Waring
1939 240 p. 51/2 x 81/2
522 Paper ISBN: 978-0-226-13718-6 $17.00
Your Price: $13.60

Order Number: 8069083
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The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir (P.S.), by Josh Kilmer-Purcell “I adore the Beekman boys’ story. Their unlikely story of love, the land, and a herd of goats is hilariously honest. If these two can go from Manhattan to a goat farm in upstate New York, then I can’t help feeling there is hope for us all." –Alice Waters

“Kilmer-Purcell’s genius lies in his ability to blindside the reader with heart-wrenching truths in the midst of the most outlandish scenarios. He makes you laugh until you care." -- Armistead Maupin

Michael Perry (Coop, Truck: A Love Story) meets David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim) in this follow-up to Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s beloved New York Times bestselling debut memoir, I Am Not Myself These Days—another riotous, moving, and entirely unique story of his attempt to tackle the next phase of life with his partner… on a goat farm in upstate New York.

Davita's Harp, by Chaim Potok For Davita Chandal, growing up in the New York of the 1930s and '40s is an experience of joy and sadness. Her loving parents, both fervent radicals, fill her with the fiercely bright hope of a new and better world. But as the deprivations of war and depression take a ruthless toll, Davita unexpectedly turns to the Jewish faith that her mother had long ago aban'ed, finding there both a solace for her questioning inner pain and a test of her budding spirit of independence.

From the author of The Chosen: In a time marked by war and depression, Davita finds solace and independence in the Jewish faith. With over 1,500 five-star ratings on Goodreads!

We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy by John A. Buck. Kindle Price: $20.00 Paperback price $29.95

The United States Declaration of Independence asserts that all human beings are created equally and endowed with the unquestionable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In practice, however, these rights exist only for the majority, the rich, or property owners. We the People explains how sociocracy ensures these rights to everyone. It is built on the same values as democracy, but designs more inclusive and efficient organizations. It makes profit-making businesses more profitable, and non-profit organizations more effective. And everyone happier.

Hedges, Chris. The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress. NY: Truthdig, 2013.

Humanism and the Latin Classics, by Aldus Manutius $29.95 ISBN 9780674971639 The I Tatti Renaissance Library 78. 11/2/17

Aldus Manutius (c. 1451–1515) was the most important and innovative scholarly publisher of the Renaissance. His Aldine Press was responsible for more first editions of classical literature, philosophy, and science than any other publisher before or since. A companion volume to I Tatti’s The Greek Classics (2016), Humanism and the Latin Classics presents all of Aldus’s prefaces to his editions of works by ancient Latin and modern humanist writers, translated for the first time into English, along with other illustrative writings by Aldus and his collaborators. They provide unique insight into the world of scholarly publishing in Renaissance Venice.

“This priceless I Tatti volume collects and translates into English, many for the first time (although with the I Tatti Library, that almost goes without saying), the prefaces Manutius wrote for the volumes that came off his presses, the allurements intended for potential customers, the introductions to often complex subject matters, and, delightfully, some of that extensive correspondence, which lays bare both the artful flattery that comes with the territory when doing business in Venice and the knowingly public confidentiality in which every arriviste revels when they find themselves hob-nobbing with household names… Humanism and the Latin Classics makes the perfect bookend with the earlier Aldus Manutius volume The Greek Classics, and taken together or separately, they bring to the reader the whirring and clacking of the printer’s shop, the wheeling and wheedling of the time’s book industry, and most of all the burbling and rumorous and striving intellectual atmosphere of the Renaissance in its full flower, when books and learning and reading and writing seemed to awake from centuries of slumber and begin ferociously multiplying again in every town and city and seat of learning from Lon' to Baghdad. Aldine books were everywhere during that explosion, carried in pockets, bought and traded, discussed by all, and these I Tatti volumes take readers inside the tornado and introduce them to the man in the eye of it all.”—Steve 'oghue, Open Letters Monthly

A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions by Muhammad Yunus

A winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and bestselling author of Banker to the Poor offers his vision of an emerging new economic system that can save humankind and the planet

Muhammad Yunus, who created microcredit, invented social business, and earned a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in alleviating poverty, is one of today's most trenchant social critics. Now he declares it's time to admit that the capitalist engine is broken--that in its current form it inevitably leads to rampant inequality, massive unemployment, and environmental destruction. We need a new economic system that unleashes altruism as a creative force just as powerful as self-interest.

Is this a pipe dream? Not at all. In the last decade, thousands of people and organizations have already embraced Yunus's vision of a new form of capitalism, launching innovative social businesses designed to serve human needs rather than accumulate wealth. They are bringing solar energy to millions of homes in Bangladesh; turning thousands of unemployed young people into entrepreneurs through equity investments; financing female-owned businesses in cities across the United States; bringing mobility, shelter, and other services to the rural poor in France; and creating a global support network to help young entrepreneurs launch their start-ups.

In A World of Three Zeros, Yunus describes the new civilization emerging from the economic experiments his work has helped to inspire. He explains how global companies like McCain, Renault, Essilor, and Danone got involved with this new economic model through their own social action groups, describes the ingenious new financial tools now funding social businesses, and sketches the legal and regulatory changes needed to jumpstart the next wave of socially driven innovations. And he invites young people, business and political leaders, and ordinary citizens to join the movement and help create the better world we all dream of.

Infinite Kindle Edition by Jeremy Robinson 5* Review: Infinite is Robinson’s first foray into the field of space opera, and it is an incredible ride from start to finish. As usual for a Jeremy Robinson story the technology and science fiction elements are imaginative and well written. The Galahad is an impressive starship and the technology on board paints a picture of an advanced future society. This book has a few interesting nods to Robinson’s previous and upcoming works, as well as another interesting addition to Robinson’s menagerie of monsters. However, were this story really shines is in the incredible journey of its hero.

While the setting of Infinite is a standard Sci-Fi spaceship, the story is a much deeper exploration of what it means to be human, what the definition of “Reality” is, and what gives meaning to existence. This story has a lot of twist and turns to it. When I was reading this book for the first time I guessed what the final big twist was fairly early on, but the intervening story was so imaginative and unpredictable that I was still completely blindsided when the twist actually came. Also, once you have read the book you will know what I mean when I say that the way that chapter 48 wraps up the cliffhanger of chapter 47, and the overall story, is pure genius. One of my favorite aspects of this story is how Robinson details the setting and technology of this world while still keeping them firmly in the background of the story. While some Sci-Fi story place to much emphasis on the technology of the setting Robinson keeps the focus firmly on the story and characters.

[copying from e-books: You can highlight a passage, select "highlight" from the pop-up menu, and then go to and click on the "Your Highlights" link. Your highlights will be listed there and you can copy and paste from there to wherever you want.]

Grasp the Nettle: Making Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Work by Peter Proctor 5/17/17

The Thrifty Witch


The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry, by William K. Black (2005-04-01) -- recommended by Thom Hartmann.

Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America, by Ellen Schrecker -- recommended by Thom Hartmann.

Valuing the Self: What We Can Learn from Other Cultures, by Dorothy Lee -- recommended by Thom Hartmann.

Full of contemporary, relevant commentary and anthropological insight, this collection of provocative philosophical and psychological essays discusses general principles and specific ways to generate positive learning and development of individuals in communities and societies. The book sensitively and clearly distinguishes thought and behavior in primitive cultures, as well as raises questions and offers answers as to how the individual might be nurtured and taught to enjoy life with greater personal fulfillment, to engage others and to be engaged by them, and to live life to its fullest potential. Through comparative analysis of numerous cultures both Western and primitive, Lee suggests that in order for the individual to achieve autonomy (defined as "being in charge of myself") it is essential that the community (defined as "people around me") truly value the self. Lee's work holds that learning from other cultures and valuing their significance and worth are more central to what the discipline of anthropology is and should be about. In both the teaching and practice of anthropology, according to Lee, "what we can learn from other cultures" and apply to ourselves and our own world is precisely what gives meaning and value to the pursuit of anthropology as an academic discipline. Valuing the Self essentially captures the essence of anthropology's humanistic potential while simultaneously providing a rich and accurate sense of what life and culture are about in small-scale traditional societies. Lee's presentation of life in primitive cultures attacks the essence of the ethnocentric myth that human beings are necessarily better off in modern cultures.

Read Yourself Happy With Bibliotherapy: 10 Tips for Bookish Self Help

30 Best Self-Help Books 1/26/17

The Shadow of the Wind (Penguin Drop Caps) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Review By Jamie Davis on October 23, 2016

I write about this book because I loved it, and I want to remember it. In writing, I am forced to reflect upon how much pleasure I derived from reading the book.

It is a gothic tale set in 1945, Barcelona. Daniel, the bookseller’s son, is introduced to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and makes his selection of one book from the labyrinth to take home and care for. In doing so, he finds himself involved in a real-life mystery. You see, the book he selected was written by a man named Julian Carax, and very well may be the last book in existence by Carax. Someone has been finding the Carax works and destroying them.

I love that it is a book about a book! I love the story, but I also love the writing itself, and how Zafon has a style that makes me want to keep reading. The man is a beautiful writer. The “Angel of the Mist” story that begins on page 233 is a haunting touch, as is Maria Jacinta’s detailing of her encounters with Zacarias (begin on page 260), and the storyline of Daniel and Fermin visiting her in the asylum.

I loved this first book so much that I immediately started reading the second book in the series, and I am about 200 pages in to “The Angel’s Game," right now! To think, I found this gorgeous read because of a visit to the Book Warehouse over the July 4 weekend, where I unwittingly purchased the third book in the series first!

Michel Houellebecq
Well-known French writer.

Submission: A Novel A controversial, intelligent, and mordantly funny new novel from France’s most famous living literary figure

It’s 2022. François is bored. He’s a middle-aged lecturer at the New Sorbonne University and an expert on J. K. Huysmans, the famed nineteenth-century novelist associated with the Decadent movement. But François’s own decadence is of considerably smaller scale. He sleeps with his students, eats microwave dinners, and watches YouPorn.

Meanwhile, it’s election season, and in an alliance with the Socialists, France’s new Islamic party sweeps to power?and Islamic law is instituted. Women are veiled, polygamy is encouraged, and François is offered an irresistible academic advancement?on the condition that he converts to Islam.

A darkly comic masterpiece from one of France’s great writers, Submission by Michel Houellebecq has become an international sensation and one of the most discussed novels of our time.

The Elementary Particles An international literary phenomenon, The Elementary Particles is a frighteningly original novel–part Marguerite Duras and part Bret Easton Ellis-that leaps headlong into the malaise of contemporary existence.

Bruno and Michel are half-brothers aban'ed by their mother, an unabashed devotee of the drugged-out free-love world of the sixties. Bruno, the older, has become a raucously promiscuous he'ist himself, while Michel is an emotionally dead molecular biologist wholly immersed in the solitude of his work. Each is ultimately offered a final chance at genuine love, and what unfolds is a brilliantly caustic and unpredictable tale.

The Map and the Territory The most celebrated and controversial French novelist of our time delivers a riveting masterpiece about art and money, love and friendship, and fathers and sons.

Platform In his new work, Michel Houellebecq combines erotic provocation with a terrifying vision of a world teetering between satiety and fanaticism, to create one of the most shocking, hypnotic, and intelligent novels in years.

In his early forties, Michel Renault skims through his days with as little human contact as possible. But following his father’s death he takes a group holiday to Thailand where he meets a travel agent—the shyly compelling Valérie—who begins to bring this half-dead man to life with sex of escalating intensity and audacity. Arcing with dreamlike swiftness from Paris to Pattaya Beach and from sex clubs to a terrorist massacre, Platform is a brilliant, apocalyptic masterpiece by a man who is widely regarded as one of the world’s most original and daring writers.

The Possibility of an Island A worldwide phenomenon and the most important French novelist since Camus, Michel Houellebecq now delivers his magnum opus–a tale of our present circumstances told from the future, when humanity as we know it has vanished.

Surprisingly poignant, philosophically compelling, and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, The Possibility of an Island is at once an indictment, an elegy, and a celebration of everything we have and are at risk of losing. It is a masterpiece from one of the world’s most innovative writers.

Michel Tremblay

The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant 1981 It is the glorious second day of May, 1942. The sun is drawing the damp from earth still heavy with the end of a long Quebec winter, the budding branches of the trees along rue Fabre and in Parc Lafontaine of the Plateau Mont Royal ache to release their leaves into the warm, clear air heralding the approach of summer.

Seven women in this raucous Francophone working-class Montreal neighbourhood are pregnant—only one of them, “the fat woman," is bearing a child of true love and affection.

In this first of six novels that became his Chronicles of the Plateau Mont Royal, Tremblay allows his imagination free reign, fictionalizing the lives of his beloved characters, dramatized so brilliantly in his plays and remembered so poignantly in his memoirs.“The fat woman” both is and is not Michel Tremblay’s mother—her extended family and neighbours more than a symbol of a colonized people: aban'ed and mocked by France; conquered and exploited by England; abused and terrorized by the Church; and forced into a war by Canada supporting the very powers that have crushed their spirit and twisted their souls since time immemorial. This is a “divine comedy” of the extraordinary triumphs and tragedies of ordinary people caught up by circumstances that span the range of the ridiculous to the sublime.

Belles Soeurs, Les Germaine Lauzon has won a million trading stamps from a department store. Her head swimming with dreams of refurbishing and redecorating her working-class home from top to bottom with catalogue selections ranging from new kitchen appliances to “real Chinese paintings on velvet," she invites fourteen of her friends and relatives in the neighbourhood over to help her paste the stamps into booklets.

Raucous, reckless and rude, the women shamelessly share their most secret hopes and fears, complain stridently about their friends and relatives, fantasize wistfully about escaping the misogynist drudgery of their lives and surreptitiously tuck most of the stamps into their purses and clothing, self-righteously appropriating what they consider to be Germaine’s “illegitimate” good fortune.

While earlier attempts had been made to stage the realities of Québécois life using colloquial language and a realist backdrop of working-class Montréal, these populist hits were considered rustic and anomalous, while “real” (Parisian) French continued to dominate theatre and “high culture” until the end of the 1950s.

The Duchess and the Commoner


Barbara Tuchman

Book burning

The Walden Effect Anna Hess enjoys writing about her adventures, both on her blog at and in her books. Her first paperback, The Weekend Homesteader, helped thousands of homesteaders-to-be find ways to fit their dreams into the hours leftover from a full-time job. Hess is also the author of The Naturally Bug-Free Garden, Trailersteading, and several ebook-only titles. She lives with her husband in the mountains of southwest Virginia.

Homegrown Humus: Cover Crops in a No-till Garden (Permaculture Gardener Book 1) Kindle Edition by Anna Hess

Bookbub great deals on bestselling ebooks... If you have a kindle you will definitely want to sign up for their service. Every day they send you an email with a list of books, some free, none expensive.

Ripple (Breakthrough Book 4) Kindle Edition by Michael C. Grumley

It began in Ethiopia, hundreds of thousands of years ago. When a handful of genetic mutations caused evolution to split from the primates. And mankind was born.

Now, eons later, evidence of more splits from the apes are being unearthed. And with them, a disturbing realization. Ours was only one of many.

And yet we survived. But it was not by luck or chance. We survived because humans had something the others did not. A unique ingredient that has only now been rediscovered.

First in the mountains of South America, where it was promptly destroyed by the Chinese. And now a second source in Africa. The epicenter of mankind's very inception.

A place that John Clay and Alison Shaw must find quickly. Because the Russians already know what we are searching for. And the Chinese want back what is rightfully theirs.

The mother of all secrets awaits the world, in Africa. One that will not only explain who we are, but will decipher the very code within our own DNA.

The beautiful Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve Book lovers will want to adopt this lovely holiday tradition, which melds literary and holiday pleasures into a single event.

Icelanders have a beautiful tradition of giving books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. This custom is so deeply ingrained in the culture that it is the reason for the Jolabokaflod, or “Christmas Book Flood," when the majority of books in Iceland are sold between September and December in preparation for Christmas giving.

At this time of year, most households receive an annual free book catalog of new publications called the Bokatidindi. Icelanders pore over the new releases and choose which ones they want to buy

"It's like the firing of the guns at the opening of the race," says Baldur Bjarnason, a researcher who has written about the Icelandic book industry. "It's not like this is a catalog that gets put in everybody's mailbox and everybody ignores it. Books get attention here."

The small Nordic island, with a population of only 329,000 people, is extraordinarily literary. They love to read and write. According to a BBC article, “The country has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world… One in 10 Icelanders will publish [a book]."

calls James Rollins "the modern master of the action thriller" with this classic Rollins tale.

Firefox by Craig Thomas one of the few books which I literally couldn't put down ... I have fallen in love with Craig Thomas. He brings his stories to life in such a way,that I actually have to put them down a nd come up for air.

Library Thing catalog your library, reading recommendations, groups, et al.

Good Reads recommendations et al.

FDL Book Salon

Reading Life Quotes

Ban Censorship By Thomas L. Knapp August 16, 2018

In a recent tweet, US Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) warned that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart." His solution: “These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it."

Yes, odd as it might seem, Senator Murphy believes that the future of America can only be secured by suppressing information and discussion he doesn’t like. That sentiment seems to be going around. David McCabe of Axios reports on a leaked policy paper from the office of US Senator Mark Warner (D-VA). Two of its most dangerous proposals:

"[N]ew federal funding for media literacy programs that could help consumers sort through the information on online platforms. " In other words, well-financed government propaganda to make sure we hear what Mark Warner wants us to hear (and think what he wants us to think about what we hear elsewhere).

"[R]equiring web platforms to label bot accounts or do more to identify authentic accounts, with the threat of sanction by the Federal Trade Commission if they fail to do so." America’s long tradition of anonymous and pseudonymous political speech -- not least among it the Revolution-era pamphlets of Thomas Paine -- shouldn’t be subject to the veto of Mark Warner or Chris Murphy.

Then, a good laugh: “The size and reach of these platforms demand that we ensure proper oversight, transparency and effective management of technologies that in large measure undergird our social lives, our economy, and our politics."

Since when has government ever produced proper oversight, transparency, or effective management of anything? And what could possibly go wrong with eviscerating the First Amendment to give these jokers “oversight” or “management” powers over technologies that undergird our politics? What’s really going on here?

Political blogger Michael Krieger answers that question with a simple headline: “Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared." The American political establishment has spent the last decade quaking in its boots over the next potential disclosure from WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, or whistleblowers yet unknown. This isn’t about “our democracy." It’s about “their power."

The US government’s use of putatively “private sector” social media outlets as proxy censors has been going on for some time, but the Russiagate scandal lent it new momentum. And it’s not just some alleged lunatic fringe that they’re after. Recent victims of Twitter’s ban policy include non-interventionist foreign policy analysts like Scott Horton (editorial director of, former Foreign Service Officer Peter Van Buren, and Ron Paul Institute director Daniel McAdams.

We don’t need “more government oversight” of social media. What we need is for it to be recognized, and treated, as a criminal abuse of power (and a violation of US Code Title 18 § 241 -- “conspiracy against rights”) for government officials or employees to attempt to “oversee” or “manage” social media’s content standards.

Let me reconfigure Chris Murphy’s authoritarian statement to name the stakes: The survival of our freedom depends on it.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.


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The Reading List Email for January 24th, 2021

A new year is upon us, which means whether you had a great reading year last year or a bad one, you are now at zero. We are starting over. We can decide now, however bad our habits were—however distracted we got by social media, or the news, or Netflix—to pick up a book and start reading. And we should read A LOT this year. 2020 was as rough as it was in part because we had failed to learn the lessons of history (see: John Barry's The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History) and because we were not prepared for the ups and downs of life (see: Marcus Aurelius' Meditations). Here are my recommendations this month. You might also like this video from me on the best books I read last year and this list from me on some books you absolutely must read in 2021.

some books you must read in 2021

A Poem for Every Night of the Year and Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year, edited by Allie Esiri As you can imagine from The Daily Stoic, I am a big fan of daily devotionals. I read Tolstoy's A Calendar of Wisdom every day. Now, I've added two new books to the routine. A Poem for Every Night of the Year is a great way to get introduced to poetry (and to do some reading out loud). It's a wonderful mix of old and new, classical and didactic poems from authors all over the world. Each poem is helpfully introduced as well. The Shakespeare book is sort of a greatest hits of Shakespeare—also tied well to each date with a nice intro—that either reminds you of the plays you've read or gives you a nice path into the ones you haven't.

At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 by Taylor Branch I've raved about the first two books in these series, Parting the Waters and Pillar of Fire, and the third is just as good. It's taken me longer to read than the others, but I suspect that's just some fatigue 2,000 or so pages in. Taylor Branch is an incredible biographer and nothing has helped me understand American history or our current civil rights issues more than this book. As always, I say biography is a better way to learn than any other form of non-fiction. Do read this whole series. It's a great challenge to commit to for 2021

At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 - 5s

Parting the Waters

Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65

The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene For a project I am working on with Robert Greene (can't tell you, but it's great), I re-read large chunks of these two books. They remain masterpieces. If you haven't read 48 Laws yet, you simply must. It's not a HOW TO book… it is more like an unvarnished look at how power operates in the world. You choose which strategies you will apply, and you decide whether you will be prepared for the reality of others choosing their own strategies. Here's a video of me discussing what I've learned from this book and why you should read it.

The 48 Laws of Power

Art of Seduction

Pee Wees: Confessions of a Hockey Parent by Rich Cohen I love everything Rich Cohen writes. I am pretty sure I've read all of it. I have recommended and raved here about The Fish That Ate the Whale, Tough Jews, Monsters, The Last Pirate of New York, When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead, and a bunch of others. He's prolific but never mediocre. This new book is a sweet and poetic look at the world of youth sports… and the crazy things it does to parents.

The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America's Banana King

Tough Jews: Fathers, Sons, and Ganster Dreams

Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football

The Last Pirate of New York: A Ghost Ship, a Killer, and the Birth of a Gangster Nation

When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man

Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything by Viktor Frankl How is it possible that there is a new Viktor Frankl book? It's a miracle! Man's Search for Meaning is one of my favorite books—one of the greatest works of philosophy ever produced. After surviving the concentration camps, Frankl died in 1997. Luckily, a lost lecture/essay series of his has survived, and thus created Yes to Life (with a nice introduction from Daniel Goleman). A beautiful book that you must read… and its title is a mantra you must use.

Yes to Life: In Spite of Everything

Man's Search for Meaning


I had Tom Ricks on the Daily Stoic podcast about his AMAZING book First Principles, which I highly recommend. If you're struggling to make sense of political events in America, I also suggest The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic. My interview with Mike Duncan is definitely worth listening to as well. I forgot to recommend Heather Cox Richardson’s How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America. If you want to understand how a guy ended up walking the halls of Congress with a Confederate flag this month, this book will help. I also enjoy her newsletter. I'm in the middle of watching Netflix's The Queen, which is wonderful and giving some nice context to many books I've read.

First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country

The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic

How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America

Named one of The Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction

While the North prevailed in the Civil War, ending slavery and giving the country a "new birth of freedom," Heather Cox Richardson argues in this provocative work that democracy's blood-soaked victory was ephemeral. The system that had sustained the defeated South moved westward and there established a foothold. It was a natural fit. Settlers from the East had for decades been pushing into the West, where the seizure of Mexican lands at the end of the Mexican-American War and treatment of Native Americans cemented racial hierarchies. The South and West equally depended on extractive industries-cotton in the former and mining, cattle, and oil in the latter-giving rise a new birth of white male oligarchy, despite the guarantees provided by the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and the economic opportunities afforded by expansion.

To reveal why this happened, How the South Won the Civil War traces the story of the American paradox, the competing claims of equality and subordination woven into the nation's fabric and identity. At the nation's founding, it was the Eastern "yeoman farmer" who galvanized and symbolized the American Revolution. After the Civil War, that mantle was assumed by the Western cowboy, singlehandedly defending his land against barbarians and savages as well as from a rapacious government. New states entered the Union in the late nineteenth century and western and southern leaders found yet more common ground. As resources and people streamed into the West during the New Deal and World War II, the region's influence grew. "Movement Conservatives," led by westerners Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, claimed to embody cowboy individualism and worked with Dixiecrats to embrace the ideology of the Confederacy.

Richardson's searing book seizes upon the soul of the country and its ongoing struggle to provide equal opportunity to all. Debunking the myth that the Civil War released the nation from the grip of oligarchy, expunging the sins of the Founding, it reveals how and why the Old South not only survived in the West, but thrived.

To start 2021 off as a better reader, you should try my Read to Lead: A Daily Stoic Reading Challenge. It's 13 days of challenges designed to help you build a better reading practice, introduce you to a bunch of great books and push you as a leader and thinker. As Harry Truman said, not all readers are leaders but ALL leaders are leaders. Check it out here—I'd love to have you on the journey.

Read to Lead

The Reading List Email for November 18th, 2018

Reading a lot of BIOGRAPHIES lately as I get into the final stage of research for my next book. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than reading a great biography. You learn about a unique person. You learn about the time and place they lived in. You learn from their strengths and weaknesses. You learn about the costs of ambition and power and success on themselves and their family. My general rule about biographies is that older ones are better. It's good to let them age a bit. Generally the more awards or critical praise they have gotten, the worse they are. Longer is usually better, but not always. Biographies are also a great chance to add diversity and perspective to your general worldview (as you'll hopefully see from my selections below), but make sure that race and gender aren't the only type of diversity you're seeking out (ideology, experience, style, time period, etc are just as important).

Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics by Stephen Greenblatt
I loved Greenblatt's The Swerve and Will in the World. This book is just as good. I wrote a couple months ago about how the best way to understand what's happening in the world is not reading or watching the news, but studying great writing from the past. That's why I loved this book and am repeating John Lithgow's blurb from its back cover: "Tyrant is a striking literary feat. At the outset, the book notes how Shakespeare craftily commented on his own times by telling tales of tyrants from centuries before. In an act of scholarly daring, Greenblatt then proceeds to do exactly the same thing." His books are also an excellent introduction to the classics, and that's been helpful to me as a mostly self-directed reader.

Buddha by Karen Armstrong
This book was well done. Scholarly without being pedantic, inspiring without being mystical. Armstrong is actually a former Catholic nun (who teaches at a college of Judaism), so I loved the diverse and unique perspective of the author. After this book I read Michael Schuman's biography of Confucius which is exactly the kind of biography I don't like. The introduction is about the author (who cares) and then the book proceeds to tackle the subject from the prospective of a journalist (usually the least interesting perspective). Meanwhile, Armstrong never misses the point of a good biography: To teach the reader how to live through the life of an interesting, complicated but important person.

Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird
This is just a spectacularly written biography. Like one of the best biographies I've read in a long time. It's long but never tedious. It covers an immense swath of history that most readers are not familiar with, but manages to make it all very understandable and interesting. Honestly, I've never even heard of Queen Victoria's husband before and was fascinated by their relationship (as well as the relationships she had after his death). I didn't know about their role in the US Civil War, or just how many administrations she survived. I thought the author did a great job capturing just how difficult life was for a woman in 19th century, even a queen (10 kids!). But mostly, I loved hearing how she ruled and managed power. Just an extremely good book and I highly recommend. I also read Alison Weir's biography of Queen Elizabeth I but have to say she falls far short of Baird. Almost three hundred pages into the book Weir is still bogged down in the Queen's personal life and speaks little about her role as head of state, foreign policy, etc etc (In a way, it's almost sexist. No good biography of FDR would spend that much time on the minutia of his private life). She was running an empire. Tell me about that! There's some good stuff in it but one has to be very patient to find it.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
I wanted to love this book more than I did because Frederick Douglass is one of my heroes. This is a guy who literally escaped slavery, who taught himself to read and write, who became one of Lincoln's trusted advisors during the Civil War. To me, Frederick Douglass is one of America's founding fathers--because without him, the second founding of this nation (post-Slavery) would not have happened. That being said, most of the best insights about Douglass come from his own writing. < U>My Bondage and My Freedom is one of the greatest memoirs ever produced. There is some great stuff in this book--I didn't know about Douglass's relationship with John Brown for instance, or much about his children. The author raises more questions than he answers. Did Douglass have a bunch of longterm affairs with two supporters who lived with him? Yes or No? The book doesn't answer...but it does spend many pages talking about the women. Was Douglass an absentee father? It seems like it, but the author never makes a case one way or another. It's almost as if the author was scared to judged Douglass as a person, the way that a biographer of another subject would have been more comfortable getting inside the skin of their subject. This is why older biographies are typically better, as they do the real work of the biographer without fear of political correctness or modern moral ambiguity.

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution by David Quammen
Robert Greene recommended this one to me when I asked for a favorite biography of Darwin. I liked this. It is written by a journalist, but one who actually seemed to like and understand his subject. He presents Darwin as a complicated, eccentric, hypochondriac who almost seemed to dread the discovery he felt himself drifting towards. I thought that was a unique take. The book is funny and quirky and really gets inside Darwin's mind. I took a moment to re-read Paul Johnson's biography of Darwin which takes a bit more hagiographic approach, which while inspiring and exciting, probably contains some undeserved certainty. I just found it fascinating how relaxed and methodical Darwin was. Maybe that was partially fueled by procrastination, but I appreciated that he wasn't this intense, driven figure. He was just doing what he loved.

Three Uses of The Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama by David Mamet
I've meant to read this book for several years. Every time I was in a book store it would pop into my head to read and then they'd never have it. Finally, I ended up ordering a copy on Amazon when I remembered and burned through it as I sat on the runway for a delayed flight. It's classic Mamet: Contrarian. Certain. Funny. Incisive. A good read for anyone who is or wants to be a writer, who works with stories for a living or loves the arts.

I went back through William Manchester's three volume biography of Winston Churchill, which I think is possibly the finest single set of biographies ever written. I also re-read Paul Johnson's short bio of Churchill (a good place to start). I enjoyed Winston Churchill As I Knew Him by Violet Bonham Carter as well. Highly recommend a deep dive into Churchill for everyone and anyone. Jason Fried, who I wrote about in Perennial Seller, sent me his new book It Doesn't Have To Be Crazy At Work. He's right. It doesn't and it's a very good book.

Two quick notes: This month marks the one year anniversary of The Daily Stoic Journal. If you want to start the habit of journaling, I think it's a great place to start. It gives you a prompt to prepare for the day ahead and a prompt to reflect on in the evening. It's based on the ancient Stoic practice of journaling and it's been amazing to hear from the thousands and thousands of people around the world who have started journaling as a result. (I myself do it every day.)

Finally, if you want to try any of a lot of these books I recommended for free, you might like Scribd, which is essentially Netflix for books. Click here to sign up for a one month free trial of unlimited audiobooks and ebooks plus free subscription to magazines like Bloomberg Business Week, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, Fortune and others.


Unlimited* books. Unlimited audiobooks. Only $8.99/month.

First thirty days is free to try

With that, I hope that you'll get around to reading whichever of these books catch your eye and that you'll learn as much as I did. Whether you buy them on Amazon today, or at an independent bookstore six months from now or read them on Scribd makes no difference to me. I just hope you read! You're welcome to email me questions or raise issues for discussion. Better yet, if you know of a good book on a related topic, please pass it along. And as always, if one of these books comes to mean something to you, recommend it to someone else.

I promised myself a long time ago that if I saw a book that interested me I'd never let time or money or anything else prevent me from having it. This means that I treat reading with a certain amount of respect. All I ask, if you decide to email me back, is that you're not just thinking aloud. Enjoy these books, treat your education like the job that it is, and let me know if you ever need anything.

I Read One Book 100 Times Over 10 Years… Here Are 100 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned Ryan Holiday

Almost exactly ten years ago, I bought the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius on Amazon. Amazon Prime didn’t exist then and to qualify for free shipping, I had to purchase a few other books at the same time. Two or three days later they all arrived.

It’s a medium sized paperback, mostly white with a golden spine. On the cover Marcus is shown in relief, pardoning the barbarians. “Here, for our age, is Marcus’s great work," says Robert Fagles in his blurb. I was 19 years old. I didn’t know who Marcus Aurelius was (besides the old guy in Gladiator) and I certainly didn’t know who Robert Fagles or Gregory Hays, the translator, was. But something drew me to this book almost immediately. I suppose it was luck that brought me to the specific translation I’d chosen (Modern Library Edition)?--?though the Stoics would call it fated?--?but what arrived would change my life.

It would be for me, what Tyler Cowen would call a “a quake book," shaking everything I thought I knew about the world (however little that actually was). I would also become what Stephen Marche has referred to as a “centireader," reading Marcus Aurelius well over 100 times across multiple editions and copies.

In the course of those readings and my study of Stoicism, a lot has changed. Marcus Aurelius has guided me through breakups and getting married, through being relatively young and poor and relatively older and well-off. His wisdom has helped me with getting fired and with quitting, with success and with struggles.

I’ve carried him to close to a dozen countries and moved him to multiple houses. I’ve turned to him for articles and books and casual dinner conversation. The one pristine white cover is now its own shade of tan, but with every read, every time I’ve touched the book, I’ve gotten something new or been reminded of something timeless and important.

Now with the release of my own translation and compendium, The Daily Stoic (and a daily email newsletter at, I wanted to take the time to reflect on what I’ve learned in ten years with one of the greatest and most unique pieces of literature ever created.

(And to learn more about Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism, sign up for the Daily Stoic’s free 7-day course on Stoicism packed with exclusive resources, Stoic exercises, interviews and much more!) [ ]

-It was the opening passage of Book 5?--?about our reluctance to get out of bed and get moving in the morning?--?that struck me most on my first read. As you can see, I wrote “FUCK” with a highlighter and you can see how important that passage was to me at the time in a 2007 blog post. Later, I would print out this passage and put it next to my desk and bed. I think it was that as a college student I needed that extra motivation. I was a little lazy and entitled. I needed to seize life and take advantage of it?--?and Marcus served me well in that regard for a long time.

-Though I will say that today, I think less about the passage that motivates me to do more and be more active. If I was to put a different one on my desk, I’d choose FROM BOOK TEN, “IF YOU SEEK TRANQUILITY, DO LESS."

-In my first read of Meditations, I highlighted the line “It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character." In a later read I added brackets around that line, just for more emphasis. And I underlined in pen what came after, “Otherwise, it cannot harm you?--?inside or out."

-Pages XXVI and XXV of Hays’s introduction is where I was first introduced to THE DISTILLATION OF STOICISM INTO THREE DISTINCT DISCIPLINES (PERCEPTION, ACTION, WILL). It was this order that eventually shaped both The Obstacle is the Way and The Daily Stoic. When I get asked to explain the three disciplines, this is usually my short answer: SEE THINGS FOR WHAT THEY ARE. DO WHAT WE CAN. ENDURE AND BEAR WHAT WE MUST.

-Hays’s introduction also lists Alexander Pope, Goethe and William Alexander Percy as students and fans of Marcus Aurelius. Reading works by all of these individuals?--?especially Percy (and his adopted son, Walker Percy) - sent me down a rabbit hole that would be one of the most enjoyable of my reading life. I encourage everyone to read Percy’s Lanterns on the Levee.

Lanterns on the Levee Kindle Edition by William Alexander Perry $7.45

This fascinating volume contains the memoirs of William Alexander Percy, who was born and raised in Mississippi and witnessed the social changes at the turn of the century. 'Lanterns on the Levee' is his memorial to the South within which he describes life in the Mississippi Delta, during the time between the semi-feudal South of the 1800s and the uncertain South of the early 1940s. This is a book that will be of much value to anyone with an interest in the history and development of southern American society. It is not one to be missed by collectors of William Alexander Percy's important literature. William Alexander Percy (1885 – 1942) was a lawyer, planter, and poet from Greenville, Mississippi, most famous for writing this best-selling biography. We are republishing this text now in a modern, affordable edition complete with a new prefatory biography of the author.

-In Book Four, Marcus reminds himself to think about all the doctors who “died, after furrowing their brows over how many deathbeds, how many astrologers, after pompous forecasts about other’s ends." In black pen?--?somewhat recently it looks like?--?I added “or plotters, schemers and strategists, outsmarted, outmaneuvered and destroyed." I suppose that was a dig at myself and other smart people. None of what we do lasts, no matter how clever or brilliant. It’s good to remember that.

-"So we throw out other people’s recognition. What's left for us to prize?" I answer in blue pen in one read, "To embrace and to resist our nature." What do I - what did Marcus - mean by that? I think it's encouraging what is good about us and to fight against what is bad. To encourage the parts of ourselves that are moral, helpful, honest and aware and to fight against what is selfish, petty, shortsighted and wrong. It's to live by what Warren Buffett calls the "inner scorecard" and ignore the outer one (other people's recognition).

-In that same passage, Marcus also writes "If you can't stop prizing a lot of other things? Then you’ll never be free - free, independent, imperturbable." I have in my copy a jotted note from Fight Club, "Only when you've lost everything, you are free to do anything."

-When I first read Meditations, I was in the middle of some ridiculous drama with my college roommates. I won't bore you with the details, but at the time, I was frustrated, disappointed and miserable about where I was living. I think this was the reason that I latched on the the meditation in Book Six, about how if you were sparring with someone and they hurt you, you wouldn't yell at them or whine or hold it against them - you'd just make a mental note about it and act accordingly in the future. I can see where I actually wrote the name of my roommates down to explicitly make this connection. "Do not hate them," I wrote to myself, "remain aloof."

-I said earlier that all I'd originally known of Marcus Aurelius was that he was the "old guy in Gladiator." Future research taught me that depiction was even more interesting than the movie presented. First off, Maximus (Russell Crowe's character) was based on a real Roman story - the general Cincinnatus, who saved Rome but wanted simply to return to his farm. Second, Marcus''s son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) was real too - and probably even more horrible in real life. He was in fact, killed by a gladiator and he did enjoy torturing and hurting people. It makes you think: How could such a great man have had such an awful son? What does that say about his teachings?

-Marcus writes "Mastery of reading and writing requires a master. Still, more so life." I wrote "Tucker, R.G" in the margins next to that passage. R.G stands for Robert Greene - who was and is my master in writing and, more, in life. Tucker refers to Tucker Max, who was a mentor of mine in writing and business. It occurs to me now that I understood this passage only partway - I was focused on the first half, when really the "more so life" line is the most important. Understanding this could have saved me a lot of trouble.

-In Book Twelve, as Meditations is wrapping up, Marcus writes "IT NEVER CEASES TO AMAZE ME: WE ALL LOVE OURSELVES MORE THAN OTHER PEOPLE, BUT CARE MORE ABOUT THEIR OPINION THAN OUR OWN." This passage struck me early on, I can tell. But it struck me hardest in 2014, when I was re-reading the passage. I know this because I wrote an article with that line as the title, as I was dealing with the fact that my book had just been snubbed by the New York Times Bestseller list and I was dealing with the fallout. It was helpful to ask: Why do I care what these people think again? Why does their opinion matter to me? Understanding the words is not always enough, sometimes we have to really feel them - to have their meaning forced upon us. This was one of those events.

-Going back through my copy to write this post, I found a white notecard with some bullet points written on it. At first I couldn't figure out what these were about. Then I realized they were notes I'd written down before my conversation with Greg Bishop, a reporter for Sports Illustrated, when he interviewed me for a story he was doing on stoicism and the NFL. One bullet is a line from Arnold Schwarzenegger, "always stronger that we think we know."

-On what I would guess is my third or fourth read, I marked this passage: "You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think." There are not many reminders of your own mortality at 20. This was one of my first. -There's no question that for every first time reader of Meditations, it's the opening line of Book Two is one of the most striking: "When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly."

-And then the passage which follows is great - if not a bit contradictory: "Throw away your books; stop letting yourself be distracted." Did he mean the very book I was reading?

-One of my favorite lines: "To accept without arrogance, to let it go with indifference." Another translation of the same: "Receive without pride, let go without attachment."

-In one passage, Marcus justifies his love of art. He points out that tragedies (plays) help remind us of what can happen in life. He also makes an interesting point - "If something gives you pleasure on that stage, it shouldn't cause you anger on this one." If you can appreciate it in fiction, you can appreciate it in life - and learn from both.

-In Book Five, I learned what philosophy really was. It's not an "instructor," as Marcus put it. It's not the courses I was taking in school. It is medicine. It's "a soothing ointment, a warm lotion." It's designed to help us deal with the difficulties of life - to heal, as Epicurus said, the suffering of man.

-It wasn't until last week, re-reading Marcus that I noticed the word "stillness" as it appears in Book Six, 7: "To move from one unselfish action to another with God in mind. Only there, delight and stillness." Stillness was something I had been thinking about a lot - how to find it, how to get it, why it's superior to activity. I was looking for it in Eastern texts and here it has been in Stoicism the entire time.

-Book Nine, 6 I found not only a potential epigraph for my book The Obstacle is the Way (which I noted in blue pen in 2013) but the best possible summation of Stoicism there is:

“Objective judgement, now, at this very moment.
Unselfish action, now, at this very moment.
Willing acceptance?--?now, at this very moment?--?of all external events.
That’s all you need."

-At some point after I read the Hays translation, I picked up another translation of Marcus - probably one by George Long or A. S. L. Farquharson, that was free online. I was immediately struck by how the beautiful, lyrical book I loved had become dense and unreadable. It struck me that if I had cheaped out and tried to get for free what I’d bought instead, my entire life might have turned out differently. BOOKS ARE INVESTMENTS. Be glad to put in your money.

-Marcus has a wonderful phrase for the approval and cheering of other people. He calls it "the clacking of tongues" - that's all public appraise is, he says. Anyone that works in the public eye, who puts their work or their life out there for consumption, could use to remember this phrase.

–"Often injustice lies in what you aren't doing, not only in what you are doing." Or, as we say more modernly, 'The only thing required for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing…'

-Don't try to get even with other people, Marcus says at one point. Just don’t be like that.

-"The student as a boxer, not a fencer." Why? Because the fencer has a weapon they must pick up. A boxer's weapons are a part of him, he and the weapon are one. Same goes for knowledge, philosophy and wisdom.

-Marcus commands himself to winnow his thoughts. He has a great standard. If someone were to ask you right now, "What are you thinking about?" could you give a concise answer? If not, you're daydreaming and wandering too much.

-"It stares you right in the face," Marcus writes. "No role is so well suited to philosophy as the one you happen to be in right now." Was he referring specifically to the role of emperor? Did he mean that any and every role is the perfect one for philosophy? I prefer to think it is the latter.

-I've been lucky enough that some generous fans have sent me rare old copies of Meditations. They’re falling apart, worn with age. It strikes me what a Stoic would have thought if given a book that was then a couple hundred years old. They'd think about the person who owned it and what became of them (dead), they'd think about all the things the person did other than study philosophy (mostly pointless stuff), and they'd also think of the difficult times that the wisdom contained within may have helped them (which is what I think now). And then they'd consider how we are all subject to the rhythm of events and that someone may pick up this book after them and have the same thoughts.

-Going through one copy of the Hays translation a few years ago, I found a receipt. It said January 2007 and it was from a Borders in Riverside, California. I'd bought mine on Amazon, so I knew it wasn't mine. Then I realized, this was my wife's copy. She'd bought the book shortly after we'd met, on my recommendation. That she'd read it after I mentioned it in passing, made me think our feelings might be mutual. It was one of the first things we'd connected over. Ten years later we are still together.

-In Gregory Hays's intro he says that "an American president" claims to re-read Marcus Aurelius every year. Some research turned up that Bill Clinton was that president. Was that where I got the idea to keep reading and re-reading the book? To use it as a reminder of all the lessons that success would bring?

-Absolute power corrupts absolutely is what we say. But Marcus had absolute power. To me, his writing and his life are proof that the right principles and the right discipline - if followed rigorously - can help buck this timeless trend.

-Marcus reminded himself: "Don’t await the perfection of Plato's Republic." He wasn't expecting the world to be exactly the way he wanted it to be, but Marcus knew instinctively, as the Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper would later write, that "he alone can do good who knows what things are like and what their situation is."

-It's funny to think that his writings may be as special as they are because they were never intended for us to be read. Almost every other piece of literature is a kind of performance - it's made for the audience. Meditations isn't. In fact, their original title (Ta eis heauton) roughly translates as To Himself.

-It's also interesting to think that we have no idea if the meditations were once ordered differently. All we have now are translations of translations - no original writing from his hand survives. It all could have been arranged in an entirely different format originally (Did all the books have titles originally - as the first two do? Are those titles made up? Were they all numbered originally? Or were even the breaks between thoughts added in by a later translator?)

-Who hasn't used the expressions "I'll be honest with you" or "With all due respect" or "I'll be straight with you." It wasn't until I read Marcus's specific condemnation of these phrases that I really thought about what they were saying - honesty, respect, straightforwardness should be the default. If you have to specifically preface your remarks with it, that's a sign something is wrong with your normal speech and your normal habits.

-“But if you accept the obstacle and work with what you're given, an alternative will present itself - another piece of what you're trying to assemble. Action by action." There's no question that we're going to be stopped from what we'd like to do, or even desperately need to do from time to time. Money will be lost. Plans will be frustrated. Long held dreams will be broken. People (including us) will be hurt. And yet, as bad as these situations are and will be, I think you'll have to admit, they don't prevent everything. You can still practice honesty, forgiveness, friendship, patience, humility, good spirit, resilience, creativity, and on and on.

-It must have been many reads in before I came to understand that many of the admonishments - Don't waste time, Don't lose your temper, Stop getting caught up in things that don't matter - must be there because Marcus had recently done the exact opposite. Remember, this was essentially his journal, the meditations are reflections written after a long hard day. They are not abstractions, they are notes on what he can do better next time.

-There is a line in Joseph Brodsky's essay about the famous equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius (which I went to Rome a few years ago to see). "If Meditations is antiquity," he says, "then it is we who are the ruins." What I think he means by that is that when you compare the strength and power and rigorous self-honesty of Marcus's writings to now, all you can feel is a sense of decay. It feels like we have regressed instead of progressed.

-A great rhetorical exercise from Marcus goes essentially like this: "Is a world without shameless people possible? No. So this person you've just met is one of them. Get over it." It's a good thing to remember every time you meet someone who frustrates or bothers you.

-One of the benefits of reading a book so many times is that it starts to feel like it's following you everywhere. It's like when you get a new car and all of a sudden you start seeing that car everywhere - it's like you and those drivers are suddenly on the same time. I remember reading East of Eden shortly after Meditations, and guess who is quoted everywhere? Then I read John Stuart Mill, and Marcus appeared again. Then on a trip to New York City I was walking up 41 St and there's a plaque with a quote from Marcus. It's one of the most amazing feelings, you find the thread of the work everywhere and it's like you're both on the same team, with the same message to propagate.

-One of the most practical things I've learned from the Stoics is an exercise I've come to call "contemptuous expressions." I love how Marcus would take fancy things and describe them in almost cynical, dismissive language - roasted meat is a dead animal and vintage wine is old, fermented grapes. He even describes the Emperor's purple cloak as just a piece of fabric dyed with shellfish blood. The aim was to see these things as they really are, to "strip away the legend that encrusts them." I try to use this exercise every day.

-The short lines are the best:

"Discard your misperceptions.
Stop being jerked like a puppet.
Limit yourself to the present."

-Imagine the emperor of Rome, with his captive audience and unlimited power, telling himself not to be a person of "too many words and too many deeds." How great is that? How inspiring?

-It wasn't until working with Steve Hanselman on the translations in The Daily Stoic that I was made aware of just how malleable translation was. I assumed that Hays was capturing the inherent beauty in Marcus. In some sense he was, but he was also choosing to write beautifully - someone could just as easily decide to be blunt and literal. It gave me a new appreciation for the art of translation - and how much room for interpretation there is in all of it.

-If there was one translation I would love to read it would be the late Pierre Hadot's. In his excellent book The Inner Citadel about Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism, Hadot did original translations for the passages he quotes - but sadly he died without publishing a full translation of Marcus for wider consumption.

The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius by Pierre Hadot, $28.71

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are treasured today--as they have been over the centuries--as an inexhaustible source of wisdom. And as one of the three most important expressions of Stoicism, this is an essential text for everyone interested in ancient religion and philosophy. Yet the clarity and ease of the work's style are deceptive. Pierre Hadot, eminent historian of ancient thought, uncovers new levels of meaning and expands our understanding of its underlying philosophy.

Written by the Roman emperor for his own private guidance and self-admonition, the Meditations set forth principles for living a good and just life. Hadot probes Marcus Aurelius's guidelines and convictions and discerns the hitherto unperceived conceptual system that grounds them. Abundantly quoting the Meditations to illustrate his analysis, the author allows Marcus Aurelius to speak directly to the reader. And Hadot unfolds for us the philosophical context of the Meditations, commenting on the philosophers Marcus Aurelius read and giving special attention to the teachings of Epictetus, whose disciple he was.

The soul, the guiding principle within us, is in Marcus Aurelius's Stoic philosophy an inviolable stronghold of freedom, the "inner citadel." This spirited and engaging study of his thought offers a fresh picture of the fascinating philosopher-emperor, a fuller understanding of the tradition and doctrines of Stoicism, and rich insight on the culture of the Roman empire in the second century. Pierre Hadot has been working on Marcus Aurelius for more than twenty years; in this book he distills his analysis and conclusions with extraordinary lucidity for the general reader.

-It was in reading Hadot that I first got an explicit explanation of what he calls "turning obstacles upside down." I'd obviously read the original passage he quotes several times in Hays, but Hadot's translation was different, it made it clearer. The original title of my book was "Turning Obstacles Upside Down." It was only in reading The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs that I found the Zen saying, "The obstacle is the path" that I was able to combine it all and come up with the book.

-"Everything lasts for a day, the one who remembers and the remembered." That means something special coming from a guy whose face you can still see on Roman coins you can buy on Etsy.

-From Marcus I learned who Heraclitus was (Marcus quotes him a lot). "No man steps in the same river twice," is one of the line he quotes. What a beautiful idea. I loved it so much that when I was in college I added a special "Quote of the Week" section to the student newspaper - just so I could use it.

-After I read Marcus, I immediately read Epictetus (Lebell's The Art of Living translation), then Seneca's Letters from a Stoic, then back to the Penguin translation of Epictetus, then Seneca's On The Shortness of Life. It’s been a ten year journey now, and I still feel like I am at the very beginning of it. Or at least, there is so much further left to go.

-How crazy is it that not only does Marcus's "journal" survive to us, so do the letters between him and his rhetoric teacher, Cornelius Fronto? The Stoics might say that such an event was "fated" but I'd say we are incredibly lucky that chance did not destroy these documents and deprive humanity of them.

–Marcus talks about the logos - essentially the force of the universe - repeatedly. That word seemed familiar to me when I first read it. Then I made the connection, Viktor Frankl, the psychologist and Holocaust survivor named his school of psychology logotherapy.

-Still, I was a bit confused as to what the logos was. Hays - and many writers - have used the analogy of a dog tied to a cart to explain our connection to the logos. The cart (the logos) is moving and we are pulled behind it. We have a little slack to move here and there, but not much.

-I think instinctively at 19 years old, I rejected this idea. Predetermination? No free will? Please. That sounded religious. College kids are often attracted to atheism for precisely the freedom and empowerment it implies. But as I have gotten older, I've started to understand how much we are shaped by chance and forces beyond our control. It strikes me, then, that the debate is not whether we are in fact the dog tied to the moving cart but rather, just how long the rope is? How much room to we have to explore and determine our own pace? A lot? A little?

-Marcus's Meditations are filled with self-criticism. It's important to remember, however, that that's as far as it goes. There was no self-flagellation, no paying penance, no self-esteem issues from guilt or self-loathing. This self-criticism is constructive.

-There is a passage in Marcus where he talks about sitting next to a smelly, rude person. It must have been just a couple months after I first read that that I was on a flight from Long Beach to New York. I was stuck in the middle seat. The person next to me was horrible. They were imposing in my space. They were being obnoxious. I was stewing. Then this hit me: Either I say something or I let it go. All the anger left me. I went back to what I was doing. I probably think of that line every other time I get on a plane now.

-As a reminder of the man and the principles in the book, I ended up buying a marble bust of Marcus carved in 1840 that sits on my desk where I can see it daily. It's probably the most expensive piece of "art" I own - it cost $900. But for the reminders it's given me and the calming presence it has had, it's worth every penny. To think that 3 or 4 generations of people may have owned this thing. That someone will own it after I die.

-Years later, one of my readers created and sent me two 3D printed busts of both Marcus and Seneca which sit in my library. They're a lot cheaper and they weigh a lot less but they have the same impact.

-I set out to learn everything I could about Marcus Aurelius. At one point, I found an old academic paper that suggested Marcus's writing was shaped by an addiction to opium - why else would he have written down extended, cerebral reflections about spinning away from the earth and looking at things from far above? The answer is because this is a Stoic exercise that goes back thousands of years (and in fact, has also been observed by astronauts thousands of years later). All the things that people do hallucinogens to explore, you can also do while sober as a judge. It just takes work.

-Explicitly setting standards for himself in Book 10, Marcus extolls himself to be: "Upright. Modest. Straightforward. Sane. Cooperative. Disinterested." In a blog post in 2007, I added the following for myself: Empathetic. Open. Diligent. Ambitious.

-I wrote a piece about Peter Thiel's long campaign for revenge against Gawker earlier this year. As I was writing it, a line from Marcus came rushing back from the recesses of my memory: "The best way to avenge yourself is to not be like that."

-In writing The Daily Stoic, I got to parse the words of Marcus Aurelius (and his translators) in ways I otherwise never would have done. I've always liked the line, "How trivial the things we want so passionately are." In my initial readings, I'd always thought it was beautiful the way he was saying "passionately are." Upon later reflection, I realized Hays/Aurelius were saying "the things are want so passionately, are" which has its own beauty.

-You also come to realize and understand the deeper historical references. For instance, in one passage, Marcus writes "To escape imperialization, that indelible stain." I know, obviously, what "imperialism" and "imperial" mean but it wasn't until many reads later that I came to understand he meant to escape the trappings of his office. He was saying: I must avoid being changed and corrupted by my office. Not all of us hold executive power, but we all can use that advice.

-When translating for The Daily Stoic, our editor asked about a line where Marcus says "enough of this whiny, miserable life. Stop monkeying around!" Would Marcus have ever seen a monkey, she asked? Or is this a modern line? Of course he would have! In fact, his psychopathic son probably killed a bunch of them in the coliseum. Marcus supposedly hated the gladiatorial games but he definitely would have been familiar with a shocking amount of African wildlife.

-Another interesting factoid about Marcus - proof, I think that he lived his philosophy. He was selected for the throne by Hadrian who set in line a succession plan that involved Hadrian adopting the elderly Antoninus Pius who in turn adopted Marcus Aurelius. When Marcus eventually ascended to the throne, what was his first decision? He appointed his step-brother Lucius Verus co-emperor. He was given unlimited, executive power and the first thing he did was share it with someone he was not even technically related to? That's magnanimity.

-His advice on change is amazing. We're like rocks - we gain nothing by going up and lose nothing by coming back down.

-"Don't allow yourself to be heard any longer griping about public life, not even with your own ears!" You chose this life, he is telling himself, and that means you don't get to complain about it.

-I was lucky enough to interview Gregory Hays in 2007. I asked him what his favorite passage was. He quoted: "Keep in mind how fast things pass by and are gone - those that are now and those to come. Existence flows past us like a river: the 'what' is in constant flux, the 'why' has a thousand variations. Nothing is stable, not even what's right here. The infinity of past and future gapes before us - a chasm whose depths we cannot see." I have to admit I missed the brilliance of that one the first time, but it's stuck with me ever since.

-Did you know that Ambrose Bierce, the amazing Civil War-era writer and Mark Twain contemporary, was a big fan of the Stoics? Clearly his grandparents were too since his father was named Marcus Aurelius Bierce and his uncle, Lucius Verus Bierce (Marcus's step brother and co-emperor).

-When I interviewed Robert Greene for The Daily Stoic's companion website, I was surprised to hear he also loved the passage about "seeing roasted meat and other dishes in front of you and suddenly realizing: This is a dead fish. A dead bird. A dead pig." As he explained to me: "I've tried to bring that across in my writing. For instance, to deconstruct things like power and seduction and to see the actual elements in play instead of the legends surrounding them."

-During our interview he actually showed me his own copy of the Meditations and could remember the camping trip when he had written all the notes on the pages. On several of them he had marked AF in the marginalia, a shorthand for AMOR FATI - A LOVE OF ONE'S FATE. As he explained the idea, "Stop wishing for something else to happen, for a different fate. That is to live a false life."

-The best way to learn and to lead is by example. I think that's why I liked Marcus's book so much - he was showing me (us) what is possible. As he put it "Nothing is as encouraging as when virtues are visibly embodied in the people around us, when we're practically showered with them."

-In my own education I've always followed Marcus's dictum to "go straight to the seat of intelligence - your own, the world's, your neighbors." He also writes that learning to read and write requires a master - and so does the art of life. To me, people like Robert Greene were that master and so were people like Marcus. You have to go straight to the sources of knowledge and absorb what you can from them.

-During one of his most dangerous and threatening adventures, the journey down the "River of Doubt," Teddy Roosevelt carried with him a copy of Meditations. I would kill to flip through his copy! Did he sit down at night and read few pages? Are there interesting notes in the margins? What were his favorite passages? A more Stoic question: How many other famous or important men and women have sat down with a copy of Marcus? And where are they now? Gone and mostly forgotten.

-In my work with bestselling authors and creatives there is one line from Marcus that I am often tempted to quote: "Ambition," he reminded himself, "means tying your well-being to what other people say or do...Sanity means tying it to your own actions." Doing good work is what matters. Recognition and rewards - those are just extra. To be too attached to results you don't control? That's a recipe for misery.

-Despite his privileges, Marcus Aurelius had a difficult life. The Roman historian Cassius Dio mused that Marcus "did not meet with the good fortune that he deserved, for he was not strong in body and was involved in a multitude of troubles throughout practically his entire reign." But throughout these struggles he never gave up. It's an inspiring example for us to think about today if we get tired, frustrated, or have to deal with some crisis.

-From the Stoics, I learned about the concept of the Inner Citadel. It is this fortress, they believed, that protects our soul. Though we might be physically vulnerable, though we might be at the mercy of fate in many ways, our inner domain is impenetrable. As Marcus put it (repeatedly, in fact), "stuff cannot touch the soul."

-Right after the 2008 presidential elections, I remember connecting Obama's "teachable moment" about the Reverend Wright scandal and how it illustrated Marcus's principle of turning the obstacle upside down. As Obama put it, turning the negative situation into the perfect platform for his landmark speech about race, he would be "missing an important opportunity for leadership." It's something I try to think about in my own life as a boss and as a soon-to-be-father.

-Bill Belichick tells his players: "Do your job." Marcus makes it clear what that job is: "What is your vocation? To be a good person."

-Marcus is a beautiful writer, capable of finding beauty in strange places. In one passage, he praises the "charm and allure" of nature's process, the "stalks of ripe grain bending low, the frowning brow of the lion, the foam dripping from the boar’s mouth." As a writer, I've learned a lot from this skill of his. As a person, I've learned more. It's about looking for majesty everywhere and anywhere.

-At one point Marcus tells himself to "Avoid false friendship at all costs." I think he's right, but we can take it a step further: What if, instead, we ask about the times that we have been false to our friends?

-Marcus constantly points out how the emperors who came before him were barely remembered just a few years later. To him, this was a reminder that no matter how much he conquered, no matter how much he inflicted his will on the world, it would be like building a castle in the sand - soon to be erased by the winds of time. The same is true for us.

-It's interesting how much of Meditations is made up of short quotes and passages from other writers. In a way, it's really Marcus's commonplace book (and he's inspired me to keep my own). One of my favorites is Marcus quoting a lost line from Euripides: "You shouldn't give circumstances the power to rouse anger, for they don't care at all."

-I've talked a little bit about my tendency to overwork and to compulsively do. Marcus has a good reminder: "In your actions, don't procrastinate. In your conversations, don't confuse. In your thoughts, don't wander. In your soul, don't be passive or aggressive. In your life, don't be all about business."

-Marcus was one of the first writers to articulate the notion of cosmopolitanism - saying that he was a citizen of the world, not just of Rome. Which is an interesting and impressive thought...considering his job was as the first citizen of Rome.

-Marcus had many responsibilities, as those who hold executive power do. He judged cases, heard appeals, sent troops into battle, appointed administrators, approved budgets. A lot rode on his choices and actions. He wrote this reminder to himself which beautifully illustrates the kind of man he was: "Never shirk the proper dispatch of your duty, no matter if you are freezing or hot, groggy or well-rested, vilified or praised, not even if dying or pressed by other demands."

-In the first book of Meditations, Marcus thanks Rusticus for teaching him "to read carefully and not be satisfied with a rough understanding of the whole, and not to agree too quickly with those who have a lot to say about something." It's a reminder for us in this busy media world of liars and bullshit artists. Don’t be satisfied with the superficial impression. Don't be reactive. Know.

-How was Marcus introduced to the Stoics? We’re not quite sure but we do know that he got his copy of Epictetus from Rusticus (and in fact, Rusticus may have provided him his own notes from attending Epictetus's lectures). A number of my favorite books came to me from my teachers. In fact, I was introduced to the Stoics by asking Dr. Drew for a book recommendation. Who did he recommend? Epictetus.

-Marcus writes, "Don't lament this and don't get agitated." It calls to mind the motto of another statesman, the British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli: "Never complain, never explain."

-Long before modern discussions of self-talk, Marcus understood the notion: "Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought."

-At one point, Marcus essentially says to not ever do anything that we would be worried might remain 'behind closed doors.' It's easy to say, but hard to do. Who wouldn't be embarrassed if their email account was leaked or if a fight with their spouse was made public? We all do things in private that we would never do in front of other people. Which is a good thought/test to evaluate our behavior before we embark on something.

-In Book Six we find one of the strongest encouragements that Marcus gives himself. He says, basically: If someone else has done it - then it is humanly possible. If it's humanly possible, then of course you can do it too.

-I've found over the years that jealousy is a toxic emotion. We want so desperately what others have that we lose the pleasure of the things we already have. Marcus provides a solution: "Don’t set your mind on things you don't possess..., but count the blessings you actually possess and think how much you would desire them if they weren't already yours."

-Repeatedly Marcus warns himself that anger and grief only serve to make bad situations worse. Being pissed off that someone was rude to you isn't soothing - it's agitating. Being sad that you've lost something doesn't bring it back, it exaggerates your sense of loss. It's like the first rule of holes: When you're in one, stop digging.

-When I was on the Tim Ferriss podcast this summer I learned that he had one of my favorite quotes from Marcus taped to his fridge: "When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstance, revert at once to yourself, and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it."

-What is tragic about Marcus, as one scholar wrote, is how his "philosophy - which is about self-restraint, duty, and respect for others - was so abjectly abandoned by the imperial line he anointed on his death." As I said, Marcus's terrible son, is an important reminder that it doesn't matter how good you are at your job, if you neglect your duties at home...

-"We are what we repeatedly do," Aristotle said, "therefore, excellence is not an act but a habit." The Stoics add to that that we are a product of our thoughts ("Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind," is how Marcus put it).

-Marcus consistently admonishes himself to return to the present moment and focus on what's in front of him. This idea of being "present" seems very Eastern but of course it's central to Stoicism too. "Stick with the situation at hand," he tells himself, "and ask, "Why is this so unbearable? Why can't I endure it?" You'll be embarrassed to answer." Yup.

-In Meditations we find one of the most helpful exercises when seeking perspective: "Run down the list of those who felt intense anger at something: the most famous, the most unfortunate, the most hated, the most whatever: Where is all that now? Smoke, dust, legend…or not even a legend." Eventually, all of us will pass away and slowly be forgotten. We should enjoy this brief time we have on earth - not be enslaved to emotions that make us miserable and dissatisfied.


I'll leave you with one final lesson, in fact, it's the lesson we chose to close The Daily Stoic with. Marcus was clearly a big reader, he clearly took copious notes and studied philosophy deeply. Yet he took the unusual step of reminding himself to put all that aside.

"Stop wandering about!" he wrote. "You aren't likely to read your own notebooks, or ancient histories, or the anthologies you've collected to enjoy in your old age. Get busy with life's purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue - if you care for yourself at all - and do it while you can."

At some point, we must stop our reading, put all the advice from Marcus and the other stoics aside and take action. So that, as Seneca put it, the "words become works."

6/8/18 email from Ryan

Too much of this month was spent in airplanes or stuck on bedrest. When I could think clearly, I could read, but most of the time I couldn't. Ordinarily this would have been annoying but this month it was particularly distressing because each one of the books I read below was so good that I hated putting them down.

The spread is more diverse than usual—narrative nonfiction, the story of a young girl who died tragically young, two European novels and a bunch of other weird stuff. Almost all of them came by recommendation too (people always ask me where I find the books I read. The answer is: I don't ask people that question. I ask "What books do you recommend?")

Hope you like them...and if you have time and are looking for a book that I think has become only more timely since it was published, I hope you can give Conspiracy a glance. The New York Times called it "one helluva page-turner" and The Sunday Times of London said it was " astonishing modern media conspiracy that is a fantastic read." So don't take my word for it. Anyway, try these too.

What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of an All-American Teen , by Kate Fagan

The first thing I did when I read this book was recommend it to every college coach that I know. The second thing I did was email the author to let her know how deeply moved I was by the book. You may remember the ESPN story from a few years ago: Maddy was a beautiful, All-American track and field athlete who by all appearances was living her dream. She made it to the Ivy League. She had friends. She was active on social media. Then on January 17th, 2014, she killed herself by leaping off a parking garage. This book is a haunting, thoughtful examination of an all-too-common story where someone looks perfect on the outside, but is deeply pained on the inside. It's a story of people who tried to help but couldn't reach her, a story of other people who thought they were helping but only made things worse, and a story of what pressure, bad choices, and technology are doing to young people. If you have kids, work with kids, whatever—read this book. Also, the title of the book is a reference to one of my favorite novels, What Makes Sammy Run?

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History, by S. C. Gwynne

How many times did I pass this book in airports? Why did I never pick it up? I'm a huge S.C. Gwynne fan too (Rebel Yell: A Biography of Stonewall Jackson), it makes no sense. This book is amazing. It turns everything you think you know about the American frontier, about Native Americans, about Indian policy on its head...oh, and it is a gripping, unbelievable story. The last of the Commanches war chiefs was the son of Cynthia Ann Parker, a white woman who had been kidnapped by Commanches in 1836? Unreal. S.C. Gwynne is a magnificent writer whose work is filled with beautiful observations that will blow your mind. My favorite is when he compares the Commanches to the Celts or the Mongols, defining them as one of the greatest fighting people who ever lived...and they were armed with repeating rifles and ruled over an empire of millions of square miles. And who were they fighting? White settlers in the late 1800s, people who had studied Aristotle and Thomas Jefferson, who had invented the telegraph, and wanted to live in houses with glass windows. It was clash of civilizations. Horrific, brutal, inevitable. It's just an insane book and insane story.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel by Milan Kundera

I read in How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars that this book was Evan Spiegel's, founder of Snapchat, favorite book—not novel, book. When I hear successful people rave about a specific book as life-changing, I try to read it. Even if I don't like the book or agree with it, I learn something. This is certainly a beautiful novel, though I think a strange one to have as your favorite. It is filled with a number of provocative insights and descriptions (of love, of fear, of random chance, of history). I did have trouble liking the protagonist or really any of the characters very much. I mean, none of the horrible pain the characters would have felt had the main guy just not cheated constantly on his partner (who, by the way, repeatedly told him how much pain this caused her). I wonder how much the ephemeral nature of relationships in the book, and the near immediate-gratification / nihilism that it ultimately espouses, influenced Snapchat or how much social media is merely a reflection of that ethos.

The Fall, by Albert Camus

Now if you told me this was your favorite novel, I'd find that to be interesting and revealing. To me, this book is the story of "what happens when good men do nothing." It's about the Bystander Effect and about how emergencies and crises are moments of truth when our principles are tested. The narrator of this book is someone who failed that test and is haunted by it for the rest of his life. I will say it is not exactly the clearest read—it's an odd format and style—but I got through with the help of Wikipedia and some reviews. Was definitely worth it, and I loved the book. Thank you to the random fan who bought this for me in Seattle while I was on tour for Conspiracy!

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, by Nathaniel Philbrick

I believe this is my second Philbrick book after In the Heart of the Sea? It's excellent narrative non-fiction, as always, and paired nicely with what I learned in S.C. Gwynne's book. Did you know that one of the passengers on the Mayflower was also a passenger on the shipwrecked Sea Venture, the news story that inspired Shakespeare to write The Tempest? I mean how insane is that? And it gives you a sense of both how distant and how recent history really is. This book tells the story of the landing of the Mayflower, the hubris and the perseverance of it. It shows the courage and the stupidity of the settlers, and does a good job showing equally the inspiring and high minded ideals of the Mayflower Compact as well as the original sin of the creation of America (our treatment of the natives).

Theodore Roosevelt: A Literary Life, by Thomas Bailey and Katherine Joslin

This was recommended to me by Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness who has turned me onto lots of great stuff. He was right again with this book. Theodore Roosevelt is one of the great all-time world leaders...and on the side he was one of our all-time great writers and historians and readers. This was a man who, in addition to becoming President of the United States, wrote some 47 books in his lifetime, who read a book a day even while he was in office. This is a bit of a nerdy read but there is solid stuff in here about his influences, his style, and his belief that words had to be matched by deeds. Related to this, one of my favorite books about my other favorite president is an even better book in this genre—Lincoln: Biography of a Writer by Fred Kaplan. I also loved Edmund Morris's The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, which I read at 19 years old and changed my life. Brett had a good list of book recommendations from TR as well.

10/18/16 email from Ryan Holiday:

This is a special email for me to send (and certainly not the second one of its kind I thought I’d get to send in a year). It’s special because it is in part an announcement of the release of my newest book, The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living (B&N, Audible, Indiebound, iTunes, Kobo), which features all new translations of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca as well as hundreds of new stories, anecdotes and exercises to help readers live better.

Some of you have already been enjoying the Daily Stoic email which goes out every morning (now to nearly 10,000 people), which is really only a tiny sliver of what this book offers. I’ve always loved the “daily read” format—one exciting page per day—and now I’ve been lucky enough to publish one of my own on my favorite topic in the world: ancient philosophy.

In any case, I wanted to make October’s reading newsletter different to mark that occasion. Instead of just promoting the book (which I hope you will all read!) I want to provide a number of other awesome philosophy recommendations. Whether you read my book or theirs, I promise you, these books will have an enormous impact on your life. I can say that from experience—because each one of them has changed mine.

In any case, enjoy and keep reading. And of course, let me know what you think of The Daily Stoic and the daily email!

***The Best Of the Stoics***

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

It still strikes now—some 10 years into reading this book—how lucky we are to even have it. Meditations is perhaps the only document of its kind ever made: the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man about how to make good on the responsibilities and obligations of his positions.

Marcus stopped almost every night to practice a series of spiritual exercises—reminders designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever he was dealing with. You cannot read this book and not come away with a phrase or a line that will be helpful to you next time you are in trouble.

Read it, and then read it again as often as you can. (Note: I strongly recommend the Hays’s translation above all others and you can also read my interview with him here).

Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

Seneca, like Marcus, was also a powerful man in Rome. He was also a great writer and from the looks of it, a wise man who dispensed great advice to his friends. Much of that advice survives in the form of letters, guiding them and now us through problems with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education and so many other things.

Seneca was a stoic as well, but like Marcus, he was practical and borrowed liberally from other schools. As he quipped to a friend, “I '’t care about the author if the line is good." That is the ethos of practical philosophy—it doesn’t matter from whom or when it came from, what matters is if it helps you in your life, if only for a second.

Reading Seneca will do that. (Other collections of his thoughts are great too: Penguin’s On the Shortness of Life is excellent and if you’re looking for an audiobook of Seneca, try Tim Ferriss’s edition The Tao of Seneca: Letters from a Stoic Master)

Enchiridion by Epictetus

Unlike the other powerful Stoics, Epictetus overcame incredible adversity. A slave who was banished from Rome, he eventually became a philosopher and opened a small school.

Notes from his classes survive to us in what is now called the Enchiridion, which translates as a ‘small manual or a handbook’ and it is exactly that. It is the perfect introduction to Epictetus as it is packed with short Stoic maxims and principles.

Unlike both Seneca and Marcus, Epictetus is somewhat more difficult to read and I recommend beginning with those two if you haven’t yet read them. The next step would be Epictetus’ Discourses, which are much longer and deserve a bigger commitment.

***Works From Other Great Stoic-Like Philosophers***

The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus by Publius Syrus

A Syrian slave in the first century BC, Publius Syrus is a fountain of quick, helpful wisdom that you cannot help but recall and apply to your life.

“Rivers are easiest to cross at their source."

“Want a great empire? Rule over yourself."

“Divide the fire and you will sooner put it out."

“Always shun that which makes you angry."

Those are a few I remember off the top of my head. But all of them are good and worthy of re-reading in times of difficulty (or boredom or in preparation of a big event).

Fragments by Heraclitus

The Stoics—especially Marcus—loved to draw from Heraclitus, a mystic, ephemeral philosopher whose beautiful fragments are eminently quotable. My favorite line from Heraclitus is his line about how no man steps in the same river twice—because it is not the same river and he is not the same man.

Another favorite: “Applicants for wisdom / do what I have 'e: / inquire within."

And of course, his most direct and timeless remark: “Character is fate."

If you’re looking for philosophy that is poetic but also practical, give Heraclitus a chance.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Man is sent to a concentration camp and finds some way for good to come of it. Finds some way to turn it into the ultimate metaphor for life: that we have little control over our circumstances, complete control over our attitude, and our ability to make meaning out of the things which happen to us.

In Frankl’s case, we are lucky that he was a brilliant psychologist and writer and managed to turn all this into one of the most important books of the 20th century.

I think constantly of his line about the man who asks, “What is the meaning of life?" The answer is that you '’t get to ask the question. Life is the one who asks and we must reply with our actions.

Essays by Michel de Montaigne

Montaigne was deeply influenced by some of the books I mentioned above. He was the epitome of Heraclitus’s line about “inquiring within." So much so that he spent basically the entire second part of his life asking himself (and other people) all sorts of interesting questions and then exploring the answers in the form of short, provocative essays.

(A favorite: Whether he was playing with his cat, or whether he was the toy to his cat).

These essays are always good for a helpful thought or two—be it about death, about “other” people, about animals, about sex, or anything.

Nature and Selected Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

While Montaigne’s essays are good for making us think, Emerson’s essays make us act. They remind us that we are ultimately responsible for our own life, for making ethical choices and for fulfilling our potential.

I prefer Emerson to the more indolent Thoreau and because unlike most classic writers, he embodies that uniquely American drive and ambition (but in a healthy way).

If you have not read Emerson, you should. If you have—and you remember fondly his reminders about recognizing our own genius in the work of others, or his reminders to experience the beauty of nature—that counts as philosophy. See how easy it is?

Essays and Aphorisms by Arthur Schopenhauer

Schopenhauer is another brilliant composer of quick thoughts that will help us with our problems. His work was often concerned with the “will”—our inner drives and power.

“For that which is otherwise quite indigestible, all affliction, vexation, loss, grief, time alone digests."

But he also talks about surprisingly current issues: “Newspapers are the second hand of history”—and that the hand is often broken or malfunctioning.

And of course, the timeless as well: “Hope is the confusion of the desire for a thing for its probability."

Maxims and Reflections by Goethe

I’d never read or even heard of Goethe until I saw him mentioned in the Hays’ introduction to Marcus Aurelius but I am grateful to have been exposed to the man’s brilliant maxims.

The topics range from natural science, art, ethics, literature to observations on chance encounters he’d have.

Goethe himself was prolific, writing poetry, dramas, scientific treatises, novels and in the last decades of his life he would begin publishing these short reflections. Some favorite ones from the book:

“Behavior is a mirror in which everyone shows his image."

“Absolute activity, of whatever kind, ultimately leads to bankruptcy."

“Tell me whom you consort with and I will tell you who you are."

***Works About The Stoics***

The Inner Citadel and Philosophy as a Way of Life by Pierre Hadot

Pierre Hadot is maybe one of the smartest people I’ve ever read. The Inner Citadel is mostly about Marcus Aurelius and the Stoic concept of the self as a fortress.

Philosophy as a Way of Life is essentially a book about the wisdom of ancient philosophers cumulatively acquired and how we can use the same exercises in our struggles.

I highly recommend both of these. If you’ve read both and want more from the master, I also suggest The Present Alone is Our Happiness which is a series of interviews with Hadot.

Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar by Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni

Marcus Cato has certainly earned his place in the history books—he was the Stoic senator who led the opposition against Julius Caesar who then killed himself rather than live under a dictator. Cato was a soldier, a politician, a thinker and, because of how he lived his life, a philosopher.

His unassailable place in Roman culture is best seen in the old proverbial expression used to make excuses: “We’re not all Catos." You can also read an interview with Jimmy Soni over at the Daily Stoic.

Marcus Aurelius by Matthew Arnold (essay)

Matthew Arnold was a Victorian scholar who fell in the category of ‘sage writers’—the type of writer who instructs and chastises the reader. This is a fantastic essay on Marcus, who as he remarked in 1863, was a man who held the highest power and most powerful station in the world—and the universal verdict of the people around him was that he proved worthy of it.

A few other great essays on Marcus: "Homage to Marcus Aurelius" by Joseph Brodsky (available in On Grief and Reason: Essays) and “Stoicism in the South” by Walker Percy (available in Signposts in a Strange Land: Essays).

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

There are not many great works of fiction about Stoicism, but this is one. Written from the perspective of Hadrian, the book takes the form of a long letter of advice to a young Marcus Aurelius, who would eventually succeed him as emperor.

It’s somber but practical, filled with beautiful and moving passages from a man near death, looking to prepare someone for one of the most difficult jobs in the world.

The only other work of fiction about Stoicism I can recommend is Tom Wolfe’s A Man In Full—and then of course, the Loeb edition of Seneca’s plays.

During his lifetime, Seneca was actually more famous for his tragedies than he was for his philosophy (there is a line from one of his plays entombed as graffiti at Pompeii). Anyway, I was enthralled by these dark, disturbing but ultimately stoic plays.

Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm

I loved this book and read it in one long, long flight. I was riveted and I'm someone who already knew a lot about Seneca. This book is particularly interesting because the author understands that his subject is a person of contradictions but doesn't judge the subject.

Instead he seeks to understand it. In Seneca it is this: how can a philosopher accumulate so much political power? How can a wise man tutor such a monster?

How can an austere man aspire to (and enjoy) great wealth? How can a philosophical writer also be a passionate playwright?

I'll say it again: I loved this book. I ''t necessarily agree with all its conclusions but it made me think all the way through.

Lives of Eminent Philosophers Volumes I & II by Diogenes Laertius

Ironically, Diogenes’ most famous biography in this collection is of the other Diogenes—Diogenes the Cynic. Other excellent and illustrative sketches include Zeno, Ariston, Cleanthes and Chrysippus the Stoic. Heraclitus is another great biography.

All of these vary in length. Zeno is over a 150 pages, Herillus (not to be confused with Heraclitus) is 2 pages. But regardless of length, they are all quite good.

My favorite little quirk of the book is Diogenes’ weird poem that he writes about each philosopher and of course the credulity with which he reports on their unusual deaths (on that note, you may also like the book The Book of Dead Philosophers, a book on how many of the world’s most famous philosophers supposedly died.)


The letters of Marcus Aurelius and his mentor and rhetoric teacher Marcus Cornelius Fronto survived and are interesting to flip through. For more related to Epictetus, you can look into the short autobiography Courage Under Fire by James Stockdale. **

Anyway, this is already become one of the longer reading list recommendation emails I’ve ever 'e (which I suppose is fitting considering The Daily Stoic is my longest book).

Some of you might have already read some of these books—but I’d urge you to take this email as a reminder to pick them up again.

Philosophy is not something you know, it’s something you do. It’s designed to be read and re-read, to be discussed, written about and most of all, to be lived. I hope these recommendations get you started along that path and I hope the path is as fulfilling, provocative and helpful as it has been for me.

Source WaPo 1/23/21

Free E-Books Online


Scribd Read Like You Mean It. Costs $8.99/mo.

Library For All begs for money. For K-12 students.

BookShare A Benetech initiative. ebooks for people with visual, physical, and learning disabilities.

BookRix some free, some not

20 Best Sites to Download Free Books

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Origin by Dan brown Robert Lang', Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever." The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a forty-year-old billionaire and futurist whose dazzling high-tech inventions and audacious predictions have made him a renowned global figure. Kirsch, who was one of Lang'’s first students at Harvard two decades earlier, is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence.

As the event begins, Lang' and several hundred guests find themselves captivated by an utterly original presentation, which Lang' realizes will be far more controversial than he ever imagined. But the meticulously orchestrated evening suddenly erupts into chaos, and Kirsch’s precious discovery teeters on the brink of being lost forever. Reeling and facing an imminent threat, Lang' is forced into a desperate bid to escape Bilbao. With him is Ambra Vidal, the elegant museum director who worked with Kirsch to stage the provocative event. Together they flee to Barcelona on a perilous quest to locate a cryptic password that will unlock Kirsch’s secret.

Navigating the dark corridors of hidden history and extreme religion, Lang' and Vidal must evade a tormented enemy whose all-knowing power seems to emanate from Spain’s Royal Palace itself . . . and who will stop at nothing to silence Edmond Kirsch. On a trail marked by modern art and enigmatic symbols, Lang' and Vidal uncover clues that ultimately bring them face-to-face with Kirsch’s shocking discovery . . . and the breathtaking truth that has long eluded us.

Origin is stunningly inventive—Dan Brown's most brilliant and entertaining novel to date.

Nineteenth Century

Encyclopedia 123 Encyclopedia 123 is made up of information from the late 1800s. when the British Empire was at its height, before airplane travel, before automobiles were common and before the western world had been battered by two world wars.

Dorothy L. Sayers


The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy L. Sayers. It is always a pleasure to read a novel by Miss Sayers who was, during the thirties of the last century, the acknowledged to master of the literate detective story writers. This is an early work, in which Lord Peter Whimsey is given the task of establishing the time of death of an elderly gentleman found dead in his arm chair at the Bellona Club. An inheritance depends on time of death, but just as Whimsey solves this problem another complication arrives. The death, it turns out, was not from age, but was murder, and Whimsey must start over again. This is recommended for anyone who likes a well-written story. 4 people found this helpful

I read my first Lord Peter mystery at least 70 years ago, and I will always place Dorothy Sayers' books at the top of my absolute favorites list.

Today he seems an unusual person perhaps to the people of 2000, but it helps if you remember that the war he mentions is the first World War, which started over 100 years ago in 1914.. Class system in England at that time was a great deal more intense than now.

This is a really nice story, full of upper class England, men's clubs, rich people who did not hold down jobs, servants firmly in their places, retired old men, and women acting as women were supposed to do, and of course, the root of all evil, money....lots of money. Lord Peter solves the problem in his usual Bon vivant manner.

Young Dorothy Sayers ~ Dorothy Leigh Sayers 1949-1950 by Sir William

Happy Birthday Dorothy L. Sayers June 13,

what a joy to discover that the books were even better than the TV adaptations – with wonderful writing, depth of character, superb plotting and really gripping tales. Needless to say, I devoured the lot very rapidly.



Agatha Christie

Source WaPo 1/23/21

Born in Torquay in 1890, Agatha Christie began writing during the First World War and wrote over 100 novels, plays and short story collections. She was still writing to great acclaim until her death, and her books have now sold over a billion copies in English and another billion in over 100 foreign languages. Yet Agatha Christie was always a very private person, and though Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple became household names, the Queen of Crime was a complete enigma to all but her closest friends.


The Moving Finger: A Miss Marple Mystery (Miss Marple Mysteries Book 3) Kindle Edition

Miss Marple only appears towards the end of this book, brought in by the vicar’s wife as an “expert” in wickedness. The village has been troubled by a rash of anonymous letters accusing people of salacious behavior.

Miss Marple arrives just in time to keep the police from blundering.

In addition to lots of nasty letters and more than one murder, the plot offers not one but two unlikely but delightful romances.

The villagers, from professional men to energetic ladies to cantankerous servants, are all wonderfully portrayed — Agatha Christie at her best!

One of Agatha Christie's own favorites.

Agatha Christie Nee Miller 15 Sept. 1890 ~

Edgar Allan Poe

10 Little-Known Facts About Edgar Allan Poe How well do you know the master of the macabre? Here are 10 little-known facts about the original horror maestro, Edgar Allan Poe.

The name Edgar Allan Poe conjures all things creepy and macabre. His poems and short stories have long instilled terror into the hearts of readers, and he is considered one of the most important American writers in history. But what do we really know about Poe, other than his dark literary gifts?

Here are 10 little-known facts about one of the earliest masters of American horror, Edgar Allan Poe.

1. Poe’s parents were actors

It’s likely he was given the name “Edgar” after the character in Shakespeare’s King Lear, in which his parents were appearing during the time of his birth.

2. The name “Allan” came from his foster family

After his father left the family and his mother died, Poe was taken in by the family of John Allan, a wealthy Scottish merchant living in Virginia. Poe was never formally adopted by the Allans, but they gave him their name, which he eventually chose to use in his professional career.

3. He published his first book at only 18 years old

In 1827, Tamerlane and Other Poems was released; the byline read “By a Bostonian”—a reference to Poe’s place of birth.

4. Poe attended the University of Virginia for only one year

He incurred massive gambling debts, which left him unable to afford to remain at school, despite the money John Allan claimed he was sending to his foster son.

Edgar Allan Poe and the Mysterious Murder of New York Beauty Mary Rogers Her death fascinated Poe and remains a mystery to this day.

Edgar Allan Poe's 1842 murder mystery novella The Mystery of Marie Rogêt tells the story of Marie Rogêt, a beautiful young Parisian woman whose body is found, battered and bruised, in the Seine River. The tale captivated audiences during its day—perhaps, because, save for the victim's name and the location of her death, the story was true. In creating his story, Poe explicitly borrowed details from the real-life slaying of Mary Cecilia Rogers, a young New Yorker known to many as the “Beautiful Cigar Girl” who worked in a downtown tobacco shop.


Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell on why we need libraries – an essay in pictures Two great champions of reading for pleasure return to remind us that it really is an important thing to do – and that libraries create literate citizens - Words by Neil Gaiman and illustrations by Chris Riddell - Thu 6 Sep 2018 11.59 EDT


“A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Marcus Tullius Cicero?

"So many books, so little time." - Frank Zappa

"Katherine points to research concluding that filling a house with books is equivalent to a college education. I suspect this is true; our kids grew up with a mom who is still always reading, who never is without a book and is the library's best customer. The kids grew up surrounded by thousands of books and they are now voracious readers." - Treehugger

"A stack of unread books is a hallway of doors, each leading to an unknown adventure – the promise of a continuum." – Melissa Breyer

Should you get bitten by the Kondo bug, go gently with your book collection.

In case of rapturous decluttering, don't throw away your books

The tidying-up pixie known as Marie Kondo has a new show on Netflix, and by all accounts, it seems to be taking the over-cluttered masses by storm. Social media is literally littered with photos showing piles of jettisoned joyless junk, as legions of decluttering warriors fall under the spell of the effervescent Ms. Kondo.

There is so much to be said in recommendation of a more minimal lifestyle. We are a people hungry for consumerism and it’s leading to all kinds of problems for the planet. Kondo’s basic nugget to determine whether we need something is to ask if said something sparks joy – and if it does not, then it is not needed. If we all took some time seriously considering this question before making a purchase, the world would be better off.

Recently nestled within all the Twitter images of piles of clothes and newly organized pantries, however, was a sign of dissent by writer Anakana Schofield. Behold the nerves of steel of this woman, who unleashed the following upon the Twitterverse:

"Do NOT listen to Marie Kondo or Konmari in relation to books. Fill your apartment & world with them. I don’t give a shite if you throw out your knickers and Tupperware but the woman is very misguided about BOOKS. Every human needs a v extensive library not clean, boring shelves."

And you know what this otherwise-minimalist book-hoarder says? Hallelujah, Ms. Schofield!

I watched as the tweet went viral, and now Schofield has penned an essay at The Guardian on the topic, noting that “tidying guru Marie Kondo advises us to ditch reading we don’t find joyful. But one’s personal library should do much more than anthologise warm feelings."

Schofield says that at the time of writing the Guardian post, there were "25,000-plus tweets" in reply; 65 percent in agreement with her and 20 percent in disagreement.

Schofield believes that Kondo is woefully misguided when she says we should get rid of books that don’t give us “joy." She writes.

"The metric of objects only 'sparking joy' is deeply problematic when applied to books. The definition of joy (for the many people yelling at me on Twitter, who appear to have Konmari’d their dictionaries) is: 'A feeling of great pleasure and happiness, a thing that causes joy, success or satisfaction.' This is a ludicrous suggestion for books. Literature does not exist only to provoke feelings of happiness or to placate us with its pleasure; art should also challenge and perturb us."

It’s such a good point. I look at the rows of books on my shelves and while I can’t help but to notice that they are a great source of visual clutter in an otherwise minimal-ish home, I would never toss them.

No way! As a collection, all of my books create their own narrative, an otherwise impossible timeline of my life. In a world where everything is so ephemeral and fleeting – where photographs live in an abstract cloud and digital books live in a format that may be rendered irrelevant in a few decades – my book collection feels comfortingly solid.

And beyond them being a part of my history, I think about what went into each book. Every word, of the millions of words living on my bookshelves, was written with thought; every sentence crafted with intention. My personal library is like a microcosm of humanity, of my own design. A solar system of objects, each with its own story.

And as for the unread books? One of the great tenets of decluttering is if you haven’t used something in a certain amount of time, toss it. Which would mean all of you who are masters of tsonduku – the practice of buying more books than you can read – are plum out of luck. And I know that there are a lot of you out there, given that our story on the topic was TreeHugger’s most popular last year. That a book is unread should not be an indication of its uselessness, rather, a promise of its potential. It’s like having a gift to open or a vacation to look forward to. A stack of unread books is a hallway of doors, each leading to an unknown adventure – the promise of a continuum. As A. Edward Newton, author, publisher, and collector of 10,000 books said:

"Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity."

But a book collection in its entirety, nurtured over a lifetime of reading, can in itself be considered a thing of joy … and once it’s gone, it can not be replaced. Go ahead and alphabetize by author, dust the covers, and straighten the spines – but if you keep just one thing in your decluttering frenzy, consider keeping the books.

Wanted Books

The Complete Brigadier Gerard: Stories (Canongate Classics Book 57) Kindle Edition by Arthur Conan Doyle (Author), Owen Dudley Edwards (Editor, Introduction) Format: Kindle Edition

$1.99 4s

Bookbub: Though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for his immortal character Sherlock Holmes, his tales of comic adventure featuring Brigadier Etienne Gerard, a French cavalry officer in the tine of the Napoleonic Wars, were equally beloved in their day. An old man who has retired in Paris, Gerard now recounts his escapades of younger days. In Napoleon’s service, he fights battles, breaks hearts, and confounds the English all across Europe.

These charming adventures of the 19th century French brigadier by the creator of Sherlock Holms are “unjustly forgotten tales by a great master” (Michael Chabon).

Though Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for his immortal character Sherlock Holmes, his tales of comic adventure featuring Brigadier Etienne Gerard, a French cavalry officer in the tine of the Napoleonic Wars, were equally beloved in their day. An old man who has retired in Paris, Gerard now recounts his escapades of younger days. In Napoleon's service, he fights battles, breaks hearts, and confounds the English all across Europe. This volume collects all of Doyle's Brigadier Gerard stories, originally published in The Strand Magazine between 1894 and 1903.

In The Complete Brigadier Gerard Stories "you will find adventure, action, romance, love and self-sacrifice, hair's-breadth escape and reckless courage, gallantry, panache and a droll, backhand humor that rivals that of P.G. Wodehouse. You will also find yourself, even more than with the celebrated stories of Holmes and Watson, in the hands of an indisputable artist. For more than any other adventure stories I know, these stories have a power to move the reader... unjustly forgotten tales by a great master" (Michael Chabon for NPR's You Must Read This).

"The Brigadier Gerard stories display all the narrative gusto of Doyle's more famous Sherlock Holmes, together with an irresistible warmth and humor."—Philip Pullman

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel, Elyssa Friedland

The Golden Hotel is losing its luster. Once a hot vacation spot in its heyday, the Catskills are now struggling to attract celebrities and even tourists who used to flood in from New York City. When an offer is made to purchase the resort, the two families that have run the Golden since the beginning — the Goldmans and the Weingolds — have a week to determine whether they’ll give up on the generational heirloom, or reinvent it for a new era… And everyone, from grandparents to little kids, wants a say in the decision. With a colorful cast of characters, family drama, and plenty of nostalgia, this read will make you laugh out loud.

Kindle $11.99

World Travel, Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever

Follow in the footsteps of the late iconic chef and host of Parts Unknown as he escorts you on a tour through 43 of his favorite destinations across the globe. From a generations-old tapas bar in Barcelona to the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, Bourdain’s unrivaled commentary on the best food, hotels, and transportation in each location is supplemented with essays from friends and family who knew him best. See — and taste — the world like never before from the comfort of your couch. That is, if this guide doesn’t inspire you to take a trip of your own!

Kindle $19.99

Harry Potter: The Complete Collection (1-7) Kindle Edition by J.K. Rowling (Author)

$62.99 5s

All seven eBooks in the multi-award winning, internationally bestselling Harry Potter series, available as one download with stunning cover art by Olly Moss. Enjoy the stories that have captured the imagination of millions worldwide.

Having now become classics of our time, the Harry Potter ebooks never fail to bring comfort and escapism to readers of all ages. With its message of hope, belonging and the enduring power of truth and love, the story of the Boy Who Lived continues to delight generations of new readers.

The Tree That Didn't Get Trimmed Hardcover – September 10, 2010 by Christopher Morley (Author)

$15.96 ppb out of stock

This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.

Linda Howard

Already have Cover of Night.

Strangers and Cousins: A Novel Kindle Edition by Leah Hager Cohen (Author) #13.99


One of Christian Science Monitor's BEST FICTION OF 2019

"Funny and tender but also provocative and wise. . . One of the most hopeful and insightful novels I've read in years." - Ron Charles, The Washington Post

"Serious yet joyous comedy, reminiscent of the Pultizer-winning Less" - Out Magazine

A novel about what happens when an already sprawling family hosts an even larger and more chaotic wedding: an entertaining story about family, culture, memory, and community.

In the seemingly idyllic town of Rundle Junction, Bennie and Walter are preparing to host the wedding of their eldest daughter Clem. A marriage ceremony at their beloved, rambling home should be the happiest of occasions, but Walter and Bennie have a secret. A new community has moved to Rundle Junction, threatening the social order and forcing Bennie and Walter to confront uncomfortable truths about the lengths they would go to to maintain harmony.

Meanwhile, Aunt Glad, the oldest member of the family, arrives for the wedding plagued by long-buried memories of a scarring event that occurred when she was a girl in Rundle Junction. As she uncovers details about her role in this event, the family begins to realize that Clem's wedding may not be exactly what it seemed. Clever, passionate, artistic Clem has her own agenda. What she doesn't know is that by the end, everyone will have roles to play in this richly imagined ceremony of familial connection-a brood of quirky relatives, effervescent college friends, ghosts emerging from the past, a determined little mouse, and even the very group of new neighbors whose presence has shaken Rundle Junction to its core.

With Strangers and Cousins, Leah Hager Cohen delivers a story of pageantry and performance, hopefulness and growth, and introduces a winsome, unforgettable cast of characters whose lives are forever changed by events that unfold and reverberate across generations.

Big Sky (Jackson Brodie Book 5) Kindle Edition by Kate Atkinson (Author) $14.99

Iconoclastic detective Jackson Brodie returns in a triumphant new novel about secrets, sex, and lies

Jackson Brodie has relocated to a quiet seaside village, in the occasional company of his recalcitrant teenage son and an aging Labrador, both at the discretion of his ex-partner Julia. It's picturesque, but there's something darker lurking behind the scenes.

Jackson's current job, gathering proof of an unfaithful husband for his suspicious wife, is fairly standard-issue, but a chance encounter with a desperate man on a crumbling cliff leads him into a sinister network-and back across the path of his old friend Reggie. Old secrets and new lies intersect in this breathtaking novel by one of the most dazzling and surprising writers at work today.

"Thank goodness the long Jackson Brodie hiatus is over." --Janet Maslin, New York Times

The Plotters: A Novel Kindle Edition by Un-su Kim (Author) $11.99

"[A] powerhouse of a novel....It reads as if Haruki Murakami rewrote The Day of the Jackal." - Locus Magazine

"Editor's Choice" New York Times Book Review
"The Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2019" CrimeReads
“Most Anticipated Books of 2019” Lit Hub
"This Winter's Best Thrillers" Chicago Review of Books
"Best Books of the Year" Apple

A fantastical crime novel set in an alternate Seoul where assassination guilds compete for market dominance.

Behind every assassination, there is an anonymous mastermind--a plotter--working in the shadows. Plotters quietly dictate the moves of the city's most dangerous criminals, but their existence is little more than legend. Just who are the plotters? And more important, what do they want?

Reseng is an assassin. Raised by a cantankerous killer named Old Raccoon in the crime headquarters "The Library," Reseng never questioned anything: where to go, who to kill, or why his home was filled with books that no one ever read. But one day, Reseng steps out of line on a job, toppling a set of carefully calibrated plans. And when he uncovers an extraordinary scheme set into motion by an eccentric trio of young women--a convenience store clerk, her wheelchair-bound sister, and a cross-eyed librarian--Reseng will have to decide if he will remain a pawn or finally take control of the plot.

Crackling with action and filled with unforgettable characters, The Plotters is a deeply entertaining thriller that soars with the soul, wit, and lyricism of real literary craft.

Started Early, Took My Dog: A Novel (Jackson Brodie Book 4) Kindle Edition by Kate Atkinson (Author) $9.99

Tracy Waterhouse leads a quiet, ordered life as a retired police detective-a life that takes a surprising turn when she encounters Kelly Cross, a habitual offender, dragging a young child through town. Both appear miserable and better off without each other-or so decides Tracy, in a snap decision that surprises herself as much as Kelly. Suddenly burdened with a small child, Tracy soon learns her parental inexperience is actually the least of her problems, as much larger ones loom for her and her young charge.

Meanwhile, Jackson Brodie, the beloved detective of novels such as Case Histories, is embarking on a different sort of rescue-that of an abused dog. Dog in tow, Jackson is about to learn, along with Tracy, that no good deed goes unpunished.

The Bride Test Kindle Edition by Helen Hoang (Author) #9.99

From the USA Today bestselling author of The Kiss Quotient comes a romantic novel about love that crosses international borders and all boundaries of the heart...

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he's defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can't turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn't go as planned. Esme's lessons in love seem to be working...but only on herself. She's hopelessly smitten with a man who's convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme's time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he's been wrong all along. And there's more than one way to love.

The Kiss Quotient Kindle Edition by Helen Hoang (Author) $9.99

From the author of The Bride Test comes a romance novel hailed as one of The Washington Post’s 50 Notable Works of Fiction in 2018 and one of Amazon’s Top 100 Books of 2018!

“This is such a fun read and it's also quite original and sexy and sensitive.”—Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author

“Hoang's writing bursts from the page.”—Buzzfeed

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases—a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice—with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan—from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he's making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

Polaris Rising: A Novel (The Consortium Rebellion Book 1) Kindle Edition by Jessie Mihalik (Author) $9.99

“Polaris Rising is space opera at its best, intense and addictive, a story of honor, courage, betrayal, and love. Jessie Mihalik is an author to watch."--Ilona Andrews, #1 New York Times bestselling author

A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin Kindle Edition $7.99

The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (Hainish Cycle Book 5) Kindle Edition $5.99

“One of the greats….Not just a science fiction writer; a literary icon." – Stephen King

From the brilliant and award-winning author Ursula K. Le Guin comes a classic tale of two planets torn apart by conflict and mistrust -- and the man who risks everything to reunite them.

A bleak moon settled by utopian anarchists, Anarres has long been isolated from other worlds, including its mother planet, Urras—a civilization of warring nations, great poverty, and immense wealth. Now Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is determined to reunite the two planets, which have been divided by centuries of distrust. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have kept them apart.

To visit Urras—to learn, to teach, to share—will require great sacrifice and risks, which Shevek willingly accepts. But the ambitious scientist's gift is soon seen as a threat, and in the profound conflict that ensues, he must reexamine his beliefs even as he ignites the fires of change.

ISHI In Two Worlds: A Biography of the last Wild Indian in North America, by Theodora Kroeber

Kindle edition is $9.99, Paperback $2.99

ISHI in Two Worlds tells the true story of the man known as the "last wild Indian in North America." His sudden appearance in 1911 stunned the country. His tribe was considered extinct, destroyed in bloody massacres during the 1860s and 70s.

1911 was a pivotal moment in American history, and the lowest point for Native Americans. The west had been won, and the country now spread from sea to sea. Contact with white men's diseases and violence had reduced their numbers from over ten million to less than three hundred thousand. Geronimo had surrendered twenty five years before. In California, there were only fifty thousand Indians alive. Most were living on reservations or had been assimilated into the general population.

Yet here was one survivor, the last of his tribe, who refused to surrender. He had been hiding for forty years. When Ishi appeared, newspaper headlines across the country proclaimed the discovery of the Wild Man, the last Stone Age Man in North America.

For Alfred Kroeber, an ambitious young anthropologist at UC Berkeley, this was great news. He had been searching for years to find unacculturated Indians so that he could document true aboriginal life in America. He arranged for Ishi to come to the Museum of Anthropology in San Francisco, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Ishi only lived four more years, but during his brief stay he transformed the people around him. His dignity and sense of self, his tireless dedication to telling his stories and showing his way of life, and his lack of bitterness towards the people who had destroyed his own, amazed and impressed everyone who met him. Because of Ishi's courage and generosity, and Kroeber's meticulous notes and recordings, we have a glimpse of life in this country before the white man. Ishi embodied the entire history of Native Americans: their life before contact, the tragedy of their destruction, their refusal to disappear, their determination to carry their culture into the Twentieth Century.

Alfred Kroeber's wife, Theodora, brought Ishi's story to the modern public in 1961 in her vivid book, Ishi in Two Worlds: The Story of the Last Wild Indian in North America. Its enormous popularity led to two more books by Mrs. Kroeber: Ishi, the Last Yahi: A Documentary History, and the children's book, Ishi, Last of his Tribe. These books have been in print for three decades and have been translated into sixteen languages. An award-winning film ISHI THE LAST YAHI is available on and from

Big Sky (Jackson Brodie Book 5), by Kate Atkinson

Fans of Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie PI series won’t be disappointed with the Yorkshire ex-cop’s return in “Big Sky." The novel is brimming with the wit and let-justice-triumph tenacity that led theseries to print bestsellerdom and a popular BBC-TV series.

All these years later, Brodie can’t quite remember why he quit the force in the first place. But his investigative skills are as at-the-ready as his moral outrage. A chance encounter at an amusement park Brodie visits with his 13-year-old son pulls him in to exposing a grotesque international sex-trafficking ring. There isn’t a character here -- major or minor -- who doesn’t sashay resplendently off the page. That includes Brodie’s sometime girlfriend, Julia, who is given to pronouncements like: “The class war’s over. Everyone lost." With Atkinson it’s Raymond Chandler meets Jane Austen, and amazingly she makes it all work. (Little, Brown, 386 pp., $28.)

Those People, By Louise Candlish

While few of us actually worry about a Hannibal Lecter nibbling on our memory centers, we can all imagine living next door to “neighbors from hell." That’s what happens on pretty, becalmed Lowland Way in South London.

One week the residents are winning prizes for their Sunday neighborhood fairs. The next week Darren Booth and his moll, Jodi, move in, set up a used-car lot on their lawn, toss up rickety scaffolding on their half of a semidetached, and blast “thrash metal” rock through the suburban night. A “charm offensive” is met with expletives. Officialdom is unhelpful. A B&B loses clients. Marriages cleave. Em and “Ant” Kendall’s baby boy must wear earmuffs and a protective helmet. Then there’s a -- what else? -- violent death. And apparently another, and just about everybody is a suspect. Happy ending? Not exactly, but the whole bordering-on-believable novel is beautifully modulated and terrifically suspenseful. (Berkley, 368 pp., $26)

Jessie Eisinger, ProPublica

The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives, by Jesse Eisinger, Simon & Schuster,

Winner of the 2018 Excellence in Financial Journalism Award

From Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Jesse Eisinger, “a fast moving, fly-on-the-wall, disheartening look at the deterioration of the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission…It is a book of superheroes” (San Franscisco Review of Books).

Why were no bankers put in prison after the financial crisis of 2008? Why do CEOs seem to commit wrongdoing with impunity? The problem goes beyond banks deemed “Too Big to Fail” to almost every large corporation in America—to pharmaceutical companies and auto manufacturers and beyond. The Chickenshit Club—an inside reference to prosecutors too scared of failure and too daunted by legal impediments to do their jobs—explains why in “an absorbing financial history, a monumental work of journalism…a first-rate study of the federal bureaucracy” (Bloomberg Businessweek).

Jesse Eisigner begins the story in the 1970s, when the government pioneered the notion that top corporate executives, not just seedy crooks, could commit heinous crimes and go to prison. He brings us to trading desks on Wall Street, to corporate boardrooms and the offices of prosecutors and FBI agents. These revealing looks provide context for the evolution of the Justice Department’s approach to pursuing corporate criminals through the early 2000s and into the Justice Department’s approach to pursuing corporate criminals through the early 2000s and into the Justice Department of today, including the prosecutorial fiascos, corporate lobbying, trial losses, and culture shifts that have stripped the government of the will and ability to prosecute top corporate executives.

“Brave and elegant….a fearless reporter…Eisinger’s important and profound book takes no prisoners (The Washington Post). Exposing one of the most important scandals of our time, The Chickenshit Club provides a clear, detailed explanation as to how our Justice Department has come to avoid, bungle, and mismanage the fight to bring these alleged criminals to justice. “This book is a wakeup call…a chilling read, and a needed one” (


The Chickenshit Club Chapter One “THERE IS NO CHRISTMAS” ON A GRIM DAY IN september 2003, with hurricane Isabel brewing off the East Coast, federal prosecutor Kathy Ruemmler prepared for the government’s third interview with an Enron witness. The investigation into the top officers at the collapsed energy giant was stalled. Ruemmler knew the prosecutors had to flip someone.

She had just joined as the youngest member of the Enron Task Force, the special SWAT team the Justice Department had assembled to dig into what had been one of the richest and most admired companies in the world. Now it had been revealed to be one of the biggest frauds in American business history. At a passing glance, the thirty-two-year-old assistant US attorney looked fresh faced and friendly, with her shoulder-length blond hair and clothing that was a step up from the typical government servant’s. But she had a steeliness that she could wield at will. Her warm blue eyes hardened when she was deposing a witness.

Her teammate in those days was Sam Buell. Before joining the task force, Buell, thirty-nine, had prosecuted Boston mob cases. He was tall and clean cut. His short, reddish hair framed a wide, gentle face that sat above broad shoulders. Buell, the son of schoolteachers, had grown up in Milton, Massachusetts, outside of Boston. Self-deprecating and easygoing, he looked like a favorite high school math teacher. Witnesses liked him in spite of themselves. Buell and the task force had been laboring over the case for months now. They were going after Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay, Enron’s top officers. Ruemmler and Buell spent most of their time shuttling from DC to Houston, where the two of them would drive from their dingy government-rate hotel rooms to an abandoned space at the top of Houston’s run-down federal courthouse, a 1960s-era squat white cube in the middle of downtown Houston.

They passed through building security unencumbered. Here it was already 2003, and they still didn’t even have BlackBerrys. Upstairs, their clunky computers balanced on cardboard boxes atop chipped metal desks. The whole place was so run-down that it was fodder for jokes. A defense attorney bringing a tony client for an interview once cracked, “It looks like an OSHA violation in here!" During the first winter, most of them had come down with miserable respiratory infections. Were the offices infecting them? Or was it just the pressure of their task? They had no document management system and no way even to email the FBI agents assigned to the investigation, who were just a few blocks away. With this pathetic setup, they were taking on an infernally complex company in the most important corporate fraud case in memory, against a legion of defense lawyers from the best firms in the world.

The country had invaded Iraq six months earlier. Madonna kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on the MTV Video Music Awards show. The American tennis star Andy Roddick won what would be the only major tournament of his career: the US Open championship. But Ruemmler barely noted outside events, significant or trivial. She had no time for anything but the case. During these eighteen-hour days, when she could only sneak in a frozen pizza and a shower, Ruemmler would sometimes marvel that she had ended up here. She had grown up in Richland, Washington, a rural corner of the Northwest, where both of her parents worked at the giant Hanford nuclear facility on the Columbia River, her father as a computer engineer and her mother in a toxicology lab. Unlike most of her Justice Department colleagues, Ruemmler hadn’t gone to an elite eastern college. She’d been thrilled to get into the local University of Washington, and before she left to attend Georgetown University Law Center, she had been out of the Northwest only three times.

Yet Ruemmler had landed a plum job: assistant US attorney; a federal prosecutor in the DC office. She’d been handling violent crime and narcotics cases when Leslie Caldwell, head of the Enron Task Force, reached out. Ruemmler hadn’t had much experience prosecuting financial fraud. She’d been reading the papers and coming across the same phrase: if normal financial fraud was “algebra," the articles intoned, Enron was “advanced calculus." She felt intimidated. But Caldwell assured her the Enron Task Force would be only a six-month detail.

• • •

Twice, the Enron prosecutors had brought in one of their most promising witnesses, Dave Delainey, the head of Enron’s energy trading division. He’d stuck with his story, brushing aside questions from the prosecutors and the FBI agent assigned to this part of the investigation. They weren’t giving up, though, and that morning they felt certain they had discovered a dangling thread that might help them unravel his story.

As Ruemmler and Buell went through the many emails Delainey had sent to his head trader, they found a huge gain the company had made trading in California’s energy markets in the late 1990s. Enron didn’t want to tell shareholders it was a volatile trading shop. Instead, the company line for Wall Street had been that Enron was a stable, fast-growing operation. CEO Jeff Skilling had downplayed Enron’s trading, once saying on CNBC that it was “just a small portion” of its business.1 Enron was just a “logistics” business, he’d say, meaning that Enron helped speculators but wasn’t one itself. A big trading gain, such as the one Ruemmler and Buell discovered, hinted at the reality. Speculation dominated the company’s culture and contributed an outsized portion of its profits. Once, after a trader had lost close to a half billion in one day, Skilling came down to the trading floor and exhorted the traders to “man up." Get back out there and make more trades. Win it back.

Instead of having Enron disclose those trading profits, Delainey and his executives hid them. They stashed the millions of dollars of earnings and created a cover story: it was setting aside those profits for a possible legal settlement.

Ruemmler and Buell had figured out that this reserve, this “cookie jar," was a lie. Poring over the company’s intentionally complicated and messy financial statements one more time, they’d noticed that a year after creating the reserve, Enron had lost millions in another division and dipped into that money—reserved for legal costs—to cover the losses and make it look like it had made money that quarter. That accounting hocus-pocus was illegal, and Delainey and his top trader had emailed about it. But they’d used a lot of trader jargon, and the emails were vague enough that a jury would need them decoded. The prosecutors understood how the scam had been pulled off but believed they couldn’t prove it yet.

Delainey could explain that little scam, but that’s not why they needed to flip him. Complex white-collar investigations required finding “rabbis” to guide you through the transactions. Even the smartest outsiders couldn’t rely on the documents. They were conducting an old-fashioned investigation. They needed someone on the inside. If they could flip Delainey, they could take the prosecution all the way to the top. They could begin to build a case that Jeff Skilling had lied to investors and the public.


That led them, in the middle of the hurricane, to haul Dave Delainey and his expensive lawyers into a windowless conference room in the Bond Building in Washington, DC, for a third time.

Buell and Ruemmler and their expert FBI agent had new verve; they took command of the interview from the start. Buell had a hunch Delainey wanted to cooperate. Getting him over to their side, however, required breaking down his instinct to deny and minimize his culpability. Delainey had long been an Enron true believer. A clean-cut Canadian, he’d been awed by the testosterone-flooded Enron trading culture. Hard-charging, sure, but they weren’t—couldn’t be—criminals.

Few corporate white-collar fraudsters—not egregious Ponzi schemers or boiler room operators but perpetrators at large, respectable companies—start out thinking they will commit a crime. As one academic study, “Why Do They Do It?: The Motives, Mores, and Character of White Collar Criminals” put it, most white-collar criminals are “individuals who find themselves involved in schemes that are initially small in scale, but over which they quickly lose control.”2

They tell themselves, “I’ll just do it this quarter so we don’t miss the number, and then I’ll stop it and undo what I’ve done." They don’t think of themselves as crooks. It’s just a short-term fix. Then they use the device again and again until they have no choice but to keep up the charade. They start rationalizing what they’re doing. It may be aggressive, but it’s not wrong. It’s not theft. The bad guys aren’t lying just to prosecutors. They are lying to their shareholders, their colleagues, and their families. And they are lying to themselves.

The prosecutor’s job is to crack through that self-justification and self-delusion. That’s what Ruemmler and Buell were going to do that morning, in that room, with Delainey.

The two stuck with their plan to stay calm, to both be the good cops, and keep asking questions about the emails. They would reason with him, confronting him with the evidence, though selectively, to test his credibility. Their advantage was that Delainey didn’t know exactly which documents interested the prosecutors, as well as who else from Enron was talking and what they were saying. As Ruemmler and Buell ground him down on the emails, his story began to collapse. A couple hours into the conversation, it happened: Delainey glanced over and signaled a silent plea for help to his lawyers: John Dowd of Akin Gump and a promising young associate named Savannah Guthrie, who would later coanchor the Today show.

Dowd was a legend, one of the premier defense lawyers in the country. Big and aggressive, he’d vow to fight the government from every rampart in Washington. He had some quirks. Using just two fingers, he’d bang out his emails in twenty-eight-point purple Comic Sans font. “Who He?" he’d email-bellow to his associates. He toned it down for Buell, who saw a familiar character in Dowd, a brash and street-smart working-class Bostonian. They would chat about the Red Sox. Dowd was no intellectual, but he was savvy and knew how to help his clients. Buell and Ruemmler made it clear where the email evidence was taking Dowd’s client. The attorney understood it perfectly.

Dowd asked if he and Guthrie could confer with their client and then left the room.

They were gone for about fifteen minutes. When they came back in, Ruemmler noticed that Delainey’s demeanor had changed. He now slumped in his chair. A moment passed in silence. He then spoke—mumbled, really: “It was all bullshit."

As Kathy Ruemmler snuck a quick a look at her partner, she saw the smallest of smiles on his face.


When Enron filed for bankruptcy in December 2001, the implosion devastated a major US city, Houston, both economically and psychologically. Fortune magazine had named Enron “America’s most innovative company” six years straight for having changed the way that gas and electricity moved around the country. The magazine CEO had named Enron’s board one of the top five in America.3 Former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James Baker had lobbied for the company. Nelson Mandela had come to Houston to receive the Enron Prize for Distinguished Public Service.

The Enron scandal reached all the way to the president and vice president of the United States. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had run in the same business and social circles as the Enron executives. Bush’s family had made its money in Texas energy; Cheney, only a few years earlier, had been the CEO of the energy services giant the Halliburton Company, then based in Dallas. Ken Lay, Enron’s founder, was a longtime Bush family friend and major Republican donor. Bush, as is his way with intimates, had given Lay a nickname: “Kenny Boy." Lay had once hosted a fund-raiser for Senator John Ashcroft, a Republican from Missouri, who was expected to make a bid for the 2000 presidency. Now Ashcroft was Bush’s attorney general, the top law enforcement officer in the United States.4

The country fell into recession in late 2000. It was reeling from the bursting of the biggest stock market bubble the world had seen, which had inflated through most of the 1990s before collapsing mercilessly in March 2000. Over the next few years, new companies reported accounting problems with alarming regularity: Tyco, Adelphia, HealthSouth, WorldCom. But Enron’s collapse was the most spectacular. The pandemic of corporate greed and criminality felt so consequential that it wasn’t outlandish to think that Enron’s failure might be the seminal financial event of a generation.

Enron’s significance would recede, however, and the lessons it holds for white-collar enforcement would be forgotten. Despite Enron’s political might, the US government aggressively investigated the fraud at the energy trading company and prosecuted dozens of individuals, including the top officers of the company. Lay, Skilling, and Andrew Fastow, the chief financial officer, were all found guilty. Skilling and Fastow went to prison; Lay would have gone, too, but he died of a massive heart attack in 2006, just three months before his sentencing. In all, the government charged thirty-two people associated with the Enron frauds, including Wall Street bankers who’d facilitated the deceptions.5 The government did indeed take down rogue executives not that long ago.

Many people look at the crimes at Enron, WorldCom, Adelphia, Tyco, and the generation of post-stock-market-bubble-bursting prosecutions and think the crimes were so egregious that the prosecutions must have been easy. But that’s only with the benefit of hindsight. What Kathy Ruemmler, Sam Buell, and the rest of the Enron Task Force did was not simple and never inevitable. If the task force hadn’t had resources, time, intelligence, and patience, Lay and Skilling may not have been prosecuted at all or could have easily been acquitted. The prosecutorial team went up against the best defense lawyers in the country. The public brayed for faster action. The team had its share of stumbles, blowing some of its trials. Lay didn’t use email; Skilling rarely did. So the government lacked direct, incriminatory evidence of their guilt. But in the big cases, the task force prevailed. These were not accidents. The Enron prosecution team made smart strategic decisions, secured necessary resources, learned from their mistakes, used aggressive tactics, and ran the major trials well.

Despite this success, the Justice Department took the wrong lesson from Enron. Over the next decade, the task force’s legacy, at least for the subsequent leaders of the Justice Department, lay more in its mistakes than its successes. Courts reversed the government in key cases. The defense bar and Justice Department officials came to view the Enron prosecutors as reckless and abusive rather than sufficiently aggressive to meet the prosecutorial challenge. Today it’s an open question whether the Justice Department would be capable of taking on Enron the same way the task force did.


In the early years of the George W. Bush administration, its Department of Justice compiled a sterling record of corporate prosecutions. Larry Thompson, Bush’s first deputy attorney general, understood that the DOJ had to respond assertively to the unfolding crisis. Thompson joined the administration in 2001, just as the corporate accounting scandals were breaking. Stock markets were collapsing. The public was furious. By the end of its run, the early Bush-era Department of Justice had prosecuted almost every major accounting fraud from the early 2000s. Not just Enron but also WorldCom, Adelphia, Global Crossing, and Qwest Communications among them. At the state level, the Manhattan district attorney prevailed in cases against the top corporate officers of Tyco.6

Prosecutors took losses, too. They weren’t taking on the easiest cases and juicing their stats with easy victories. One of the more unfathomable losses was the acquittal of Richard Scrushy, the head of hospital and rehab clinic operator HealthSouth. Prosecutors charged him with thirty-six counts, including securities fraud and conspiracy in connection with a $2.7 billion accounting fraud. They flipped multiple former employees against Scrushy, including the HealthSouth CFO, but a hometown jury found him not guilty.7 A year later, in a separate case, a federal jury found Scrushy guilty of bribery.8 Thompson understood the risks and tolerated losses. In his view, they were the price of ambition.

A fair and lifetime law-and-order man, Thompson conferred with Michael Chertoff, the head of the criminal division at “Main Justice," as the Washington headquarters of the Department of Justice is known. They both emphasized the public need for “real-time” prosecution for white-collar cases. They believed the public deserved action and defendants deserved speedy resolutions. But the strategy was also practical. White-collar cases could languish for years, a poor way of conducting any investigation. The evidence trail grows cold, memories fade, and defense lawyers have time to formulate their client’s stories and tactics. Prosecutors needed to maintain momentum. Thompson and Chertoff understood that with the Enron debacle, the public would be bothered with slow justice. That there might be no justice—no prosecutions at all—never even occurred to anyone.

In early 2002 Thompson and Chertoff feared that the Enron case was already a mess. Several US Attorney’s Offices had separate pieces of the investigation. Main Justice oversees the other offices but does not direct each about its investigations. The criminal division in Washington also conducts its own investigations into securities fraud, antitrust violations, public corruption, and civil rights. Prosecutors coordinate probes but do not conduct them. Every investigation has agents, usually from the FBI. Often other government regulators, including the SEC, have only civil enforcement powers. For criminal matters, they work with the Justice Department. Since the Southern District of New York took on most of the corporate and securities fraud matters, it had the closest relationship with the SEC. In early 2002 the Southern District vied to take all the Enron cases for itself, but Thompson and Chertoff wouldn’t allow that. The Southern District, in a pique, removed itself entirely.

With the Southern District out of Enron, nobody seemed to know who was in charge of what. The government’s document requests deluged the company. Robert Bennett, the Washington power lawyer, then with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which represented Enron, called up Larry Thompson’s office and told them he wanted to cooperate but didn’t know with whom he should deal.9

Main Justice realized that the Houston office of the Justice Department had too many professional and personal conflicts of interest and had to recuse itself from prosecuting the company. Thompson, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Chertoff mulled the problem. Should they assign a special prosecutor to head up all the cases? Do nothing and let the US Attorney’s Offices work the cases on their own? Chertoff had been a US attorney in New Jersey and had worked under Rudolph Giuliani when Giuliani was the US attorney in Manhattan. Chertoff likened US attorneys to ship captains: they mapped their own courses. Chertoff knew that US attorneys felt free to heed or ignore distress flags from shore. He’d done it himself. They were not autonomous, but they took direction from Main Justice reluctantly. Top Justice Department officials in Washington were political appointees. The responsible ones took care in offering direction in order to not be seen as meddling politically in investigations.

Chertoff argued to Thompson that these cases were too important for Main Justice to leave them up to individual US attorneys. When he was the US attorney in Atlanta, Thompson had overseen a drug task force with another US attorney, the future Alabama Republican senator Jeff Sessions, who would become the US attorney general in 2017. He believed task forces worked, though not by magic. They shared information and investigative techniques. A task force focused prosecutors and gave them clear priorities. After that, it was pick-and-shovel work on the case, flipping low-level soldiers to get to the capos.

All the officials in the conversation understood that a task force with prosecutorial powers had some inherent weaknesses. It faces enormous pressure to emerge with some kind of charge, leading to abuses. (Similar problems plague independent prosecutors.) The public has made up its mind. Prosecutors need courage not to bring cases as the spotlight shines. The more cases a task force can bring, the better. It’s difficult to wind up the operation. Worse, a task force has few checks and balances. A US Attorney’s Office has institutional knowledge and a decision-making structure; a task force operates in a vacuum.

But Thompson thought he might ward off those bad outcomes with his gentle persistence. The top officials created the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force to supervise the efforts of the various offices around the country. They identified approximately ten big cases for it to oversee. Thompson made weekly calls to the heads of the offices to make sure prosecutors were working them and to make it clear that he cared. Thompson had a soft and inviting disposition. He didn’t direct anything. He just let them know he wanted to hear the status. His bedside manner was deceptive. He would “stay on their asses," as one Department of Justice official put it.

Main Justice also created the elite operation to go after Enron specifically. In early 2002 Chertoff got to work on forming the Enron SWAT team. Mueller recommended the stoic Leslie Caldwell to head the team. He had worked with her in the San Francisco US Attorney’s Office, where she led the securities fraud unit. Caldwell, then in her early forties, maintained a soothing calm. She carried an air of someone who’d had years of practice cracking jokes that only she might hear or get. Her formative prosecutorial experience had been in the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, the Eastern District of New York, where she had overseen mob prosecutions. She liked to say that back then the rooftops of Brooklyn were for stashing bodies, not kale gardens.10 Eastern District prosecutors liked to think they were scrappier than those in the Southern District in Manhattan. Eastern District “mafia”—prosecutors loved to identify themselves as mafiosi from certain offices—dominated the Enron investigative team. Caldwell brought in Andrew Weissmann as her deputy. In many ways, he was her opposite: loud, aggressive, flamboyant. “Your client is a lying sack of shit!" he’d yell at defense lawyers. Caldwell, who had worked with Weissmann in Brooklyn, admired his trial brilliance.

Caldwell then turned to Sam Buell, with whom she’d worked in the Eastern District. Buell was then working up in Boston, having spent three grueling years on the Whitey Bulger case, the notorious Boston mobster wanted in connection with nineteen murders, among other crimes. He’d been on the lam for sixteen years before being captured in 2011. Caldwell had attended Buell’s wedding. When she called about the task force job in early 2002, Buell didn’t have to think about it. He knew he was in. His wife, a corporate lawyer who had left the workplace to raise their children, encouraged him. Buell had little white-collar experience. He’d done only some low-level corporate fraud work—a money-laundering case or two. But he understood that prosecutors couldn’t shy from difficult cases. After attending law school at New York University, he had clerked for Jack Weinstein, a legendary federal district court judge famous for resolving mass tort cases involving Agent Orange and asbestos. From Judge Weinstein, Buell drew the lesson that nothing is too complex or too big. These people committing the crimes weren’t smarter than you; they, too, had to learn it all at some point.11

But it always helped to have some expertise on hand. So Caldwell recruited Tom Hanusik from Main Justice. Hanusik, an SEC enforcement lawyer in the mid-1990s, had a knack for financial investigation. He loved combing through complicated documents and identifying dodgy deals. With the addition of one other prosecutor, the team—smart, young, ambitious, and energetic—was set. They were all intimidated to take on a fraud so sprawling and complex. Eventually the Enron Task Force would have about forty FBI agents and an average of ten prosecutors assigned to it full-time, bringing cases over the next half decade.

At least to the public, the task force didn’t get going fast enough. The prosecutors anticipated that Enron’s defense lawyers would argue the company may have been aggressive but had technically adhered to the law. The defense would point out that lawyers and accountants blessed the company’s actions. Indeed, that was true. Prosecutors needed to move cautiously. They had to sift through the complexities to find the potential crimes. However, the public and the press did not understand or sympathize.12 The press assailed the government for moving too slowly and letting the perpetrators walk. CNN’s Lou Dobbs, then one of the most influential business journalists, started running an Iran-hostage-like daily count noting there hadn’t been Enron indictments. The CNBC show Kudlow & Cramer would ask, Who is in the pokey? Buell saw cohost Larry Kudlow spout some nonsense about how this case should be as easy as locking up someone for dealing drugs on a street corner. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s legal analyst, swung the other way. Explaining how difficult it was to make white-collar cases, he predicted that neither Skilling nor Lay would go to prison.13 Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader, called on the Justice Department to explain why it hadn’t indicted anyone.14

When prosecutors turned lower-level executives or pressed seemingly tangential cases, the media would report as if the investigations into Skilling and Lay had stalled. But the talking heads misunderstood what was going on. The prosecution team was moving deliberately, moving the lower-level cases to build the evidence to go after the top Enron officers. Privately, team members wondered, Would they get there?

They would. Though the trials were long, arduous, but full of good breaks, prosecutors won guilty verdicts against the key architects of the Enron fraud through working three main witnesses: Delainey, Fastow, and company treasurer Ben Glisan Jr. They were the government’s best witnesses, its Virgils through the labyrinthine off-balance-sheet deals and accounting shenanigans. The investigators and prosecutors would rely on dozens of executives, victims, experts, witnesses, and countless documents to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt. But the government needed Glisan, Delainey, and Fastow. Without all three, the Enron Task Force likely would have failed.

Prosecutors took a different path to work each of the three: Delainey cooperated in a traditional fashion, in exchange for leniency; Fastow reached a nontraditional agreement in which he cooperated without receiving a reduced sentence; Glisan cooperated reluctantly but voluntarily while serving time.


The outside world was helping the government, providing a road map for the prosecutors. Journalists were breaking stories. The Enron board of directors had ordered an internal investigation into what had caused the collapse. The three-person panel of independent directors, headed up by William Powers Jr., the dean of the University of Texas Law School, came out with its report on February 1, 2002, only two months after the bankruptcy. The report detailed the self-dealing at Enron, the dubious transactions, and the lax oversight, blistering top management.

The first big case the Enron Task Force brought, in March 2002, was against Arthur Andersen, Enron’s accounting firm, for obstruction of justice. The case consumed Caldwell, Weissmann, and Buell. Meanwhile, Tom Hanusik could work in relative peace to start building Enron cases. In the Powers report, Hanusik saw an intriguing reference to how a British investment bank, NatWest (National Westminster), had helped in a suspicious Enron transaction. He retrieved the emails behind the deal and saw right off how damning they were. They outlined NatWest’s effort to help Fastow and Michael Kopper, his young right-hand man, create an off-balance-sheet entity to hide Enron debt.

By the summer of 2002, he had charged three NatWest bankers with wire fraud in the first of many Enron cases, seeking their extradition. To outside observers, it seemed tangential. But Hanusik understood he was essentially publishing a banner headline in a newspaper meant for one man. His message came through. The young Kopper read where Hanusik’s investigation was leading. Just three weeks later, Kopper came in. Hanusik had scored the first Enron cooperator. Kopper would help the Enron Task Force start building its case against Fastow. But there was another important signal from the case, a message sent by the indictment of Arthur Andersen as well: prosecutors weren’t going just after Enron executives. They were going after the bankers and accountants who enabled Enron. These prosecutors understood the ecosystem of corporate fraud.

On August 21, 2002, Kopper entered into a plea deal for up to fifteen years. (He was later sentenced to three years and a month.) The deal created a way to get to Fastow, the most obvious target for initial investigation. Fastow had been a wunderkind, rising to become Enron’s CFO in his thirties. He was the mastermind behind the most troubling aspects of the Enron frauds: its off-balance-sheet vehicles. In October 2002 the task force indicted Fastow. He pleaded not guilty.

Larry Thompson, the deputy attorney general, and Robert Mueller, the FBI director, held a press conference to celebrate the accomplishment. Thompson laid out his approach in clear and simple terms, not heard often in the constipated confines of an official Washington media gathering. “Our strategy is really straightforward. We aim to put the bad guys in prison and take away their money," he said.15

Skilling and Lay were blaming Fastow for the corporation’s fraud and collapse, like parents who leave the keys to the liquor cabinet when they go away for a weekend and then blame the teenagers for getting drunk. The task force scoffed. But the executives’ position helped them. They knew Fastow’s cooperation would be necessary to get Skilling and Lay.

Over the course of the next several months after they indicted him, Fastow stayed as mute as a mob soldier, despite all the damning evidence the task force had assembled on him. The government needed to bring more pressure. Weissmann, with Caldwell’s nod, metaphorically put a drill to his knees. On May 1, 2003, the task force indicted Fastow’s wife, Lea, charging her with filing a false income tax return. Both Fastows faced the prospect of being in prison and away from their young children. Lea came from a prominent Houston family. She had lost her reputation and standing. Now she stood to lose her liberty.

Fastow wasn’t so insensate that he didn’t care about his wife. He came in. His lawyer John Keker was a profane and argumentative legend who ran his own boutique practice. Keker sometimes screamed and swore at the prosecutors. True to her style, Caldwell remained calm and let him run on like a three-year-old until he tired himself out. Keker proclaimed he never allowed any of his clients to cooperate. Of course, if it served their interest, he would. For Fastow, it did.

On January 14, 2004, more than two years after Enron declared bankruptcy, prosecutors struck an uncommon deal. Both Fastows pleaded guilty. Andrew pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud. He pledged to forfeit tens of millions of dollars and to no longer seek the millions in compensation he claimed Enron owed him. Vitally, Fastow stated that other top executives shared his culpability:

I and other members of Enron’s senior management fraudulently manipulated Enron’s publicly reported financial results. Our purpose was to mislead investors and others about the true financial position of Enron and, consequently, to inflate artificially the price of Enron’s stock and maintain fraudulently Enron’s credit rating.16

Fastow agreed to a ten-year sentence. The agreement stipulated he would not request a reduced sentence, even if he were particularly cooperative with prosecutors. To impugn the prosecution’s witnesses, defense attorneys highlight the leniency deals witnesses have received to persuade the jury they are likely self-serving liars. Caldwell, Weissmann, and Buell’s agreement with Fastow blunted the defense’s ability to argue that Fastow was lying about Skilling and Lay in order to get off more easily. Eventually the judge would sentence him to only six years in prison.

THE GLISAN GAMBIT Kathy Ruemmler, the young up-and-coming star, joined the task force after Fastow’s indictment but before his plea deal. Getting the CFO was great, but they needed much more evidence to bring Skilling and Lay to justice. She and Buell flipped Delainey in September 2003. When he stopped lying and came around, they worked his information for a month before he pleaded guilty. She and Buell reached a traditional cooperating witness arrangement with him: He did so in exchange for a deal to keep the charges minimal. Ruemmler could worry that the defense would attack the deal later. For now, she and Buell had to drain Delainey of everything he knew, which was plenty about Skilling. The key for the Enron prosecutors—for prosecutors of any white-collar crime—was to keep the pressure on. Nobody knew who the Feds were interviewing. Nobody knew who was talking and who wasn’t. The day Delainey pleaded, Skilling transferred $10 million to O’Melveny & Myers, his defense firm.

“Good," thought Ruemmler. “He understands exactly how much danger he’s in."

The final one of the big three, Enron treasurer Ben Glisan, cooperated in a different fashion: reluctantly. On September 10, 2003, Glisan pleaded guilty. He went straight to prison for his five-year sentence, the first former Enron executive to be locked up. Glisan wouldn’t cooperate. He wanted no agreement. Instead, he said he would do his time. He made a decision that his children were young, and if he had to be sent away, he wanted to serve now rather than after a protracted legal battle.

Glisan’s position at Enron was so important, he could be a font of damning evidence—if he wanted to be. So prosecutor Andrew Weissmann gambled. Just a few months into his sentence, Weissmann brought Glisan from prison to put him in front of the grand jury. Ruemmler marveled. All the young team members did. It was ballsy, because Weissmann had no indication that Glisan would be helpful. The move carried a huge risk: Glisan might offer testimony exonerating Skilling or Lay. And it would all be on the record for the grand jury.

A Houston Chronicle reporter guarded the grand jury every day. Prosecutors didn’t want Glisan’s presence before the grand jury to leak. US marshals snuck him in through a back door in his green jumpsuit. Weissmann immunized him from further prosecution, but that was the extent of the deal. He would have to serve his prison time no matter what he said. Then the task force deputy director started in with his questions, right in front of the grand jury. Would Glisan understand all he had to do was tell the truth? He did. He was candid. Weissmann put him on the stand for days. Glisan was fantastic.

Each evening after the sessions, the team went out to dinner. Ruemmler couldn’t believe what Glisan was saying in court. He understood every deal. He could place Skilling and Lay in the room during crucial conversations. “Shit, I have to go talk to this guy," she said. Weismann beamed. Glisan would later be a star witness in both the Ken Lay trial and Ruemmler’s other trial against Merrill Lynch executives who had allegedly helped Enron disguise a loan as revenue, known as the Nigerian barge trial. (The deal had taken place off the coast of the African country.) Glisan would be immunized at both.

The Nigerian barge trial was delayed till the fall of 2004. Ruemmler and an FBI agent rented a cheap Buick to go see Glisan in prison. Kathy had never seen a car with chillers on the seat to keep the driver cool in the Texas summer. Bastrop Federal Correctional Institution, a low-security prison, sits a couple hours from Houston. When she approached the gray, sprawling compound, surrounded by barbed wire and huge floodlights, Ruemmler thought, “Every prosecutor should spend a lot of time in prisons." They should know where they were sending people and how serious it was to strip them of their liberty.

Prisoners don’t want to be snitches. Ruemmler’s meeting with Glisan had to be secretive. The prison concocted a cover story to get the former Enron executive out of his cell and sneak him into the warden’s office. Dressed in his olive drab prison garb, he was nervous. But the former company treasurer soon relaxed and became introspective, though never bitter. He wasn’t overly helpful or ingratiating, nor too eager or vindictive. Ruemmler and Buell came to respect him, impressed by his recall and command of detail.

Glisan was a patient teacher. He had kept careful notebooks of all of his meetings and deals. Ruemmler went through every entry with him. It was trial gold. He corroborated everything. Glisan would go over a certain Enron off-balance-sheet vehicle. It was maddeningly complicated. Finally, Ruemmler would exclaim, “I get it!" The next morning, she’d wake up and realize she no longer understood it anymore. She’d need another session. She knew she’d never have to go into this level of detail at trial, but the defense team had their knives at the ready for evisceration if her jury-friendly version was so dumbed down that it was even slightly wrong.

Glisan had damning information on Skilling. But more important, he had damning information about Lay. He made the Enron Task Force feel confident enough to bring a case against Enron’s founder. On July 7, 2004, the Enron Task Force indicted Lay, charging him with eleven counts, including securities fraud and making false statements. He pleaded not guilty, calling a press conference to proclaim his innocence and portray himself as a victim of the fraud. Andrew Fastow had betrayed his trust “and betrayed it very, very badly," he said. “There is no CEO that I’m aware of” who could possibly know about every decision lower-level employees make. They rely on the advice of lawyers, bankers, and accountants. “Now, there may be some superman somewhere that thinks they know everything going on in their company in every department, in every level, in every country, and every employee. But I think that would be very unrealistic.”17

Top corporate executives would continue to make versions of this argument for the next decade, especially in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Ignorance equaled innocence. Lay’s defense might have worked if prosecutors had charged him with masterminding Enron’s accounting frauds. But they were too smart and built a different case.


By the second half of 2004, the young prosecutors of the Enron Task Force faced tough times. Leslie Caldwell had left the team in the spring. Sam Buell left as well. He had never moved from Boston, getting on a plane every week for two years. His second child was born while he was working the case. He regretted barely seeing her.

Disarray started to cost the team. Sean Berkowitz, a prosecutor on the team, and Ruemmler were exhausted. Sometimes they doubted they would ever be able to bring the big cases. There were no smoking guns. Would juries buy their theory? They both entertained leaving the task force. Then, in mid-2005, Weissmann beat them to it, announcing his resignation. Berkowitz was appointed director. He asked Ruemmler to be his deputy. The two were stuck in the task force and stuck with a mess. For all of his brilliance and gutsiness, Weissmann had been no manager. Roles weren’t defined. The task force had no focus as it was trying to prepare for the big trials of Skilling and Lay. The prosecution teams weren’t even set.

Berkowitz had joined in December 2003, shortly after Ruemmler came on board. Thirty-six at the time, he had been going through a bad patch. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he had spent the last five years working in the Chicago US Attorney’s Office, most recently for US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. But he was getting divorced from his wife, a prosecutor in the same office. Desperate to get out, he went to Fitzgerald to see if there was anywhere he could go. Fitzgerald recommended him for the Enron team. Berkowitz had little familiarity with Enron or the investigation, but he had some corporate prosecution experience. He took it.

Weissmann had resigned during the trial of executives from Enron’s broadband unit. It wasn’t going well. Enron had created a division to market broadband Internet service. It was unsuccessful in reality but profitable on paper, because Enron booked revenue and earnings right when it signed a deal, long before the actual money came through. Early on, the task force had devoted significant resources and people to probing the broadband unit. That expenditure of money and time looked good on July 30, 2004, when Ken Rice, the CEO of the unit, pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud. The next month, the chief operating officer of the unit pleaded guilty.

The task force had also charged five executives of its broadband unit for overstating the strength of the division’s business. On April 18, 2005, the trial of the five executives began. It dragged on for months. Members of the prosecution team—which didn’t include Berkowitz or Ruemmler—clashed. They got bogged down in debates about the viability of the technology.

In July the jury acquitted the executives on some counts and got hung on the rest. The judge declared a mistrial.

Now director, Berkowitz, normally calm and congenial, felt spooked. Cases that had looked like fortresses began to appear vulnerable. The sprawling defense teams kept filing motion after motion, loosing their catapults. He and Ruemmler realized they didn’t have enough people and help. The resource deprivation was inexplicable. How could the department have set up this team with such public celebration but not given them the tools to win?

The FBI had an ancient document management system. Task force prosecutors had to call up the FBI, ask it to search a term, and wait. Three days later, they’d get the documents—usually. Enron was both the first massive electronic discovery investigation and the last of the old style, with paper discovery, manual searches, and files in cabinets. After one such failed search, Ruemmler reamed out the FBI agents and then came into Berkowitz’s office and slumped in a chair.

“What’s the matter? Why can’t they handle it, Berko?"

All Berkowitz could think was, “When is this going to end?"

They needed to alert the higher-ups. Berkowitz and Ruemmler went over to Main Justice to meet with John Richter, the acting head of the criminal division. They sat in a windowless conference room. Sean and Kathy beseeched him.

“We are going to lose this case and lose it spectacularly," Ruemmler warned.

“Okay, okay, I hear you," Richter said. “What do you need?"

“Everything," Berkowitz said.

They rattled off their requests: document support, graphics support, trial support. They needed a jury consultant. They needed more bodies to deal with all the defense motions. The defense would motion to change the venue, citing experts and polling data. Were they supposed to stand up there with nothing in response and say, “That’s wrong. Trust us, Judge”?

Berkowitz and Ruemmler also analyzed what had gone wrong with the broadband trial. A defense attorney summed it up: “Never prosecute a complex, overreaching 192-count case in midsummer in Houston, Texas, against a passel of good lawyers.”18 From now on, the task force would keep it simple. Prove everything and drop anything you can’t. Try to prevent the defense from getting down into the detailed muck that puts jurors to sleep. They were such common, obvious mistakes but so easy to make. Prosecutors did it all the time.

Berkowitz focused the task force. The priority was the big trials. Weissmann had wanted to do everything, to take every case, to bask in the publicity. Now they just needed to focus on bringing Skilling and Lay to justice.


The government had less evidence against Lay than Skilling and had brought lesser charges. Ruemmler and her team headed up the cases against Skilling and Richard Causey, Enron’s chief accounting officer. She didn’t want the Lay case stapled to it. The Causey and Skilling cases cohered. The two executives had engaged in a conspiracy to commit securities fraud between December 1998 and December 2001. The problem was that Lay wasn’t CEO for the entire period. He had founded the company but then ceded the operation to Skilling in February 2001. He had come back in August 2001, when the company turned from darling to joke, the stock was dropping, and the business was crumbling. In the period before that, Lay had been the chairman of the company, but he wasn’t an engaged leader.

Finally, the team realized Skilling and Lay had to go together. The cases had many of the same witnesses. The prosecutorial strategy would be to show how senior management conspired, as Lay took over the lies from his protégé. Berkowitz brought Ruemmler around. They planned to try the top three officials at the same time.

Worried about the weakness in the Lay case, the Enron Task Force layered on the charges against him. In doing so, they made a small mistake that would have significant consequences for corporate white-collar prosecutions in the coming years. The prosecutors wanted to explain to the jury that Lay had lied to his employees. It was an easy-to-understand charge: he was saying one thing publicly but another privately. When he made a big show of buying Enron stock for his own account, he told the public he was a net buyer of the stock. But he had an undisclosed plan to sell portions of his Enron shares on a regular basis. And he was selling more than he was buying. Lay had committed securities fraud.

Prosecutors charged Lay with another crime in addition to securities fraud. Public officials have a duty to provide citizens with their “honest services." They deprive the public of their honest services when they take bribes or kickbacks or engage in deals to enrich themselves. In the 1970s and 1980s, prosecutors had begun to apply the same standard to executives of publicly traded companies. The honest-services charge, a part of the mail and wire fraud statutes, was useful. In basic frauds, the criminal steals from the victim. But there are whole categories, such as bribery or kickback schemes, in which criminals might enrich themselves that don’t involve direct theft. The victim is the employer or the public, which has an intangible right to honesty. Prosecutors liked the charge because juries grasped it easily. They could explain that executives had a duty to do their best for their shareholders, to take the best deal they could and not to enrich themselves at the shareholders’ expense.

The government charged that Lay, in pumping up morale with his deceptions about the state of Enron’s health while selling secretly, had deprived Enron’s employees and shareholders of his honest services. Adding honest-services fraud was overkill. The government’s other charges were sufficient. But the prosecutors sought to bring overwhelming force, which would ultimately expose the government to mistakes.

Adding the honest-services charge to Lay meant adding it to Skilling, too. They had no way of knowing, but the gamble would later cost the Department of Justice. In 2010 the Supreme Court would reverse that part of the sentence, determining that the government used the honest-services charge too broadly. In doing so, the highest court stripped prosecutors of a significant weapon for battling corporate fraudsters.


On May 27, 2005, for his thirty-eighth birthday, Sean Berkowitz ran a ten-mile race. As he ran, he reflected on the crazy year, but he could see the finish line. By the time his next birthday came, the trial would be done. “We will have won or lost, but either way, it will be over," he thought.

The weeks up to the trials were tense. The prosecutors moved to Houston and lived in cheap corporate apartments. They barely slept. One day, an exhausted Ruemmler walked over to ask an FBI agent to join a meeting the next day. He said he couldn’t do it because he had firearms practice. What? What?!? Ruemmler walked over to the bullpen, where all the FBI agents were piled on top of each other in their cramped cubicles. She stood at the hinge of their L-shaped room so everyone could see her. Color rose on her neck.

“Everyone listen the fuck up!" she yelled. The agents looked up.

“You think this is a big fucking case? Do you? This is the biggest fucking case of your lifetimes! This is the biggest corporate fraud in US history! The whole fucking world is watching this trial. There are no dentist appointments. There is no Christmas. There isn’t firearms training, okay?" Ruemmler asked if they would like her to call Bob Mueller, the head of the FBI, to see what he thought of their firearms training. If any of them left any thread unexplored and lost, she warned, that person would regret it for the rest of his life.

Berkowitz sat there smiling. It was Ruemmler’s Glengarry Glen Ross moment. The FBI agents, tough guys, were cowed and impressed. The head of the group screamed back, “This is bullshit! We are working our asses off, Kathy, and you know it!" But no one took off for firearms practice or anything else until the trial was over.

Berkowitz and Ruemmler figured the defense strategy would be to argue that prosecutors were criminalizing aggressive business decisions. The Enron refrain was that the government was attacking the company for its innovations and risk taking. Executives liked to say, “You can always tell who the pioneers are, because they’re the ones with arrows in their backs.”19

They also understood that the defense would want to drag them into the boring arcana during the trial. The defense team longed for nothing more than long debates between expert witnesses about accounting standards. To counter the my-eyes-glaze-over defense, the team focused on the Big Lie. The stories Skilling and Lay told about Enron publicly were different from reality. They used everything—every witness, every piece of evidence—to reinforce that narrative of duplicity. Even the trial graphics reflected the distinctions between what the executives told the world and what they knew to be the truth.

Berkowitz and Ruemmler and the team set about ridding the trial of anything debatable. They reduced the witness list to sixty-two from seventy-nine and trimmed counts against Skilling.20 If something Enron had done smelled wrong but could be depicted as just a bad business decision, they excised it. They concentrated all their energy on the gut punches—actions everyone would agree were wrong. Berkowitz, in one of his highest moments, had discovered a perfect example. During the crucial second quarter of 2000, Enron had been a penny short on the earnings-per-share estimates. Missing by a penny would be a calamity for the stock. Shareholders expected Enron to outdistance estimates by miles, not fall short. Berkowitz had gone to Enron headquarters to look at the corporate ledger. Sure enough, right in the corporate books was a reserve that had been whited out after the close of the quarter. A $21 million reserve had been changed to $14 million and then to $7 million. Skilling had needed the earnings to make the number. Berkowitz had found a key piece of evidence of crimes.

The cases were going well now. On the eve of the trial, they got a big break: Causey, the former chief accounting officer, capitulated, pleading guilty. Berkowitz and Ruemmler celebrated. The case against Causey, while crushing, was full of detail and arcana. Now they could drop a ton of material from the trial. They met for six hours and went through everything they could. They cut out evidence, mourning the loss of some of their favorite pieces of research. They had a perfect, clear fraud with an off-balance-sheet entity called Mariner Energy. To meet earnings estimates one quarter, Enron had raised the value of the asset even though nothing had changed with the underlying business. It was just a pure accounting maneuver.

“Can we tie this to Skilling and Lay?" Berkowitz asked.

“No," sighed Ruemmler.

“It’s gone," he said.

Then Ruemmler and Berkowitz and the prosecutors asked an audacious question: Could they get away with not even putting Andrew Fastow on the stand? Fastow could be expected to deliver damning accounts of Skilling’s and Lay’s complicity. No one knew the dodginess of the off-balance-sheet arrangements better than the former chief financial officer. Who better to refute that Fastow was the sole mastermind than Fastow? On the other hand, he came across as a creep. That mop of hair and boyish insouciance! Ruemmler couldn’t stand being in the same room with him. The defense team would find him so easy to attack. He was an admitted liar; the principal schemer. It was so easy to imagine a jury turning against him. Then again, if they didn’t put him on the stand for at least a bit, it might look strange—as if they were hiding something. They finally decided to have him testify but briefly, reducing his role at trial to the minimum.

After that meeting, what would have been a seven-month trial became a four-month trial. Crucially, the Enron Task Force had stripped out any evidence or testimony that didn’t involve Lay and Skilling. Had Berkowitz and Ruemmler left that material in the trial plan, the defense would have been able to argue that if Lay and Skilling didn’t know about that, how could the jury be so confident that the top officials knew about the other bad deals?

Even with all their preparation, they had to worry about the jury. Every jury is a fickle beast. Lay was a friendly old grandpa, with a goofy smile, godliness on his sleeve, and as Texan as they come. Skilling was everyone’s idea of a businessman in a country that worships tycoons. On the other side, Berkowitz was a northerner, a bulldog, with a big, prominent brow set in a scowl. And he was named Berkowitz. The other lead prosecutor who would be doing the trial with them, the ramrod John Hueston, just seemed to have a way of pissing off everyone. Ruemmler had a better shot with that room. She was a Texas-approved blonde and favored high heels. But would that Houston jury go for a lady lawyer grilling Lay?

On January 30, 2006, more than four years after Enron had collapsed, the Lay and Skilling trial began. In late February, about four weeks into the trial, Dave Delainey took the stand. Ruemmler had known him for years now. She knew he would be calm and credible. Skilling had viewed him as a candidate to be CEO of the company at one point.21 As she hoped and predicted, he was the strongest government witness yet. He admitted his own wrongdoing. He told the jurors that Enron played “fast and loose” with the accounting rules, testifying that Skilling attended meetings where they hid losses and rigged the numbers. He told them how when he had objected to one attempt to hide losses in an executive meeting, Skilling fixed on him and asked, “What do you want to do?"

The judge in the trial had allowed the lawyers to roam around the courtroom. Ruemmler got close to the jury box, almost touching the bar. She asked, “What did you take that to mean?"

“Get in line," Delainey said. It was the worst thing he’d ever been a part of, he said. “I wish on my kids’ lives I could have got up and stepped away from the table that day.”22

Ruemmler paused, sneaking a look at the twelve jurors, so close to her. Having listened to so much complexity and tedium, they grasped it. She had her black-and-white, right-and-wrong moment. Delainey might as well have said, “That’s when I knew we were committing a crime."

Enron was not a volatile trading shop, Skilling had told the public. Ruemmler brought on Delainey to destroy that notion, and he did. He testified that Enron’s wholesale energy unit’s trading gains and losses swung wildly. The unit had lost $551 million in one day in late 2000, a sum that exceeded the unit’s entire profits from the previous year. Earlier that same month, it had made $485 million in a day.23 In what may have been the most damaging anecdote, Delainey testified about the time he told Skilling that his retail energy trading unit had created up to $300 million in “reserves”: money stashed away for future use. Skilling, Delainey said, came over and hugged him.24 Delainey fingered Lay as well, telling jurors he had told the chairman about how he was hiding losses of its retail energy line in its wholesale division.

As Ruemmler expected, Delainey stood up well on cross-examination. Skilling’s defense lawyers tried to emphasize that no one had used the word fraud; that these business decisions were inherently ambiguous and subject to judgment. Delainey wouldn’t have it. “Everyone in that room knew exactly what was going on," he insisted.

John Hueston took the lead in the Lay trial. He had rescued the Lay investigation, shifting toward examining the CEO’s misleading statements as Enron faced the crisis of shareholder confidence in the summer and fall of 2001.25 Still, the case against Lay was weaker, leading to tension on the trial team. Hueston and the other prosecutor working the case weren’t getting along. Some on the team felt Hueston didn’t take direction or suggestions well. He had a chin-up bar in his office and a sign that read “Play like a champion today." As he left his office, he’d jump up and hit it.

During the trial, even the judge seemed to take an open dislike to Hueston. He was a crack trial lawyer and had built a convincing case, but people on the team worried about the Lay case. The agents often teased Ruemmler that she was obsessed with Skilling and neglected Lay. Now an FBI agent came up to Ruemmler to beg, “Can you please mention Mr. Lay?" during one of her rounds with another witness. After she did, the FBI team sent her flowers, in sympathy for how tough it must have been for her. Ruemmler and Berkowitz prayed that good evidence and Hueston’s intelligence and skills would triumph over any irritation the jury might feel.

The cornerstone of a successful white-collar defense is putting the accused on the stand. The jury wants to hear from defendants, to take their measure. The team knew they would have to crack Lay’s and Skilling’s manicured personas. The Lay PR team was rolling. To generate sympathy, Lay’s wife, Linda, went on the Today show. Weeping, she told America that she and Ken had “lost everything” and were “fighting for liquidity." The Lays were still living in a $7 million Houston penthouse and owned $20 million in other real estate at the time.26

Lay had the better shot of beating the government. Not only had he been removed from the details and not been active at the company at the time the bulk of the crimes were committed, but he had also been charged with fewer crimes. The prosecutors and the media expected Skilling to be short-tempered, easily rattled. He had a bullying streak. One time in the hallways, he passed Ruemmler and snarled, “Figured out the business yet, Kathy?”27

But the jury didn’t see that Jeffrey Skilling. On the stand, he was authoritative and precise, parrying prosecutors calmly. The trial ordeal wore more on the older man. When Lay took the stand, he was arrogant and querulous. At one point, he even barked at his own lawyer, George McCall Secrest Jr., “Where are you going with this, Mr. Secrest?"

On cross-examination, Lay was even worse. Hueston raised his conflicts of interest. Lay hadn’t disclosed an investment in a company owned by an ex-girlfriend of Skilling’s. He had unloaded tens of millions of shares of Enron stock. His defense was that he was meeting margin calls, but Hueston showed he could have met those in other ways. And Hueston homed in on how Lay had called government witnesses, accusing him of tampering.28 Lay was infuriated. The jury took note.

In late March 2006, about eight weeks into the trial, Ruemmler brought on Ben Glisan, the former treasurer, as her closer. All of the prosecutors suffered frayed nerves and little sleep. Right before Glisan’s testimony, one of Hueston’s team came up to Ruemmler to request that she ask the witness about some complicated accounting issues. She had enough to handle as it was. It had taken her months to master the accounting material she was planning to cover. Now this? But Glisan was the Christmas tree: all the team members wanted to hang their last piece of evidence on him.

“Are you fucking kidding me?" she screamed.

“It’s no big deal!" yelled the other prosecutor.

“You are out of your mind."

Berkowitz, ever calm, mediated. They decided she would ask him some limited questions about the topic.

As Ruemmler expected, Glisan was an excellent witness. He put Lay and Skilling in damning meetings, identifying their incriminating admissions. Glisan buried Lay. He said he told Lay and the company’s finance committee that the company’s liquidity was “strained”—that Enron was having trouble funding its ongoing operations. The next day, Lay told employees at a companywide meeting that Enron’s fundamentals were the “strongest they have ever been” and that liquidity was “strong." Glisan testified that Fastow warned Lay that the company would need to be restructured or sold. Five days later, Lay told BusinessWeek magazine that the company was “probably in the strongest and best shape it’s ever been."

Ruemmler looked over at Lay and saw him seething, redder than a sunburned rancher. Lay’s lawyer would deride Glisan as a “trained monkey," but the jury was siding with the monkey.

Berkowitz’s mother came to visit and to watch the closing arguments. In the evening, after the defense’s summation, she came to his office. He noticed that she was following him around.

“Sean," she said, “they made a lot of good points today."

“I know, Mom."

“Sean, there’s a lot riding on this," she said.

“Yes, I know, Mom."

“Sean," she said. She paused. “I’m worried."

“Mom, I’ve got this!"

His mother needn’t have worried. The government had put on a devastating trial. It was easy for the jury. After jurors deliberated for six days, Lay was found guilty on all counts against him; Skilling was convicted on nineteen of twenty-eight counts.

Lay was self-righteous to the end, declaring his innocence, wrapping himself in the mantle of religion. He also told the press and supporters gathered outside the courtroom, “I have a very warm and loving and Christian family . . . Most of all, we believe that God, in fact, is in control, and indeed, he does work all things for good for those who love the Lord. And we love our Lord."

• • •

Enron was the most spectacular corporate implosion of the period. The government had, in fits and starts, done its job. The Justice Department had made the case a priority, allocating just enough money, resources, and people to the task. The team knew it had to flip executives and not rely solely on documents. Prosecutors came and went from the team, but the team’s focus stayed the same, so it could weather departures. The team members had investigated aggressively, keeping maximum pressure on the targets such as Fastow. They took risks, as with Glisan. They were persistent, not giving up when Delainey stonewalled them in the first two meetings. They went after not just Enron executives but also their enablers on Wall Street and the company’s accountants. The task force overcame losses, learning to run trials better. It focused on simple and clean story lines, and created a model for complex white-collar investigative and prosecutorial work. Houston’s economy recovered, and American corporate accounting had a period of relative cleanliness.

But the Enron prosecutions led to a weaker Justice Department. After the Enron prosecutions came a backlash against aggressive government action, led by corporations and the defense bar. The courts overturned several Enron verdicts. The Justice Department began to lose the institutional knowledge necessary to bring such complicated corporate cases successfully. The DOJ would turn against task forces, forgetting the Enron successes. It would not centralize decision making. Prosecutors began settling with corporations. The Justice Department steered away from going after the enablers of corporate fraud: bankers and accountants. By 2016, the Justice Department did not approach cases the way it had with Enron. Its ability to hold corporate executives accountable for their actions suffered as a result.

The most unfortunate lesson learned from the Enron Task Force experience came from its first success. The team’s first victory in court was its most consequential. The business lobby, the defense bar, and even today’s Justice Department came to believe that the government had made a grave mistake. It had convicted Arthur Andersen.

Prizzi's Honor, By Richard Condon

Oscar Winner: Best Supporting Actress (Anjelica Huston)
Nominee: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Jack Nicholson)
Supporting Actor (William Hickey), Adapted Screenplay

This New York Times Notable Book is a dark, rollicking read. Charley Partanna works as a hitman for the Prizzis, New York’s most dangerous crime family. When he meets Irene Walker, an LA-based tax consultant, it’s pretty much love at first sight. But Irene also moonlights as a hit woman—and had a hand in a big-money heist in Vegas. Now Charley has been told that she’s got to go. Faced with divided loyalties, he must make a choice—between the only family he’s ever known and the woman he loves.

“The surprise ending will knock your reading glasses off." —The New York Times

Amz--Prizzi's Honor Kindle Edition

A darkly funny novel of mobsters, murder, and marriage: “The surprise ending will knock your reading glasses off." —The New York Times

A New York Times Notable Book and made into an award-winning film, Prizzi’s Honor is a dark, rollicking read from an “old pro at mixing satire with suspense” (The New York Times).

Marathon Man, By William Goldman

Oscar Nominee: Best Supporting Actor (Laurence Olivier)

This New York Times bestseller about a Nazi conspiracy that unfolds in the heart of modern-day Manhattan is a heart-stopping classic that became the blockbuster film starring Dustin Hoffman. The Washington Post called the book “one hell of a read."

“Well-plotted, expertly characterized, and fast-paced." —Los Angeles Times

Marathon Man: A Novel Kindle Edition

At Columbia University, Thomas “Babe” Levy, a postgrad history student and aspiring marathon runner, is working to clear his late father’s name after the scandal of his suicide, triggered by the McCarthy hearings and accusations of Communist affiliations.

In Paraguay, Dr. Christian Szell, former Nazi dentist and protégé of Josef Mengele, has been in exile for decades. Infamous as the “White Angel of Auschwitz," he’s leaving his South American sanctuary to smuggle a fortune in gems out of New York City.

Meanwhile, in London’s Kensington Gardens, an international assassin known only as Scylla has completed a hit. A man with too many secrets and twice as many enemies, Scylla has become a target himself, with only one place left to turn.

Then, when Babe’s revered older brother, Doc, pays him a fateful and unexpected visit, it sets in motion a chain of events plunging Babe into a paranoid nightmare of family betrayal, international conspiracy, and the dark crimes of history. Now, the marathon man is running for his life, and closer to answering a single cryptic and terrifying question: “Is it safe?"

William Goldman’s Marathon Man was adapted by the author for the award-winning 1976 film starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier. Upon its publication, the Washington Post called it “one of the best novels of the year," and it remains a powerful, horrifying read. In the words of #1 New York Times–bestselling author Harlan Coben: “I found myself racing through it. You could have put a gun to my head, and I wouldn’t have been able to put [Marathon Man] down."

Lost Horizon, By James Hilton

Bestseller, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Oscar Winner: Best Art Direction, Film Editing
Nominee: Best Picture, Supporting Actor (H.B. Warner),
Original Score, Sound Mixing

This is the international bestseller about a war-weary English veteran who is forced to flee a tumultuous African country, only to have his plane crash-land in a remote mountain range. There, he stumbles across the lost paradise known as Shangri-La. Discover the thrilling and timeless classic behind the acclaimed film.

“One of the most exciting yarns I have ever read...The most artful kind of suspense." —The New Yorker

Lost Horizon: A Novel Kindle Edition

Hugh Conway saw humanity at its worst while fighting in the trenches of the First World War. Now, more than a decade later, Conway is a British diplomat serving in Afghanistan and facing war yet again—this time, a civil conflict forces him to flee the country by plane.

When his plane crashes high in the Himalayas, Conway and the other survivors are found by a mysterious guide and led to a breathtaking discovery: the hidden valley of Shangri-La.

Kept secret from the world for more than two hundred years, Shangri-La is like paradise—a place whose inhabitants live for centuries amid the peace and harmony of the fertile valley. But when the leader of the Shangri-La monastery falls ill, Conway and the others must face the daunting prospect of returning home to a world about to be torn open by war.

Thrilling and timeless, Lost Horizon is a masterpiece of modern fiction, and one of the most enduring classics of the twentieth century.

Oh, God! By Avery Corman

Oscar Nominee: Best Adapted Screenplay

The basis for the movie starring George Burns—A down-on-his-luck PR man receives a mysterious assignment from a very, very unusual client, looking to spruce up his public profile after a bad millennium or two—from the New York Times bestselling author of Kramer vs. Kramer. “Very funny." —New York Times

Oh, God!: A Novel Kindle Edition

For a God whom philosophers have proclaimed dead, there’s only one thing to do: drum up a little publicity

“God grants you an interview. Go to 600 Madison Ave., room 3700, Monday, at 11 a.m." When a struggling writer receives this typed note in the mail one morning, curiosity wins out and he finds himself keeping this mysterious appointment. Soon he’s in an ordinary conference room with an intercom on the floor, furiously scribbling shorthand notes as he interviews God, a deity who badly wants to improve His public profile. Sometimes God speaks through the intercom, other times He communicates as a hot dog vendor on the corner. But however God appears, He’s giving this anointed journalist the story of a lifetime—and all he has to do is sell the story to the public.

Adapted as the classic film starring George Burns, Oh, God! is a warm and witty satire about life, the Lord, the media, and the need for some good publicity.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Avery Corman, including rare images from the author’s personal collection.

Rise and Kill First, By Ronen Bergman

One of The Economist’s best books of 2018: This New York Times bestseller offers an inside look at Israel’s highly secretive targeted assassination programs. “Full of shocking moments, surprising disturbances in a narrative full of fateful twists and unintended consequences” (The New York Times).

Of a Feather: A Brief History Of American Birding, By Scott Weidensaul

A quirky, “lively and illuminating” account of bird-watching’s history, including “rivalries, controversies, [and] bad behavior” (The Washington Post Book World).

“A book that deserves to become a classic of natural history." —Parade

Amazon Kindle $1.99

From the moment Europeans arrived in North America, they were awestruck by a continent awash with birds—great flocks of wild pigeons, prairies teeming with grouse, woodlands alive with brilliantly colored songbirds. Of a Feather traces the colorful origins of American birding: the frontier ornithologists who collected eggs between border skirmishes; the society matrons who organized the first effective conservation movement; and the luminaries with checkered pasts, such as Alexander Wilson (a convicted blackmailer) and the endlessly self-mythologizing John James Audubon.

Naturalist Scott Weidensaul also recounts the explosive growth of modern birding that began when an awkward schoolteacher named Roger Tory Peterson published A Field Guide to the Birds in 1934. Today, birding counts iPod-wearing teens and obsessive “listers” among its tens of millions of participants, making what was once an eccentric hobby into something so completely mainstream it’s now (almost) cool. This compulsively readable popular history will surely find a roost on every birder’s shelf.

“Weidensaul is a charming guide. . . . You don’t have to be a birder to enjoy this look at one of today’s fastest-growing (and increasingly competitive) hobbies." —The Arizona Republic

The Art of Living
By Sharon Lebell and Epictetus
With nearly 4,500 five-star ratings on Goodreads: This collection of ancient wisdom by Roman philosopher Epictetus includes 93 clever life lessons translated for the modern reader.
$1.99 $10.74

Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover $12.99

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

“Beautiful and propulsive . . . Despite the singularity of [Tara Westover’s] childhood, the questions her book poses are universal: How much of ourselves should we give to those we love? And how much must we betray them to grow up?”—Vogue

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Elevation, by Stephen King

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

From Stephen King, our “most precious renewable resource, like Shakespeare in the malleability of his work” (The Guardian), Elevation is an antidote to our divisive culture, as gloriously joyful (with a twinge of deep sadness) as “It’s a Wonderful Life."

1,001 Pearls of Life-Changing Wisdom By Elizabeth Venstra

In this extensive collection of words to enlighten your mind and uplift your spirit, you will find something applicable to any problem, situation, or conundrum, as well as the inspiration for living your everyday life to the fullest. From the classic wisdom of thinkers such as Aristotle, Francis Bacon, and Thoreau, to the brilliance of more modern luminaries such as Maya Angelou, Golda Meir, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill, and even lighthearted guidance from Dave Barry and Oprah, every page of this book holds valuable insight and enlightenment.

The Eight By Katherine Neville--Thriller

“Readers thrilled by The Da Vinci Code will relish the multi-layered secrets of The Eight," the story of two women separated by centuries but united by an ancient chess set with the power to save—or destroy—humanity (Matthew Pearl).

“Neville blends modern romance, historical fiction, and medieval mystery...and comes up with gold." —People

The Weight of Ink, By Rachel Kadish

Two interconnected stories unfurl in the 1660s and 21st century London as historian Helen Watt searches for the truth behind a cache of mysterious Jewish documents. “Astonishing… The riveting narrative and well-honed characters will earn a place in readers’ hearts” (Library Journal starred review).

Chemistry By Weike Wang

From the winner of the 2018 PEN/Hemingway Award: In this heartrending and hilarious debut, a PhD candidate wrestles with her scientific and romantic choices. “So fresh and intimate and mordantly funny that she feels less like fiction than a friend you’ve known forever” (Entertainment Weekly).

Did Jew Know? By Emily Stone

A hilarious and lighthearted guide to Jewish culture and traditions! Whether you’re about to celebrate Hanukkah or barely know your latkes from your kugel, this book is for you.

Merle’s Door, By Ted Kerasote

A New York Times bestseller with over 8,300 five-star Goodreads ratings: When Ted found a dog in the Utah desert, his new companion taught him tremendous lessons about life and friendship. “Humorous, jubilant, and touching by turns” (Publishers Weekly).

Food Web: Concept: Raising Food the Right Way Kindle Edition by Abe Connally (Author), Josie Moores (Author), Ian Durneen (Illustrator) $6.99

So few of us know where our food comes from, the quality of its life, what it consumed, and what it polluted on its way to our table. Food Web addresses these issues with a simple and elegant solution: locally integrated farming.

Imagine a meal produced in your own backyard, not from commercial inputs, but from the yard itself. Visualize a system of farming that resembles the intricate symbiosis of a natural ecosystem. No chemicals, no genetic modification, no overcrowded cages, and no international shipping. Just real food made by real people with a passion for quality and life.

Food Web is an alternative approach to farming from the perspective of the backyard producer. It's a design framework to build small systems from the ground up, based on resources and goals specific to each situation. We benefit from abundant and free waste streams by converting them into valuable and high quality products. The more we integrate, the more we can produce, without additional inputs or excessive labor. This gives the small farmer a competitive edge against the mass-produced food industry.

We focus on designing integrated networks that mimic nature's inherent strengths. By using and recycling our energy and wastes, we're able to produce more from less, and at a lower cost than modern agriculture methods. Learn the tools and knowledge needed to develop a personalized system that is sustainable, humane, profitable, and productive. Whether for your home or community, Food Web can improve your self-sufficiency. It offers specialized guides for urban, suburban, and rural areas to successfully raise vegetables and livestock in a way that benefits everyone.

Food Web: Concept is the first of the Food Web series, designed to give the reader the basics needed to analyze their local situation, define realistic and sustainable goals, design and implement individualized solutions, and adjust their approach as obstacles arise. We explain the concept behind the integrated farming model in a simple manner, so that anyone can get started no matter what level their experience. Our approach is based on decades of developing the methods and tools needed for small food producers to succeed.

The Trees in My Forest Kindle Edition by Bernd Heinrich (Author) $1.99

Ina book destined to become a classic, biologist and acclaimed nature writer Bernd Heinrich takes readers on an eye-opening journey through the hidden life of a forest.

A “testament to the stunning complexity of the natural world” (Kirkus Reviews): An acclaimed nature writer paints a meticulous portrait of a 300-acre forest in this vivid award winner. "[Heinrich] richly deserves the comparison to Thoreau” (The Washington Post Book World).

When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II Kindle Edition, by By Molly Guptill Manning, $2.99

“Perfect for any bibliophile or historians interested in the stories from the home front” (Library Journal): During the book burning of World War II, librarians and publishers sent millions of books to soldiers overseas, providing solace and escape -- and resurrecting great literature.

Busman's Honeymoon (The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Book 13) Kindle Edition, by Dorothy Sayers

In this installment of the “literate and delightful” Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, Harriet Vane’s honeymoon with the dapper British detective is marred by murder (Chicago Tribune).

It took several near-death experiences for Lord Peter Wimsey to convince Harriet Vane to be his wife, but she has finally relented. When the dapper detective marries Britain’s most popular mystery author—just a few short years after rescuing her from the hangman’s noose—the press could not be more excited.

But Lord Peter and his bride have no interest in spending their wedding night surrounded by reporters. They sneak out of their own reception to begin their honeymoon early, out of sight of the world. Unfortunately, for some couples, calamity is inescapable.

On their 1st morning together, the newlyweds discover the house’s caretaker bludgeoned to death in the manor’s basement. If they thought finding a few minutes alone was difficult, they’re up against even steeper odds. In a house full of suspects, identifying the killer won’t be easy.

Zat Rana

Zat Rana Book List

Emily Dickinson

The real-life soap opera behind the publication of Emily Dickinson’s poems


At 60, Joe Ide proves it’s never too late to establish yourself as a novelist

Joe Ide was 58 when he published his first novel “IQ” two years ago. Before that he’d been a schoolteacher and a screenwriter. Being a novelist suits him well. “IQ” won the Anthony, Macavity and Shamus awards for outstanding crime-fiction debut.

Ide is a Japanese American who grew up in an African American section of South Central Los Angeles. He has said this experience helped him create his main character, Isaiah Quintabe (IQ), a young black man who after an interlude of youthful crime, became a private detective.

Current foreign fiction has found new U.S. readers. 9/11 is part of the reason.

Translation isn’t just for Tolstoy anymore. Works like Elena Ferrante’s now vault into the American mainstream.

A few months into the Iraq War, three American women founded a magazine called Words Without Borders. They hoped to create “an antidote to xenophobia and nationalism” by publishing foreign literature in translation. To that end, they wanted to share the voices of contemporary writers from the countries President George W. Bush had recently called the “axis of evil” -- Iran, Iraq and North Korea -- for English-language readers.

North Korea, a “completely closed” country, was the trickiest to comb for fiction, recalled Samantha Schnee, a translator of Spanish literature, who began the magazine with Alane Mason, an editor at Norton, and Dedi Felman, an editor at Oxford University Press.“The only writing we could get was writing from the North Koreans’ own literary journals, which they had in their New York office at the United Nations." An intern was dispatched to the United Nations for reconnaissance. “She camped outside their office for two days," Schnee said. “Finally, someone came out and said, ‘What do you want?' And she said, ‘I just want your literary magazines.' " The North Koreans handed them over.

Since 2003, Words Without Borders has published literary translations online by more than 2,200 writers from 134 countries. Another translation publisher, Archipelago Books, opened that year in Brooklyn. More independent presses devoted to international literature followed: Europa Editions, in 2005; Open Letter Books, in 2008; New Vessel Press, in 2012; and a dozen others. Today, literary translation, once the province of monuments of the past, guarded by eminent sages, has leaped from dusty library stacks into the contemporary mainstream:

Only last Sunday, a novel from Italy, “My Brilliant Friend," written by Elena Ferrante this decade and translated into English by Ann Goldstein within a year of its emergence, premiered on HBO as a lustrous, fully realized television miniseries. Propelling the remarkable transformation of this literary landscape? Among other factors, Sept. 11 and its aftermath, with a powerful boost from digital technology. Translation wasn’t just for Tolstoy and Goethe anymore. New wars disturbed the peace.

To paraphrase Tolstoy -- or his translator Constance Garnett -- in “Anna Karenina," all happy decades are alike, but perhaps every unhappy decade is unhappy in its own way. The peaceful cocoon of the final three decades of the 20th century had not conditioned American readers to look beyond U.S. borders for literary stimulation. Apart from the Iran hostage crisis and the blip of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s were mostly harmonious, inward-looking decades.

Then came 2001, and everything changed. The 9/11 attacks disrupted complacency and turned the American gaze outward.

Historically, when Americans thought of foreign literature, what came to mind, with important exceptions (Gabriel García Márquez, Marguerite Duras), were classics from past centuries written by venerated authors like Virgil, Dante, Cervantes and Gogol. Those great books still matter: Emily Wilson’s new translation of Homer’s “Odyssey” was hailed as a groundbreaking triumph by the New Yorker, the Guardian and NPR.

But Homer’s fan following cannot compete with the ecstatic reaction of the reading public to Don Bartlett’s translation of “My Struggle," the six-volume saga by the living Norwegian bard Karl Ove Knausgaard, who draws throngs to book events in Oslo, New York, London and Berlin.

In the two disharmonious decades of the 21st century, American society has grown less homogeneous and more interactive. Americans have expanded their engagement with other cultures. Smartphones and social media accompanied the war against terrorism, and the distance between Over Here and Over There shrank. Chad Post, the founder of Open Letter and the creator of the translation blog Three Percent (the name comes from an old statistic for the percentage of all literary books published in the United States in a given year that are translations), suggests that 9/11 sparked “sudden interest in foreign countries, and new awareness of the general connectedness of the world."

But even if that interest and awareness began with the Middle East, it quickly spread to Central America, South America, China, Europe and Japan. The houses that sought out foreign titles were the advance guard of a quiet revolution in publishing, which has been attended by new academic programs, certificates and degrees that are equipping the next generation of translators to bring foreign literature to readers who find it “enticing," as Post puts it.

The most recent proof of this enticement came when “My Brilliant Friend," the first volume in Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet, jumped to television. The producers chose to cast Italian actors and use subtitles, not worrying that this choice might discourage English speakers. The actors spoke in the rich, twisty dialects of the working-class Naples neighborhoods that the novel’s characters inhabit. The show’s creators knew that the American readers who had made this book a No. 1 bestseller here wanted the series to authentically relay the novel’s mood and setting.

They understood that, in 2018, when a story from abroad is well enough imagined and well enough told, it can find an American audience, even a large one. Among the host of popular foreign fictions, translated for the first time, that have arrived on American shores to popular or critical acclaim in this era are “Austerlitz” (German), “The Savage Detectives” (Spanish), “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (Swedish), “Suite Française” (French), “1Q84” (Japanese) and newly discovered stories by Clarice Lispector (Portuguese).

Additional proof of the increasing prominence of foreign literature in American letters came last week in New York, when the National Book Foundation added a prize for translated literature to the National Book Awards roster -- the first new prize category in more than two decades. There are other translation prizes, here and abroad. Britain’s Man Booker created its own variant, the international prize, in 2004, and in 2008, Open Letter created a best translated book award. But for the National Book Awards to single out this genre signaled a new emphasis.

When the prizes were formed, in 1950, they had a particularly American focus befitting their name; as a sign of the initial patriotic impulse, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt handed out the plaques on the first awards night. But Lisa Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation who presided over the restoration of the translation category (a previous, narrower incarnation existed between 1967 and 1983), says the mission has changed.

“As citizens of the world, we share this planet," she says. “We both believe and hope that American readers are reading books from around the world." This year’s victor was “The Emissary” a wild and small 2014 dystopian novel by Yoko Tawada set in a future Japan in which the elderly are strong and the young feeble. Margaret Mitsutani, the translator, divided the prize with the author.

The literature that a country promotes is a well-recognized form of soft diplomacy; it extends cultural values and accomplishments. French, German, Spanish and even Russian governmental organizations publicly embrace this mission. Until recently, the official American approach has been less visible.

Still, since 1981, the National Endowment for the Arts has supported foreign literary outreach by offering grants to translators and the presses that publish their work. Translation is an expensive and underfunded proposition; the work is skilled, laborious and time-consuming, and publishers must pay both for the original book and for the translator’s efforts.

So far the NEA has given nearly 500 fellowships to more than 400 translators, representing 69 languages and 83 countries. In 2003, it was a substantial grant from the NEA that made Words Without Borders possible.

WORDS without BORDERS magazine

This year, about 600 volumes of literature and poetry in translation were published in the United States. That’s a small number -- about 4 percent of all literary books produced annually by American presses. But it’s nearly twice as many as were published a decade ago, and a slightly bigger piece of the publishing pie, up from less than 3 percent in 1999. According to Michael Reynolds, the New York editor in chief of Europa, which publishes Ferrante, translated books are “punching over their weight most of the time." They are gaining disproportionate review coverage and winning prime placement on booksellers’ lists and in readers’ hearts.

That said, not every book that originates overseas deserves transplanting; foreign authors are just as guilty of writing “minor fiction” or narrow polemic as American authors; and editors, translators and readers passionately disagree not only about which foreign writing deserves American attention, but what makes a translation worth reading.

Words Without Borders, when it published its first North Korean translations in September 2003, admitted dismay at the “propagandistic mission” it found in the stories it published (a sample, from Kim Hong-ik’s “He’s Alive”: “she heard solemn music, reverberating all around. It was ‘The Song of General Kim Il Sung,' a tune of such courage and excitement that it always filled her with joy.")

Deciding which books to back is a political choice, as well as a matter of taste. Publishers whose pet offerings do not get nominated for prizes often complain that the judges stumbled. Winners frequently come under attack for their translation style -- too clunkily faithful to the original, too glibly fluent in the American idiom. Not every book that crosses over will meet a warm reception, and not every book should. Translators recognize that their profession is a battlefield.

Jhumpa Lahiri, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, recently began translating from Italian. One of her translations, Domenico Starnone’s 2016 book “Trick," made the shortlist for the new National Book Award. In the introduction, she deprecated her contribution modestly and prudently, anticipating quibblers. “My version of ‘Trick,' the first in English, is just one of many that might have been," she wrote. Translation, she added, “is an act of doubling and converting, and the resulting transformation is precarious, debatable even in its final form."

In this volatile, hyper-communicative age, translating translation itself may be the highest wall of all.

Wanted Nonfiction Books

The Spy in the Ointment
By Donald E. Westlake
Mystery, Fiction

Edgar Award–winning author
A dangerous case of mistaken identity ensues when a man of no class, no skills, and all the physical prowess of a napping tree sloth goes undercover in this book by an author who “has no peer in the realm of comic mystery novelists” (San Francisco Chronicle).

“If the suspense doesn’t kill you, the laughter will.” —The Atlanta Journal-

Unspeakable Kindle Edition by Chris Hedges (Author) Format: Kindle Edition

A Pulitzer Prize–winning, New York Times bestselling author teams up with the founder of Salon to tackle some of the thorniest, most divisive questions affecting the United States today. “It’s bracing to hear Hedges’s unfiltered dissent and disdain” (Publishers Weekly).

The Healing Powers of Chocolate (Healing Powers Series) Kindle Edition by Cal Orey (Author) Format: Kindle Edition

$1.99 4's

Bookbub: Drawing on the latest scientific research as well as interviews with medical doctors and chocolatiers, this fascinating book reveals how to live longer and healthier while indulging in one of nature’s most decadent and versatile foods. Explore real chocolate (infused with fruits, herbs, and spices), Mediterranean-style, heart-healthy recipes, plus home remedies that combat everything from acne to anxiety. You’ll also discover rejuvenating beauty and anti-aging spa treatments—all made with antioxidant-rich chocolate!


Did you know?. . .

• Known as Mother Nature's "food of the gods," the medicinal benefits of chocolate were recognized as far back as 4000 years ago.

• Eating chocolate can help boost the immune system, lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes—even obesity!—and increase lifespan.

• A 1.5 ounce bar of quality chocolate has as much antioxidant power as a 5 ounce glass of wine—without the side effects of alcohol.

• Chocolate is chock-full of mood-enhancing ingredients, including phenylethylamine (the "love drug") and serotonin.

• Chocolate can relieve a host of ailments, including depression, fatigue, pain and PMS, as well as rev up your sex drive!

Drawing on the latest scientific research as well as interviews with medical doctors and chocolatiers, this fascinating book reveals how to live longer and healthier while indulging in one of nature's most decadent and versatile foods. Explore real chocolate (infused with fruits, herbs, and spices), Mediterranean-style, heart-healthy recipes, plus home remedies that combat everything from acne to anxiety. You'll also discover rejuvenating beauty and anti-aging spa treatments—all made with antioxidant-rich chocolate!

"Can dark chocolate boost brain power? This book shows you how regular intake of antioxidant-rich cacao foods is likely to do just that, and more." --Ray Sahelian, M.D., author of Mind Boosters

Book Club (Bibliomysteries 9) Kindle Edition by Loren D. Estleman (Author) Format: Kindle Edition

$0.99 3's

Bookbub: A riveting mystery for the bookish: When a bibliophile is murdered and a single volume is stolen from his collection, it takes a bookseller to solve the crime.

Good Advice, New Mexico, is a sunny town with a gloomy bookshop. The store’s eerie corridors are the province of Avery Sharecross, an ex-cop who has made the transition from chasing killers to tracking rare books. One afternoon, the local sheriff interrupts his book club meeting, and Sharecross’s old career collides with his new one. The area’s premier book collector has been found bludgeoned to death on the floor of his family library. A fifth-generation resident of Good Advice, Lloyd Fister devoted his life to books, accumulating a collection of local history that date backs to the sixteenth century. In his library, a single volume is missing: a Spanish book with a sinister past. Is the missing volume a clue, a motive, or a murder weapon? It will take a collector’s eye to decide.

The Bibliomysteries are a series of short tales about deadly books, by top mystery authors.

Walking was freedom in lockdown. Three books show us why it’s so much more. By Sibbie O'Sullivan June 5, 2021

Two years ago, while walking, I fell — bam! — on my right knee, shattering my femur against the artificial knee I’d had installed five years earlier. First I felt amazement, then pain, then the existential dread of lying on the street wondering if anyone would hear my cries for help, then the ambulance, then my surgeon, then a brand new artificial knee, a larger one with an eight-inch rod that fit inside my femur. I was alive, grateful and bullish about rehab, but my ramblin', dancin' days were over. I'd walk again slowly but not far. Still, walking, as so many people have discovered during the coronavirus pandemic, is freedom. Three new books remind us that it’s also so much more.

Right away, you know what Shane O'Mara, a neuroscientist, thinks about walking. His book, "In Praise of Walking," available in paperback, extols the many benefits of putting one foot in front of the other: "We all know that it is good for our heart. But walking is also beneficial for the rest of our body. Walking helps protect and repair organs that have been subject to stresses and strains. It is good for the gut, assisting the passage of food through the intestines. Regular walking also acts as a brake on the aging of our brains, and can, in an important sense, reverse it. . . . Reliable, regular aerobic exercise can actually produce new cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that supports learning and memory."

'In Praise of Paths' reminds us of the incredible power of the simple outdoor walk

When I was 13, during a summer visit to my grandfather’s house in Los Angeles, I fell in love with walking. How or why is lost to me, but the visceral feeling remains: the sweat prickling my back and chest as my pace increased, the adrenaline flowing through me, Sonata Arctica’s melodic metal blasting in my ears via my brother’s retired CD player. Now, years later, I still walk, three or four miles every day, and I read as I go (no, I don’t knock into things).

O'Mara, a professor of experimental brain research at Trinity College Dublin, points to a lot of studies to make his case in a book that is generally free of jargon, if not overstatement: "No drug has all of these positive effects. And drugs often come with side-effects. Movement doesn't." Sadly, my experience is evidence of the contrary.

O'Mara emphasizes the value of social walking, such as pilgrimages and protest marches, which offer "a chance for conversation to evolve in ways that it couldn't, indeed that wouldn't, if you simply sit together."

He cites Mark Twain: "The true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking."

O'Mara emphasizes the compassion people have cultivated through walking, which should make readers more compassionate toward those who, for whatever reason, are forced to walk, such as refugees, or those who can't walk well, such as the disabled.

He stresses how walking promotes "creative cognition," and that probably explains why so many writers and other thinkers, beginning with the "peripatetic" philosophers in ancient Greece, valued the activity.

The social aspects of walking, of being grounded in the literal sense, come together in this handy remedy: "The spinning feeling when a drunk person lies down can usually be relieved by placing a foot on the floor."

Jeremy DeSilva, a paleoanthropologist, is more circumspect about human ambulation. His book "First Steps" tells a story millions of years old, one full of useful if not completely soothing scientific information.

It's inspiring to learn that about 3.8 million years ago, our early bipedal ancestors traipsed about, and that today's emus can trace their two-legged locomotion back 240 million years. But learning that my lessened mobility could take four years off my life, contributes to muscle loss and accelerates cognitive decline, puts me in a bad mood - all because one of my ancestors, in some dark alley of time, decided to climb down from a tree, stand upright and check out the horizon.

Though DeSilva never outright says it, we humans probably would be better off on all fours. Our backs wouldn't hurt, babies would be delivered as easily as Amazon packages and we wouldn't need knee replacements. "The negative consequences of upright walking have been with us for a long time" (we're talking millions of years), he points out.

But if we hadn't become vertical, we wouldn't have learned how to make and use complex tools, domesticate fire, communicate through sounds that grew into language, carry our children while walking — or invent shoes. Imagine a life without shoes!

I still have tons of shoes from my pre-fall days, ones I can no longer wear but resist parting with. DeSilva rightly points out that shoes deform our feet — and yet without shoes, and the evolving longer legs attached to them, early walkers could not have reached and inhabited colder climates such as North America, not to mention Mount Everest or the moon.

For Ben Page, a forest therapy guide, it's not just about walking but about where you're walking. His book "Healing Trees: A Pocket Guide to Forest Bathing" (available June 29) is a short and lovingly illustrated treatise on the benefits of walking in nature. Premised on the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, a calming activity to combat work-related stress, Page also stresses meditative practices that will allow one to "bathe" anywhere, one's sofa, for example.

His book is full of good intentions and sincere suggestions to motivate readers to walk in nature, but some sentences just don't work: "As you sit, invite your heart to sit with you," as though your heart might be at the beach playing volleyball instead of being in the woods with you.

Despite such missteps, every page of "Healing Trees" reminds us how separated from the world, from nature, from the trees, we've become. His chapter on "Bodylessness" is especially good, as he says that the body is not a machine but "the experience of ourselves in nature, but because we do not identify with it, we have become numb and bodyless."

Too often we take walking for granted, but we shouldn't. There are more than half-a-million walking-fall-related deaths around the world each year, according to DeSilva. I'm glad I'm not one of them. So after I put on my plump and padded shoes, my hat, and then grab my cane, won't you walk with me?

Sibbie O'Sullivan, a former teacher in the Honors College at the University of Maryland, is the author of "My Private Lennon: Explorations From a Fan Who Never Screamed."

The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet Kindle Edition by John Green (Author)

$14.99 5s [2]

A deeply moving and insightful collection of personal essays from #1 bestselling author John Green.

The Anthropocene is the current geologic age, in which humans have profoundly reshaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his groundbreaking podcast, bestselling author John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale—from the QWERTY keyboard and sunsets to Canada geese and Penguins of Madagascar.

Funny, complex, and rich with detail, the reviews chart the contradictions of contemporary humanity. As a species, we are both far too powerful and not nearly powerful enough, a paradox that came into sharp focus as we faced a global pandemic that both separated us and bound us together.

John Green’s gift for storytelling shines throughout this masterful collection. The Anthropocene Reviewed is a open-hearted exploration of the paths we forge and an unironic celebration of falling in love with the world.

Essays Kindle Edition by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Author)

In this collection, which includes such essays as “Nature,” “Self-Reliance,” and “The American Scholar,” Emerson brilliantly articulates his philosophy of individualism and nonconformity. An inspiration to Thoreau, Whitman, and countless other literary and political figures, Emerson exerted a profound influence that continues to be felt more than a century after his death.

AMz: In the early days of the American experiment, as the states spread across the continent and the young nation was reshaped by the Industrial Revolution, no intellectual held more power than Ralph Waldo Emerson. The leading light of the Transcendentalists, Emerson spent his life devising a uniquely American philosophy, a worldview as suited to the bustling docks of Boston as it is to the endless expanses of the West. Through lectures, letters, and essays, Emerson helped a nation discover its identity.

In this collection, which includes such monumental essays as “Nature,” “Self-Reliance,” and “The American Scholar,” Emerson brilliantly articulates his philosophy of individualism and nonconformity. An inspiration to Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and countless other literary and political figures, Emerson exerted a profound influence that continues to be felt more than a century after his death.

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush Kindle Edition by John W. Dean (Author)

$2.99 4's

Nixon’s White House counsel discusses the Bush-Cheney administration in this New York Timesbestseller: “Powerful . . . a riveting book.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

Former White House counsel John Dean, with the unique viewpoint and expertise born of working for Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal, here looks critically at the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, arguing that its worldview—and its tendency toward secrecy and deception—set America back decades, and may ultimately do more damage to the nation than Nixon at his worst.

“He has become a discerning connoisseur of presidential venality.” —The New York Times

Tao Te Ching Kindle Edition by Lao Tzu

The essential text of Taoism: a philosophical and religious guidebook dating back to China in the fourth century BC.

Though its true author and origins have been lost to history, Tao Te Ching remains a fundamental text, having influenced both Confucianism and Buddhism. It was finally translated into English in the nineteenth century, extending its wisdom to the Western world.

In understanding the Tao, or “Way,” we are better able to practice such virtues as compassion, moderation, and modesty—to the betterment of ourselves as individuals and society at large.

Hidden History of the Florida Keys By Laura Albritton, Jerry Wilkinson

The Florida Keys have witnessed all kinds of historical events, from the dramatic and the outrageous to the tragic and the comic. In the 19th Century, uncompromising individuals fought duels and plotted political upsets. During the Civil War, a company of “Key West Avengers” escaped their Union-occupied city to join the Confederacy by sailing through the Bahamas. When Prohibition came to the Keys, one defiant woman established a rum-running empire that dominated South Florida. In this colorful history, authors Laura Albritton and Jerry Wilkinson delve into tales of treasure hunters, developers, exotic dancers, determined preservationists and more.

21 Incredible Nonfiction Books, According to Readers

Caste (Oprah's Book Club): The Origins of Our Discontents Kindle Edition Isabel Wilkerson

examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

Educated: A Memoir Kindle Edition Tara Westover

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood Kindle Edition by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays Kindle Edition by Scaachi Koul

One of NPR's Best Books of the Year


In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi Koul deploys her razor-sharp humor to share all the fears, outrages, and mortifying moments of her life. She learned from an early age what made her miserable, and for Scaachi anything can be cause for despair. Whether it’s a shopping trip gone awry; enduring awkward conversations with her bikini waxer; overcoming her fear of flying while vacationing halfway around the world; dealing with Internet trolls, or navigating the fears and anxieties of her parents. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of color: where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision, or outright scorn; where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, leaving little room for a woman not solely focused on marriage and children to have a career (and a life) for herself.

With a sharp eye and biting wit, incomparable rising star and cultural observer Scaachi Koul offers a hilarious, scathing, and honest look at modern life.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West Kindle Edition by Dee Brown

First published in 1970, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee generated shockwaves with its frank and heartbreaking depiction of the systematic annihilation of American Indian tribes across the western frontier. In this nonfiction account, Dee Brown focuses on the betrayals, battles, and massacres suffered by American Indians between 1860 and 1890. He tells of the many tribes and their renowned chiefs—from Geronimo to Red Cloud, Sitting Bull to Crazy Horse—who struggled to combat the destruction of their people and culture. Forcefully written and meticulously researched, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee inspired a generation to take a second look at how the West was won. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Dee Brown including rare photos from the author’s personal collection.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia Book 5) Kindle Edition 5s by C.S.Lewis

America: The Farewell Tour, by Chris Hedges $13.99

Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures By Merlin Sheldrake $28, Kindle $13.58

A mind-bending journey into the hidden universe of fungi, “one of those rare books that can truly change the way you see the world around you” (Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk).

“Dazzling, vibrant, vision-changing . . . a remarkable work by a remarkable writer, which succeeds in springing life into strangeness again.”—Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland

When we think of fungi, we likely think of mushrooms. But mushrooms are only fruiting bodies, analogous to apples on a tree. Most fungi live out of sight, yet make up a massively diverse kingdom of organisms that supports and sustains nearly all living systems. Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel, and behave.

In Entangled Life, the brilliant young biologist Merlin Sheldrake shows us the world from a fungal point of view, providing an exhilarating change of perspective. Sheldrake’s vivid exploration takes us from yeast to psychedelics, to the fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet, to those that link plants together in complex networks known as the “Wood Wide Web," to those that infiltrate and manipulate insect bodies with devastating precision.

Fungi throw our concepts of individuality and even intelligence into question. They are metabolic masters, earth makers, and key players in most of life’s processes. They can change our minds, heal our bodies, and even help us remediate environmental disaster. By examining fungi on their own terms, Sheldrake reveals how these extraordinary organisms—and our relationships with them—are changing our understanding of how life works.

Praise for Entangled Life

“Fungi are everywhere, and Merlin Sheldrake is an ideal guide to their mysteries. He’s passionate, deeply knowledgeable, and a wonderful writer.”—Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction

“I was completely unprepared for Sheldrake’s book. It rolled me over like a tsunami, leaving the landscape rearranged but all the more beautiful.”—Nicholas Humphrey, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the London School of Economics and author of A History of the Mind and Soul Dust

“Sheldrake’s charm and curiosity make for a book that is delightful to read but also grand and dizzying in how thoroughly it recalibrates our understanding of the natural world and the often overlooked organisms within it.”—Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes

Implosion: An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed Paperback – January 11, 2008 by Peter Koenig

"In this riveting economic thriller, Paul Jordon, a renegade World Banker,and Moni Cheng, an Andean woman who leads a socio-environmental nongovernmental organization in the Peruvian Amazon, endure kidnappings, bombings, and deadly chases in their fight against boundless capitalism, destructive economic policies, and corporate greed that are wreaking worldwide social injustice and destroying the globe's richest zones of biodiversity. Together, Jordon and Cheng expose corporate ruthlessness, military brutality, and Machiavellian economic policies of the foremost financialivory towers of Washington, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. With other visionaries from around the globe, Jordon and Cheng untiringly disseminate truth and candid information about the calamities caused by this cruel machinery. And against all odds, they mobilize the power of the people. Richly detailed, grounded in actual events and statistics, and complete withnotes from author and former World Bank economist Peter Koenig, Implosion is both an unsettling, gripping novel and a powerful commentary on the realities of the modern world's corporatocracy.

“Hood Feminism," by Mikki Rendall
“The Shame Game” by Mary O’Hara

What does it mean to be poor? For decades the dominant narrative in the United States and United Kingdom has been that it is caused by personal flaws, or bad life decisions. People living in poverty have been depicted as lazy, dependent, and irresponsible so regularly and for so long that it has powerfully affected how people see, think about, and treat their fellow citizens who are financially vulnerable. Drawing on a two-year storytelling project and her own experience of childhood poverty, this book by journalist and author Mary O’Hara argues for a radical overhaul of this fundamentally pernicious portrayal. We can’t begin to address poverty until we actually see it clearly. To start the process of doing that, O’Hara turns not to pundits or social scientists, but to the real experts on poverty: the people who live it.

“Tightrope” by Nicholas Kristof
“Invisible Americans” by Jeff Madrick

Fat Land By Greg Critser

Tiny Habits By BJ Fogg

When it comes to change, TINY IS MIGHTY. Start with two pushups a day, not a two-hour workout; or five deep breaths each morning rather than an hour of meditation. In Tiny Habits, B.J. Fogg brings his experience coaching more than 40,000 people to help you lose weight, de-stress, sleep better, or achieve any goal of your choice. You just need Fogg’s behavior formula: make it easy, make it fit your life, and make it rewarding.

“Deeply researched and highly practical, this book will be a valuable resource to anyone interested in changing their behavior (that is, all of us)." —Gretchen Rubin, New York Times best selling author of The Happiness Project

The Fixers: The Bottom-Feeders, Crooked Lawyers, Gossipmongers, and Porn Stars Who Created the 45th President by Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld

kindle $14.99

The shocking, definitive account of the lawyers and media tycoons who enabled the rise of Donald Trump, featuring new revelations from a Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal team

With his blunt-force fame and the myths he’s propagated about himself, Donald Trump has always moved in a world of gossip barons, crooked lawyers, and porn stars. But when he became the Republican nominee for the presidency in 2016, all of these characters crawled out from the underbelly of Trump’s stardom and stumbled onto the global stage with him.

In The Fixers, Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld have produced a deeply reported and exquisitely drawn portrait of that world, full of secret phone calls, hidden texts, and desperate deals, unearthing the practice of “catch and kill” by which Trump surrogates paid hush money to cover up his affairs, and detailing Trump’s historic relationship with his fixers—from his early, influential relationship with Roy Cohn to his reliance on Michael Cohen, National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. It traces the arc of their interactions from the 1970s through the 2016 campaign and beyond. It is a distinctly American saga that navigates the worlds of reality TV, cash-for-trash tabloids, single-shingle law shops, celebrity bashes, high-end real estate, pornography, and politics. The characters and settings of this book are part of a vulgar circus that crisscrosses the country, from New York to L.A. to D.C.

Terrifying, darkly comic, and compulsively readable, The Fixers is an epic political adventure in which greed, corruption, lust, and ambition collide, and that leads, ultimately, to the White House.

Freedom and Evolution: Hierarchy in Nature, Society and Science Kindle Edition by Adrian Bejan (Author) $9.99 5s

The book begins with familiar designs found all around and inside us (such as the ‘trees’ of river basins, human lungs, blood and city traffic). It then shows how all flow systems are driven by power from natural engines everywhere, and how they are endlessly shaped because of freedom. Finally, Professor Bejan explains how people, like everything else that moves on earth, are driven by power derived from our “engines” that consume fuel and food, and that our movement dissipates the power completely and changes constantly for greater access, economies of scale, efficiency, innovation and life. Written for wide audiences of all ages, including readers interested in science, patterns in nature, similarity and non-uniformity, history and the future, and those just interested in having fun with ideas, the book shows how many “design change” concepts acquire a solid scientific footing and how they exist with the evolution of nature, society, technology and science.

Animal Wisdom: Conversations From The Heart Between Animals and Their People Kindle Edition by Wendy Van de Poll (Author) $8.99 5s

This book is not a how to communicate with animals book. Instead, you will experience 30 Animal Wisdom Messages from pets to their people by way of animal communication. Each one is unique, compassionate, and honest.

If you are a person who wants support, guidance, and inspiration on how your animal or spirit animal can help you heal your blocks and discover your life purpose, the 30 Animal Wisdom Messages in this book will inspire you to consider the human-animal bond in a different way. You will experience respect, seriousness, fairness, humor, compassion, and even moments of silliness with the insights these beloved pets deliver to their people.

When you read these Animal Wisdom Messages, you, the reader, will gain compassion and support with your own journey, and you will begin to listen to your beloved companion in a new way. Our animals are the best at intuitive life coaching.

Finally, a novel that captures the inanity of the Trump era. It isn’t pretty.

The trouble is Tom Wolfe died too soon.

Had he lived longer, the irrepressible New Journalist and omnivorous novelist might have written the ultimate burlesque about the presidency of Donald Trump.

Something between a parody and a cultural history, Wolfe’s Trump book would have glistened with the country’s rabid fury and the president’s sweaty narcissism. Across an avalanche of pages written in that famously onomatopoetic style, Wolfe might have given us “A Tan in Full."

Alas, we get the presidents we deserve, but not the novels.

There’s been no lack of effort. Some of the best and wittiest literary gladiators have confronted President Trump in fiction. Howard Jacobson flew into a rage on election night and quickly published a little fairy tale called “Pussy." Fellow Booker winner Salman Rushdie laced glimpses of a “green-haired cartoon king” throughout “The Golden House." And Dave Eggers recently published a parable about a flamingly incompetent leader called “The Captain and the Glory." But none of these novels struck more than a glancing blow against His Tweetness. In the end, they were all too cramped with self-righteous anger to relish the president’s childish behavior and inane rhetoric.

A sneak peek at ‘P---y,' the soon-to-be published novel about Donald Trump

Salman Rushdie launches a novelistic attack on Trump

The Captain and the Glory: An Entertainment, by Dave Eggers

Which is why the opening chapters of Stephen Wright’s new novel, “Processed Cheese," inspire such a grim thrill. Here, one is tempted to believe, is a writer crazy enough, crude enough and gluttonous enough to swallow the whole Trump era and then belch out its poisonous comedy.

Wright, who comes trailing blurbs from the likes of Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates and Thomas Pynchon, is the author of five frenetic novels that romp through fields of violence and madness. His last book, “The Amalgamation Polka," appeared in 2006 and offered a bizarre picaresque of the Civil War. Now he’s back with an outrageous farce about money, sex and guns, which is to say, about America circa now.

The premise of “Processed Cheese” is simple; its execution is cuckoo -- a critical term I don’t think I’ve ever used before. Wright sets his story in a cartoon world of silly mashed-up names such as CellarDoorCosmetics, the TooGoodForYou District and LayAbout University. That convention feels even more surreal when extended to the characters. Our hero is an unemployed loser named Graveyard; his lover is a woman named Ambience, whose cat is NippersPumpkinClaws. If this is already feeling tedious, beware: You’ve got some 8,000 goofy names to go.

On the opening page, Graveyard is plodding along in Mammoth City in front of the Eyedropper Building when a huge canvas bag “came sailing down out of nowhere and crashed into the sidewalk inches from his feet." He could have been killed, but that bag contains fresh $100 bills -- “about an even gazillion dollars, give or take a bazillion or two." Assuming the money is now his, free and clear, he lugs the bag home to Ambience, where they have mind-blowing sex on a bed of cash and then begin splurging on clothes, electronics, jewels and cars. (The money never seems depleted. Graveyard notes, “The bag abides.") If there’s any doubt about Wright’s theme, Chapter 2, entitled, “That’s What I’m Talking About," contains only the word “MONEY” repeated over and over across the entire page.

You want subtlety, read a different book.


Like President Trump, this absurdity can be grotesquely funny. But like the Trump presidency, it runs on way too long. That, I suspect is the point. Nothing else I’ve read is as faithful to the obscenity of these latter days, the consummation of vacuous pop culture and complete social bankruptcy. For readers who can stomach it, “Processed Cheese” is jolting enough to reveal what degradation we’ve become inured to.

A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century Kindle Edition by Jason DeParle (Author) $14.99

One of The Washington Post's 10 Best Books of the Year

"A remarkable book...indispensable."--The Boston Globe

"A sweeping, deeply reported tale of international migration...DeParle's understanding of migration is refreshingly clear-eyed and nuanced."--The New York Times

"This is epic reporting, nonfiction on a whole other level...One of the best books on immigration written in a generation."--Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted

The definitive chronicle of our new age of global migration, told through the multi-generational saga of a Filipino family, by a veteran New York Times reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist.

When Jason DeParle moved into the Manila slums with Tita Comodas and her family three decades ago, he never imagined his reporting on them would span three generations and turn into the defining chronicle of a new age--the age of global migration. In a monumental book that gives new meaning to "immersion journalism," DeParle paints an intimate portrait of an unforgettable family as they endure years of sacrifice and separation, willing themselves out of shantytown poverty into a new global middle class. At the heart of the story is Tita's daughter, Rosalie. Beating the odds, she struggles through nursing school and works her way across the Middle East until a Texas hospital fulfills her dreams with a job offer in the States.

Migration is changing the world--reordering politics, economics, and cultures across the globe. With nearly 45 million immigrants in the United States, few issues are as polarizing. But if the politics of immigration is broken, immigration itself--tens of millions of people gathered from every corner of the globe--remains an underappreciated American success. Expertly combining the personal and panoramic, DeParle presents a family saga and a global phenomenon. Restarting her life in Galveston, Rosalie brings her reluctant husband and three young children with whom she has rarely lived. They must learn to become a family, even as they learn a new country. Ordinary and extraordinary at once, their journey is a twenty-first-century classic, rendered in gripping detail.

Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos Kindle Edition by Peter Bergen (Author) $15.99

From one of America's preeminent national security journalists, an explosive, news-breaking account of Donald Trump's collision with the American national security establishment, and with the world

It is a simple fact that no president in American history brought less foreign policy experience to the White House than Donald J. Trump. The real estate developer from Queens promised to bring his brash, zero-sum swagger to bear to cut through America's most complex national security issues, and he did. If the cost of his "America First" agenda was bulldozing the edifice of foreign alliances that had been carefully tended by every president from Truman to Obama, then so be it.

It was clear from the first that Trump's inclinations were radically more blunt force than his predecessors'. When briefed by the Pentagon on Iran and the Strait of Hormuz, he exclaimed, "The next time Iran sends its boats into the Strait: blow them out of the water! Let's get Mad Dog on this." When told that the capital of South Korea, Seoul, was so close to the North Korean border that millions of people would likely die in the first hours of any all-out war, Trump had a bold response, "They have to move." The officials in the Oval Office weren't sure if he was joking. He raised his voice. "They have to move!"

Very quickly, it became clear to a number of people at the highest levels of government that their gravest mission was to protect America from Donald Trump. Trump and His Generals is Peter Bergen's riveting account of what happened when the unstoppable force of President Trump met the immovable object of America's national security establishment--the CIA, the State Department, and, above all, the Pentagon.

If there is a real "deep state" in DC, it is not the FBI so much as the national security community, with its deep-rooted culture and hierarchy. The men Trump selected for his key national security positions, Jim Mattis, John Kelly, and H. R. McMaster, were products of that culture: Trump wanted generals, and he got them. Three years later, they would be gone, and the guardrails were off.

From Iraq and Afghanistan to Syria and Iran, from Russia and China to North Korea and Islamist terrorism, Trump and His Generals is a brilliant reckoning with an American ship of state navigating a roiling sea of threats without a well-functioning rudder. Lucid and gripping, it brings urgently needed clarity to issues that affect the fate of us all. But clarity, unfortunately, is not the same thing as reassurance.

Democracy Betrayed, By William W. Keller

In the aftermath of 9/11, in lockstep with booming technological advancements, a new and more authoritarian form of governance is supplanting liberal democracy. The creation of the Security Industrial Complex—an “internal security state-within-the-state” fueled by tech companies, private security firms, and the Intelligence Community to the tune of $120 billion a year—is intruding on civil liberties to an unprecedented extent. As a society, we have yet to comprehend the meaning of universal digital interconnection, its impact on our psychology, and its transformation of our government and society. America is at a crossroads in contending with a security goliath; allowing the beginnings of a police state, and the conversion of our “liberal democracy” to a “secure democracy”—one where government overreaches, tramples on civil liberties, and harnesses great advancements in technology to spy on the populace. Keller walks us through what these changes can mean to our society and, more importantly, what we can do to halt our march toward intrusive and widespread surveillance.

Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse Kindle Edition, by John Lithgow

Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels

The Life Project: The Extraordinary Story of 70,000 Ordinary Lives, by Helen Pearson

One of the Observer’s Best Science Books of the Year

On March 3, 1946, a survey began in Britain that is, today, the longest-running study of human development in the world. It would grow to encompass six generations of children, 150,000 people—and become the envy of scientists around the world. The simple act of observing human life has changed the way we are born, schooled, parent, and die, irrevocably altering our understanding of inequality and health. This is the “fascinating” tale of these studies, the scientists who created and sustained them, and perhaps most importantly, the remarkable discoveries that have come from them (Nature).

“Hugely engaging, and gives much to chew on...the scientists are an irresistibly eccentric, passionate bunch." —Evening Standard

We know what we have to do to save the planet. We just don’t care.


A herd grazes in a clearing in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Cattle production is a major contributor to climate change, but many people don’t want to stop eating beef. (A herd grazes in a clearing in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Cattle production is a major contributor to climate change, but many people don’t want to stop eating beef. Joao Laet / AFP/Getty Images)

As the Earth’s CO2 levels mount, global warming has moved from remote threats to regular headline horrors. For years, authors have penned conflicting responses: It’s too late. It’s not too late. We can’t go on. We’ll go on.

The novelist Jonathan Safran Foer has a different take on global warming. The worst can be ameliorated, he suggests, but only if we believe the unbelievable. In “We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast," Foer approaches the threat with all the postmodern techniques of his acclaimed books “Everything Is Illuminated” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." In a style rarely found in books about global catastrophe, he interweaves personal stories, bulleted factoids and a delicious serving of metaphor. The effect is dazzling at first, dizzying in the long run. Yet even a weary reader might hope that this novelist may do what traditional jeremiads have not: Wake us up.

The first 60 pages of “We Are the Weather” are little short of brilliant. Rather than bludgeon us with apocalyptic facts, Foer asks why we have done so little when faced with so much. Our inaction, he writes, cannot be blamed on deniers from the White House on down. Even those who admit the crisis have dodged the life-changing moves it demands. Why? Because we simply cannot believe what we must believe. “It is excruciatingly, tragically difficult to talk about the planetary crisis in a way that is believed," Foer writes.

To underline the problem, he turns to a tragic moment in the midst of the Holocaust. In 1943, Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski came to America to alert its leaders to Hitler’s “final solution." One day, Karski confronted Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter with an account of the whole Nazi machinery of death -- the cattle cars, the camps, the gas. Frankfurter, a Jew, paced the room. Finally he told Karski, “I must say I am unable to believe what you told me." Frankfurter did not accuse Karski of lying. Instead, the justice explained, “My mind, my heart, they are made in such a way that I cannot accept it."

From Frankfurter’s failure of imagination, Foer draws disturbing parallels to our own. Despite warnings that began 30-plus years ago, we continue to drive our fat cars, fly everywhere, live as if the darkest cloud in human history were not approaching across the horizon. Noting the steady rise of CO2 emissions, Foer writes: “There are tidy explanations -- the growing use of coal in China and India, a strong global economy, unusually severe seasons that require spikes in energy for heating and cooling. But the truth is as crude as it is obvious. We don’t care. So now what?"

Hope, Foer writes, comes in waves -- social waves that have changed human behavior without legislation or leadership. As examples, he cites the widespread decline in smoking, the rapid acceptance of the polio vaccine and Americans’ sacrifices on the home front during World War II. But are individual actions enough? “When a radical change is needed, many argue that it is impossible for individual actions to incite it, so it’s futile for anyone to try," Foer writes. “This is exactly the opposite of the truth: the impotence of individual actions is a reason for everyone to try."

Having made his case, Foer offers his simple -- even simplistic -- solution: breakfast and lunch. As in “Eating Animals," his 2009 cri de coeur, Foer urges us to avoid all animal products. At least for two meals a day. He makes a compelling case. By raising cattle on cleared forest land, by producing feed for a sprawling meat and dairy industry, we have made innocent animals culpable in planetary destruction.

If cows were a nation, Foer notes, they would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gas, behind the United States and China. Our diets have turned the Earth into a factory farm.

Okay. Eating plants -- only plants -- for breakfast and lunch is no big deal. (His compelling case persuaded me to adopt his diet.) But Foer’s faith in veganism soon breaks down. He can’t entirely give up red meat, he says. And he admits that animal agriculture causes only 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. So what about the other 76 percent?

Just when he should be going beyond breakfast, Foer detours into dithering. To prop up his vegan solution, he denigrates electric cars and other sensible innovations as impractical. (Never mind that transportation contributes 14 percent of greenhouse gases, and electricity and heating contribute 25 percent.) Then he descends into personal trauma. He tells us of his grandmother’s recent death, his angst as a parent of two sons and his deep doubt that anything, even veganism, will save us. The doubt, filling a 35-page dialogic “dispute with the soul," is as numbing as any talk of polar bears or melting Arctic ice.

So now what? One of our best young novelists brilliantly defines our denial, offers a partial solution and returns to despair. “We Are the Weather," Foer admits, is not an ordinary jeremiad, simply “an exploration of a decision that our planetary crisis requires us to make." But in fact, our planetary crisis requires more than one decision. Had Foer used his abundant talent to remain global instead of going personal, his wake-up call would not have put us right back to sleep.

A different novelist better explains our apathy. In “War and Peace," Leo Tolstoy describes Moscow’s reaction to the news of Napoleon’s invasion. “At the approach of danger, two voices always speak with equal force in a man’s soul," Tolstoy writes. One voice tells us to weigh the danger and act. Now! The other voice says “it is too painful and tormenting to think about the danger, when it is not in man’s power to foresee everything and save himself." In solitude, we listen to the voice of alarm, in company to the voice of denial. Then we fiddle while the world burns. As Napoleon marched toward the city, Tolstoy writes, “it was long since there had been so much merrymaking in Moscow as there was that year."

The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir, by Samantha Power

“This is a wonderful book." -- THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, The New York Times Book Review

“Truly engrossing." -- RACHEL MADDOW

Pulitzer Prize winner Samantha Power, widely known as a relentless advocate for promoting human rights, has been heralded by President Barack Obama as one of America's "foremost thinkers on foreign policy."

In her memoir, Power offers an urgent response to the question "What can one person do?"—and a call for a clearer eye, a kinder heart, and a more open and civil hand in our politics and daily lives. The Education of an Idealist traces Power’s distinctly American journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official. In 2005, her critiques of US foreign policy caught the eye of newly elected senator Barack Obama, who invited her to work with him on Capitol Hill and then on his presidential campaign. After Obama was elected president, Power went from being an activist outsider to a government insider, navigating the halls of power while trying to put her ideals into practice. She served for four years as Obama’s human rights adviser, and in 2013, he named her US Ambassador to the United Nations, the youngest American to assume the role.

A Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, Power transports us from her childhood in Dublin to the streets of war-torn Bosnia to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy. Humorous and deeply honest, The Education of an Idealist lays bare the searing battles and defining moments of her life and shows how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with the challenge of raising two young children. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world, and why we each have the opportunity to advance the cause of human dignity. Power’s memoir is an unforgettable account of the power of idealism—and of one person’s fierce determination to make a difference.

The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir, Samantha Power

Hardcover $21.59, Kindle $14.29

"A Problem From Hell": America and the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power

Kindle $13.99

From former UN Ambassador and author of the New York Times bestseller The Education of an Idealist Samantha Power, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book on America's repeated failure to stop genocides around the world

In her prizewinning examination of the last century of American history, Samantha Power asks the haunting question: Why do American leaders who vow "never again" repeatedly fail to stop genocide? Power, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School and the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, draws upon exclusive interviews with Washington's top policymakers, thousands of declassified documents, and her own reporting from modern killing fields to provide the answer. "A Problem from Hell" shows how decent Americans inside and outside government refused to get involved despite chilling warnings, and tells the stories of the courageous Americans who risked their careers and lives in an effort to get the United States to act. A modern classic and "an angry, brilliant, fiercely useful, absolutely essential book" (New Republic), "A Problem from Hell" has forever reshaped debates about American foreign policy.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize
Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
Winner of the Raphael Lemkin Award

Teddy Roosevelt’s example for America: Sweat and grit

Theodore Roosevelt rows a boat in Oyster Bay, N.Y., in an undated photo. The president was only an average athlete but ardently pursued the “strenuous life." He encouraged Americans to exercise, too -- in part so the country could call up a strong military. (Theodore Roosevelt rows a boat in Oyster Bay, N.Y., in an undated photo. The president was only an average athlete but ardently pursued the “strenuous life." He encouraged Americans to exercise, too -- in part so the country could call up a strong military. AP Photo)

The doctor described the president as “a physical marvel."

An emergency room attendant claimed he was “one of the most powerful men I have ever seen laid on an operating table," while another doctor noted that his “magnificent physical condition” owed to his “regular physical exercise."

It may well have been overblown rhetoric stemming from the president’s own trumped-up assessment of himself, but there had to have been a kernel of truth in there, considering he had just been shot.

Those were medical reports after former president Theodore Roosevelt survived an assassin’s bullet while stumping on the 1912 campaign trail as a candidate of his own Bull Moose Party. His brush with death and subsequent bill of good health marked one more chapter in Roosevelt’s strenuous existence, a life he had dedicated to a rigorous self-improvement plan that would launch him to success and inspire a feeble nation.

In his new book, “The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the American Athlete," Ryan Swanson whips through T.R.’s athletic exploits and influence on American sports with the vigor of sportscaster Harry Caray punctuating a Cubs home run with “Holy cow!" We often think of two body types for Roosevelt: the bronzed boxer-cowboy hybrid and the paunchy president. Both are correct, as Swanson shows, leading us through T.R.’s physical transformation.

As a young boy, he was thin and asthmatic. At Harvard, the sinewy figure he developed as an avid boxer and rower was undercut by his glasses and jittery movements. When he was nearly 60, his ballooning girth sent him to a pastoral retreat dedicated to “intense physical training” and “profuse sweating." In every stage, he was never the star athlete and never afraid of looking ridiculous. Second to his “Strenuous Life” speech, in which he goaded Americans to go to work and to war, the oration that defined Roosevelt’s approach to life was his “Man in the Arena” speech. “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood," Roosevelt said in a sermon dripping with sports analogies.

In Swanson’s book, we see Roosevelt’s face bloodied, blinded in one eye and overheated in pursuit of the strenuous life. It’s the sort of heartening journey that will make one want to shout “Go, Teddy! Go!" each time he surmounts another hurdle.

It’s less Roosevelt’s athletic prowess -- he was often middling -- and more his unrelenting grit that’s so inspiring. Here we find a president who is strong not because he brags about his might but because he publicly embraces his vulnerabilities. That infectious, positive energy was crucial at a time when more Americans were starting to lead sedentary lives and needed some prodding to get moving again. Swanson describes a country where corporate power superseded the state’s, factories robbed workers of their physical labor in the fields and doctors saw more cases of “nervous exhaustion and ‘irritable weakness.'?"

“Basically, Americans seemed to have every sign of economic progress and technological development in their midst, but instead of flourishing they were falling apart," he writes.

Roosevelt’s thoughts about sports extended beyond his philosophy on the benefits of physical activity. His broader concerns focused on a rapidly industrializing country that he believed was raising soft, effeminate men who could barely face down an army. His goal of American athletic supremacy, whether it was Olympic races or simply walking, ran parallel with his ambition to build a world-class military that could rival Britain’s. Even his “Strenuous Life” speech, while often connected with athleticism, was in fact a call to military action in the Philippines.

It seems there’s no aspect of American life that Roosevelt hasn’t touched or, more accurately, punched right through. From his conservation efforts and exploration of an uncharted river in the Amazon to his jingoistic expansion of the U.S. military and rollicking time as a Rough Rider, Roosevelt “hit the line hard," as he would say in both football and life. I co-created a Teddy Roosevelt book club in Washington partially out of the need to explore each facet of this complex character who has, for better or worse, defined what it means to be an American.

Happy as I am to dredge this deep well, I expressed some initial skepticism about a book devoted to T.R.’s mark on American sports because it seemed John J. Miller had already tackled that subject with his 2011 book, “The Big Scrum: How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football." Sure, Swanson sets the scene with an opening chapter on Roosevelt’s attendance at the 1901 Army-Navy game in Philadelphia and devotes another section to the Ivy League politicking over reforming America’s most dangerous game. But there’s ample meat left on the bone covering tennis, baseball, school sports and more.

There were moments when I could have done with fewer interjections by the author. Swanson’s conversational tone makes clear that he doesn’t intend for this to be a typical Roosevelt read. This is an engaging book you can hold with one hand while doing light bicep curls with the other, not a Doris Kearns Goodwin tome that gives you a backache.

At times, Swanson falls prey to the trap of mixing Roosevelt myths with facts. In his telling of Roosevelt’s 1879 boxing match at Harvard against Charles Hanks, Swanson emphasizes the presence of T.R.’s love interest, Alice Hathaway Lee, a point that is debunked in David McCullough’s “Mornings on Horseback." Owen Wister, a friend of Roosevelt who specialized in fiction, wrote that Lee watched the match from a balcony in the gym, but McCullough notes that the old gym had no balcony and no women were present. It’s a small detail that may be hard to pin down exactly because the primary sources rely on hyperbolic, 19th-century reporters like Wister. But this type of color is what separates this book from the tedious exactitude of other Roosevelt stories.

The chapter on African American heavyweight champion Jack Johnson is particularly illuminating. The 1910 showdown between Johnson and the white boxer Jim Jeffries served as a proxy race war in Jim Crow America. Swanson’s vignette offers a nuanced portrait of Roosevelt, who fought for equality while holding racist views of white, American supremacy. History often frames Roosevelt as a woke hero for inviting Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House. But he also dishonorably discharged 167 black enlisted men of the 25th U.S. Infantry on limited information after the mayor of Brownsville, Tex., alleged that some of the soldiers had engaged in violence in the city. The Brownsville affair transformed Roosevelt into African Americans’ “Judas” and provided rhetorical ammunition for Johnson, a rising athlete who played politics better than the aging ex-president.

Swanson succeeds in telling stories that will be entertaining for readers without any previous knowledge of Roosevelt, as well as those who don’t closely follow sports, like me. What’s most invigorating about Swanson’s book is watching T.R.’s struggle. Everyone wants to cheer for the bespectacled underdog with the high-pitched voice and the toothy grin, even if it’s the same man who ran a successful two-term administration and won the Nobel Peace Prize.

“It was Roosevelt’s sheer ability to keep moving forward that Americans found so appealing," Swanson writes about the president’s brutal exercise regimen toward the end of his life in 1917.

How wonderful to see a president make the strenuous life look like so much fun.

The Strenuous Life

How economists turned all of society into a market, WaPo 9-18-19

James Kwak is a professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law and the author, most recently, of “Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality."

The Federal Reserve, like other government institutions, was highly influenced by the conservative economic ideas that emerged beginning in the late 1960s. (The Federal Reserve, like other government institutions, was highly influenced by the conservative economic ideas that emerged beginning in the late 1960s. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Two decades before he became chair of the Federal Reserve and the second-most-powerful man in the United States, Alan Greenspan made another mark on history. In 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, he and Columbia economics professor Martin Anderson wrote a memo for Richard Nixon, then with a law firm in New York, advocating an end to military conscription and its replacement by an all-volunteer military. They drew on an analysis by economist Walter Oi, who argued that ending the draft would be good for the economy because young men could work in their preferred occupations. Nixon, who called the draft “one of the severest and most unfair restraints on the free market," signed on. Four years later, with Nixon in the White House, the volunteer military became law.

Oi liked to tell a joke about a military parade in which the usual tanks and missiles were followed by a few unimpressive-looking civilians. “Those are the economists," began the punchline. “You wouldn’t believe the damage they can cause." Such is the theme of Binyamin Appelbaum’s new book, “The Economists’ Hour." Some of the figures at the heart of the story are famous, like Greenspan and particularly Milton Friedman, who pops up in almost every chapter; others less so, like Oi and Anderson. Together, between the late 1960s and the 2008 financial crisis, they tore down the model of activist government intervention in the economy and replaced it with the simple idea that markets should be left on their own. In the process, they made economics the dominant explanatory framework of our time, commonly rolled out to account for matters from criminal sentencing to the dating “market." In the words of a district court judge who attended a two-week course on introductory economics at the University of Miami, “More and more, life is best explained not by religion, not by law, but by economics."

The Economists' Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society, by Binyamin Appelbaum Kindle $15.99 was $30.00

Appelbaum tells how this story has played out across a number of policy areas. In addition to the draft, the topics cover the heart of the conservative turn in economic policymaking: monetarism and the prioritization of inflation over unemployment; “supply-side” tax cuts; antitrust, or the lack thereof; deregulation; free international currency and capital markets; and the rise of finance. The book introduces us to the economists whose novel ideas persuaded politicians to see the world differently: Jude Wanniski, for example, whose famous cocktail napkin memorialized Arthur Laffer’s eponymous curve (if tax rates are too high, tax revenue declines), which was adopted by Jack Kemp and motivated Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut; and Jim Tozzi, who in the 1960s pioneered the cost-benefit analysis of regulation, which has since become the corporate sector’s most powerful weapon against government oversight.

Economic reasoning colonized the institutions that determine U.S. economic policy, from the Federal Reserve to the judiciary to regulatory bodies. Where once Congress prevented agencies from even considering the costs of regulation, now the debate is over just how much to value a human life now and in the future.

“The Economists’ Hour” provides a novel perspective on the conservative revolution that dominated the past half-century of American political history. As a history of ideas, however, it places the spotlight on individual intellectuals rather than the interest groups and organizations that underlay (and underwrote) the free-market paradigm. The think tanks that industrialized the Friedmanesque critique of 1960s liberalism receive little attention, along with the funders who bankrolled the whole enterprise. It is rarely the most brilliant ideas that have the most impact but rather those that serve powerful interests with the resources necessary to propagate and weaponize them in the political landscape.

That impact, in this case, was clearly negative; the book’s subtitle is “False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society." The economists’ hour undoubtedly did some good: Airline travel is far cheaper than before regulation, even if the seats are more cramped, and it’s not clear who thinks we should simply ignore the costs and benefits of regulation. But over the period as a whole, the social safety net disintegrated, inequality skyrocketed, the economy shifted toward low-paying service-sector jobs, and for 99 percent of Americans income growth was lower than in -- shudder -- France. In addition, the view that everything is a market frayed the bonds of social solidarity that made people feel responsible for the less fortunate. Our ancestors “constructed a market society, and the defining feature of a market is the freedom to walk away," Appelbaum writes in closing. “Our problem is too many markets, and too much walking away."

Which brings us to the question: What now? Appelbaum claims that the economists’ hour ended in 2008 with the financial crisis. If only. Even the 2009 stimulus bill was hampered by the Obama administration’s attachment to fiscal responsibility; inflation targeting remains the rule at a Federal Reserve only slightly more interested in unemployment than before; and, as Appelbaum notes, concerns about economic efficiency have undermined the Justice Department’s willingness to prosecute corporate crime. Federal judges continue to cite cost-benefit analyses in paring back the regulatory state. It is hard to contest that “Trump’s contempt for economics .?.?. is without parallel among modern American presidents," yet his policies -- a dramatic tax cut for businesses and an ongoing war on regulation -- would have been vigorously applauded by the figures in this book.

It is no surprise that the core principles of low taxes, small government and free markets are dogma among Republicans; there will always be a party favoring business and the rich. Crucially, however, the embrace of economics has been a bipartisan affair. On the Democratic side of the aisle, Bill Clinton and his administration slashed deficits to lower interest rates, doubled down on cost-benefit analysis, ended “welfare as know it” by introducing work requirements and suppressed attempts at financial oversight. Barack Obama’s administration invested more deeply in economic analysis than any before; his top legislative priorities included engineering new health insurance markets, establishing a price for carbon emissions and ratifying a free-trade agreement for the Pacific region. Indeed, faith in markets has been a central pillar of the Democratic Party’s identity since the late 1980s. Tired of being portrayed as softhearted liberals who taxed workers in order to coddle welfare queens, the New Democrats took up the gospel of private-sector growth and small government, of a bigger pie and a rising tide that lifts all boats.

For more than a quarter-century, one party has believed that government should leave markets alone to maximize economic growth that will benefit everyone; the other has believed that government should nurture markets to maximize economic growth that will benefit everyone. And for more than a quarter-century, those markets have produced growth whose rewards have mainly been captured by the 1 percent. What we don’t have is a party dedicated to the actual welfare of ordinary families -- one that believes that government is a means for a decent society to provide for the security and well-being of all its members. Until we have such a party, the reign of the economists will continue.

Father Neil's Monkeyshines (Bless Me, Father Book 6), by Neil Boyd

All-new stories featuring the “wonderful, real, lovable characters” of St. Jude’s, in the series that inspired the beloved British sitcom Bless Me, Father (James Herriot).

Based on the author’s real-life experiences as a young clergyman, the five books in the Bless Me, Father series offer a sweet-natured, humorous look at Catholicism in the 1950s. Father Neil’s adventures at St. Jude’s parish in London with its raucous congregation full of Irish immigrants proved so popular they were adapted into a long-running British sitcom.

Now, in these eleven previously unpublished stories, readers have the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with young Father Neil, the irascible Father Duddleswell, the sharp-tongued housekeeper Mrs. Pring, and more colorful parishioners.

A young couple hoping to adopt twins gets more they bargained for; a foundling is abandoned like Moses—in a confessional; an honored infantry sergeant returns from the battlefield physically, emotionally, and spiritually scarred; a modern-thinking new curate creates a distraction by being far too handsome; and an unexpected new addition disrupts St. Jude’s: Mario the monkey, who can test the patience of a saint.

“Carry on, Father!" cheers the Dublin Evening Herald. And he does, with the same inspiring heavenly humor that has made Neil Boyd’s long-running series such “hilarious and compulsive reading” (Catholic Herald).

[from Early Bird Books]

Based on the author’s real-life experiences as a young clergyman, the five books in the Bless Me, Father series offer a sweet-natured, humorous look at Catholicism in the 1950s. Father Neil’s adventures at St. Jude’s parish in London with its raucous congregation full of Irish immigrants proved so popular they were adapted into a long-running British sitcom. Now, in these eleven previously unpublished stories, readers have the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with young Father Neil—the irascible Father Duddleswell, the sharp-tongued housekeeper Mrs. Pring, and more colorful parishioners.

“Hilarious and compulsive reading." —Catholic Herald

Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America, by Matt Taibbi

A brilliantly illuminating and darkly comic tale of the ongoing financial and political crisis in America.

The financial crisis that exploded in 2008 isn’t past but prologue. The grifter class—made up of the largest players in the financial industry and the politicians who do their bidding—has been growing in power, and the crisis was only one terrifying manifestation of how they’ve hijacked America’s political and economic life.

Matt Taibbi has combined deep sources, trailblazing reportage, and provocative analysis to create the most lucid, emotionally galvanizing account yet written of this ongoing American crisis. He offers fresh reporting on the backroom deals of the bailout; tells the story of Goldman Sachs, the “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”; and uncovers the hidden commodities bubble that transferred billions of dollars to Wall Street while creating food shortages around the world.

This is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the labyrinthine inner workings of this country, and the profound consequences for us all.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Taibbi eviscerates Wall Street for what he considers frauds perpetrated on the American people over the last ten years. Deftly delving deeply into complicated financial history and lingo, Taibbi deftly lays the subject bare, rendering heretofore-dense subject matter simple without being simplistic. Blame for the recent mortgage collapse, commodities bubble, and tech bubble are laid at the feet of a relatively small number of bankers and traders who, in the author's opinion, act without fear of reciprocity from a U.S. government no longer representative of the American people. He begins by awarding the title "Biggest Asshole In The Universe" to former-Fed Chief Alan Greenspan, taking him to task for willfully or stupidly disemboweling what little regulation the financial markets may have had before his tenure. This theme resounds throughout, and Taibbi asserts that the collusion between Wall Street and the White House has effectively turned the United States into a massive casino, in which working Americans are regularly bilked out of their savings and homes while the wealthy are repeatedly rewarded for their graft. It's an important and worthy read, but not for the Randian disciple or Goldman-Sachs alum. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

File Size: 3049 KB
Print Length: 274 pages
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (November 2, 2010)
Publication Date: November 2, 2010
Sold by: Random House LLC
Language: English

Matthew C. "Matt" Taibbi (/ta?'i?bi/; born March 2, 1970) is an American author and journalist. Primarily known for his work at Rolling Stone Magazine, Taibbi has reported on politics, media, finance, and sports, winning the National Magazine Award for Commentary in 2008. He has authored several books, including the upcoming Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus (2017) and the New York Times bestsellers The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap (2014), Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America (2010) and The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion (2009).

The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, by Philip Zimbardo

Renowned social psychologist and creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment Philip Zimbardo explores the mechanisms that make good people do bad things, how moral people can be seduced into acting immorally, and what this says about the line separating good from evil.

The Lucifer Effect explains how—and the myriad reasons why—we are all susceptible to the lure of “the dark side." Drawing on examples from history as well as his own trailblazing research, Zimbardo details how situational forces and group dynamics can work in concert to make monsters out of decent men and women.

Here, for the first time and in detail, Zimbardo tells the full story of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the landmark study in which a group of college-student volunteers was randomly divided into “guards” and “inmates” and then placed in a mock prison environment. Within a week the study was abandoned, as ordinary college students were transformed into either brutal, sadistic guards or emotionally broken prisoners.

By illuminating the psychological causes behind such disturbing metamorphoses, Zimbardo enables us to better understand a variety of harrowing phenomena, from corporate malfeasance to organized genocide to how once upstanding American soldiers came to abuse and torture Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib. He replaces the long-held notion of the “bad apple” with that of the “bad barrel”—the idea that the social setting and the system contaminate the individual, rather than the other way around.

This is a book that dares to hold a mirror up to mankind, showing us that we might not be who we think we are. While forcing us to reexamine what we are capable of doing when caught up in the crucible of behavioral dynamics, though, Zimbardo also offers hope. We are capable of resisting evil, he argues, and can even teach ourselves to act heroically. Like Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem and Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, The Lucifer Effect is a shocking, engrossing study that will change the way we view human behavior.

Praise for The Lucifer Effect

“The Lucifer Effect will change forever the way you think about why we behave the way we do—and, in particular, about the human potential for evil. This is a disturbing book, but one that has never been more necessary.”—Malcolm Gladwell

“An important book . . . All politicians and social commentators . . . should read this.”—The Times (London)

“Powerful . . . an extraordinarily valuable addition to the literature of the psychology of violence or ‘evil.’”—The American Prospect

“Penetrating . . . Combining a dense but readable and often engrossing exposition of social psychology research with an impassioned moral seriousness, Zimbardo challenges readers to look beyond glib denunciations of evil-doers and ponder our collective responsibility for the world’s ills.”—Publishers Weekly

Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals, by John LeFevre

Straight to Hell pulls back the curtain on a world that is both hated and envied, taking readers from the trading floors and roadshows to private planes and after-hours overindulgence. Full of shocking lawlessness, boyish antics, and win-at-all-costs schemes, this is the definitive take on the deviant, dysfunctional, and absolutely excessive world of finance.

“LeFevre’s workplace anecdotes include tales of nastiness, sabotage, favoritism, sexism, racism, expense-account padding, and legally questionable collusion." —The New Yorker

The hilarious New York Times bestseller “sharply observes the lives of globe-trotting, overindulging investment bankers” (Entertainment Weekly).

Where the Crawdads Sing Kindle Edition by Delia Owens, $12.99

"I can't even express how much I love this book! I didn't want this story to end!"--Reese Witherspoon

"Painfully beautiful."--The New York Times Book Review

"Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver."--Bustle

For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life--until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Author interview: Delia Owens talks “Crawdads”

Delia Owens’ novel “Where the Crawdads Sing” is one of the biggest publishing stories in recent memory. Since the book came out last August, readers have consistently placed the book in the upper echelon of the Most Sold and Most Read fiction titles on Amazon Charts, with little sign of it dropping off any time soon. The Amazon Books editors recently sat down with Owens to talk about the book’s 10-year writing process, how her life informed the settings for the novel, the inspiration for the story’s beloved characters, and more.

Delia Owens Author

Delia Owens talks all things ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’

Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review: You’ve written nonfiction, and that’s where I first knew you from. I remember reading you… probably in the ‘80s.

Delia Owens: The first one came out in 1984. Cry of the Kalahari.

Chris Schluep, That’s the one I read. And I remember the story about the cheetah running into the fence.

Delia Owens, Oh, my. That’s how it starts.

Chris Schluep, I will always remember that. It was very vivid and gripping. I’m not going to ask you about that book, but I wanted to bring it up out of appreciation. But… did you always want to write a novel?

Delia Owens, When I was in Africa is when the idea came to me, because literally every day I came face-to-face with lions and elephants and baboons, and I think it was that experience that got me thinking about how much our behavior is still very similar to animals. I would watch the lionesses lying around in the late afternoon, playing with each other’s cubs, and sleeping together with their paws draped over each other’s faces -- and it made me realize how much I missed my girlfriends back home and how I was isolated from a troop. And, as humans, we have a genetic propensity to belong to a group -- and I was isolated from a group. And especially females. So I wanted to write a novel that would explore how much our behavior today is influenced by our genetic past.

Chris Schluep, You were an animal behaviorist, right?

Delia Owens, I have a PhD in Animal Behavior from the University of California, Davis.

Chris Schluep, So it reportedly took you 10 years to write the book.

Delia Owens, This book took 10 years.

CS, Was it in fits and starts?

DO, Yes.

CS, How did that process go?

DO, Well, I just want to say… I’m always embarrassed to say it took me 10 years. But that was not my day job. I would get up at 4:30 in the morning to write. And at that time I was living in northern Idaho, involved with bear research and wolf research. I had a life. So I had this idea to write the novel, but I would get up early in the morning and creep down to my little office and work -- to me, sitting in front of the computer in the dark was like sitting in front of the campfire -- you know, it was just this nice feeling. That’s the reason it took so long. I would only write two or three hours a day.

CS, And when you were doing research, did you also feel like you were doing research for the book in a way?

DO, No, not really. In the beginning, my former husband and I were doing very serious research on the social behavior of endangered species with the idea of finding better ways to protect them in Africa. And so we were very busy with that. I only had this idea of a novel in the back of my head at that stage.

CS, And what were your expectations for the book when it came out?

DO, I was hoping somebody would read it. I just thought, “I don’t know…” First of all, the title -- who’s going to pick up a book [called] Where the Crawdads Sing? It’s not exactly warm and fuzzy. I never thought the publishers would stick with that title. I just was hoping somebody would notice it and read it, and I’ve been overwhelmed with the response, and I’m just so grateful to the readers who liked it.

continued at

Week in Books

The Wellness Garden, by Shawna Coronado

$11.99 kindle, $16.99 ppbk

Don't sacrifice your garden or green space because you suffer from chronic pain, health issues, or other ailments. The Wellness Garden is your guide!

If you love to garden but also worry about the physical strain, or if you are in search of ways to promote a healthier lifestyle, and even combat specific, chronic, health issues, then noted garden author and speaker Shawna Coronado has good news for you! You can stay active, fight chronic pain, and keep the garden you've worked so hard to cultivate.

In The Wellness Garden, her new book from Cool Springs Press, Shawna details exactly how she has learned to use her garden as a key tool in her battle with osteoarthritis and other chronic pain issues. In this inspiring but highly practical book you will learn from Shawna's life changing garden experience and see how you can create your own Wellness Garden--and gain the healthier lifestyle you desire and deserve.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel by Mary Ann Shaffer, to read for free.

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, By Laila Lalami

“A dream of a debut, by turns troubling adn glorious, angry and wise." —Junot Diaz

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits evokes the grit and enduring grace that is modern Morocco. As four Moroccans illegally cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat headed for Spain, author Laila Lalami asks, What has driven them to risk their lives? And will the rewards prove to be worth the danger? There’s Murad, a gentle, unemployed man who’s been reduced to hustling tourists around Tangier; Halima, who’s fleeing her drunken husband and the slums of Casablanca; Aziz, who must leave behind his devoted wife in hope of securing work in Spain; and Faten, a student and religious fanatic whose faith is at odds with an influential man determined to destroy her future. Sensitively written with beauty and boldness, this is a gripping book about what propels people to risk their lives in search of a better future.

Laila Lalami was born in Rabat and educated in Morocco, Great Britain, and the United States. She is the author of the novels "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits," which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award; "Secret Son," which was on the Orange Prize longlist; and "The Moor's Account," which won the American Book Award, the Arab American Book Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. It was on the Man Booker Prize longlist and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, the Guardian, the New York Times, and in many anthologies. She writes the "Between the Lines" column for The Nation magazine and is a critic-at-large for the Los Angeles Times. The recipient of a British Council Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she is currently a professor of creative writing at the University of California at Riverside.

The Moor's Account: A Novel, By Laila Lalami

In these pages, Laila Lalami brings us the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America: Mustafa al-Zamori, called Estebanico. The slave of a Spanish conquistador, Estebanico sails for the Americas with his master, Dorantes, as part of a danger-laden expedition to Florida. Within a year, Estebanico is one of only four crew members to survive.

As he journeys across America with his Spanish companions, the Old World roles of slave and master fall away, and Estebanico remakes himself as an equal, a healer, and a remarkable storyteller. His tale illuminates the ways in which our narratives can transmigrate into history—and how storytelling can offer a chance at redemption and survival.

Harem: the European megaseller: new and revised edition, by Colin Falconer

He could have had any woman in the empire. He wanted only one.

"A page-turner . . . This peek behind the walls of the seraglio will seduce lovers of large-scale historical fiction." - Booklist

He had everything a man might dream of; wealth, power and the choice of hundreds of the most beautiful women in his Empire. Why then did he forsake his harem for the love of just one woman, and marry her in defiance of the centuries-old code of the Osmanlis?

This is the astonishing story of Suleiman, the one they called the Magnificent, and the woman he loved.

Suleiman controlled an empire of thirty million people, encompassing twenty different languages. As a man, he was an enigma; he conquered all who stood against him with one of the world's first full time professional armies - yet he liked to write poetry; he ravaged half of Europe but he rebuilt Istanbul in marble; he had teams of torturers and assassins ready to unleash at a whim - yet history remembers him as a great lawmaker.

Despite its luxury, his harem was virtually a prison. For one of his concubines, the only way to a better life was to somehow find her way into his bed and bear him a son. But the young Sultan was often away at war and when he did return he gave all his attention to Gulbehar, his favorite. Until one day, when a young Russian girl takes her fate into her own hands. She was clever and she was ruthless. And she had a plan.

Into this world are drawn two unforgettable characters; a beautiful young Italian noblewoman, captured by corsairs and brought to the Harem as a concubine; and the eunuch who loved her once, long ago, in Venice.

From medieval Venice to the slave markets of Algiers, from the mountains of Persia to the forbidden seraglio of the Ottoman's greatest sultan, this is a tale of passion and intrigue in a world where nothing is really as it seems.

" …a spectacular, haunting tale of malice, obsession, and zeal set in the magnificent Harem of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent ..." - History and Women

About Colin Falconer

COLIN FALCONER - books you can't put down.

Hi, I'm Colin Falconer, I write crime fiction and historical fiction. I've published twenty-six novels so far, and been lucky enough to have them translated into 23 languages. Real ones too, not just Esperanto and cockney rhyming slang.

My favorite character is DI Charlie George, who you may have met if you've read Lucifer Falls.

Charlie was originally named after our two spaniels, Charlie and George. Charlie is the extrovert, you'll see him around a lot, I use him in some of my publicity photos; he's the one with the great lolling tongue and sad droopy eyes - no, wait that's me.

You won't see George, he's cute but camera shy - definitely not like me.

Charlie George also happens to be one of Arsenal's legendary football players from back in the day; he's the player Charlie's father, the fictional one, named him after.

I have had a lucky life. That I've made a decent living as an author for almost my entire adult life astonishes me. It certainly astonishes my family. I was born in North London, and my relatives all came from places like Bethnal Green, Dagenham and Hackney. My first word was blimey.

In between leaving school and securing my latest publishing deal, I found time to chase black witches across Mexico, travel the silk road, and occasionally play the guitar in pubs. My only claim to fame from those days is completing all the verses of 'All You Need is Love' during a bar fight in the Stella Maris Sailors Club.

A promising career as an elite football player was cut tragically short because I wasn't very good at it. After a short stint in advertising - it's a great business, 90% lunch and 10% commission - I became a freelance journalist. I quickly gravitated to radio and television, and finally, miraculously ended up as a novelist.

I admit I almost threw it in at one stage to become a full-time paramedic. The black humor characteristic of my crime novels probably comes from those days. I discovered that it was heartwarming saving people's lives but it's much more fun finding new and inventive ways to knock them off, and that's how I found my way into crime fiction.

I now live near the river in a beautiful city that time forgot with a woman who not only puts up with me, but has made me happier than I've ever been in my life. When she's not here, I spend my days in front of a laptop talking to spaniels and imaginary people.

People sometimes ask me if I ever get out of my pajamas, but I don't wear pajamas. (Now you'll have to spend the rest of your day trying to get that picture out of your head.)

Last year I signed a deal with Little, Brown for the new Charlie George series. My new historical fiction novel, Loving Liberty Levine, is published by Lake Union. You can find the rest of my list on these pages.

Thanks for reading, and for your reviews! You can find more at my web page:

When We Were Gods: A Novel of Cleopatra, by Colin Falconer

"The most complete woman ever to have existed, the most womanly woman and the most queenly queen, a person to be wondered at . . . whom dreamers find always at the end of their dreams." -- Theophile Gautier, 1845

Arrestingly beautiful and fiercely intelligent, Cleopatra VII of Egypt was barely more than a teenager when she inherited the richest empire in the world--one that stretched from the scorching deserts of lower Egypt to the shining Mediterranean metropolis of Alexandria, with its famed libraries, storehouses, and treasuries. Imperiled at every turn by court conspiracies and Roman treachery, the young queen was forced to flee Alexandria and live in exile while a foreign army overran her city and her own siblings plotted her downfall. With nothing to lose, Cleopatra brazenly sought a partnership with the only man who could secure Egypt's safety: Julius Caesar, a wily politician and battle-hardened general with a weakness for women. The result was a passionate love affair that scandalized Rome and thrust Cleopatra into the glittering but deadly world of imperial intrigue and warfare-- a world that she would mesmerize and manipulate even after Caesar was gone.

At the height of her power and fame, Cleopatra fell in love with Caesar's protégé and successor, Marc Antony, a handsome general known as much for his drunken hedonism as for his victories in battle. Brash, irresistible, and fatally unreliable, Antony's once-strong hold on the Roman Empire was slipping fast, and with it slipped Cleopatra's fortunes. When the tide had finally, irrevocably turned against her, the proud queen plotted a last, spectacular maneuver that was to save her children, her empire, and her place in the pantheon of gods.

Colin Falconer's bold, sensuous prose takes the reader inside the walls of Alexandria's great palaces and into Cleopatra's very heart, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman who thrived and triumphed in a world ruled by men. This is the story of a legendary woman's most glorious time, a story that blazes through thousands of years of history to capture the imagination of readers today.

Now available in Kindle as Cleopatra: Daughter of the Nile

The Joy of X, By Steven Strogatz

With over 1,200 five-star Goodreads ratings: In this exuberant look at mathematics, an award-winning mathematician explains the discipline’s great ideas and their relevance to everyday life. “Delightful… You’ll never forget the Pythagorean theorem again!" (Scientific American).

$2.99 on sale Kindle

Louis XIV, By Olivier Bernier

Witness treachery, scandal, and intrigue in the court of Versailles! Louis XIV’s long, momentous rule comes to life in this fascinating portrait.

$1.99 on sale kindle.

The Victory Garden: A Novel, by Rhys Bowen

From the bestselling author of The Tuscan Child comes a beautiful and heart-rending novel of a woman’s love and sacrifice during the First World War.

As the Great War continues to take its toll, headstrong twenty-one-year-old Emily Bryce is determined to contribute to the war effort. She is convinced by a cheeky and handsome Australian pilot that she can do more, and it is not long before she falls in love with him and accepts his proposal of marriage.

When he is sent back to the front, Emily volunteers as a “land girl," tending to the neglected grounds of a large Devonshire estate. It’s here that Emily discovers the long-forgotten journals of a medicine woman who devoted her life to her herbal garden. The journals inspire Emily, and in the wake of devastating news, they are her saving grace. Emily’s lover has not only died a hero but has left her terrified—and with child. Since no one knows that Emily was never married, she adopts the charade of a war widow.

As Emily learns more about the volatile power of healing with herbs, the found journals will bring her to the brink of disaster, but may open a path to her destiny.

kindle edition is $5.99+

THEY'RE NOT EVEN CLOSE: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010. by Eric Zuesse

The Democratic and Republican Parties are virtual opposites of each other in their economic records, going back to the earliest period for which economic data were available, around 1910. More than a dozen studies have been done comparing economic growth, unemployment, average length of unemployment, stock market performance, inflation, federal debt, and other economic indicators, during Democratic and Republican presidencies and congresses, and they all show stunningly better performance when Democrats are in power, than when Republicans are. These studies are all available online, and they are all summarized and discussed in this path-breaking book, which settles, once and for all, the question of whether there’s any significant economic difference between the two Parties. Not only is there a difference, but – shockingly – it always runs in favor of Democrats in power. There might be other types of reasons for voting Republican, but all of the economic reasons favor voting for Democrats. Regarding economic performance, the two Parties aren’t even close.

CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, by Eric Zuesse

CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS is a work of investigative history. It documents and describes Christianity’s creation-event, which occurred in the year 49 or 50, in Antioch (present-day Antakya, Turkey), 20 years after Jesus had been crucified in Jerusalem for sedition against Roman rule. At this event, Paul broke away from the Jewish sect that Jesus had begun, and he took with him the majority of this new Jewish sect’s members; he convinced these people that Jesus had been a god, and that the way to win eternal salvation in heaven is to worship him as such. On this precise occasion, Paul explicitly introduced, for the first time anywhere, the duality of the previously unitary Jewish God, a duality consisting of the Father and the Son; and he implicitly introduced also the third element of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost.

This book also explains and documents the tortuous 14-year-long conflict Paul had had with this sect’s leader, Jesus’s brother James, a conflict which caused Paul, in about the year 50, to perpetrate his coup d’état against James, and to start his own new religion: Christianity.

Then, this historical probe documents that the four canonical Gospel accounts of the words and actions of “Jesus” were written decades after Jesus, by followers of Paul, not by followers of Jesus; and that these writings placed into the mouth of “Jesus” the agenda of Paul. Paul thus became, via his followers, Christ’s ventriloquist.

A work such as this can be documented and produced only now, after the development (during the past 70 years) of modern legal/forensic methodology. Previously, the only available methods, which scholars have used, simply assumed the honesty-of-intent of all classical documents, especially of canonical religious ones, such as Paul’s epistles, and the Four Gospels.

Only now is it finally possible to penetrate deeper than that, to reach the writer’s intent, and not merely his assertions, and to identify when this intent is to deceive instead of to inform. Whereas scholars have been able to discuss only the truth or falsity of particular canonical statements, it is now possible to discuss also the honesty or deceptiveness of individual statements.

This opens up an unprecedented new research tool for historians, and CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS is the first work to use these new methods to reconstruct, on this legal/forensic basis, not just how crimes took place, but how and why major historical events (criminal or not), such as the event that started Christianity, actually occurred.

The author explains: “What I am doing in this work is to reconstruct from the New Testament the crucial events that produced it, without assuming whether what the NT says in any given passage is necessarily true or even honest. Instead of treating the NT as a work that ‘reports history,' the NT is treated as a work whose history is itself being investigated and reported. Its origin goes back to this coup d’état that Paul perpetrated in Antioch in the year 49 or 50 against Jesus’s brother James in Jerusalem, whom Jesus in Jerusalem had appointed in the year 30 as his successor to lead the Jewish sect that Jesus had started. The Gospel accounts of ‘Jesus’ reflected Paul’s coup d’état – not actually Jesus, who would be appalled at the Christian concept of ‘Christ.' That concept was radically different from the Jewish concept of the messiah, and Paul knew this when he created it."

Dog War, By Anthony Winkler

Literary Fiction--A novel about a Christian Jamaican woman, Precious Higginson, whose adventures—from battling with her daughter-in-law in Jamaica to caring for a spoiled dog in a Fort Lauderdale mansion—force her to examine her conventional worldview and proud piousness, from an author with “a fine ear for patois and dialogue, and a love of language that makes bawdy jokes crackle” (The New Yorker).

South by South Bronx, By Abraham Rodriguez

THRILLER--American Book Award–winning author

When Puerto Rican ladies’ man Alex awakes one morning to find a mysterious woman in his bed, he assumes he’s suffered another embarrassing blackout. He soon learns, however, that Ava is not a one-night stand—in fact, he’s never met her before. As her story unfolds, it’s not just Alex’s life that she risks, nor her own, but the entire character of the South Bronx...

“A poetic thriller...A very different and rewarding mystery." —Booklist

Heidegger's Glasses, By Thaisa Frank

THRILLER--An occult Nazi program is threatened by a philosopher’s letter to a friend imprisoned at Auschwitz in this “stunning work, full of mystery and strange tenderness” (Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply).

“Taking readers to a curiously polyglot netherworld...Frank’s vision of the Holocaust is original and startling, with compelling characters and a narrative that’s both explosive and ponderous." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Obedient Assassin, By John P Davidson

THRILLER--A dark and riveting thriller that reimagines the life and mission of the Spanish nationalist enlisted to murder exiled Russian revolutionary leader LEON TROTSKY.

“Reading The Obedient Assassin is like watching a great Hitchcock movie." —Stephen Harrigan

Return of the Thin Man, By Dashiell Hammett

MYSTERY--A hugely entertaining read that brings back two classic characters from one of the greatest mystery writers who ever lived...When retired private investigator Nick Charles and his former debutante wife, Nora, return home to find Nora’s family gardener murdered, they're pulled into another deadly game of cat and mouse.

“Read Return of the Thin Man and rediscover why Dashiell Hammett was the peerless master of crime fiction in all its dark and bloody glory." —New York Journal of Books

Eaters of the Dead , By Michael Crichton

An “excellent” New York Times bestseller (Library Journal): When Ibn Fadlan accompanies Viking warriors to their homeland, he discovers a threat to their survival -- one that he himself must defeat… “Crichton knows how to craft a tale, one that keeps the reader turning the pages” (Houston Chronicle). $2.99 $9.99

From the bestselling author of Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Sphere comes an epic tale of unspeakable horror.

It is 922 A.D. The refined Arab courtier Ibn Fadlan is accompanying a party of Viking warriors back to their home. He is appalled by their customs—the gratuitous sexuality of their women, their disregard for cleanliness, and their cold-blooded sacrifices. As they enter the frozen, forbidden landscape of the North—where the day’s length does not equal the night’s, where after sunset the sky burns in streaks of color—Fadlan soon discovers that he has been unwillingly enlisted to combat the terrors in the night that come to slaughter the Vikings, the monsters of the mist that devour human flesh. But just how he will do it, Fadlan has no idea.

Purgatory Gardens, By Peter Lefcourt

Crime Fiction, Mystery--Retirement takes on new meaning in this hilarious work of poolside-noir where lust, greed, and murder collide in sunny Palm Springs, California. It’s Elmore Leonard meets Carl Hiaasen as directed by the Coen brothers in this laugh-out-loud “novel ready-made for the movies” (Publishers Weekly).

Sammy Dee is a mid-level Long Island mafioso in witness protection. Didier Onyekachukwu was the corrupt minister of finance of the former Upper Volta. Both men find themselves in middle age, living in a down-market condo complex called Paradise Gardens. Enter Marcy Gray, a “mature” actress barely getting by on a meager SAG pension. On the make for a guy to get her through tough times, her standards are not as high as they should be.

Sammy and Didier are mostly interested in getting into Marcy’s pants. Though a little of the money they mistakenly think she has wouldn’t hurt either. In competition for Marcy’s affections, each man decides to put a hit on the other. It’s Elmore Leonard meets Carl Hiaasen as directed by the Coen brothers in this hilarious romp of aging connivers looking for a second chance.

“Hilarious, touching, beautifully written, and engaging throughout . . . A hard-hitting but good-natured satire of just about everything that makes us Americans. Two thumbs up." —Howard Frank Mosher, author of Stranger in the Kingdom

“Wickedly clever and wildly entertaining, Purgatory Gardens is crime fiction raised to a high art." —Peter Quinn, author of Dry Bones

The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy, By J. Michael Orenduff

A Southwestern sleuth tries to retrieve some relics—and solve a murder—in a novel by an author who “knows how to hook the reader from the get-go” (Albuquerque Journal).

Pot thief Hubie Schuze is back, and this time his larceny is for a good cause. He wants to recover sacred relics lifted from San Roque, a mysterious pueblo that is closed to outsiders. Usually Hubie finds his pottery a few feet underground—but these artifacts are one hundred fifty feet above the New Mexico soil, on the top floor of the Rio Grande Lofts.

Hubie will need all his deductive skills to craft the perfect plan—which is thwarted when he encounters the beautiful Stella. And then he is arrested for murder. That tends to happen when you are in the room with the body, with blood on your hands. Follow Hubie as he stays one step ahead of security toughs, one step behind Stella, and never too far from a long fall.

The Pot Thief Who Studied Ptolemy is the 2nd book in the Pot Thief Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.

A Good Year, By Peter Mayle

A New York Times bestseller from the author of A Year in Provence: When banker Max finds himself the owner of a failing vineyard, it will take a coterie of locals to help turn sour grapes into something extraordinary. “The entertaining threads in this absolutely embracing novel are woven into a vibrant design” (Booklist). $1.99 $9.99 before

The Return of Dr. Sam Johnson, Detector, By Lillian de la Torre

Historical Mystery
There’s nothing like a good locked room mystery, and no detective quite as clever as Dr. Johnson. With Boswell at his side, he will solve the mystery of the barred door, using his wits against everything the killers and thieves of the Enlightenment throw his way...Lexicographer Dr. Samuel Johnson is back to solve the unsolvable in “the finest series of historical detective stories ever written” (Ellery Queen).

Last Word, By Mark Lane

Subtitle: My Indictment of the CIA in the Murder of JFK

Mark Lane tried the only U.S. court case in which the jurors concluded that the CIA plotted the murder of President Kennedy, but there was always a missing piece: How did the CIA control cops and secret service agents on the ground in Dealey Plaza? How did federal authorities prevent the House Select Committee on Assassinations from discovering the truth about the complicity of the CIA?

A Death in China, by Carl Hiaasen and Bill Montalbano

An American investigates a murder amid the secrecy and corruption of China in this crime thriller from the New York Times–bestselling author of Razor Girl. Crime Fiction, Thriller 1.99 $10.99 originally

Art history professor Tom Stratton hasn’t seen his former mentor David Wang for years—until they unexpectedly run into each other while Stratton is on a guided tour of China. But the reunion doesn’t last long. After Wang is found dead—and the American embassy fumbles the investigation—Stratton sets out to solve the mystery of the killing on his own.

Before long, he’s tangled in a web of corruption that reaches the highest seats of power. Beset by the suffocating secrecy and subterfuge of communist China, Stratton must find his friend’s murderer—before the fury of a brutal conspiracy closes in on him.

Along with Powder Burn and Trap Line, this international mystery is one of the early suspense thrillers written by Carl Hiaasen and Bill Montalbano, a writing team praised for their “fine flair for characters and settings” (Library Journal).

In Case You Missed it - Reposted From December 2006 - Why We're at War? Confessions of a USA Economic Hit Man, Meet John Perkins

By Sam Elfassy, January 29, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

John Perkins, a former respected member of the international banking community, author of "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", blows the lid of US imperiliasm and provides the reasons as to why it is at war in the Middle East.

Since his book was published, and his famous interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now TV, where he also describes more of the US ugly deeds against the innocent Iranian people, John Perkins has worked to get the truth out in every possible way.

Perkins describes himself as a former economic hit man - a highly paid professional who cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars - in US government service.

In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man he writes how he helped the US cheat poor countries around the world by blackmailing them to borrow more money than they could possibly repay and then take over their economies.

Pulitzer prize-winning author and Harvard Professor, John E. Mack, writes about the book: "One of the most important stories of our time… a work of great insight, moral courage and transformational depth…a page turner about the ruthlessness with which the United States uses economic manipulation and political coercion to extend our power and control over other nations".

Perkins writes: "The book was to be dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been his clients whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits - Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama. Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. THEY WERE ASSASSINATED BECAUSE THEY OPPOSED THAT FRATERNITY OF CORPORATE, GOVERNMENT, AND BANKING HEADS WHOSE GOAL IS GLOBAL EMPIRE. We Economic Hit Men failed to bring Roldós and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in".

Here is a three part speech given to the Veterans For Peace National Convention, Seattle, WA, in late 2006.

The Jews: Story of a People, By Howard Fast

From a New York Times bestselling author: Spanning 4,000 years of civilization, this well-researched work traces the history of the Jewish people from their nomadic beginnings to their impact on the modern world. $1.99 $7.99 originally

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, By Balli Kaur Jaswal

A Reese Witherspoon book club pick that’s “big-hearted” (Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). While teaching creative writing to a group of older Sikh women, Nikki learns to embrace her heritage. “Warm and hilariously funny” (Good Housekeeping). $1.99 $10.99 originally

Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club Pick

A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.

Every woman has a secret life . . .

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

Leisure: The Basis of Culture, by Josef Pieper

Kinle $9.99, Pph $13.56

One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Josef Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture is more significant, even more crucial, today than it was when it first appeared more than fifty years ago. This edition also includes his work The Philosophical Act.

Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world.

Pieper shows that the Greeks and medieval Europeans, understood the great value and importance of leisure. He also points out that religion can be born only in leisure -- a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God.

Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture. Pieper maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture -- and ourselves.

Eat the Rich, By P.J. O’Rourke

Explore Wall Street’s capitalism, Cuba’s socialism, and beyond in this witty dissection of the global economy -- a New York Times bestseller from “the funniest writer in America” (The Wall Street Journal). $1.99 $9.99 originally

A Dead Red Oleander, by R.P. Dahlke [fiction]

Nominated for a Global Award in Mystery

When a late in the season emergency forces Lalla Bains to accept a greenhorn ag pilot for her dad’s cropdusting business, she sighs in relief. After all, he comes highly recommended, his physical is spotless, and with a name like Dewey Treat, what could possibly go wrong?

Then her quirky relatives arrive from Texas and things go south in a hurry: Dewey Treat drops dead, his tearful widow claims he was murdered, clobbers Sherriff Caleb Stone with his own gun, and makes a run for it. Lalla, convinced the widow is innocent, sets out to prove it -- against the express wishes of fiancé Caleb Stone. Feds, local law, suspicious ag-pilots, nutso relatives, and her daddy’s new sidekick, Bruce the goat, make life a living hell for Lalla. Will her nosey nature solve the crime and save the day? Or put them all in mortal danger?

Sarah Kreps, Taxing Wars: The American Way of War Finance And the Decline of Democracy.

The Kantian logic that republics are more pacific is based on the idea that a citizenry will be reluctant to sacrifice blood and treasure for frivolous wars. One can argue that the shift from conscripted to volunteer militaries has reduced the reluctance among the citizens who know they will never have to fight. Kreps tackles the treasure part of this equation, and reaches some sobering conclusions. She argues, persuasively, that the American way of war financing has shifted. In the past, the United States applied wartime taxes that demanded sacrifice from all Americans. From the Korean War onward, however, the United States has borrowed rather than taxed. As the debates about America’s forever wars bubble to the surface, Kreps’s history of war finance offers up a sobering reminder that the sacrifices of armed conflict now are not what they used to be.

Michael Lewis, The Fifth Risk.

Michael Lewis is such a good writer that he made a book about baseball statistics gripping enough to be turned into a film starring Brad Pitt. There is no better author to make the federal bureaucracy an exciting read. “The Fifth Risk” addresses how the transition between the Obama and Trump administration presaged the mix of incompetence and ideology that President Trump’s appointees brought to places such as the Energy Department, the Agriculture Department and the Commerce Department. I challenge those of you who believe that none of these agencies do anything important to read the book and try to maintain that conviction. Furthermore, what Lewis writes about in “The Fifth Risk” tracks exactly what I and others have observed in the national security/foreign policy agencies.

The Second Death Of Daedalus Mole , By Niall Slater

An unconventional space opera: Daedalus Mole is eager to get rid of his passenger and hit the pub -- but she is more powerful than he knows, and worth more than he can imagine! “Clever, quirky, original, hilarious” (New York Times bestselling author Joanne Harris).

Cleverlands, By Lucy Crehan

What goes into a top-performing education system? A teacher from an underserved school embarks on an international search for new strategies in this thought-provoking book. “A powerful defense of the idea that there is a lot to learn from how other countries learn” (The Economist). $1.99 $4.61 originally

Mind of the Raven, By Bernd Heinrich

From a New York Times bestselling author and biologist comes this stunning exploration of one of the world’s most extraordinary birds -- from its habitat to its fascinating behavior. “Interesting and illuminating… Excellent” (Library Journal). $1.99 $10.99 originally.

The Shape of Ancient Thought, By Thomas McEvilley

From a celebrated critic and award-winning scholar: This unparalleled, extensively researched exploration of cultural philosophies traces the intermingling of Western and Eastern thought -- and comes to surprising conclusions. $1.99 $19.24 originaly

The People in the Trees , By Hanya Yanagihara

On a remote island in 1950, a young doctor finds the secret of eternal life among a mysterious indigenous tribe. But his astonishing discovery unleashes forces that could destroy him… “Compelling on every level” (Publishers Weekly starred review). $2.99 $11.99 originally

Inside Animal Hearts and Minds, By Belinda Recio

Do we have more in common with animals than we realize? This intriguing, insightful book examines rat friendships, prairie dog vocabularies, and other examples of incredible wildlife intelligence. “Eye-opening reading” (The Christian Science Monitor). $1.99 $13.99 originally

Good Old Dog, By Nicholas Dodman

From the renowned veterinary school at Tufts University: a comprehensive approach to patient care, cutting-edge science and technology, and a commitment to innovation. In this essential book, the experts bring their renowned clinic to you, sharing knowledge and advice to keep man’s best friend thriving through their golden years.

“A must read for pet lovers who want to ensure their dog has quality golden years." —USA Today


In Memory of Prolific Mystery Author M.C. Beaton, 1936—2019

The creator of beloved detectives Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin has passed away at the age of 83.

Scottish mystery author Marion Chesney Gibbons, better known by her pseudonym M.C. Beaton, died on December 30, 2019 at the age of 83. Beaton wrote over 160 books in her lifetime, many of which were categorized as cozy mysteries—although the author once told the Crime Hub that the “cozy” label was patronizing and anyone who disagreed could “swallow that opinion and put it where the sun don’t shine." Whatever you’d prefer to call them, Beaton’s mystery novels are immensely popular. Her books have been translated into 17 languages, have sold over 21 million copies worldwide, and at one point surpassed sales of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Beaton was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1936. She always cherished the idea of being an author, a dream that she pursued in earnest once she was in her forties. Before that, Beaton started out as a bookseller at John Smith & Sons Ltd., later working as a theater critic, a fashion editor, and as a reporter for the Scottish Daily Express, where she covered the crime beat—a position that would inspire plots for her future novels. Beaton turned to writing fiction in 1979. She published nearly 100 Regency romances before she met mystery writer Lawrence Block and was encouraged to try her hand at crime fiction.

Beaton will doubtless have a lasting influence on the mystery genre. Her most enduring creations are sleuths Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin, two beloved characters who were inspired by Beaton’s real-life travels. The long-running Hamish Macbeth series stars a laidback constable in the fictional Scottish Highlands village of Lochdubh. The books were adapted into a BBC series that ran for three seasons from 1995-1997, starring Robert Carlyle as the titular character. The Agatha Raisin series features a retired marketing executive who solves crime in the Cotswolds. In 2016, the amateur sleuth got her own television adaptation on Acorn TV, starring Ashley Jensen as Agatha. The show was renewed for a third season this year.

In a 2012 interview with The Independent, Beaton remarked, "I wanted to be an entertainer. All I wanted was to give what a lot of writers had given me: a good time on a bad day." We can safely say that she’s delivered on that promise for millions of readers, and we’ll always remember the writer for her witty and humorous mysteries.

Elle Casey

Elle Casey, a former attorney and teacher, is a NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and Amazon bestselling American author who lives in Tennessee with her husband, the youngest of her three kids, and a number of horses, dogs, and cats. She has written more than 40 novels and likes to say she offers fiction in several flavors. These flavors include romance, science fiction, urban fantasy, action adventure, suspense, and paranormal

Elle Casey blog

Six years ago, January 1, 2012, I self-published my first book Wrecked. Now I have over 40 novels under my belt, some published independently and some by Montlake Romance. My books have been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, Croatian, Serbian, Turkish, Hebrew, and Portuguese. I have readers on every continent and in many, many countries. I feel like a magic fairy came out of the woods six years ago and waved her magic wand over my head while I slept, because my life for the last six years has been like a dream come true. That's all because of my readers, and so here I am to thank you for making this life possible for me–for buying and reading my books, for reviewing them, for sharing them with friends, for being interested in my life, for communicating with me, and for being patient with me.

I've noticed something interesting about Life: it always seeks balance. A pendulum works on a balance, swinging first one way and then the next. I've learned that when life gives you good things, it will soon also give you bad things, challenges. When life gives you bad things, it will soon also give you good. And I've learned that it's best not to get too excited about the great things and not overly sad about the negative things because soon enough, the pendulum will swing in the other direction. I try to always be grateful for the good times and patient during the bad, because life goes on. Every cloud has a silver lining. Balance will be restored.

In the first several years of my writer-life, I wrote a book a month. Every single month, without fail, I published a new full length novel. Then I signed on with a publisher and my schedule was no longer just my own. I still published a lot of books, but it was not possible to do 12 in a year. Then I had some personal tragedies roll through my world that further slowed me down–injuries, death, suicide. And then I got sick. And I got sicker and sicker still. Let's just say that 2017 was a struggle. I managed to fulfill my obligations to my publisher for the books I had contracted to write, but I struggled with my independent titles. I let a lot of readers down and many of them let me know it.

This is why I thank you especially for your patience this year. Now that my doctor and I are getting a handle on this chronic disease I have, making dietary and life changes to lessen my symptoms and increase my energy levels, I have faith and fully believe that 2018 is going to be a great year for me, both in my work and with my family and friends. I'm fully committed to finishing the War of the Fae series–books 9 and 10 at the beginning of the year, to adding 3 more books to the Drifters' Alliance series, and to starting a new adult fantasy/paranormal series. I have 3 new romances (Red Hot Love series) launching in 2018 that were written in 2017, so my romance readers will also be happy, I hope. Early reviews are great! Pre-orders now available for the entire series. I probably won't write a book a month this year or next, but I will provide you with stories you can get lost in and characters you can either love to love or love to hate. That's my goal, anyway.

Once again, thank you. I appreciate you. I am honored to have you as a reader and maybe also as a friend. And if you've been disappointed by my lack of follow through on War of the Fae, please accept my humblest apologies. I have and will continue to do my best to get these last two books out to you as soon as possible.

Amazon Elle Casey page


New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writings from the City Kindle Edition by Andrei Codrescu 4's

A “lovely collection” of essays by the NPR commentator about his beloved adopted city, both before and after Hurricane Katrina (Publishers Weekly).

NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu has long written about the unique city he calls home. How apt that a refugee born in Transylvania found his place where vampires roam the streets and voodoo queens live around the corner; where cemeteries are the most popular picnic spots; the ghosts of poets, prostitutes, and pirates are palpable; and in the French Quarter, no one ever sleeps.

Codrescu’s essays have been called “satirical gems," “subversive," “funny," “gonzo," and “wittily poignant”—here is a writer who perfectly mirrors the wild, voluptuous character of New Orleans itself. This retrospective follows him from newcomer to near native: first seduced by the lush banana trees in his backyard and the sensual aroma of coffee at the café down the block, Codrescu soon becomes a Window Gang regular at the infamous bar Molly’s on Decatur; does a stint as King of Krewe de Vieux Carré at Mardi Gras; befriends artists, musicians, and eccentrics; and exposes the city’s underbelly of corruption, warning presciently about the lack of planning for floods in a city high on its own insouciance. Alas, as we all now know, Paradise is lost, but here Codrescu also writes about how the city’s heart still beats even after 2005’s devastating hurricane.

New Orleans, Mon Amour is a portrait of an incomparable place, from a writer who “manages to be brilliant and insightful, tough and seductive about American culture” (The New York Times Book Review).

“Finely honed portraits of a fabled city and its equally fabled inhabitants. The author, who has called the Big Easy home for two decades, shows how, like some gigantic bohemian magnet, New Orleans attracts some of the world’s most talented, self-indulgent freaks. Codrescu finds himself quite at home there. He expertly weaves pages of New Orleans history through his stories of personal discovery and debauchery. . . . Readers can’t help coming away from reading it without an abiding hope in the ability of ordinary people, under the worst circumstances, rising to whatever challenges they face." —Publishers Weekly

Ender's Shadow (The Shadow Saga Book 1) Kindle Edition by Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card brings us back to the very beginning of his brilliant Ender Quartet, with the novel that begins The Shadow Series and allows us to reenter Ender's world anew.

With all the power of his original creation, Ender's Shadow is Card's parallel volume to Ender's Game, a book that expands and complements the first, enhancing its power, illuminating its events and its powerful conclusion.

The human race is at War with the "Buggers", an insect-like alien race. The first battles went badly, and now as Earth prepares to defend itself against the imminent threat of total destruction at the hands of an inscrutable alien enemy, all focus is on the development and training of military geniuses who can fight such a war, and win.

The long distances of interstellar space have given hope to the defenders of Earth--they have time to train these future commanders up from childhood, forging then into an irresistible force in the high orbital facility called the Battle School.

Andrew "Ender" Wiggin was not the only child in the Battle School; he was just the best of the best. In this new book, card tells the story of another of those precocious generals, the one they called Bean--the one who became Ender's right hand, part of his team, in the final battle against the Buggers.

Bean's past was a battle just to survive. He first appeared on the streets of Rotterdam, a tiny child with a mind leagues beyond anyone else's. He knew he could not survive through strength; he used his tactical genius to gain acceptance into a children's gang, and then to help make that gang a template for success for all the others. He civilized them, and lived to grow older.

Bean's desperate struggle to live, and his success, brought him to the attention of the Battle School's recruiters, those people scouring the planet for leaders, tacticians, and generals to save Earth from the threat of alien invasion. Bean was sent into orbit, to the Battle School. And there he met Ender....


Ender series
Ender’s Game / Ender in Exile / Speaker for the Dead / Xenocide / Children of the Mind

Ender’s Shadow series
Ender’s Shadow / Shadow of the Hegemon / Shadow Puppets / Shadow of the Giant / Shadows in Flight

Children of the Fleet

The First Formic War (with Aaron Johnston)
Earth Unaware / Earth Afire / Earth Awakens

The Second Formic War (with Aaron Johnston)
The Swarm /The Hive

Ender novellas
A War of Gifts /First Meetings

The Time of the Wolf: A Novel of Medieval England Kindle Edition by James Wilde

The national bestselling story of England’s real-life Robin Hood. “A masterful tale, graphic and gory, and loaded with medieval history” (Publishers Weekly).

A London Times bestseller, this rousing historical debut rescues one of England’s forgotten heroes from the mists of medieval history and brings him to brutal and bloody life.

1062, a time many fear is the End of Days. With the English King Edward heirless and ailing, across the grey seas in Normandy the brutal William the Bastard waits for the moment when he can drown England in a tide of blood. The ravens of war are gathering. But as the king’s closest advisors scheme and squabble amongst themselves, hopes of resisting the naked ambition of the Norman duke come to rest with just one man: Hereward.

To some a ruthless warrior and master tactician, to others a devil in human form, Hereward is as adept in the art of warfare as the foes that gather to claim England’s throne. But in his country’s hour of greatest need, his enemies at court have made him an outlaw. To stay alive—and a free man—he must carve a bloody swath from the frozen lands outside the court in this evocative tale of a man whose deeds will become the stuff of legend.

Tracks: One Woman's Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback, by Robyn Davidson

The blacks were unequivocally the enemy -- dirty, lazy, dangerous. Stories of young white lasses who innocently strayed down the Todd at night, there to meet their fate worse than death, were told with suspect fervour. It was the only subject anyone had got fired up about. I had heard other stories back home too -- of how a young black man was found in an Alice gutter one morning, painted white. Even back in the city where the man in the street was unlikely ever to have seen an Aborigine, let alone spoken to one, that same man could talk at length, with an extraordinary contempt, about what they were like, how lazy and unintelligent they were. This was because of the press, where clichéd images of stone-age drunks on the dole were about the only coverage Aborigines got, and because everyone had been taught at school that they were not much better than specialized apes, with no culture, no government and no right to existence in a vastly superior white world; aimless wanderers who were backward, primitive and stupid.

‘What about the blacks?' I asked. The suspiciousness returned.

‘There’s nothing damn well wrong with the blacks except what the whites do to them.'

Toni Morrison

When I was a teen, and English wouldn’t stick, Toni Morrison taught me to read

Her writing resisted being rushed, and even the parts that chilled me lit up something fierce.

By Cleyvis Natera. Cleyvis Natera holds a Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from New York University, and is currently at work on her first novel, "Neruda in the Park." August 7.

Toni Morrison not only remade American literature, she challenged us to resist the tenacity of racism

Author Toni Morrison in 1994. The Nobel laureate
died Monday at age 88. (Kathy Willens/AP)

"124 was spiteful."

With that enigmatic opening line of “Beloved," Toni Morrison, who died Monday at the age of 88, placed her indelible stamp on American literature.

That a black woman should write the greatest novel of the 20th century is a glorious rebuke to our long history that denigrated women and African Americans. From the furnace of her genius emerged a book that melded America’s past into a work of enduring art -- gothic, magical, magisterial. And the passage of more than three decades has done nothing to diminish the power of that masterpiece. It remains, like the world’s most famous monuments, both familiar and astonishing, as capable of inspiring awe as it did when it first appeared in 1987.

Trailblazing author Toni Morrison was the first African American woman
to win the Nobel prize for literature, died Aug. 5. Her legacy goes
beyond awards. (Video: Adriana Usero/Photo: Illustration:
Sarah Hashemi/The Washington Post)

Most authors are silenced by death. But a few -- Shakespeare, Austen, Twain -- grow more amplified by each new generation. We had the blessing of reading Morrison as she was writing. Others will have the blessing of rediscovering her.

The granddaughter of a slave, Morrison wrote the novel that definitively dismantled a century of Southern romanticism. Arguments about states' rights or fantasies of antebellum gentility were scythed by her storytelling. With "Beloved," she dared to expose not just the injustice of slavery, but the full spectrum of its obscenity. She uncovered the ghastly metal devices wrapped around black necks and crammed into black mouths. She explored the sickening abuses of "science" to justify racial hierarchies. She blasted the myth of the benevolent plantation.

And most dramatically, she called forth the spirit of trauma that still haunts this nation, what she once called “the tenacity of racism." Recalling the true story of Margaret Garner, an African American woman who killed her own daughter rather than allow her to be dragged back into slavery, Morrison presented America’s “peculiar institution” in terms so visceral and intimate that no reader could endure it unshaken. It was the greatest love wrapped in the greatest horror.

The scope of Morrison’s accomplishments is impossible to exaggerate. She published her first classic, “The Bluest Eye," at the age of 39, at a time when books by black authors -- no matter what their subjects or genres -- were usually ghettoized in bookstores and rounded up in newspaper book sections like so many curiosities. The initial response to “The Bluest Eye” was, in her own words, “slight, even hostile," but fame came, and she went on to write 10 more novels -- including “Sula," “Song of Solomon” and “Paradise” -- stories that placed black women at the center, in the full complexity of their lives. In 2008, she returned to the earliest days of American slavery to write “A Mercy," a short, feverish novel that reminded us of her stylistic sorcery. And just four years ago, at the age of 84, she published her last novel, “God Help the Child," which brought her back to the tragic themes of “The Bluest Eye."

As a professor at Princeton and elsewhere, she encouraged generations of students and future writers to reimagine American literature and remake it. Before that, as an editor at Random House -- the first female African American editor in the company’s history -- she broke down old racial barriers and welcomed new authors into the canon. And she remained an insightful cultural and literary critic who published a new collection of her essays and speeches just a few months ago in “The Source of Self-Regard."

Some of those pieces are decades old, but none of them feel dated. As this summer has demonstrated so horrifically, the rhetoric of racial hatred maintains its currency in America, even from the highest realms. The words of Morrison’s Nobel acceptance speech from 1993 still ring with relevance:

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge," she said. “It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind."

The ferocity of that wisdom didn’t dampen the joy of her spirit. In 2015 when she accepted a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Critics Circle in New York, she radiated delight -- not in herself but in the remarkable possibilities of this nation.

Book review: Toni Morrison's 'Home,' a restrained but powerful novel

It’s that twining of brutal insight and determined hope that generates such energy in “Beloved." The novel is packed full with devastating moments, but one quiet one sticks in my mind. It takes place in 1874. A black man named Stamp Paid is tying up his boat on the bank of a river when he catches sight of what he thinks must be a cardinal’s feather. “He tugged," Morrison writes, “and what came loose in his hand was a red ribbon knotted around a curl of wet woolly hair, clinging still to its bit of scalp." After all the lynchings, the school burnings, the property thefts, it’s this tiny scrap of atrocity that finally exhausts Stamp Paid. “What are these people?" he asks. “You tell me, Jesus. What are they."

America is still struggling to answer that question.

“We die," Morrison said in her Nobel acceptance speech. “That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives."

We’re still plumbing the dimensions of hers.

Ron Charles writes about books for The Washington Post and hosts


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* V Changing the book Font on your Kindle Fire 7

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison not only remade American literature, she challenged us to resist the tenacity of racism

Author Toni Morrison in 1994. The Nobel laureate
died Monday at age 88. (Kathy Willens/AP)

"124 was spiteful."

With that enigmatic opening line of “Beloved," Toni Morrison, who died Monday at the age of 88, placed her indelible stamp on American literature.

That a black woman should write the greatest novel of the 20th century is a glorious rebuke to our long history that denigrated women and African Americans. From the furnace of her genius emerged a book that melded America’s past into a work of enduring art -- gothic, magical, magisterial. And the passage of more than three decades has done nothing to diminish the power of that masterpiece. It remains, like the world’s most famous monuments, both familiar and astonishing, as capable of inspiring awe as it did when it first appeared in 1987.

Trailblazing author Toni Morrison was the first African American woman
to win the Nobel prize for literature, died Aug. 5. Her legacy goes
beyond awards. (Video: Adriana Usero/Photo: Illustration:
Sarah Hashemi/The Washington Post)

Most authors are silenced by death. But a few -- Shakespeare, Austen, Twain -- grow more amplified by each new generation. We had the blessing of reading Morrison as she was writing. Others will have the blessing of rediscovering her.

The granddaughter of a slave, Morrison wrote the novel that definitively dismantled a century of Southern romanticism. Arguments about states' rights or fantasies of antebellum gentility were scythed by her storytelling. With "Beloved," she dared to expose not just the injustice of slavery, but the full spectrum of its obscenity. She uncovered the ghastly metal devices wrapped around black necks and crammed into black mouths. She explored the sickening abuses of "science" to justify racial hierarchies. She blasted the myth of the benevolent plantation.

And most dramatically, she called forth the spirit of trauma that still haunts this nation, what she once called “the tenacity of racism." Recalling the true story of Margaret Garner, an African American woman who killed her own daughter rather than allow her to be dragged back into slavery, Morrison presented America’s “peculiar institution” in terms so visceral and intimate that no reader could endure it unshaken. It was the greatest love wrapped in the greatest horror.

The scope of Morrison’s accomplishments is impossible to exaggerate. She published her first classic, “The Bluest Eye," at the age of 39, at a time when books by black authors -- no matter what their subjects or genres -- were usually ghettoized in bookstores and rounded up in newspaper book sections like so many curiosities. The initial response to “The Bluest Eye” was, in her own words, “slight, even hostile," but fame came, and she went on to write 10 more novels -- including “Sula," “Song of Solomon” and “Paradise” -- stories that placed black women at the center, in the full complexity of their lives. In 2008, she returned to the earliest days of American slavery to write “A Mercy," a short, feverish novel that reminded us of her stylistic sorcery. And just four years ago, at the age of 84, she published her last novel, “God Help the Child," which brought her back to the tragic themes of “The Bluest Eye."

As a professor at Princeton and elsewhere, she encouraged generations of students and future writers to reimagine American literature and remake it. Before that, as an editor at Random House -- the first female African American editor in the company’s history -- she broke down old racial barriers and welcomed new authors into the canon. And she remained an insightful cultural and literary critic who published a new collection of her essays and speeches just a few months ago in “The Source of Self-Regard."

Some of those pieces are decades old, but none of them feel dated. As this summer has demonstrated so horrifically, the rhetoric of racial hatred maintains its currency in America, even from the highest realms. The words of Morrison’s Nobel acceptance speech from 1993 still ring with relevance:

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge," she said. “It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind."

The ferocity of that wisdom didn’t dampen the joy of her spirit. In 2015 when she accepted a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Critics Circle in New York, she radiated delight -- not in herself but in the remarkable possibilities of this nation.

Book review: Toni Morrison's 'Home,' a restrained but powerful novel

It’s that twining of brutal insight and determined hope that generates such energy in “Beloved." The novel is packed full with devastating moments, but one quiet one sticks in my mind. It takes place in 1874. A black man named Stamp Paid is tying up his boat on the bank of a river when he catches sight of what he thinks must be a cardinal’s feather. “He tugged," Morrison writes, “and what came loose in his hand was a red ribbon knotted around a curl of wet woolly hair, clinging still to its bit of scalp." After all the lynchings, the school burnings, the property thefts, it’s this tiny scrap of atrocity that finally exhausts Stamp Paid. “What are these people?" he asks. “You tell me, Jesus. What are they."

America is still struggling to answer that question.

“We die," Morrison said in her Nobel acceptance speech. “That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives."

We’re still plumbing the dimensions of hers.

Ron Charles writes about books for The Washington Post and hosts


What Toni Morrison said about Trump supporters and fears of the 'collapse of white privilege'

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison won global acclaim for her ability to tell the story of the black American experience -- and specifically the damaging effects of racism -- when few authors with national platforms were addressing the issue.

Her death on Monday at 88 coincided with national conversations about the role President Trump has played in stoking white nationalism. Many fans of Morrison are reflecting on her words criticizing the consuming nature of dismantling racism.

Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, Morrison wrote “Making America White Again," an essay for the New Yorker about the cultural anxiety that she said motivated most of the white Americans who voted for Trump. She wrote:

"So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.

On Election Day, how eagerly so many white voters—both the poorly educated and the well educated—embraced the shame and fear sowed by Donald Trump. The candidate whose company has been sued by the Justice Department for not renting apartments to black people. The candidate who questioned whether Barack Obama was born in the United States, and who seemed to condone the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester at a campaign rally. The candidate who kept black workers off the floors of his casinos. The candidate who is beloved by David Duke and endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan."

The "terror" that Morrison mentioned when describing some Trump supporters has revealed itself in recent days following a mass shooting in El Paso where police believe the suspect probably posted an online rant using language that mirrors rhetoric used by President Trump. The posting is still under investigation.

Fear led many voters to choose a president whose vision of America resembled the days of decades past -- a period that Morrison often featured in her work.

While largely known for her fiction, Morrison was not afraid to wade into the very real world of national politics. She made headlines for referring to President Bill Clinton as “the first black president” because of how his political enemies treated him during his impeachment.

She told Time magazine in 2008: “People misunderstood that phrase. I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-a-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him. I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race."

That year, she endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who four years later presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Morrison, who often wrote about how cruel America had been to its black citizens, spoke of a newfound affection for the United States with the election of Obama, the country’s first black president.

“I felt very powerfully patriotic when I went to the inauguration of Barack Obama," she told the Guardian. “I felt like a kid. The Marines and the flag, which I never look at -- all of a sudden it looked … nice. Worthy. It only lasted a couple of hours. But I was amazed, that music that I really don’t like -- ‘God Bless America’ is a dumb song; I mean it’s not beautiful. But I really felt that, for that little moment."

One of things Morrison also felt was that how racism functions keeps people -- especially people of color -- from focusing on far more important things. In one her most quoted statements from a 1975 speech at Portland State University, she said:

“The real enemy is, and to know the function, the very serious function of racism, which is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining over and over again, your reason for being."

“None of that is necessary," she added. “There will always be one more thing."


If you want to see how pervasive the threat to white status or privilege is in our current politics and how Republicans have exploited it--and you are willing to do some hard reading--I recommend The Long Southern Strategy by Angie Maxwell and Todd Shields (Miss America's father). It explains a number of anomalies such as working poor whites with inadequate health coverage being strongly opposed to the ACA.

To me one of the most powerful lines in Beloved was said by the aged grandmother: "We wouldn't have no bad luck at all, 'ceptin for white folks". In 2019, that line could apply to every black, brown, Jew, and Muslim in America.

Toni Morrison will be remembered by people around the world more indelibly, honorably and gratefully than Donald Trump could ever dream of in his own case. The meaning of dark skin is a social construct. The meaning of a dark soul is its social and moral horror.

I don't care what those idiots were thinking when they voted for Trump. The fact is they voted for Trump and they will bear the guilt for ever single ugly consequence of the Trump administration for the rest of their lives.

Toni Morrison taught me how to really read

I was, apparently, late to learn to read as a child, a fact that seems hilarious to me in retrospect. I held off, determined to keep up the ritual of bedtime reading with my parents, until a neighbor girl demonstrated that she’d mastered this new skill, and then I couldn’t catch up fast enough. My parents told me this, though I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t read. I still vividly recall what it’s like to read Elizabeth Enright’s “Gone-Away Lake” and “Return to Gone-Away” on a New England porch on a hot summer day; the shade of dress a young Laura Ingalls Wilder is wearing on the Garth Williams cover of “Little House in the Big Woods”; the guilty pleasure of cracking the spine on a “Star Wars” Expanded Universe novel on the way home from our late, lamented science fiction and fantasy bookstore.

And yet, though I’d been buried in books for a decade before I encountered her work, I still feel like Toni Morrison is the person who really taught me how to read.

My senior year of high school, I took an elective English class on religion and literature. After making our way through the Old Testament in its entirety and diving down into hell with both Dante and John Milton, we were assigned to read “Song of Solomon." While it’s hardly the first book I ever remember reading, it is certainly the first time I recollect feeling a fierce drive to understand how a book worked. I read and reread it, parsing Morrison’s references to the Bible, other works of literature and American history. I marveled at the way she pulled plot threads together, weaving her characters more and more tightly until the novel ended in a way I hadn’t expected, but that felt inevitable once I had arrived there. And I marveled at Morrison’s ability to both construct the whole edifice of a novel and also to write novels that felt like the individual sections of stained-glass windows. There are a lot of great final sentences in literature, but few that can claim to rival the conclusion to “Song of Solomon”: “If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it."

An Oct. 7, 1993, photo of U.S. author Toni Morrison in her
office at Princeton University. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

The lessons Morrison taught me about how to read know no boundaries. Because “Song of Solomon” is rooted in the bodies and desires of its characters, it helps me understand why Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels work, even though Morrison’s book has a black American man as its main character and the other is about a group of women from Naples. And these insights are deeply democratic. The same pull to map the connections between characters, plotlines and allusions in “Song of Solomon” helped me spend years analyzing HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones."

When I think about “Song of Solomon” now, it stands as a milestone in my mind, between the time when I simply devoured books, and the time when I learned to truly see them. Unlike Morrison’s protagonist, Milkman, I’ll never learn to fly. But all these years later, “Song of Solomon” is one of the few books that’s made me feel like some sort of magical understanding was within my grasp.

Toni Morrison’s measured words, 12-6-93, Eugene Robinson

STOCKHOLM, DEC. 7 -- Novelist Toni Morrison, the first African American to win the Nobel Prize in literature, spoke today of the ability of language to oppress and empower as she delivered her Nobel lecture to a packed house in the ornate Grand Hall of the Swedish Academy.

"Oppressive language does more than represent violence, it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge, it limits knowledge," Morrison said. "Whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek -- it must be rejected, altered and exposed."

Morrison equated language with existence itself. "We die. That may be the meaning of our lives," she said. "But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives."

The lecture, held in a soaring 18th-century room with gilt-covered walls and glittering chandeliers, is one of the highlights of a week of events for the 62-year-old novelist and Princeton University professor. On Friday she and this year's other Nobel winners will receive their prizes and then be honored at a formal banquet at Stockholm's city hall.

Before then, she and the others will be shuttled around the city. With its islands and stone bridges and garlands of tiny white Christmas lights, Stockholm looks and feels like the perfect setting for a fairy tale.

And Morrison, suddenly, is the princess. She was given a standing ovation before she began her lecture this evening and another when she finished, and in between she spoke metaphorically, and at times more directly, about the power she finds in the written and spoken word.

"Fiction has never been entertainment for me," she said. "It is the work I have done for most of my adult life."

The choice of Morrison for the Nobel generally won warm praise, but a few writers groused that it had less to do with merit than political correctness. Today, Morrison offered what could be read as a spirited defense of the view that words are weapons, often used by the strong against the weak.

The lecture took the form of a meditation on a folk tale: An old, blind woman lives on the outskirts of town. Some children decide to play a trick on her. One of them says he has a bird in his hand and asks her to tell him if it is living or dead. The woman is silent for a long time, then finally says: "I don't know whether the bird you are holding is dead or alive, but what I do know is that it is in your hands. It is in your hands."

The bird, Morrison said, can be read as a metaphor for language itself. And a dead language is not only one no longer in use, but also one unreceptive to new speakers, new ways of speaking and new ideas -- "statist language, censored and censoring."

Words can be used to "sanction ignorance and preserve privilege," she said, to provide "shelter for despots," to create "menace and subjugation." There is "diplomatic language to countenance rape, torture, assassination" and "seductive, mutant language designed to throttle women, to pack their throats like pate-producing geese with their own unsayable, transgressive words."

“Underneath the eloquence, the glamour, the scholarly associations, however stirring or seductive, the heart of such language is languishing, or perhaps not beating at all -- if the bird is already dead."

But despite its power, she said, language is not a substitute for experience but rather "arcs toward the place where meaning might lie." At the end of Morrison's folk tale, the children who have come to taunt the blind woman react to her gnomic answer by telling a story of their own. The point is that they have approached the encounter speaking different languages and ended up telling a narrative together.

The author of six novels, Morrison is best known for two books, “Song of Solomon” and “Beloved." In awarding the prize, the Swedish Academy praised her work as being “characterized by visionary force and poetic impact [that] gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

The prize, first given in 1901, is worth $825,000 this year. Morrison is the eighth woman to win, and the first African American, coming after such celebrated writers as James Baldwin and Richard Wright were passed over.

The daughter of sharecroppers, Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford. She attended Howard University and Cornell University, where she received an MA in American literature. She married, had two sons and divorced, and began writing fiction when she was working as a book editor in New York.

When "Beloved" failed to win a National Book Award, four dozen black writers wrote a statement of protest. The book was later awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1988.

Morrison’s work has drawn some criticism for what some call excessively negative portrayals of black men. But today there was no controversy. Morrison paused and smiled broadly as she surveyed her rapt audience. The fairy tale was hers.

Eugene Robinson writes a twice-a-week column on politics and culture and hosts a weekly online chat with readers. In a three-decade career at The Washington Post, Robinson has been city hall reporter, city editor, foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor, and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper’s Style section.

Toni Morrison, Nobel laureate who transfigured American literature, dies at 88, 8-6-19

Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist who conjured a black girl longing for blue eyes, a slave mother who kills her child to save her from bondage and other indelible characters who helped transfigure a literary canon long closed to African Americans, died Aug. 5 at a hospital in the Bronx. She was 88.

Paul Bogaards, a spokesman for the publishing company Alfred A. Knopf, announced the death and said the cause was complications from pneumonia.

Ms. Morrison spent an impoverished childhood in Ohio steel country, began writing during what she described as stolen time as a single mother and became the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in literature. Critically acclaimed and widely loved, she received recognitions as diverse as the Pulitzer Prize and the selection of her novels -- four of them -- for the book club led by talk-show host Oprah Winfrey.

Ms. Morrison placed African Americans, particularly women, at the heart of her writing at a time when they were largely relegated to the margins both in literature and in life. With language celebrated for its lyricism, she was credited with conveying, as powerfully or more than perhaps any novelist before her, the nature of black life in America, from slavery to the inequality that went on more than a century after slavery ended.

Among her best-known works was “Beloved” (1987), the Pulitzer-winning novel later made into a film starring Winfrey. It introduced millions of readers to Sethe, a slave mother haunted by the memory of the child she had murdered, having judged life in slavery worse than no life at all. Like many of Ms. Morrison’s characters, she was tortured, yet noble -- “unavailable to pity," as the author described them.

Video: Toni Morrison Nobel Lecture (1993)

Video: Toni Morrison, what racism is

Video: Toni Morrison Dislikes Conservative Ideas and Values!

“The Bluest Eye” (1970), Ms. Morrison’s debut novel, was published as she approached her 40th birthday, and it became an enduring classic. It centered on Pecola Breedlove, a poor black girl of 11 who is disconsolate at what she perceives as her ugliness. Ms. Morrison said that she wrote the book because she had encountered no other one like it -- a story that delved into the life of a child so infected by racism that she had come to loathe herself.

“She had seen this little girl all of her life," reads a description of Pecola. “Hair uncombed, dresses falling apart, shoes untied and caked with dirt. They had stared at her with great uncomprehending eyes. Eyes that questioned nothing and asked everything. Unblinking and unabashed, they stared up at her. The end of the world lay in their eyes, and the beginning, and all the waste in between."

Ms. Morrison’s Nobel Prize, bestowed in 1993, made her the first native-born American since John Steinbeck in 1962 to receive that honor. The citation recognized her for “novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import” and that breathed life into “an essential aspect of American reality."

Ms. Morrison was “an African American woman giving voice to essentially silent stories," Elizabeth Beaulieu, the editor of “The Toni Morrison Encyclopedia," said in an interview. “She is writing the African American story for American history."

Beyond her own literature, Ms. Morrison was credited with giving voice to black stories through her work as a Random House editor beginning in the late 1960s. There was a “terrible price to pay," she once remarked, for leaving the comfortable familiarity of Lorain, the Ohio town where she had grown up, for a career in an unwelcoming white society.


Dec. 10, 1993 | Morrison receives the Nobel Prize in literature from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in the Concert Hall in Stockholm. She was the first African American woman to receive the award. (AP)

Sept. 1, 1987 | Morrison poses with a copy of her book “Beloved” in New York City. (David Bookstaver/AP)

Morrison, who conjured a black girl longing for blue eyes, a slave mother who kills her child to save her from bondage and other indelible characters who helped transfigure a literary canon long closed to African Americans, died Aug. 5 at a hospital in the Bronx.

April 5, 1994 | Morrison holds an orchid at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. (Kathy Willens/AP)

Nov. 21, 1994 | Nigerian Nobel Prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka poses with Morrison after his news conference in Paris. (Remy de la Mauviniere/AP)

1997 | Morrison in 1997. (Timothy Greenfield-Sanders)

Dec. 20, 2000 | President Bill Clinton embraces Morrison after awarding her a National Humanities Medal during ceremonies at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. (Rick Bowmer/AP)

Feb. 17, 2001 | Morrison shares a moment with actors and activists Ossie Davis, center, and his wife, Ruby Dee, during a 70th birthday tribute for Morrison hosted by the Toni Morrison Society and Alfred A. Knopf in New York. (Darla Khazeli/AP)

Nov. 12, 2003 | Morrison reads from her new book, “Love," in Washington, D.C. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Nov. 12, 2003 | Morrison signs a book for one of her many fans in Washington, D.C. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Nov. 16, 2005 | Morrison delivers remarks before presenting a National Book Award to Norman Mailer in New York. (Henny Ray Abrams/AP)

Nov. 5, 2007 | Morrison accepts her 2007 Glamour magazine Woman of the Year award in New York. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Nov. 14, 2007 | Joan Didion, left, and Morrison pose for a picture at the 58th National Book Awards in New York. (Seth Wenig/AP)

May 4, 2008 | Morrison laughs at herself for making a premature entrance as then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker introduces her at the Inaugural Induction Ceremony of the New Jersey Hall of Fame at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. (Cie Stroud)

Dec. 3, 2008 | Morrison poses for a portrait in 2008. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Nov. 3, 2010 | Morrison smiles after being awarded the Legion of Honor by French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand in Paris. (Thibault Camus/AP)

Nov. 5, 2010 | Morrison, center, speaks with Christophe Caresh as she attends the unveiling ceremony of a memorial bench marking the abolition of slavery, in Paris. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

May 15, 2011 | Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and Ernesto J. Cortes Jr., a community activist, share the stage during a Rutgers University commencement ceremony in Piscataway, N.J. Both were given honorary degrees during the event. (Julio Cortez/AP)

May 29, 2012 | Morrison smiles with President Barack Obama as he prepares to award her a 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

May 29, 2012 | Morrison is presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama at the White House. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Feb. 27, 2013 | Morrison speaks during an interview about her book “Home” with host Torrence Boone during Google’s online series, “Authors At Google," in New York. (Bebeto Matthews/AP)

June 4, 2013 | Morrison is awarded an honorary degree during Princeton University’s graduation ceremonies in Princeton, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP)

But she wanted to participate in the creation of a “canon of black work," she said. While raising two sons, and while pursuing her own writing in the hours before dawn, she shepherded into print works including autobiographies of boxer Muhammad Ali and political activist Angela Davis.

“There are writers that we would not know had she not been in that very crucial position as a black woman in publishing," Angelyn L. Mitchell, a professor of English and African American studies at Georgetown University, said in an interview.

Ms. Morrison also helped anthologize the writings of African authors including Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka. She oversaw the publication of “The Black Book” (1974), a best-selling documentation of black life in America that included advertisements for the sale of slaves, photographs of lynchings, and images of churches and other spiritual places that had helped sustain black communities.

In addition to professorial duties at Yale and Princeton universities, Ms. Morrison was an essayist and lecturer, weighing in with withering force on race and its role in the events of her times.

One of her most provocative public commentaries came during what she saw as the persecution of President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. In a polarizing New Yorker magazine essay, she observed that Clinton, his “white skin notwithstanding," was “our first black President."

“Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime," Ms. Morrison wrote in that article, published in 1998, a decade before Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and a white American mother, occupied the White House. “After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."

At the end of her life, her dreadlocks by then streaked with gray, Ms. Morrison often appeared to fill the role of a sage elder. In 2012, President Obama awarded her the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, recognizing her for “her nursing of souls and strengthening the character of our union."

Obama described her as “one of our nation’s most distinguished storytellers," a judgment that was nearly unanimous among literary critics. They tussled, however, over whether Ms. Morrison was best described as an African American writer, an African American female writer or simply an American writer -- and whether the label mattered at all.

“I can accept the labels," Ms. Morrison told the New Yorker in 2003, “because being a black woman writer is not a shallow place but a rich place to write from. It doesn’t limit my imagination; it expands it. It’s richer than being a white male writer because I know more and I’ve experienced more."

A granddaughter of a slave

Ms. Morrison, one of four children, was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, on Feb. 18, 1931. Her parents, George Wofford and the former Ramah Willis, were transplanted Southerners. A grandfather had been born into slavery.

Ms. Morrison’s father held various jobs, including working as a car washer, a steel welder and a construction worker, and the family moved frequently.

Her mother was hopeful about the future of race relations, but her father, she wrote in a 1976 essay in the New York Times, distrusted “every word and every gesture of every white man on earth." Once, she recalled, he threw a white man down the steps and then tossed a tricycle toward him, believing that the man intended to molest his daughters.

“I think my father was wrong," Ms. Morrison wrote in the Times, “but considering what I have seen since, it may have been very healthy for me to have witnessed that as my first black-white encounter."

At 12, Ms. Morrison made the personal step of converting to Catholicism, the faith followed by a branch of her extended family, and took Anthony as her baptismal name. For short, she became Toni.

As a writer, Ms. Morrison would draw on her experiences as a child. Once, she and another black child discussed whether there was a god. “I said there was," Ms. Morrison told the New Yorker, “and she said there wasn’t and she had proof: she had prayed for, and not been given, blue eyes."

She enrolled in Howard University in Washington, receiving a bachelor’s degree in English in 1953 and, two years later, a master’s degree in English from Cornell University. She soon joined the Howard faculty, where her students included the civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael.

While at Howard, she married a Jamaican architect, Harold Morrison. They had two sons, but their marriage was an unhappy one, in part, she told the Times, because “women in Jamaica are very subservient in their marriages."

“I was a constant nuisance to mine," she said.

In her unhappiness, she sought escape through writing. One early story was about a black girl who longed to have blue eyes.

After divorcing, Ms. Morrison moved with her sons to Syracuse, N.Y., where she became a textbook editor before joining the Random House headquarters in New York. She said that, as an editor, she avoided the simultaneous release of books by multiple black authors so that reviewers, who seemed to regard works by African Americans as all of a piece, would not be enticed to dump them into a single review.

Later, as an author, she encountered some of the same prejudices.

“I was reading some essay about the ‘Black Family,'?" she once recalled, “and the writer went into a comparison between one of my novels and ‘The Cosby Show.'?" The analogy, she told Time magazine, was “like comparing apples and Buicks."

'When black wasn't beautiful'

Ms. Morrison rewrote her old short story as the novel “The Bluest Eye” in part, she said, to counter the prevailing credo of the time, “Black is beautiful."

“When people said at that time black is beautiful -- yeah? Of course," she told the Guardian. “Who said it wasn’t? So I was trying to say .?.?. wait a minute. Guys. There was a time when black wasn’t beautiful. And you hurt."

In that book, Pecola is raped by her father, Cholly Breedlove. But even that event is complex, the result of the father’s lifetime spent in oppression.

“Miss Morrison exposes the negative of the Dick-and-Jane-and-Mother-and-Father-and-Dog-and-Cat photograph that appears in our reading primers, and she does it with a prose so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry," Times book reviewer John Leonard wrote in 1970.

Ms. Morrison’s next book was “Sula” (1973), about two women from a black community called the Bottom who diverge in their decades-long friendship. In that work and others, Ms. Morrison said she tried to capture black sisterhood.

It was “so critical among black women because there wasn’t anybody else," she once told the publication Poets and Writers. “We saved one another’s lives for generations. When I was writing ‘Sula,' I was talking about a relationship that fell apart, because I wanted the reader to miss it."

Ms. Morrison ventured into the experience of black men in “Song of Solomon” (1977), a family epic centered on Macon Dead, known as Milkman, who searches for his identity through his family lineage. Widely acclaimed, the novel, with its far-reaching story line, was compared with Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude."

After “Song of Solomon” came “Tar Baby” (1981), set on a Caribbean island, and then “Beloved." The novel was inspired by the story of a real runaway slave, Margaret Garner, who was caught as she escaped from Kentucky to freedom in Ohio in the 1850s and slit the throat of her 3-year-old daughter before being returned to her master.

“I wanted to translate the historical into the personal," Ms. Morrison told the Paris Review. “I spent a long time trying to figure out what it was about slavery that made it so repugnant, so personal, so indifferent, so intimate, and yet so public."

The intensity of her books at times attracted criticism, and no work more than “Beloved." Stanley Crouch, the cultural critic, called the work a “blackface holocaust novel." He described Ms. Morrison as “immensely talented” but remarked, according to Time magazine, that she would benefit from “a new subject matter, the world she lives in, not this world of endless black victims."

Outside such criticism, however, “Beloved” was praised as one of the most significant works of the century.

“If she wrote only ‘Beloved,' that would have been enough," said Mitchell, of Georgetown, “because in that she is able to take her readers to a moment in American history that is unthinkable."

In 1988, 48 black writers -- among them Maya Angelou, Alice Walker and Ernest J. Gaines -- placed an open letter in the Times protesting the fact that Ms. Morrison had not yet received the National Book Award or the Pulitzer Prize. That year, the Pulitzer went to “Beloved."

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard University historian, remarked that she won the Nobel primarily for “Beloved” and her novel “Jazz” (1992), set in Harlem in the 1920s, whose voice he described as “combining Ellington, Faulkner and Maria Callas."

Ms. Morrison’s later novels included “Paradise” (1997), set in an all-black town in the Western United States; “Love” (2003), about the many lives affected by a deceased hotel owner; “A Mercy” (2008), an exploration of early American slavery; “Home” (2012), a portrait of a returning Korean War veteran; and “God Help the Child” (2015), the story of a black woman rejected because of the darkness of her skin, and the far-reaching effects of childhood pain.

Other works by Ms. Morrison included a play, “Dreaming Emmett," written in the 1980s about the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till. She wrote the libretto for an opera, “Margaret Garner," composed by Richard Danielpour, about the slave who inspired “Beloved," and co-wrote children’s books with her son Slade Morrison, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2010.

Survivors include her son Harold Ford Morrison of Princeton, N.J.; and three grandchildren.

For all the exploration of race in Ms. Morrison’s works, one of her most enduring messages was delivered through its absence. In “Paradise," Ms. Morrison forced readers to guess which character was the white woman whose murder is foretold in the book’s first words.

“I did that on purpose," Ms. Morrison told Time. “I wanted the readers to wonder about the race of those girls until those readers understood that their race didn’t matter. I want to dissuade people from reading literature in that way."

She continued: “Race is the least reliable information you can have about someone. It’s real information, but it tells you next to nothing."

They read Toni Morrison in school -- and she changed their world

Toni Morrison taught me that I owe myself my whole self

How Toni Morrison’s words pierced me, as a black Christian female writer

In Toni Morrison’s words, I found the wisdom and protection my mother wasn’t able to provide: Writer Nadia Owusu’s mother left when she was 2. Growing up, she turned to novels like ‘The Bluest Eye’ and ‘Song of Solomon.'

Ayn Rand

Think you already detest Ayn Rand? Here's an abso-freakin'-lutely amazing story that'll have you...

...looking for new adjectives to express your disgust.

Thom Hartmann has written a really fascinating article over at alternet. If I were you I’d just click on it right now and read it fresh, as there is no way I can do it justice here.

The right-wing love affair with Ayn Rand ties conservatism to one of the most disturbing sociopathic killers

Written by Thom Hartmann / Independent Media Institute August 12, 2019

There's a direct link between a sociopathic killer in 1927 and the GOP's willingness to embrace a sociopathic president like Trump. That link runs through the work of Ayn Rand.

When Donald Trump was running for the GOP nomination, he told USA Today's Kirsten Powers that Ayn Rand's raped-girl-decides-she-likes-it novel, The Fountainhead, was his favorite book.

"It relates to business, beauty, life and inner emotions," he told Powers. "That book relates to … everything."

Trump probably knew that anything by Rand would be the right answer for Republicans; the party has embraced her for decades, to the point that Paul Ryan required interns to read her books as a condition of employment.

Powers added, "He [Trump] identified with Howard Roark, the novel's idealistic protagonist who designs skyscrapers and rages against the establishment." Roark raged so much in the novel that he blew up a public housing project with dynamite just to get his way.

Rand was quite clear about the characteristics she wrote into her heroes, and in particular Howard Roark. In her Journals, she writes of the theme of the book, "One puts oneself above all and crushes everything in one's way to get the best for oneself. Fine!"

On Howard Roark, she writes that he "has learned long ago, with his first consciousness, two things which dominate his entire attitude toward life: his own superiority and the utter worthlessness of the world. He knows what he wants and what he thinks. He needs no other reasons, standards or considerations. His complete selfishness is as natural to him as breathing."

Roark seems like the kind of man who would brag about grabbing women by the genitals because, "When you're a star, they let you do it." But this was long before Donald Trump was on the scene.

Instead, the man who so inspired Ayn Rand's fictional heroes was a real sociopath named William Edward Hickman, who lived in Los Angeles.

Ten days before Christmas, in 1927, Hickman, a teenager with slicked dark hair and tiny, muted eyes, drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High School in Los Angeles, California, and kidnapped Marion Parker—the daughter of a wealthy banker in town.

Hickman held the girl ransom, demanding $1,500 from her father—back then about a year's salary. Supremely confident that he would elude capture, Hickman signed his name on the ransom notes, "The Fox."

After two days, Marion's father agreed to hand over the ransom in exchange for the safety of his daughter. What Perry Parker didn't know is that Hickman never intended to live up to his end of the bargain.

The Pittsburgh Press detailed what Hickman, in his own words, did next.

"It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me," he said. "I just couldn't help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marion. Then, before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly."

Hickman didn't hold back on any of these details: he was proud of his cold-bloodedness.

"I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. I knew she was dead."

But Hickman wasn't finished. "After she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out"

Hickman then dismembered the child piece-by-piece, putting her limbs in a cabinet in his apartment, and then wrapped up the carved-up torso, powdered the lifeless face of Marion Parker, set what was left of her stump torso with the head sitting atop it in the passenger seat of his car, and drove to meet her father to collect the ransom money.

He even sewed open her eyelids to make it look like she was alive.

On the way, Hickman dumped body parts out of his car window, before rendezvousing with Marion Parker's father.

Armed with a shotgun so her father wouldn't come close enough to Hickman's car to see that Marion was dead, Hickman collected his $1,500, then kicked open the door and tossed the rest of Marion Parker onto the road. As he sped off, her father fell to his knees, screaming.

Days later, the police caught up with a defiant and unrepentant Hickman in Oregon. His lawyers pleaded insanity, but the jury gave him the gallows.

To nearly everyone, Hickman was a monster. The year of the murder, the Los Angeles Times called it "the most horrible crime of the 1920s." Hickman was America's most despicable villain at the time.

But to a young Russian idealist just arriving in America, Hickman was a hero.

And while Hickman the man has, today, been largely forgotten, Hickman the archetype has lived on and influenced our nation in a profound fashion, paving the way for Donald Trump, a man with no empathy or consideration of social norms, to one day occupy the White House.

The kind of man who would pose with a tiny baby, the youngest survivor of a slaughter that he, himself encouraged with his hateful rhetoric, and mug for the camera with a thumbs-up sign.

Two years before William Edward Hickman was sentenced to death, a 21-year-old Russian political science student named Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum arrived in New York Harbor on a French ocean liner. The year was 1926, and she was on the last leg of her dream trip to the Land of Opportunity, scurrying across the Soviet Union, Germany, and France before procuring a first-class cabin aboard the S.S. De Grasse, bound for the United States.

Alissa was a squat five-foot-two with a flapper hairdo and wide sunken dark eyes that gave her a haunting stare. And etched into those brooding eyes was burned the memory of a childhood backlit by the Russian Revolution.

She had just departed Leninist Russia where, almost a decade earlier, there was a harsh backlash against the Russian property owners—the people who were rich with Russian money like Donald Trump—by the Bolsheviks. Alissa's own family was targeted, and at the age of 12 she witnessed Bolshevik soldiers burst into her father's pharmacy business, loot the store, and plaster on the doors the red emblem of the state indicating that his private business now belonged to "the people."

That incident left such a deep and burning wound in young Alissa's mind, that she went to college to study political science and vowed one day she'd become a famous writer to warn the world of the dangers of Bolshevism.

Starting afresh in Hollywood, she anglicized her name to Ayn Rand, and moved from prop-girl to screenwriter/novelist, basing the heroes of several of her stories on a man she was reading about in the newspapers at the time. A man she wrote effusively about in her diaries. A man she hero-worshipped.

He was the most notorious man in American in 1928, having achieved a level of national fame she craved—William Edward Hickman.

What young Ayn Rand saw in Hickman that would encourage her to base a novel, then her philosophy, then her life's work, on him was quite straightforward: unfeeling, unpitying selfishness.

He was the kind of man who would revel in the pain parents would feel when their children were ripped from their arms and held in freezing cages for over a year.

In Hickman, Ayn Rand wrote that she had finally found the new model of the Superman (her phrase, likely borrowed from Friedrich Nietzsche). Only a worldview held by a man like Hickman, she believed, could ever prevent an all-powerful state from traumatizing another generation of small businesspeople and their children as the Bolsheviks had her family.

Hickman's words as recounted by Rand in her Journals, "I am like the state: what is good for me is right," resonated deeply with her. It was the perfect articulation of her belief that if people pursued their own interests above all else—even above friends, family, or nation—the result would be utopian.

She wrote in her diary that those words of Hickman's were, "the best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I ever heard.

Hickman—the monster who boasted of how he had hacked up a 12-year-old girl—had Rand's ear, as well as her heart. She saw a strongman archetype in him, the way that people wearing red MAGA hats see a strongman savior in Donald Trump.

As Hickman’s murder trial unfolded, Rand grew increasingly enraged at how the mediocre American masses had rushed to condemn her Superman, much like today people Trump calls mediocre condemn him and the killings that may have emerged from his rhetoric, from Charleston to Charlottesville to El Paso.

"The first thing that impresses me about the case," Rand wrote in reference to the Hickman trial in early notes for a book she was working on titled The Little Street, "is the ferocious rage of the whole society against one man."

Astounded that Americans didn't recognize the heroism Hickman showed when he proudly rose above simply conforming to society's rules, Rand wrote, "It is not the crime alone that has raised the fury of public hatred. It is the case of a daring challenge to society. .. It is the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatever for all that society holds sacred, with a consciousness all his own."

In other words, a man who lives exclusively for himself. A narcissistic psychopath. A man who could sell out his own country to foreign powers, tearing apart his nation's people, just for his own enjoyment.

Rand explained that when the masses are confronted with such a bold actor, they neither understood nor empathized with him. Thus, "a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy [was] turned [by the media] into a purposeless monster."

The protagonist of the book that Rand was writing around that time was a boy named Danny Renahan. In her notes for the book, she wrote, "The model for the boy [Renahan] is Hickman." He would be her ideal man, and the archetype for a philosophical movement that could transform a nation.

"He is born with the spirit of Argon and the nature of a medieval feudal lord," Rand wrote in her notes describing Renahan. "Imperious. Impatient. Uncompromising. Untamable. Intolerant. Unadaptable. Passionate. Intensely proud. Superior to the mob… an extreme 'extremist.' … No respect for anything or anyone."

The kind of man who would tell over 12,000 lies in two and a half years, who would daily lie to the press and his nation, just because he could—and would revel in it.

Rand wanted capitalism in its most raw form, uncheck by any government that could control the rules of the market or promote the benefits of society. Such good intentions had, after all, caused the hell she'd experienced in the Bolshevik Revolution, just like they'd caused Fred Trump to be arrested and fined for refusing to maintain apartments that black people had moved into.

Ayn Rand, like Hickman, found in the extremes her economic, political, and moral philosophy. Forget about democratic institutions, forget about regulating markets, and forget about pursuing any policies that benefit the majority at the expense of the very rich—the rule-makers and rule-enforcers could never, ever do anything well or good. Only billionaires should rule the world, as Trump has suggested.

Trump personifies this, putting an advocate of destroying public schools in charge of public schools, a coal lobbyist in charge of the EPA, an oil lobbyist in charge of our public lands, and a billionaire described by Forbes as a "grifter" in charge of the Commerce Department. His chief of staff said that putting children in cages (where seven so far have died) would actually be a public good. Don't just ignore the rules; destroy them.

Welfare and other social safety net programs were, as Rand saw it, "the glorification of mediocrity" in society. Providing a social safety net for the poor, disabled, or unemployed, she believed, were part of a way of thinking that promoted, "satisfaction instead of joy, contentment instead of happiness… a glow-worm instead of a fire."

She, like Trump, lived a largely joyless life. She mercilessly manipulated people, particularly her husband, and, like Trump, surrounded herself with cult-like followers who were only on the inside so long as they gave her total, unhesitating loyalty.

Like Trump and his billionaire backers, she believed that a government promoting working-class "looters" instead of solely looking out for capitalist "producers" was throwing its "best people" under the bus.

In Rand's universe, the producers had no obligations to the looters. Providing welfare or sacrificing one nickel of your own money to help a "looter" on welfare, unemployment, or Social Security—particularly if it was "taken at the barrel of a gun" (taxes)—was morally reprehensible.

Like Trump saying, "My whole life I've been greedy," for Rand looking out for numero uno was the singular name of the game—selfishness is next to godliness.

Later in Rand’s life, in 1959, as she gained more notoriety for the moral philosophy of selfishness that she named "Objectivism" and that is today at the core of libertarianism and the GOP, she sat down for an interview with CBS reporter Mike Wallace.

Suggesting that selfishness undermines most American values, Wallace bluntly challenged Rand.

"You are out to destroy almost every edifice in the contemporary American way of life," Wallace said to Rand. "Our Judeo-Christian religion, our modified government-regulated capitalism, our rule by the majority will... you scorn churches, and the concept of God… are these accurate criticisms?"

As Wallace was reciting the public criticisms of Rand, the CBS television cameras zoomed in closely on her face, as her eyes darted back and forth between the ground and Wallace's fingers. But the question, with its implied condemnation, didn't faze her at all. Rand said with confidence in a matter-of-fact tone, "Yes."

"We’re taught to feel concerned for our fellow man," Wallace challenged, "to feel responsible for his welfare, to feel that we are, as religious people might put it, children under God and responsible one for the other—now why do you rebel?"

"That is what in fact makes man a sacrificial animal," Rand answered. She added, "[man's] highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness."

Rand's philosophy, though growing in popularity on college campuses, never did—in her lifetime—achieve the sort of mass appeal she had hoped. It was confined to college coffee shops, intellectual conferences, and true-believer journals, but never hit the halls of Congress, the mainstream television airwaves, or water-cooler political debates. There were the handful of "true believers," but that was it... until today.

Now, Ayn Rand's philosophy is a central tenet of today's Republican Party and the moral code proudly cited and followed by high-profile billionaires and the president of the United States.

Ironically, when she was finally beginning to be taken seriously, Ayn Rand became ill with lung cancer, and went on Social Security and Medicare to make it through her last days. She died a "looter" in 1982, unaware that her sociopathic worldview would one day validate an entire political party's embrace of a sociopathic narcissist president.

Thom Hartmann is a talk-show host and the author of The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment and more than 25 other books in print. He is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute.

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute.

Courage and kindness in a small French village, a haven for refugees

Jane Eisner is director of academic affairs at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

The Plateau

By Maggie Paxson

358 pp. $28

In 2004, then-French President Jacques Chirac visits Le Chambon-sur-Lignon’s former train station with the town’s mayor, left, and Nazi death camp survivor Simone Veil, in doorway. (AP Photo/Patrick Gardin)

The village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon sits on a high plateau in southern France, remote and isolated, subject to brutal winter winds and yet protected by its stunning terrain. While France itself is predominantly Catholic, most of Le Chambon’s residents are Protestants, and the hardiness demanded by geography and reinforced by religious difference has created a stalwart people used to their own quiet code of behavior.

But those factors alone do not explain why this village defied Nazi occupiers during World War II by rescuing and hiding countless strangers, mostly children, and why it continues to welcome refugees today. Geography and religion alone do not explain why Le Chambon retains its hold on the imagination by raising the deepest questions about the capacity for human love in the face of extreme human cruelty.

In his 2011 memoir, “My Long Trip Home," the journalist Mark Whitaker, whose maternal grandfather, Edouard Theis, was an assistant pastor during the war, describes the village as an “international symbol of moral courage." Most famously, the philosopher Philip Hallie probed the ethical underpinnings of the Chambonnais in his landmark book, “Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed," published in 1979. As he wrote: “The struggle in Le Chambon began and ended in the privacy of people’s homes. .?.?. Their consciences told them to save as many lives as they could, even if doing this meant endangering the lives of all the villagers; and they obeyed their consciences."

And now, the anthropologist Maggie Paxson picks up the thread in her new book, “The Plateau," a loving combination of personal memoir, historical investigation and philosophical meditation. After years of studying strife-torn communities, Paxson focused on Le Chambon because she yearned to study peace, to conduct “research that asked how, in hard times, regular decency can sometimes translate into extraordinary kindness."

I’m not sure she answers her own question. Perhaps it is unanswerable.

But in the process of trying, Paxson introduces us to vivid characters, from the past and present, and uses their stories to probe the deepest recesses of the human condition with candor and true feeling.

Her quest begins with regret: When she was 15 years old, her parents allowed her to tour Europe with a friend and her family. During that time, a distant relative by marriage invited Paxson to visit her in France, but it all seemed too much for a teenager, and the visit never happened.

Years later, Paxson learned that the relative, Suzie Trocmé, was a cousin of André Trocmé, Le Chambon’s beloved pastor and moral leader, who with his wife, Magda, is credited with preaching, teaching and modeling active, nonviolent resistance against the Nazis that saved thousands of lives. Even more poignantly, Suzie’s younger brother Daniel played a key role in those dangerous years, directing first one and then two homes for refugee children and young people until his arrest, imprisonment and eventual death in the Majdanek concentration camp in the spring of 1944.

Paxson’s search to learn more about Daniel Trocmé drives the book’s narrative with such passion that it sometimes clouds her analysis of what motivated him to sacrifice on behalf of total strangers. Then again, as much as Paxson probes Daniel’s writings and interactions to piece together his life, there remains something indecipherable about his story, and you sense Paxson grieving for him without always knowing why. “I didn’t mean to follow you all the way here when I began," she writes plaintively.

His innate goodness was hardly unique in his community. As Paxson writes: “In the business of sheltering children, there were many jobs to be done. .?.?. There were those who retrieved children from the train stations; those who took care of their daily needs; those who passed on messages or forged documents. There were those who inspired at the pulpit -- not just André Trocmé but a dozen other pastors -- and others who inspired in the classroom or the town square; and those assigned to the psychological well-being of the kinds of children who were so seized by fear and sorrow that they had night terrors and wet their beds."

In repeated visits to the Plateau, Paxson gradually earns the trust of villagers whose silence was both an inbred personality trait and a survival strategy during the war. (In a famous scene recounted in Hallie’s book, when André Trocmé and Theis return to Le Chambon after a brutal internment by the Nazis, the townspeople gathered to greet them in respectful silence, knowing that with spies in the crowd, cheers would only endanger others.)

Eventually, Paxson is able to interview older Chambonnais about their experiences during the war, and she juxtaposes them with younger residents who are continuing to shelter asylum refugees from war-torn nations around the world. The current circumstances are different, of course -- welcoming strangers may upset the cultural and economic status quo, but it does not endanger the very lives of villagers. French far-right politicians may grumble, but today Nazis aren’t waiting to imprison those who help Chechens and West Africans and Armenians.

Paxson spends a lot of time getting to know this new generation of refugees -- indeed, she grows so close to some families that she drops all pretense of scholarly objectivity -- and those who help them. Her examination of the culture clash that accompanies dislocation and exile is powerfully rendered. In one of many touching passages, she describes the challenge of being an injured Muslim man in a Christian country. “There are many fine things, here in Mairbek’s sunny, safe apartment, far from the warring lands of Chechnya -- here, where the daffodils have already begun again to explode in the forest and in the fields. Where his daughter can clutch them in her hand without fear. But there is no meat for a tall dark man with one leg who sits in the shade. All hunger; no meat."

But I never felt that she got to the crux of the matter. “Under the moral leadership of André Trocmé and Edouard Theis," Hallie wrote decades ago, “the people of Le Chambon would not give up a life for any price -- for their own comfort, for their own safety, for patriotism, or for legality. For them, human life had no price; it had only dignity."

How are those values maintained without that moral leadership today, since the good pastors are long gone? What inspires generation after generation to do this work? Would it continue if the stakes were as serious as they were during the Nazi occupation? I wish that Paxson had trained her considerable intellect and compassion toward these deeper questions. But perhaps they are, indeed, unanswerable. And in times like ours, perhaps it is enough to elevate these stories as examples and aspirations.

“If we would understand the goodness that happened in Le Chambon, we must see how easy it was for them to refuse to give up their consciences, to refuse to participate in hatred, betrayal, and murder, and to help the desperate adults and the terrified children who knocked on their doors in Le Chambon," Hallie observed of the World War II residents. “Goodness is the simplest thing in the world, and the most complex, like opening a door."

Paxson has movingly showed us that the doors in Le Chambon continue to open.

The Plateau

By Maggie Paxson

Riverhead. 358 pp. $28

A Yale professor frets about a waning aristocracy

by Michael S. Roth is president of Wesleyan University. His most recent book is “Safe Enough Spaces: A Pragmatist’s Approach to Inclusion, Free Speech, and Political Correctness on College Campuses."

Photo of Yale
At Yale University, Anthony Kronman charges, a “tide of egalitarianism” is undermining the school’s mission to create future leaders of “superior character." (Photo by Stan Godlewski for The Washington Post)

Anthony Kronman has spent most of his life at Yale University, where he was once dean of the law school and now teaches in a Great Books humanities program. He looks at his beloved campus today and sees pernicious changes all around him. Where once there was respect for human greatness and superior achievement, he now sees the desire for equality undermining the school’s essential mission. That mission, Kronman believes, depends on embracing aristocracy, the original meaning of which is “rule by the best." The mission of Yale, which Kronman somehow assumes is the mission of higher education more generally, is to separate out superior individuals who have the ability to contemplate the enduring questions, the meaning of life. These exemplary human beings participate in a “conversational community” on “islands of excellence in a democratic sea."

But today, he writes in his new book, “The Assault on American Excellence," these beautiful souls are threatened by the “tide of egalitarianism on America’s campuses [which] has reached unprecedented heights."

Like so many others who have followed the template laid down by Allan Bloom in his surprise 1987 bestseller, “The Closing of the American Mind," Kronman wants his readers to believe that his own fears about his favorite, very exclusive university are really decisive for the future of the country as a whole. The desire for equality that is ruining his Yale isn’t just a threat to the Ivy League, it’s an “assault on American excellence." The whole country is at risk! As Bloom saw things from his academic perch, the 1960s and 1970s turned college campuses into bastions of prejudice that made serious learning all but impossible. Students, he complained, had been inculcated with a prejudice from their earliest school days that tolerance is the greatest virtue and that everyone should be allowed their own truth. This assumption led to a moral imperative toward equality: If we can’t know which beliefs are true, we must respect them all.

Bloom famously painted a picture in which an unconscious commitment to equality and a refusal to make judgments about the truth of ideas combined to ensure that nobody would pursue fundamental questions such as “how one should live” or “what the good life is” with the seriousness they deserved. He argued that the students around him thought they were open-minded, but it was a contemptible “openness of indifference." Over the past 30 years his complaints have been repeated by a herd of academic pundits trying to reach a wide book-buying audience by attacking leftist professors (“tenured radicals”), conformist undergraduates (“excellent sheep”) or overprotected students (“coddled” minds).

Looking back at his 40 years at Yale, Kronman now joins the pack of disaffected academics who find their students dangerously different from young people in the good old days. Back when he was a student activist, Kronman tells the reader, protests were rough, but they “recognized the distinction between politics and intellectual inquiry." Today’s undergraduates, in his view, don’t respect this distinction, nor do they acknowledge the superior value of the life of the mind. He likes to cite famous figures (Alexis de Tocqueville, H.L. Mencken) who also saw equality as a threat to (perceived) superior quality, apparently believing this adds weight to his opinions. Kronman believes that his beloved campus is being dominated by political correctness masquerading as tolerance, and that the possibility of authentic discussions or vigorous debates is being eroded by “levelers” more concerned with nuances of persistent racism than with the meaning of life as explored by the Great Books.

In chapters on “Excellence” and “Speech” Kronman asserts the value of open-ended conversations with students who are searching for how to live better, fuller lives. Although he realizes the oddity of saying that college seminars are likely to make students more virtuous, he does really believe “one conduces to the other." Conversation has an ethic of its own, he writes, encouraging students to become self-reflective, to leave behind conventional opinion, and to explore with freedom and independence what it is to live as fully as possible. This is a powerful description of liberal education and the openness to the “moral ambiguity” it creates. Alas, Kronman goes on to assert that this education helps students become members of a natural aristocracy, developing a “superior character” that should result in such people being “elevated to positions of leadership with sufficient frequency for the regime to survive."

Kronman doesn’t say anything about how these superior beings would rule, but he does say they are more human and more real. He fails to give a single argument for his view of what real humans are or even a robust description of what superior character is. He just cherry-picks the canon to support the notion that his preferred mode of philosophic conversation does indeed raise one above everybody else. Socratic humility and irony disappear in the author’s commitment to his own taste.

I completely agree with Kronman that colleges and universities should offer “islands of excellence” for people who want to study esoteric topics or want to pursue the arts, psychology, economics, biophysics or even the meaning of life without the pressure of market or political forces. And much of higher education does just that. Vocationalism and the tendency to cater to students as consumers, in fact, are much greater threats to these islands than political correctness.

Kronman paints a paranoid picture of campus life, and I am unpersuaded by the recycled anecdotes meant to show that a tide of levelers rejects the very notion of recognizing great achievement. For better or worse, at many universities, students (and faculty) are hungry for recognition of all kinds -- pursuing grades, majors, minors and badges on the student side, and publications, citations and positive evaluations on the faculty side.

I turned to the final chapter on “Memory” hoping for some relief from discussion of an aristocracy drawn from the best seminar participants, but it is infected by the same parochialism as the rest of the book. The 50 pages that Kronman devotes to the controversies over changing the name of Yale’s John C. Calhoun College might have been better for a memo left in the faculty lounge. I do appreciate his point in regard to monuments that providing more historical context is usually preferable to the organized erasure of even a painful past. However, likening the scrubbing of the white supremacist’s name from the college to the murders and historical erasure practiced by Soviet totalitarianism struck me as evidence of neither superior character nor sound judgment.

We live in an age of radical inequality. Opportunities are hoarded by the wealthy and powerful, while the traditional paths for social advancement, especially higher education, seem increasingly to be used to reproduce privilege rather than to promote mobility. This is a real problem for real human beings, but you won’t find it discussed in “The Assault on American Excellence."

The Assault on American Excellence

By Anthony Kronman

Free Press.
272 pp. $27

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Emmanuelle (Emmanuelle: The Joys of a Woman), is an erotic novel by Emmanuelle Arsan originally written in French and published in France in 1967. It was translated into and published in English in 1971 by Mayflower Books. It is a series of explicit erotic fantasies of the author in which she has sex with several—often anonymous—men, women, and her husband. It is written in the third person and the reader sees events entirely through the eyes of the sexually adventurous heroine. The book sold widely and later went on to be adapted into a film. The book had two print sequels, and the film launched an extended series.

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The Vibrant Caribbean Pot Cookbook -- 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes, Vol 2

$39.97 hardcover; $29.97 softcover

Indian in 7: Delicious Indian recipes in 7 ingredients or fewer by Monisha Bharadwaj

Kindle $11.99 Paperback $19.50 was $24.99 $3.99 shipping

The Vibrant Caribbean Pot - Over 100 Recipes for Cooking the Best Traditional and Fusion Caribbean Food Hardcover – 2014 by Chris de la Rosa (Author)

Currently unavailable at Amz

My Modern Caribbean Kitchen: 70 Fresh Takes on Island Favorites Paperback – July 24, 2018 by Julius Jackson (Author) bought kindle 2-21-20

$16.06 ppbk; $9.99 kindle

In this exciting collection, Julius Jackson takes the dishes he grew up with and applies his own culinary fair so you can craft home-cooked meals bursting with the distinct spices and tasty ingredients the Caribbean is known for.

Fantastic, tropical favor is easy to achieve?start the day of with Island-Style Farina for a classic Caribbean morning. No-Mess Curry Chicken is an easy meal that packs a tasty punch, and One-Pot Wonder Chicken and Rice is a crowd pleaser. Tangy Creole Fish is crisp and fresh, while Panfried Plantains can be enjoyed anytime throughout the day. Infused with Julius’s experiences of island life, these recipes are the perfect blend of traditional cuisine, unexpected twists and unforgettable favor.

About the Author

Julius Jackson is a professional chef, professional boxer and Olympian who was born and raised in the US Virgin Islands. He is manager and head chef of My Brother’s Workshop Bakery and Café, partner in USVI Catering and creator of “The Chef’s Cooking Lab” culinary experience. Julius has made appearances on Showtime, Food Network, the Cooking Channel and Telemundo. He lives in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

5s On point Caribbean recipes
I have ordered Caribbean cookbooks and never impressed with the recipes that usually seem incomplete, didn’t taste good, or added unusual things I’ve never seen my Caribbean family and friends use or omitted an important step. This book is the bomb. It has helped me perfect my conch and make a pot of falling off the bone stew chicken.

5s authentic and easy to follow recipes
I really enjoyed this cookbook, which features recipes from my childhood home (St. Thomas, USVI). I found the recipes to be authentic and easy to follow.

5s Delicious recipes with accurate pictures
verything I hoped it would be. 2 recipes down, pumpkin soup and pigeon peas and rice which were delicious. My mom and I plan to make a good majority of the recipes in the book. She said she can get rid of her other complicated cookbooks now because this one was easy to follow and provided you a picture so you can gauge your end result on how it should look! Thank you!!

Paperback: 176 pages

Cook Jamaican! Paperback – May 19, 2014 by Joan Jacqueline Lue (Author)

$25.58 paperback; no kindle version 5s

A Jamaican cookbook covering all the basics of Jamaica's traditional cooking with a glossary of our indigenous fruits and vegetables. Written by an experienced culinary artist with clear instructions and guaranteed results.

Paperback: 134 pages

Source for Blackeyed peas with mushrooms rx

'a collection of brilliantly accessible, super-speedy recipes' Stylist

Using easy-to-source ingredients available from most supermarkets, Indian in 7 is packed full of dishes that you can effortlessly pull together any night of the week.

With years of experience teaching students how to make tasty and authentic Indian food, Monisha shows that cooking mouthwatering Indian meals doesn't require a cupboard stocked full of spices or a long list of obscure and unpronounceable ingredients.

With 80 irresistible recipes, chapters are divided into:

* Fresh - vibrant, colourful and healthy meals, such as Fire-roasted aubergine with red onion & yogurt, Fragrant lime rice and Paneer & pea curry

* Comfort - bowls of warming dahl or Egg & chilli toast perfect to curl up with on a cold winter's night
* Fast - on the table in 30 minutes or less for those nights when you've been stuck at the office
* Hearty - filling and flavoursome dishes like Tangy Goan pork curry and Chilli paneer
* One-pot - a handful of ingredients and cooked in just one pan for minimal washing up!
* Vegan - nourishing plant-based recipes
* Sweet - satisfy your sweet tooth with Black rice pudding or Mango & pistachio mug cake

Myers+Chang at Home: Recipes from the Beloved Boston Eatery Kindle Edition, by Joanne Chang & Karen Akunowicz 5s

$16.99 5s

From beloved chef and author Joanne Chang, the first cookbook from her acclaimed Boston restaurant, Myers+Chang

Award-winning and beloved chef Joanne Chang of Boston’s Flour bakery may be best known for her sticky buns, but that’s far from the limit of her talents. When Chang married acclaimed restaurateur Christopher Myers, she would make him Taiwanese food for dinner at home every night. The couple soon realized no one was serving food like this in Boston, in a cool but comfortable restaurant environment. Myers+Chang was born and has turned into one of Boston’s most popular restaurants, and will be celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2017, just in time for publication of this long-awaited cookbook. These recipes, all bursting with flavor, are meant to be shared, and anyone can make them at home—try Dan Dan Noodle Salad, Triple Pork Mushu Stir-fry, or Grilled Corn with Spicy Sriracha Butter. This is food people crave and will want to make again and again. Paired with the couple's favorite recipes, the photography perfectly captures the spirit of the restaurant, making this book a keepsake for devoted fans.

All About Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice Hardcover – November 5, 2019 by Molly Stevens (Author)

The Atlantic "Best Cookbooks of 2019" • Washington Post "Cookbooks That Inspired Us in 2019" • Christian Science Monitor "Best Cookbooks of 2019" • NPR "Favorite Books of 2019" • WBUR Here & Now "Best Cookbooks of 2019"

An award-winning cookbook author and cooking teacher answers her most-asked question: What do you make for dinner?

Like most of us, Molly Stevens has no team of prep cooks, no vast pantry, and no one paid to clean up her home kitchen. What she does have are delicious, time- tested recipes made from easy-to-find ingredients, collected for the first time in All About Dinner. These are the dishes that Stevens loves most, the ones her students clamor for: an Arugula Salad with Peaches, Basil Vinaigrette and Sunflower Seeds; an elegant Creamy Parsnip-Leek Soup; a Butter-Poached Shrimp with Fresh Tomatoes and Garlic; and an Apple and Triple-Ginger Crisp. Building on the foolproof clarity of her previous cookbooks, each recipe is designed to impart solid kitchen skills while encouraging home cooks to expand their personal repertoires by mastering everyday favorites like simple pasta, hearty stew, and tempting savory and sweet snacks.

A gorgeous collection of balanced meals, packed with flavor, All About Dinner will entice busy cooks back into their kitchens.

Essential Wok Cookbook: A Simple Chinese Cookbook for Stir-Fry, Dim Sum, and Other Restaurant Favorites Paperback – May 8, 2015 by Naomi Imatome-Yun (Author)

Ordering Chinese takeout is easy--but it's definitely not the healthiest or most affordable way to enjoy Chinese comfort food at home. With this simple cookbook in your kitchen and a mighty wok in your hand, Chinese favorites are now quicker, healthier, and cheaper than delivery.

The Essential Wok Cookbook is your guide to mastering the wok, the versatile pan that makes possible all of the Chinese restaurant dishes you love--no extra salt, oil, or MSG required. Beyond tips for selecting, seasoning, and caring for your wok, this cookbook also provides:

Step-by-step illustrations for how to fold a dumpling, egg roll, and wonton

Fun features on the origin stories and American reinventions of foods such as egg drop soup and fortune cookies

Recipe labels to help you decide what to make when you're short on time (30 minutes or less) and tight on cash (under $10)

Recipe tips to swap ingredients, save time, make a dish more healthy, or kick up the heat

If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, start cooking today with your wok and see just how far The Essential Wok Cookbook will take you.

Fire up the wok with recipes like Perfect Pork Pot Stickers, Easy Vegetable Stir-Fry, Lighter Egg Foo Young, Sweet Chili Shrimp, General Tso's Chicken, Better Beef with Broccoli, and many more!

The Food of Sichuan 1st Edition, Kindle Edition by Fuchsia Dunlop (Author) $19.99

New York Times "Holiday Books 2019—Cooking" • NPR "Favorite Books of 2019" • Guardian "Best Cookbooks and Food Writing of 2019" • Condé Nast Traveler "Best Travel Cookbooks 2019" • Chowhound "Best New International Cookbooks for Fall 2019"

An essential update of Fuchsia Dunlop’s landmark book on Sichuan cuisine, with 200 recipes and stunning photographs.

Almost twenty years after the publication of Land of Plenty, considered by many to be one of the greatest cookbooks of all time, Fuchsia Dunlop revisits the region where her own culinary journey began, adding more than 70 new recipes to the original repertoire and accompanying them with mouthwatering descriptions of the dazzling flavors and textures of Sichuanese cooking.

Food of Sichuan shows home cooks how to re- create classics such as Mapo Tofu, Twice-Cooked Pork and Gong Bao Chicken, or a traditional spread of cold dishes, including Bang Bang Chicken, Numbing-and-Hot Dried Beef, Spiced Cucumber Salad and Green Beans in Ginger Sauce. With gorgeous food and travel photography and enhanced by a culinary and cultural history of the region, The Food of Sichuan is a captivating insight into one of the world’s greatest cuisines.

Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China Kindle Edition by Fuchsia Dunlop (Author) $16.99

2017 Nominee for James Beard Cookbook Award: International

2017 Nominee for IACP Cookbook Award: International

The lower Yangtze region, or Jiangnan, with its modern capital Shanghai, has been known since ancient times as a “land of fish and rice." For centuries, local cooks have harvested the bounty of its lakes, rivers, fields, and mountains to create a cuisine renowned for its delicacy and beauty. In Land of Fish and Rice, Fuchsia Dunlop draws on years of study and exploration to present the recipes, techniques, and ingredients of the Jiangnan kitchen. You will be inspired to try classic dishes such as Beggar’s Chicken and sumptuous Dongpo Pork, as well as fresh, simple recipes such as Clear-Steamed Sea Bass and Fresh Soybeans with Pickled Greens. Evocatively written and featuring stunning recipe photography, this is an important new work celebrating one of China’s most fascinating culinary regions.

Winner, 2016 Andre Simon award (UK)

Winner, 2017 Cookbook of the Year (British Guild of Food Writers)

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China (Second Edition) 2nd Edition, Kindle Edition $9.99

The modern classic that redefined the travel food memoir, with a new foreword from Bee Wilson.

Fuchsia Dunlop, the first Westerner to train at the prestigious Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine, “has done more to explain real Chinese cooking to non-Chinese cooks than anyone” (Julia Moskin, New York Times). In Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, Dunlop recalls her rapturous encounters with China’s culinary riches, alongside her brushes with corruption, environmental degradation, and greed. The resulting memoir is a vibrant portrait of Chinese culinary culture, from the remote Gansu countryside to the enchanting old city of Yangzhou. The most talked-about travel narrative when it was published a decade ago, this reissue of Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper remains a thrilling adventure that you won’t be able to put down.

Bazaar: Vibrant vegetarian and plant-based recipes: The Sunday Times bestseller Kindle Edition by Sabrina Ghayour (Author) $9.99



iNews Best cookbooks for Christmas 2019

noun: a market in the Middle East

Bazaar is a colourful, flavourful and satisfying celebration of vegetable dishes, designed to suit every occasion and every palate. The magic of this cookbook is that you won't feel like anything is missing, with dishes full of easy-to-achieve flavours and depth that would win over even the most die-hard carnivore.

Each recipe utilizes the abundance of varied flavour profiles of the East, from spices, herbs and perfumed aromatics to hearty staples such as grains and pulses, combined with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. You will find salads for all seasons, spectacular sides, bowl comfort, moreish mains and sweet treats.

Recipes include:
Grilled halloumi flatbreads with preserved lemon & barberry salsa
Roasted tomato & chilli soup with herb-fried croutons
Roast vegetable bastilla
Grilled tofu salad with tamarind & miso dressing
Potato, ricotta & herb dumplings with walnuts & pul biber butter
Feta, pul biber & oregano macaroni bake
Courgette, orange & almond cake with sweet yogurt frosting


'What (Sabrina) brings to the page is her warmth, brio and sheer greedy enthusiasm for bright and bold flavours, and her understanding that food is there not just to excite, but also to comfort' - Nigella Lawson

'Another absolute beauty...I don't think she could write a dull recipe if she tried. Every one an elegantly spiced delight' - Tom Parker-Bowles

'Sabrina Ghayour's gorgeous vegetarian recipes are hard to resist' - Red magazine

'This book is likely to become a well-thumbed tome for me' - The Caterer

'The recipes are vibrant, colourful and wonderfully creative' - Delicious Magazine


'The golden girl of Persian cookery' - Observer

'Sabrina Ghayour's Middle-Eastern plus food is all flavour, no fuss - and makes me very, very happy' - Nigella Lawson

Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables Kindle Edition by Abra Berens (Author), Lucy Engelman (Illustrator) $13.49

Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables is not your typical cookbook—it is a how-to-cook book of a variety of vegetables. Author Abra Berens—chef, farmer, Midwesterner—shares a collection of techniques that result in new flavors, textures, and ways to enjoy all the vegetables you want to eat. From confit to caramelized and everything in between—braised, blistered, roasted and raw—the cooking methods covered here make this cookbook a go-to reference.

Treasure trove of 300 recipes. Spanning 29 types of vegetables—from asparagus to zucchini—each chapter opens with an homage to the ingredients and variations on how to prepare them. 140 photographs show off not only the finished dishes, but also the vegetables and farms behind them.

Vegetables as a side or a main. Take any vegetable recipe in this book and add a roasted chicken thigh, seared piece of fish, or hard-boiled egg to turn the dish into a meal not just vegetarians will enjoy. Some bound-to-be favorite recipes include:

• Shaved Cabbage with Chili Oil, Cilantro, and Charred Melon
• Blistered Cucumbers with Cumin Yogurt and Parsley
• Charred Head Lettuce with Hard-Boiled Egg, Anchovy Vinaigrette, and Garlic Bread Crumbs
• Massaged Kale with Creamed Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Wild Rice
• Poached Radishes with White Wine, Chicken Stock and Butter

Ruffage will help you become empowered to shop for, store, and cook vegetables every day and in a variety of ways. You'll learn about the life and life-giving properties of plants the way a farmer sees it, build experience and confidence to try your own original variations, and never look at vegetables the same way again.

Gardening Books wanted

Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening: The Total Guide to Growing Vegetables, Fruits, Herbs, and Other Edible Plants the Natural Way Paperback – October 1, 1998 by J. Howard Garrett (Author), C. Malcolm Beck (Author) 5s

$8.79 kindle 5s

This book shows you how to have healthy soil and recommends environmentally safe products and even some homemade remedies to control pests and diseases in your garden. It describes more than 100 food plants and gives specific information on the growth habits, culture, harvest, and storage of each.

Texas Getting Started Garden Guide: Grow the Best Flowers, Shrubs, Trees, Vines & Groundcovers (Garden Guides) by Mary Irish (2013-08-11) Paperback – 1852

$14/58 ppb, used $6.26

no descr

Texas Month-by-Month Gardening: What to Do Each Month to Have A Beautiful Garden All Year Paperback – December 16, 2014 by Robert Richter (Author)

$23.95 ppb, $31.53 mass mkt other $11.71

One of America's biggest and most diverse landscapes begins in your yard. There's no way around it: Texas is huge. The state dials in at well over 250,000 square miles, housing most of the United States' power grid, arguably all of its delicious food, and almost every kind of environment imaginable: formidable mountains, rolling hills, flat plains, and coastline. If you're a home gardener, knowing what to do when can be overwhelming--that's where Texas Month-by-Month Gardening, the companion book to our Texas Getting Started Garden Guide, comes to the rescue.

Inside, Houston horticulturist Robert "Skip" Richter makes it easy with a in-depth month-by-month breakdown of what to plant, when to plant, and how to take care of it in order to have a beautiful Texas garden all year round. During each month, you'll learn to plan, plant, care for, water, fertilize, and troubleshoot in-season annuals, bulbs, lawns, natives, perennials, roses, shrubs, trees, vines, and groundcovers. As with all of our renowned gardening books, you're treated to gorgeous full-color "here's how" and plant photography and USDA zone maps. Plus, you'll get a detailed introduction to gardening specifically in the Lone Star State. So have no fear: from the red buckeyes in Dallas to Sunshine roses in Abilene, you'll have the best little garden in the biggest state around. For our full introduction to gardening in Texas, we also recommend companion books Texas Getting Started Garden Guide and Texas Fruit & Vegetable Gardening.

Perennials for the Southwest: Plants That Flourish in Arid Gardens Hardcover – Illustrated, March 1, 2006 by Mary Irish (Author) used from $6.72

Trees and Shrubs for the Southwest: Woody Plants for Arid Gardens Hardcover – November 12, 2008 by Mary Irish (Author) $27.74 kindle $26.35

Mr. Moto, John P. Marquand

Mr. Moto, Wikipedia

Mr. Moto is a fictional Japanese secret agent created by the American author John P. Marquand. He appeared in six novels by Marquand published between 1935 and 1957. Marquand initially created the character for the Saturday Evening Post, which was seeking stories with an Asian hero after the death of Charlie Chan's creator Earl Derr Biggers.

In various other media, Mr. Moto has been portrayed as an international detective. These include eight motion pictures starring Peter Lorre between 1937 and 1939, 23 radio shows starring James Monks broadcast in 1951,[1] a 1965 film starring Henry Silva, and a 2003 comic book produced by Moonstone Books, later reprinted as Welcome Back, Mr. Moto.[2]

Character in the novels

In Marquand's novels, Moto calls himself I.A. Moto, which some other characters believe to be a fairly obvious alias since "moto" is often the second part of a Japanese name, like in Hashimoto. Mr. Moto, though capable of ruthlessness and deadly violence, appears on the surface to be a harmless eccentric who will sometimes say he is stupid. The main characters in these novels are Westerners who encounter Mr. Moto in the course of their own adventures in exotic lands and gradually come to realize what a formidable character he is.

In the first five novels, set in the era of expansionist Imperial Japan, Mr. Moto is an agent of the empire. In the final novel, set in the 1950s inside Japan, he is a senior intelligence official in the pro-Western Japanese government.

Physical description

He is physically described in Think Fast, Mr. Moto:

Mr. Moto was a small man, delicate, almost fragile. … He was dressed formally in a morning coat and striped trousers. His black hair was carefully brushed in the Prussian style. He was smiling, showing a row of shiny gold-filled teeth, and as he smiled he drew in his breath with a polite, soft sibilant sound.

This basic description carries through most of the novels, with a slightly different description in Right You Are, Mr. Moto, set 20 years later than the other novels. In this novel he is described as “middle aged," and his hair as being “grayish and close-clipped." In two novels, Marquand describes Mr. Moto's build as "chunky".

He is often described as wearing formal evening clothes that are impeccably tailored. On occasion his sartorial style is somewhat misguided such as in Mr. Moto Is So Sorry when he appears in black-and-white checked sports clothes with green and red golf stockings. When his outfits are commented upon, Mr. Moto makes excuses. In Stopover: Tokyo, he is said to have the imposing dignity of his samurai forebears when dressed in traditional Japanese clothing.


In the prewar novels, Moto speaks a faintly comic English, with elaborate 'Oriental'-style politeness, with misuse of the definite and indefinite articles. In Stopover: Tokyo, the final novel, he works directly with U.S. intelligence agents and speaks to them in perfect English, possibly suggesting his linguistic errors are simply a device to make people underestimate him.

Personal life

Mr. Moto rarely discusses his personal life but in Think Fast, Mr. Moto he talks about his many talents.

Yes, I can do many, many things. I can mix drinks and wait on table, and I am a very good valet. I can navigate and manage small boats. I have studied at two foreign universities. I also know carpentry and surveying and five Chinese dialects. So very many things come in useful.

In Mr. Moto Is So Sorry he states that one of the foreign universities was in America where he studied Anthropology. It is noted in this novel that he has enough knowledge of America to distinguish regional accents.

The novels generally involve a romance between the main character (often a disenfranchised expatriate American) and a mysterious woman. While Mr. Moto often despairs of the hero's attempts at saving the girl, he notes in Mr. Moto Is So Sorry that he himself is not immune to their charms.

“So often," he said, “I have seen such gracious ladies disrupt political combinations." He sighed and still stared at the ceiling seemingly lost in memory. “Such a lovely girl in Washington – I was so much younger then. She sold me the navy plans of a submarine. The price was thirty thousand yen. When the blueprints came, they were of a tugboat. Such a lovely lady. Such a lovely lady in Tokyo. She took me to see the goldfish in her garden, and there were the assassins behind the little trees. Not her fault, but theirs that I am still alive – they were such poor shots. I do not understand lovely ladies, but I still trust them sometimes."

ayne Regan & Peter Lorre in Thank You, Mr. Moto - trailer (cropped screenshot)


While he is a devoted servant of the Emperor, he is often at odds with the Japanese military. He believes in the manifest destiny of the Japanese expansion into China, but unlike the military, wants to achieve this slowly and carefully. Millicent Bell in her biography of John P. Marquand notes how this may have influenced the audience:

There is political significance, too, in the calculated appeal to American readers of the ever resourceful Mr. Moto, the representative of Eastern subtlety combined with Western efficiency, who emerges as a gentleman of wit and charm. This characterization had to survive some anti-Japanese sentiment that followed Japan's invasion of China in 1937. Up to 1939 it may have seemed possible, especially to those Americans unaware of or indifferent to the atrocities of the Japanese military in China, that Japan would be moderate and reasonable in its expansion in the Far East and that the Mr. Motos would defeat the Japanese military fanatics. Pearl Harbor ended American neutrality and American hopes for Japanese moderation, but not before Marquand's Moto series had become one of the most popular fictions ever to be run in an American magazine.[3]


Your Turn, Mr. Moto (aka No Hero and Mr. Moto Takes a Hand (British edition)) (1935) – Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1935 under the title No Hero.

Thank You, Mr. Moto (1936) – Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1936. An expatriate American gets involved in intrigue in Peking when he tries to save an American woman from unscrupulous art dealers. Moto tries to save them both from a military takeover of Peking.

Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937) – Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1936. The heir to an American banking firm is sent to Honolulu to clear up a family matter involving a gambling house. Moto is also drawn to Hawaii to stop money being channeled into China to support revolutionaries.

Mr. Moto Is So Sorry (1938) – Originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1938. An American on the run from authorities encounters Moto on a train journey through China. Moto is on his way to a life-or-death showdown with Russian spies and draws the hapless American into the situation when a secret message accidentally falls into the possession of a beautiful woman.

Last Laugh, Mr. Moto (1942) – Originally serialized in Collier's Weekly in 1941 under the title Mercator Island. After Pearl Harbor the character of Moto was "interned for the duration" by the author.[4] This novel, set in the Caribbean, had already been written prior to Pearl Harbor and was published afterward.[5]

Right You Are, Mr. Moto (aka Stopover: Tokyo and The Last of Mr. Moto) (1957) – This Cold War tale, different in several ways from its predecessors, was originally serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in 1956 and 1957 under the title Rendezvous in Tokyo. The original book was called Stopover: Tokyo and subsequent editions were called The Last of Mr. Moto and finally Right You Are, Mr. Moto.[6]


Mr. Moto's Three Aces (1939) reprints Thank You, Mr. Moto; Think Fast, Mr. Moto; and Mr. Moto Is So Sorry.

Mr. Moto: Four Complete Novels (1983) reprints Your Turn, Mr. Moto; Think Fast, Mr. Moto; Mr. Moto Is So Sorry; and Right You Are, Mr. Moto.[6]

Character in the films

Between 1937 and 1939 eight motion pictures were produced by 20th Century Fox starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Kentaro Moto.

Unlike in the novels, Moto is the central character, a detective with Interpol, wears glasses (and has no gold teeth), and is a devout Buddhist (and friendly with the Chinese monarchy). He is impeccably dressed in Western suits. The stories are action-oriented due to Moto’s skill with judo (only hinted at in the novels) and due to his tendency to wear disguises.

In early 1938, there was some press talk that Moto would be turned into a Korean due to controversy over Japanese foreign policy, but this did not happen.[7] By April there was talk the series would soon wind up.[8]

Traditional Cutaway Morning Coat, Historial Emporium

A popular look in the 19th century, jackets similar to our reproduction Victorian Cutaway Morning Coat were spotted during daytime hours on gentleman keeping business and social engagements. A smart alternative to the ubiquitous frock coat of the era.


Mr. Moto movies, imdb

V Mr Moto In Mr Moto Takes A Vacation - 1939 - Peter Lorre, Full movie

V Mr Moto In Mr Motos Gamble - 1938 - Peter Lorre with Keye Luke, full movie

V Mr. Moto movies (Complete Collection) 8 videos

Mary Pickford

Lillian Gish

Clara Bow

Anna May Wong with short curl bob and bangs

Anna May Wong straight hair pulled back in a bun with bangs

Lupe Velez,, bobbed curly hair

Lupe Velez,, curly hair with headwrap

Source Vintage Dancer

Did you know? Edith Wharton became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1924.

“What a beautiful thing Notre-Dame is!" declared Gustave Flaubert of Victor Hugo’s 1837 novel.

"[Stevenson] uses English wonderfully, with imagination, with economy, with elegance. We must read him, really, for the sheer pleasure of the language." —P. D. James

The Swiss Family Robinson By Johann D. Wyss
Did you know? Wyss was inspired by Daniel Defoe's famous shipwreck novel Robinson Crusoe.

To free his people, a masked rider goes to war against an empire in this swashbuckling adventure story. The original inspiration for countless films, comic books, and stories, The Mark of Zorro is one of the great action novels of all time.

For the sake of a bet, an Englishman embarks on the journey of a lifetime... A brilliant blend of comedy, adventure, and fantasy, Around the World in Eighty Days continues to delight and amaze readers of all ages long after the world of Jules Verne’s imagination became our reality.

Did you know? The Story of My Life was the basis for The Miracle Worker, the Tony Award–winning play and Academy Award–winning film. The Story of My Life By Helen Keller

"Feasting on leg of lamb, Bonnie Prince Charlie doomed the Jacobite Army at Culloden. A uniquely American menu served with French wine lubricated the conversation between rivals Jefferson and Hamilton that led to the founding of the US financial system and the location of the nation’s capital in Washington. After schweinwürst and sauerkraut with Adolf Hitler at his Berghof residence, Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg agreed to the complete integration of Austria into the Third Reich. Celebrity chef Tony Singh has researched the menus and recipes for all ten dinners down to the last detail and recreates them here. The book contains fifty-five recipes from soup to desert and lists the spirits as well." - The Course of History: Ten Meals That Changed the World Kindle Edition by Struan Stevenson (Author), Tony Singh (Author)

from Treehugger

That's TreeHugger Emeritus Kelly, who takes her reading seriously. She got through 170 books last year, and her reading habit is helping her get through these times, taking her to a different place. She would agree with Katherine, who says "there has never been a better time to engage in some armchair travel. Grab a great book and lose yourself in the worlds beyond your walls." These are some of our favorites.

3:10 to Boca By Zane Greyberg

Did the Jews really tame the American frontier? You bet your tuchas. Brave, rugged Jews with big dreams and even bigger shmeckels. Shtarkers like Davy Kronsky. The Ringo Kiddish. The mysterious Man with No Keepah (or, “yarmulke”). Jewish Indian tribes like the Mishagossi and Grossinga who would never scalp on the Sabbath. These are their stories, told for the first time, so pay attention!

“Zane Greyberg might be just as zany as Mel Brooks." —Jewish Book Council

Zulu Victory By Ron Lock, Peter Quantrill

The battle of Isandlwana, a great Zulu victory, was one of the worst defeats ever to befall a British Army. At noon on January 22, 1879, a British camp, garrisoned by over 1,700 troops, was attacked and overwhelmed by 20,000 Zulu warriors. The defeat of the British, armed with the most modern weaponry of the day, caused disbelief and outrage throughout Queen Victoria's England. Here, the authors superbly weave the excitement of the battle, the British mistakes, the brilliant Zulu tactics and the shameful cover-up into an exhilarating and tragic tale.

Villager Jims daily online photographic adventures - Highland cattle

Lists of Books

Bookshop Thrillers: 5 Suspenseful Reads

You (Media Tie-In Edition) by Caroline Kepnes

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

The Vanishing Velázquez by Laura Cumming

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

11 Hilarious, Heartwarming Books to Read When You Need a Good Laugh

Vacuum in the Dark by Jen Beagin

Jen Beagin’s voice is both hilarious and edgy and I couldn’t get enough of it. VACUUM IN THE DARK follows Mona, a 26-year-old cleaning lady who is struggling to move forward with her life. Mona’s client list is complicated, to say the least. For one thing, she’s dating one of them, whom she calls Dark, and he’s married. As Mona attempts to move on from her troubled past and horrible boyfriend, she finds herself on a journey of self-discovery. This book is laugh-out-loud funny, absurd, and completely unforgettable.

The Roxy Letters by Mary Pauline Lowry

This book has already been described by many as a new American version of BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, and Roxy certainly does have her moments!

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Do you love books about love that make you feel happy? Because I do, and Christina Lauren always puts a dorky smile on my face. This book really does just feel like happiness. MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND follows Millie, a tom-boy UC Santa Barbara professor who hates getting personal, after her and her friends join an online dating service in an attempt to find a plus one to a black-tie gala. But then Millie and Reid secretly have the best (and steamiest) half-night of their lives together. However, they decide that their friendship would be better off staying platonic. That is until Millie creates “Catherine," her fiction online persona, who begins a digital relationship with Reid.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

This is a book that absolutely everyone should read, and I’m not just saying that because I often find myself in very awkward situations and love a good self-deprecating joke. Whether you’ve seen Insecure or watched her Awkward Black Girl series on YouTube, there is no denying that Issa Rae is both hilarious and honest. The MISADVENTURES OF AWKWARD BLACK GIRL is a collection of personal essays about Issa Rae’s own experience navigating her relationships and her career in the early days of online content creation.

Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

As the daughter of a dedicated high school teacher, I grew up hearing all about the drama and comedy that takes place in the classroom and in the teacher’s lounge. This book gets everything right about what it’s like to teach in a public school and is filled with humor and an amazing amount of heart. ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS follows five different teachers at a struggling urban high school in Texas whose lives are suddenly changed drastically by the new celebrity superintendent.

The First Bad Man by Miranda July

If you’re looking for something truly absurd to take your mind off the world right now, then look no further than THE FIRST BAD MAN. This book is a trip in more ways than one, but it’s also very sexy and very tender. Meet Cheryl, a slightly neurotic 40-year-old woman who is obsessed with and often fantasizes about Phillip, a 60-something member of the board for the non-profit she works for. Suddenly, Cheryl’s life is upended when her boss’s 21-year-old daughter comes to live with her.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. by Samantha Irby

Samantha Irby’s collection of essays are both bittersweet and laugh out loud funny. This book details so many relatable “adult” problems and is full swear words and raunchy humor. Irby confronts tough topics head-on with a wicked sense of humor that is sure to brighten anyone’s day. You’ll wish that you could just go grab a drink with the author after reading about her awkward sexual encounters, inability to stick to a budget, and trying to navigate her relationships with her former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms. There is something funny in this book for everyone.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

This book is wonderful and lyrical and truly a love story. Arthur Less is a failed novelist about to turn 50 when he receives an invite to his boyfriend’s wedding to another man. So, in order to completely avoid his problems, Arthur decides to accept a series of invitations to literary events around the world. What follows is a hilarious journey of misunderstandings and mistakes through Paris, Berlin, India, and more.

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

I love Nora Ephron’s films, specifically Bewitched and Sleepless in Seattle. Sometimes you just need a good rom-com and some funny truths in your life. This amazing memoir chronicles Ephron’s experience as a White House intern, obsessive cook, parent, and the reality of getting older. Mostly, this is a hilarious and frank story about what it’s like to be a woman of a certain age dealing with menopause, empty nests, and how she hates the way her neck looks now. And of course, if you’re a big fan of audiobooks, this one is narrated by Ephron herself bringing yet another layer to her wonderful voice.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

This book might be the perfect combination of humor and tragedy for the world right now. Subtitled “A Funny Book About Horrible Things," FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a memoir that deals with depression and mental illness, but really, it’s about joy. Whether you suffer from anxiety or depression, or are close to someone who is, you are sure to find something to relate to in Lawson’s story. Sometimes life gets messy and we need to embrace who we are in order to find the joy in even the smallest and craziest of things. I think the thing I love most about FURIOUSLY HAPPY is its weirdness and bravery. This book is what it is, and it doesn’t want to be anything else. That alone had me laughing until my sides hurt.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

WHERE'D YOU GO BERNADETTE is probably a little different than the other books on this list, but it is still just as much of a good time. This book is filled with family secrets, family love, and of course humor. WHERE'D YOU GO BERNADETTE follows Bernadette Fox, a former awarded female architect and current mother and agoraphobic. She hates her life in Seattle and the other parents in the community. After her 15-year-old daughter, Bee, claims a family trip to Antarctica as her prize for perfect grades and a disastrous school fundraiser, Bernadette snaps. She disappears. The story is told from the perspective of Bee as she struggles to pick up the pieces of her mother’s life through a series of emails, memos, and more.

The Everything Backyard Farming Book:A Guide to Self-Sufficient Living Through Growing, Harvesting, Raising, and Preserving Your Own Food By Neil Shelton

14 Action and Adventure Books to Binge Right Now

11 Highly Anticipated Literary Science Fiction Novels

22 of the Best Science Books of All Time

Educational Books on Fighting Racism

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Fatal Invention by Dorothy Roberts

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein

Blindspot by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald

White Rage by Carol Anderson

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

16 Black-Owned Bookstores You Can Support Right Now

A more comprehensive list of Black-owned bookstores is available here.

Black Owned Bookstores in the United States

Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books in Germantown, PA

MahoganyBooks in Washington, DC

Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago, IL

Pan-African Connection Bookstore, Art Gallery, and Resource Center in Dallas, TX

Ashay by the Bay in Vallejo, CA

The Lit. Bar in the Bronx, NY

Pyramid Books in Boynton Beach, FL

Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury, MA

Detroit Book City in Southfield, MI

Harambee Books and Artworks in Alexandria, VA

Turning Page Bookshop in Goose Creek, SC

The Key Bookstore in Hartford, CT

Hakim’s Bookstore in Philadelphia, PA

AfriWare Books in Maywood, IL

Harriett’s Bookshop in Philadelphia, PA

The Dock Bookshop in Fort Worth, TX

Favorite Authors

Abrams. Stacey Abrams

Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change

Akira. Asa Akira

Insatiable: Porn–A Love Story

Allan. Helen Allan. YA

Scarab: Falling Through Time (The Scarab Series Book 1)

Alsop. Cheree Alsop. SF

Girl from the Stars Book 1- Daybreak

Alvear. Michael Alvear

Eat It Later: Mastering Self Control & The Slimming Power Of Postponement

Ange. Sinistre Ange. Erotica

Dark Tales

His Favorite Hucow: Hathor (Planets Apart Book 1)


A Warning [about Trump]

Appelhof. Mary Appelhof, Joanne Olszewski, and Amy Stewart

Worms Eat My Garbage, 35th Anniversary Edition: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System: Compost Food Waste, Produce Fertilizer for Houseplants ... Garden, and Educate Your Kids and Family

Arnold. Jennifer Arnold

Through a Dog's Eyes: Understanding Our Dogs by Understanding How They See the World

Arsan. Emmanuelle Arsan. erotica


Ash. Nikki Ash and K Webster. erotica

Hidden Truths (Truths and Lies Duet Book 1)

Ashe. Penelope Ashe and Mike McGrady. erotica?

Naked Came the Stranger

Asimov. Isaac Asimov. SF


Ayne. Blythe Ayne Ph.D.

Save Your Life with the Phenomenal Lemon & Lime: Becoming pH Balanced in an Unbalanced World (How to Save Your Life)

B.B Ediciones

New Dictionary HISPANO Spanish-English v.4.0

Bailey. Elisabeth Tova Bailey. nature

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Barber. Tom Barber

One Way (Sam Archer Book 5)

Barlow. Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoit Nadeau

The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed (ST. MARTIN'S PR)

Barnard. Neal D. Barnard and Bryanna Clark Grogan

Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs

Basile. Salvatore Basile

Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything

Bear. Greg Bear. SF

Moving Mars: A Novel

Beck. Greig Beck. adventures

Primordia: In Search of the Lost World

Bell. J. Don Bell

My Life In The Dirt: Adventures Of A Suburban Organic Farmer

Bell. James Scott Bell.

Romeo's Hammer (Mike Romeo Thrillers Book 3)

[Dialogue quirky and funny. Philosophy covered a lot]

Belyaev. Artemiy Belyaev

Russian Language in 25 lessons (Russian language courses Book 1)

BelZer. Richard Belzer and David Wayne

Corporate Conspiracies: How Wall Street Took Over Washington

Benchley. Peter Benchley

Jaws: A Novel

Berkom. D.V. Berkom

Yucatán Dead: Kate Jones Thriller #3

Bertauski. Tony Bertauski. SF

Claus : Legend of the Fat Man (A Science Fiction Holiday Adventure) (Claus Series Book 1)

Bethany-Kris. erotica

The Arrangement (The Russian Guns Book 1)

Bibard. Frederic Bibard

Fluent in French: The most complete study guide to learn French

French Slang: Do you speak the real French?: The essentials of French Slang

Biggers. Earl Derr Biggers. Charlie Chan

Seven Keys to Baldpate

Blackmore. Jenni Blackmore

Permaculture for the Rest of Us: Abundant Living on Less than an Acre

Blake. Russell Blake

BLACK: (Humorous detective mystery)

Blavatsky. H.P. Blavatsky. occult

The Secret Doctrine

Bloom. Harold Bloom

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages

Bloom, Jessi Bloom, Dave Boehnlein, and Paul Kearsley

Practical Permaculture: for Home Landscapes, Your Community, and the Whole Earth

Boo. Cabo Bob, Linton Robinson, Jessica Creager, and Escrit Lit

Mexican Slang 101

Bourdain. Anthony Bourdain

The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Brady, Tom Brady

The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance

Brody, David S. Brody

Echoes of Atlantis: Crones, Templars and the Lost Continent (Templars in America Series Book 6)

The Isaac Question: Templars and the Secret of the Old Testament (Templars in America Series Book 5)

Brooks. Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book: A Novel

Brown. Dale Brown

Tin Man (Patrick McLanahan Book 7)

Brown. Dan Brown

Origin: A Novel (Robert Langdon Book 5)

Bruno. Anthony Bruno

Devil's Food (The Loretta Kovacs Novels Book 1)

Double Espresso (The Loretta Kovacs Novels Book 2)

Bryan. Dr. Nathan Bryan, Bill Gottlieb, and Dr. Janet Zand

The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution: How to Boost the Body's Miracle Molecule

Buchan. John Buchan

The Power-House

Burger. Jeffrey Burger

Wings of Steele - Destination Unknown (Book 1)

Wings of Steele - Flight of Freedom (Book 2)

Wings of Steele - Revenge and Retribution (Book 3)

Wings of Steele - Dark Cover (Book 4)

Wings of Steele - Resurrection (Book 5)

Burgis.Tom Burgis.

Kleptopia: How Dirty Money Is Conquering the World

Burroughs. Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Return of Tarzan

Caldicott. Helen Caldicott.

Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer

Callan. Jamie Cat Callan. NF

French Women Don't Sleep Alone:: Pleasurable Secrets to Finding Love

Canfield. Joel Canfield, AJ Canfield, and Lisa Canfield. mysteries

Dark Sky (The Misadventures of Max Bowman Book 1)

Carlson. Dr. Ronald S. Carlson, DR. PAUL KENYON, and DR. MELISSA L. YEE

Death By Root Canal: Slow Blood Poisoning

Cartwright. Christopher Cartwright

The Sam Reilly Collection

Castle. Alex Castle

German: 101 Common Phrases

Ceram. C.W. Ceram. archaeology

Gods, Graves & Scholars: The Story of Archaeology

Chakrapani. Chuck Chakrapani

The Good Life Handbook: Epictetus' Stoic Classic Enchiridion

Chatwin. Bruce Chatwin

The Songlines

Chesteron. G. K. Chesterton

A Short History of England

The Club of Queer Trades


Chomsky. Noam Chomsky

Who Rules the World? (American Empire Project)

Christie. Agatha Christie. Mysteries

Hercule Poirot's Christmas: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot series Book 20)

The Murder on the Links (The Hercule Poirot Mysteries Book 2)

The Man in the Brown Suit (Colonel Race Book 1)

The Early Classics of Agatha Christie

Clancy. Tom Clancy.


Patriot Games (A Jack Ryan Novel Book 2)

Rainbow Six (John Clark Novel, A Book 2)

Clarke. Arthur C. Clarke. SF

Dolphin Island (Arthur C. Clarke Collection)

Rendezvous with Rama

Clarke. Stephen Clarke

1000 Years of Annoying the French

Codrescu. Andrei Codrescu and David Graham.

Ay, Cuba!: A Socio-Erotic Journey

Cole. Dean M. Cole

Ambush: A Military SciFi Thriller (Sector 64 Book One)

Cooper. Glenn Cooper

The Tenth Chamber: A Thriller

Coppley. Jackson Coppley. Thrillers

The Ocean Raiders: A Nicholas Foxe Adventure

Cousens. Gabriel Cousens M.D.

Creating Peace by Being Peace: The Essene Sevenfold Path

Cousineau. Phil Cousineau and Gregg Chadwick

The Painted Word: A Treasure Chest of Remarkable Words and Their Origins

Coyote. Peter Coyote

The Rainman's Third Cure: An Irregular Education

Crawford. Alan Pell Crawford

Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson

Crichton. Michael Crichton and John Lange

Easy Go: An Early Thriller

Rising Sun: A Novel

A Case of Need: A Novel

Critser. Greg Critser. Health

Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World

Crofts. Freeman Wills Crofts and Otto Penzler. mysteries

The Pit-Prop Syndicate

Daniels. Krissy Daniels. erotica

Truck Stop Titan: A Dark, Bad Boy Romance

Daniels. April Daniels. YA

Dreadnought (Nemesis Book 1)

Davis. William Davis

Undoctored: Why Health Care Has Failed You and How You Can Become Smarter Than Your Doctor

Wheat Belly Total Health: The Ultimate Grain-Free Health and Weight-Loss Life Plan

Day. Ellis O. Day. erotica


Six Nights Of Sin: The Complete Series (Books 1-6): A Hot, Sexy Read about second chances and six steamy nights

DeBaun. Daniel DeBaun and Dave Asprey

EMF Book: Radiation Nation - Complete Guide to EMF Protection & 5G Safety: Proven Health Risks of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF) from Cell Phones, WiFi, 5G & How to Protect Yourself & Family

Del Gaudio. John Del Gaudio

How To Become Fluent In Spanish: Not for Beginners, Not Quick and Easy, but Really Effective (Spanish Books Book 1)

Dempsey. Ernest Dempsey, Jason Whited, and Anne Storer

The Uluru Code: A Sean Wyatt Archaeological Thriller (Sean Wyatt Adventure Book 10)

Denison. Janelle Denison. erotica

Sexy Encounters #1: A Set of Four Sexy Novellas

Deppe. Carol Deppe

The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times

DiAngelo. Robin J. DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Dickens. Charles Dickens.

Our Mutual Friend

Great Expectations (Wisehouse Classics - with the original Illustrations by John McLenan 1860)

David Copperfield (Centaur Classics) [The 100 greatest novels of all time - #64]

Dietrich. Marlene Dietrich

Marlene [autobiography]

Dorren. Gaston Dorren

Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages

Douglas. Kate Douglas. erotica

Wolf Tales 7.5: Chanku Honor

Doyle. Arthur Conan Doyle and Golden Deer Classics

Arthur Conan Doyle: The Best Works

Dresner. Daniel W. Drezner. politics

The Toddler in Chief: What Donald Trump Teaches Us about the Modern Presidency

Dunbar. Tony Dunbar. Mysteries

City of Beads: Tubby Dubonnet Series #2 (A Hard-Boiled but Humorous New Orleans Mystery) (The Tubby Dubonnet Series)

Edlund. Dave Edlund

Crossing Savage: A Peter Savage Novel

Eisler. Barry Eisler.

The Detachment (A John Rain Novel)

Elkins. Aaron Elkins. skeleton myteries

Curses! (The Gideon Oliver Mysteries Book 5)

Elon. Amos Elon. Jews

The Pity of It All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933

Endore. Guy Endore.

The Werewolf of Paris: A Novel (Pegasus Crime)

Engdahl. F. William Engdahl. economics

Gods of Money

Esmont. William Esmont

The Kurt Vetter Trilogy (The Reluctant Hero)

Evanovich. Janet Evanovich. Stephani Plum romantic comedies.

Kindle owns:

Tricky Twenty-Two

Takedown Twenty: A Stephanie Plum Novel

One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No. 1): A Stephanie Plum Novel

Turbo Twenty-Three: A Stephanie Plum Novel

The Pursuit: A Fox and O'Hare Novel

Look Alive Twenty-Five: A Stephanie Plum Novel

Hardcore Twenty-Four: A Stephanie Plum Novel

Curious Minds: A Knight and Moon Novel

Evans. Mary Anna Evans

Artifacts: A Faye Longchamp Mystery #1 (Faye Longchamp Series)

Feiler. Bruce Feiler

The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More

Fletcher. J. S. Fletcher and Otto Penzler. classic mystery

The Middle Temple Murder

Follett. Ken Follett

Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, Book 1)

The Key to Rebecca

Foner. E. M. Foner

Turing Test (AI Diaries SciFi Trilogy Book 1)

Date Night on Union Station (EarthCent Ambassador Book 1)

Ford. Destiny Ford and Angela Corbett. Mysteries

The Devil Drinks Coffee (A Kate Saxee Mystery Book 1)

Foster. Alan Dean Foster


Foster. Sydney Foster, Amanda Stewart, and Charlie Hughes

Ketogenic Diet Guide for Beginners: Easy Weight Loss with Plans and Recipes

Frank. Thomas Frank

Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

Freeman. Steven F. Freeman

The Dig (The Blackwell Files Book 9)

Fung. Dr. Jason Fung and Timothy Noakes

The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss (The Code Series Book 1)

Summary of THE DIABETES CODE by DR. JASON FUNG: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally (UNOFFICIAL SUMMARY - Key points in 1 hour or less) by Napoleon Hook

The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended

G. Whitney G. erotica

New York Nights: A Collection of Steamy, Alpha-Male Romances

Gandhi. Mohandas K. Gandhi.

An Autobiography: Or, The Story of My Experiments with Truth

Gardner. James Alan Gardner. SF

Radiant (League of Peoples Book 7)

Gardner. Timothy B Gardner and Andrew S. Warner

Questions & Answers About Diseases of the Pancreas

Garfield. Brian Garfield

Hopscotch (Otto Penzler Presents...)

Gaudio. John Del Gaudio

How To Become Fluent In Spanish: Not for Beginners, Not Quick and Easy, but Really Effective (Spanish Books Book 1)

Geillor. Harrison Geillor

The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten

George. Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel

Getaway Guides

Greek for Beginners: The Best Handbook for Learning to Speak Greek! (Greece, Greek, Greek Language, Speaking Greek, Speaking Greek Guide, Speaking Greek Language, Greek Language Book)

Gockel. C. Gockel and Tom Edwards

Archangel Down: Archangel Project. Book One

Godinez. Victor Godinez.

The First Protectors: A Novel

Good. Timothy Good

Earth: An Alien Enterprise: The Shocking Truth Behind the Greatest Cover-Up in Human History

Graves. Robert Graves

Homer's Daughter

Gray. Christopher A. Gray and Howard E. Carson

All The Big Ones Are Dead (Bishop/Rector)

Greenwald. Tom Engelhardt and Glenn Greenwald

Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (TomDispatch Books)

Greyberg. Zane Greyberg. Jewish

3:10 to Boca and Other Meshugeh Tales of the Yiddish West

Grisham. John Grisham. fiction

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

Grumley. Michael C. Grumley

Through the Fog

Leap (Breakthrough Book 2)

Ripple (Breakthrough Book 4)

Catalyst (Breakthrough Book 3)

Guise. Stephen Guise

Mini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting. Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle Without Suffering.

Gundry. Dr. Steven R. Gundry

The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain

Hadleigh. Boze Hadleigh.

Holy Cow!: Doggerel, Catnaps, Scapegoats, Foxtrots, and Horse Feathers—Splendid Animal Words and Phrases

Hailey. Arthur Hailey. thrillers

Strong Medicine


Hall. Tarquin Hall

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken: A Vish Puri Mystery

Hedges. Chris Hedges.


Hemenway. Toby Hemenway

Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition

Henrikson. Robert Henrikson

Peace Microfarms: A Green Algae Strategy to prevent War

Henry. Veronica Henry.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop: A Novel

Herring. Bert Herring

The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle

Hess. Anna Hess

Small-Scale No-Till Gardening Basics: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home (The Ultimate Guide to Soil Book 2)

Balancing Soil Nutrients and Acidity: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home (The Ultimate Guide to Soil Book 3)

Homegrown Humus: Cover Crops in a No-till Garden (Permaculture Gardener Book 1)

Hess, Joan Hess. Maggody comedies.

Kindle own:

Mischief in Maggody (The Arly Hanks Mysteries)

The Maggody Militia (The Arly Hanks Mysteries Book 10)

Martians in Maggody (The Arly Hanks Mysteries Book 8)

O Little Town of Maggody (The Arly Hanks Mysteries Book 7)

Misery Loves Maggody (The Arly Hanks Mysteries Book 11)

Heyer. Georgette Heyer

Why Shoot a Butler? (Country House Mysteries Book 2)

Hicks. Michael R. Hicks. SF

First Contact (In Her Name, Book 1)

Hines. Rafael Amadeus Hines

Bishop's War (Bishop Series Book 1)

Holiday. Ryan Holiday.

Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue

Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

Homer and A.T. Murray

The Parallel English / Greek Odyssey: With Dictionary Definitions for Every Greek Word

Honeydew. Melissa Honeydew

Permaculture: Permaculture Gardening Guide For Self Sufficiency (Permaculture, Gardening, Self Sufficiency)

Hornung. E. W. Hornung

A Thief in the Night (A. J. Raffles, the Gentleman Thief Book 3)

Howard, Linda Howard. Steamy romance, good stories.

After Sundown: A Novel

Huggins. James Byron Huggins. adventure


White Lies

The Woman Left Behind: A Novel

Hutchinson. Ty Hutchinson

A Book of Truths (Mui Thriller Series 1) [young female assassin]

Innovative Language Learning

Learn German - Word Power 101

Irving. Washington Irving.

Old Christmas

Isenberg. Noah Isenberg

We'll Always Have Casablanca: The Legend and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Film

Jacobs. Jake Jacobs

Kindle Fire HD User Guide Manual: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Kindle Device in 30 Minutes with Essential Tips & Tutorials (Feb 2018)

Jacobson. Alan Jacobson

The Lost Codex(OPSIG Team Black Series)

James. Anthony James. SF

Negation Force (Obsidiar Fleet Book 1)

James. Matt James

Blood and Sand (The Hank Boyd Adventures Book 1)

James. Seeley James

Sabel Security Boxed Set #1: Books 1-3

Jewish Philosophical Library

The Wisdom of the Torah

Jewish Wisdom: The Wisdom of the Kabbalah, The Wisdom of the Talmud, and The Wisdom of the Torah

Joyce. James Joyce.


Karlen. Neal Karlen. Landuage

The Story of Yiddish: How a Mish-Mosh of Languages Saved the Jews

Kemelman. Harry Kemelman

Conversations with Rabbi Small (The Rabbi Small Mysteries Book 8)

One Fine Day the Rabbi Bought a Cross (The Rabbi Small Mysteries Book 10)

Monday the Rabbi Took Off (The Rabbi Small Mysteries Book 4)

Kennedy. J. Robert Kennedy. thrillers.

Keepers of the Lost Ark (James Acton Thrillers Book 24)

Amazon Burning (A James Acton Thriller, #10) (James Acton Thrillers)

The Protocol (A James Acton Thriller, Book #1) (James Acton Thrillers)

Kimball. Kristin Kimball. farming

Good Husbandry: A Memoir

Kimelman. Emily Kimelman

Unleashed (A Sydney Rye Mystery, # 1)

Kemelman. Harry Kemelman. jews

The Nine Mile Walk: The Nicky Welt Stories

Kinsey. T E Kinsey

A Quiet Life in the Country (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery Book 1)

Kipling. Rudyard Kipling.

Captains Courageous

Klein. André Klein

Learning German through Storytelling: Mord Am Morgen - a detective story for German language learners (includes exercises) for intermediate and advanced

Koepf. Herbert Hans Koepf

Research in Biodynamic Agriculture

Lafer. Gordon Lafer

The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time

Landish. Lauren Landish, Valorie Clifton, and Staci Etheridge. Drop Dead Gorgeous

Interesting plot, erotic

Lansky. Aaron Lansky. Jews

Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books

Larsen. Ward Larsen

Passenger 19: A Jammer Davis Thriller

Cutting Edge: A Novel

Leblanc. Maurice Leblanc. mysteries

The Teeth of the Tiger (Arsène Lupin Book 10)

The Hollow Needle: Further Adventures of Arsène Lupin

813 (Arsène Lupin Book 4)

Le Guin. Ursula K. Le Guin. SF

The Left Hand of Darkness: 50th Anniversary Edition (Ace Science Fiction)

The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (Hainish Cycle)

Legg. Brandt Legg

Cosega Search: A Booker Thriller (The Cosega Sequence Book 1)

Lembke. Janet Lembke

Chickens: Their Natural and Unnatural Histories

Lerman. Rhoda Lerman

God's Ear: A Novel

Liddell. Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott

An intermediate Greek-English lexicon: founded upon the seventh edition of Liddell and Scott's Greek-English lexicon

Livingstone. Glenn Livingston Ph.D

Never Binge Again(tm): How Thousands of People Have Stopped Overeating and Binge Eating - and Stuck to the Diet of Their Choice! (By Reprogramming Themselves to Think Differently About Food.)

Lowenfels. Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition

Lowry. Annie Lowrey

Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World

Lustbader. Eric Van Lustbader

The Miko (The Nicholas Linnear Series Book 2)

Jian (China Maroc Book 1)

Lynn. Hannah Lynn.

Peas, Carrots and an Aston Martin: A hilarious and heart-warming modern family comedy novel (The Peas and Carrots Series Book 1)

MacLean. Nancy MacLean

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America

Marquand. John P. Marquand. Mr Moto

Kindle owned:

Think Fast, Mr Moto

Your Turn, Mr. Moto

Thank You, Mr. Moto

Last Laugh, Mr. Moto

Martin. Wilkie Martin

Inspector Hobbes and the Gold Diggers: Comedy Crime Fantasy (Unhuman Book 3)

Martini. Piero Martini

Blockchain Fast and Simple - What It Is, How It Works, Why It Matters: Understand the basics, join the revolution

Marx. Kevin Marx

Speak German Now! The Go-To Guide for Essential German Basics

Massey. Sujata Massey

The Widows of Malabar Hill (A Perveen Mistry Novel Book 1)

Matthews. Chris Matthews

Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit

Matthews. Jason Matthews

Red Sparrow: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 1)

Matthews. Jessica Matthews

Stretching to Stay Young: Simple Workouts to Keep You Flexible, Energized, and Pain Free

Maugham. W. Somerset Maugham.

The Moon and Sixpence

Mayne. Andrew Mayne. ethology

The Naturalist

McBride. Michael McBride. Adventure.

Forsaken (A Unit 51 Novel Book 2)

McManus. Patrick F. McManus

The Horse in My Garage and Other Stories

McNeile. H. C. McNeile. mysteries

Bulldog Drummond (The Bulldog Drummond Book 1)

Menear. S.L. Menear

Flight to Destiny (A Samantha Starr Thriller, Book 2)

Minich. Deanna M. Minich PhD. CN

An A-Z Guide to Food Additives: Never Eat What You Can't Pronounce

Mirjah. Eldon Mirjah

Gritty Spanish Original: Read 31 Exciting And Engaging Urban Stories In Spanish and English Side By Side Translations That Will Help You Dramatically Increase Your Reading Comprehension

Mitchell. Carrie Mitchell

Permaculture for Beginners: Build Your Sustainable and Edible Garden with the Permaculture Basics (Gardening- Permaculture Book 1)

Molot. John Molot MD. health

12,000 Canaries Can't Be Wrong: What's Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It

Monbiot. George Monbiot

The Age of Consent

Monson. Josh Monson

The Back to Eden Gardening Guide: The Easiest Way to Grow Your Own Food

Morley. Christopher Morley.

The Haunted Bookshop

Morrison. Arthur Morrison. classic mystery

The Adventures of Martin Hewitt

Morrison. Boyd Morrison

The Roswell Conspiracy: Tyler Locke 3 (An International Thriller)

Mortensen. WW Mortensen

EIGHT: Terror Has A New Species

Mullin. Gerard E. Mullin

The Gut Balance Revolution: Boost Your Metabolism, Restore Your Inner Ecology, and Lose the Weight for Good!

Murphy. Elizabeth Murphy

Building Soil: A Down-to-Earth Approach: Natural Solutions for Better Gardens & Yards

Murray. Stuart A.P. Murray, Nicholas A. Basbanes, and Donald G. Davis

The Library: An Illustrated History

Myers. Amy Myers M.D.

The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases

Myers. Heather C. Myers. erotica

A Beauty Dark & Deadly (A Dark & Deadly Series Book 1)

Nadeau. Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow

The Story of French

The Story of Spanish

Nardozzi. Charlie Nardozzi

Foodscaping: Practical and Innovative Ways to Create an Edible Landscape

Norton. Andre Norton. SF

Voodoo Planet (Solar Queen Book 3)

O'Brien. N O'Brien

200+ French Idioms, Phrases and expressions

French vocabulary lists

O. Henry

Heart of the West: Stories

Ogles. Max Ogles

Boost: Create Good Habits Using Psychology and Technology

Ohlson. Kristin Ohlson

The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet

Orczy. Baroness Orczy and Otto Penzler

The Old Man in the Corner

Orenduff. J. Michael Orenduff

The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras (The Pot Thief Mysteries Book 1)

O'Rourke. P. J. O'Rourke and Andrew Ferguson

Parliament of Whores: A Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire U.S. Government

Osgood. CeCe Osgood

Margaritas & Murder: A Sunny Truly Mystery (Sunny Truly Mystery Series Book 1)

Ostler. Nicholas Ostler

Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World

Paris. James Paris

Companion Planting: The Vegetable Gardeners Guide. The Role of Flowers, Herbs & Organic Thinking (Updated) (No Dig Gardening Techniques)

Pascal. Blaise Pascal


Patrick. Sean Patrick

Nikola Tesla: Imagination and the Man That Invented the 20th Century

Pendleton. Don Pendleton

The Executioner Series Books 1–3: War Against the Mafia, Death Squad, and Battle Mask

Pengelly. Gareth K Pengelly

Brian Helsing: The World's Unlikeliest Vampire Hunter: Mission #1: Just Try Not To Die

Piketty. Thomas Piketty and Seth Ackerman. economics

Why Save the Bankers?: And Other Essays on Our Economic and Political Crisis

Poe. Edgar Allan Poe

The Complete Short Stories

Edgar Allan Poe: The Best Works

Pollan. Michael Pollan. gardening

Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

Potok. Chaim Potok

Davita's Harp: A Novel

Pratchett. Terry Pratchett. AK

Hogfather: A Novel of Discworld

Puertolas. Romain Puertolas and Sam Taylor

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe: A novel

Ramos. Amy Ramos, Rockridge Press, and Amanda C. Hughes

The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle

Rand. Brenda Rand

The Art of Goldfish: 10 Easy Steps to Goldfish Keeping

Rehak. Melanie Rehak

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

Rice. Craig Rice. mysteries.

Eight Faces at Three (The John J. Malone Mysteries Book 1)

Rice. Morgan Rice

Transmission (The Invasion Chronicles—Book One): A Science Fiction Thriller

Richards. Amanda Richards

Hindi: Learn Hindi FAST! Start Speaking Basic Hindi In Less Than 24 Hours – The Ultimate Mini Crash Course For Beginners (India, Hindi Language, Hindi for Beginners)

Ringdal. Nils Johan Ringdal

Love for Sale: A World History of Prostitution

Riotta. Louise Riotte. ref

Roses Love Garlic: Companion Planting and Other Secrets of Flowers

Ripley. W.L. Ripley

Storme Front (Wyatt Storme Book 2)

Robbins. Jim Robbins

The Wonder of Birds: What They Tell Us About Ourselves, the World, and a Better Future

Robin. Marie-Monique Robin, Allison Schein, and Lara Vergnaud. health

Our Daily Poison: From Pesticides to Packaging, How Chemicals Have Contaminated the Food Chain and Are Making Us Sick

Roethle. Sara C. Roethle. YA

The Xoe Meyers Series: Books 1-3 (Xoe Meyers Young Adult Urban Fantasy Book 0)

Rohmer. Sax Rohmer and Otto Penzler

The Hand of Fu-Manchu

Roote. Tobias Roote

The Pattern Ship (The Pattern Universe Book 1)

Roy. Arundhati Roy.

Capitalism: A Ghost Story

Rucker. Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig

A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America

Ryan. JC Ryan

The Rossler Foundation Mysteries

Ryans. Leann Ryans erotica

Proposition #2 (Illicit Deals)

Proposition #1: A Virgin Auction Romance (Illicit Deals)

Salatin. Joel Salatin

Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

Salt and Pepper Publishing

LEAKY GUT NO MORE: 18 Proven Ways to Heal Leaky Gut Naturally: Boost Metabolism and Lose Weight Permanently. Look & Feel Great (The Gut Repair Book Series)

Sanchez. Kris Sanchez

Cats Are Capable of Mind Control: And 1,000+ UberFacts You Never Knew You Needed to Know

Sawyer. JT Sawyer

Dead in Their Tracks: A Mitch Kearns Combat-Tracker Thriller (Mitch Kearns Combat Tracker Series Book 1)

Sayers. Dorothy L. Sayers. Mysteries

Strong Poison (The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Book 6)

The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Volume One: Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness, and Unnatural Death

Whose Body? (The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries Book 1)

Schumann. Karl Schumann

German: Learn German with These 500 Phrases (German Language, Speak German, Learning German, Germany Language, Austria Language, Learning German, Speaking German)

Schur. Norman W. Schur

British English from A to Zed: A Definitive Guide to the Queen's English

Shapiro. John Shapiro

Greek Pocket Dictionary

Sharp. Margery Sharp

Cluny Brown: A Novel

Sharpe. Audrey Sharpe. SF

Arch Allies (Starhawke Rogue Book 1)

Shaw. Johnny Shaw

Big Maria

Shaw. Scott R. Shaw

Planet of the Bugs: Evolution and the Rise of Insects

Shea. Hunter Shea. Thrillers

The Montauk Monster

Sheldon. Sidney Sheldon and Tilly Bagshawe

Sidney Sheldon's Reckless: A Tracy Whitney Novel

Shelley. Mary Shelley


Shukert. Rachel Shukert. Language

Everything Is Going to Be Great: An Underfunded and Overexposed European Grand Tour

Silkstone. Jack Silkstone

PRIMAL Reckoning (Book 1 in the Redemption Trilogy, A PRIMAL Action Thriller Book 5) (The PRIMAL Series)

PRIMAL Origins : Starter Box Set (PRIMAL Series)

Silverman. Stephen M. Silverman

Funny Ladies

Simmons. Natalie Simmons

Hindi: For Beginners - The Ultimate Crash Course To Start Speaking Hindi And Learning Common Phrases In 3 Days Or Less (India, Hindi Language, Hindi for Beginners)

Simpson. Duncan Simpson

The History of Things to Come (The Dark Horizon Trilogy Book 1)

Sirvent. Roberto Sirvent, Danny Haiphong, Ajamu Baraka, and Glen Ford

American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People's History of Fake News—From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror

Skeat. Walter William Skeat

A concise etymological dictionary of the English language

Smillie. Joseph Smillie and Grace Gershuny

The Soul of Soil: A Soil-Building Guide for Master Gardeners and Farmers, 4th Edition

Smith. Stan C. Smith

Infinity: A Bridger's Origin (Bridgers Series Book 0)

Snyder. Timothy Snyder

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Solnit. Rebecca Solnit.

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)

Somers. Suzanne Somers

TOX-SICK: From Toxic to Not Sick

Springer. Nancy Springer. YA

The Hex Witch of Seldom

Steiner. Rudolf Steiner

Egyptian Myths And Mysteries

How to Know Higher Worlds

What Is Biodynamics?

Stepanova. Natalia Stepanova

English - Russian Dictionary of most common words

Stevens. Jim Stevens

The Case of the Not-So-Fair Trader (A Richard Sherlock Whodunit Book 1)

Stevenson. Robert Louis Stevenson.


The Black Arrow

Sullivan. Nick Sullivan.

Deep Shadow (The Deep Book 1)

Summers. Anthony Summers

Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe

Sutherland. John Sutherland and Martin Rowson

Curiosities of Literature: A Feast for Book Lovers

Swanson. David Swanson

War Is A Lie

Swigart. Rob Swigart

Lisa Emmer Historical Thrillers Vol. 1-2 (Lisa Emmer Historical Thriller Series)

Syed. Matthew Syed

Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success

Taibbi. Matt Taibbi

Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History

Tallamy. Douglas W. Tallamy. Gardening

Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard

Tayler. Ted Tayler

The Phoenix Series: Books 1 - 4 (The Phoenix Series Box Set): Revised Edition

Tennant. Jerry Tennant MD MD(H) PScD

Healing is Voltage: Healing Eye Diseases

Thacker. Nick Thacker

The Amazon Code (Harvey Bennett Thrillers Book 2)

The Atlantis Stone

Tieri. Dr. Joseph Tieri

End Everyday Pain for 50+: A 10-Minute-a-Day Program of Stretching, Strengthening and Movement to Break the Grip of Pain

Tigner. Tim Tigner

Pushing Brilliance: (Kyle Achilles, Book 1)

The Lies of Spies: (Kyle Achilles, Book 2)

Tomlinson. Patrick S. Tomlinson and Larry Rostant

The Ark (Children of a Dead Earth Book 1)

Torres. Christina Torres

Spanish: 1001 Spanish Words: Increase Your Vocabulary with the Most Used Words in the Spanish Language (Spanish Language Learning Secrets Book 3)

Tracey. Andrew Tracey and Scarlett Rugers

The Telenovela Method: How to Learn Spanish Online Using Spanish TV, Music, Movies, Comics, Books, and More

Tumlinson. Kevin Tumlinson

The Atlantis Riddle: A Dan Kotler Archaeological Thriller

Tvedten. Stephen Tvedten

The Mold and Mildew Manual: How to Safely Control Toxic Molds and Mildew Without Toxic Chemicals or Poisons

Detoxify or Die: The Simple Science of Purifying Your Body, Removing Toxins and Fortifying Your Immune System

Twain. Mark Twain.

Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

A Tramp Abroad

Roughing It

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain by Alex Ayres

A Double Barrelled Detective Story

Around The World With Mark Twain by Robert Cooper

Updegrove. Andrew Updegrove

The Turing Test: a Tale of Artificial Intelligence and Malevolence (Frank Adversego Thrillers Book 4)

Vassi. Marco Vassi. erotica

Mind Blower (The Vassi Collection Book 2)

Verne. Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days

Wahrer. Zachariah Wahrer. SF

Breakers of the Dawn (Dawn Saga Book 1)

Wallace. Edgar Wallace and Otto Penzler. English novelist, probably the most popular thriller writer of all time

Sanders the River [The Commissioner Sanders Stories Bk 1]

Wambaugh. Joseph Wambaugh

The Black Marble

Wansink. Brian Wansink Ph.d.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Warren. Skye Warren. erotica

Beauty and the Professor (A Modern Fairy Tale Duet Book 1)

Wilde. Oscar Wilde

De Profundis

The Importance of Being Earnest

Wilker John Wilker. SF

Big Ship, Lots of Guns (Space Rogues Book 2)

Williams. Charles Williams and Jonathan Ryan

War in Heaven: A Novel

Williams. Gary Williams and Vicky Knerly

Death in the Beginning (The God Tools Book 1)

Wilson. Robert Wilson

Ketogenic Diet: The Complete How-To Guide For Beginners: Ketogenic Diet For Beginners: Ketogenic Cookbook: Keto Diet: The Complete How-To Guide For Beginners

Wodehouse. P. G. Wodehouse

The Inimitable Jeeves

Wood. David Wood

Loch: A Dane Maddock Adventure (Dane Maddock Adventures Book 9)

Word of the Day

Greek Word of the Day: 365 High Frequency Words to Accelerate Your Greek Vocabulary

Workman. RaShelle Workman. YA

Blood and Snow: A Vampire Fairy Tale (Seven Magics Academy Book 1)

Yacoub. Adam Yacoub

How to Learn Arabic

Yip. Mingmei Yip.

Peach Blossom Pavillion

Yunus. Muhammad Yunus

A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions

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The CIA's Greatest Hits


‘The Cold Millions,' Jess Walter’s celebration of forgotten heroes, is one of the most captivating novels of the year

'A Discovery of Witches' Author Shares Her Favorite Books to Read for Halloween

7 Reader-Favorite Books of October

18 Incredible Home Libraries Every Book Lover Will Appreciate

51 of the Most Beautiful Libraries by State

7 Books Based on Little-Known Historical Women

The Best Fantasy Book Series of All Time

8 Novels Based on Little-Known Moments in History

The Most Beloved Fictional Detectives of All Time

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19 Heist Books That You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

16 Charming Romance Books About Fake Relationships

Agatha Christie fans, take note: Anthony Horowitz has a clever new twist on the classic whodunit

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‘The Bright Book of Life’ examines ‘novels to read and reread’

A reading list just right for Christmas 2020: A little Dickens, a little Wilde, a little Donald Duck

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Kindle Cookbooks

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Eat It Later: Mastering Self Control & The Slimming Power Of Postponement

Arokiasamy. Christina Arokiasamy

The Malaysian Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Simple Home Cooking

Ayne. Blythe Ayne Ph.D.

Save Your Life with the Phenomenal Lemon & Lime: Becoming pH Balanced in an Unbalanced World (How to Save Your Life)

Bachmaier. Mia Bachmaier and Mike McColl

Instant Favourites: Over 125 easy recipes for your electric pressure cooker

Bailey. Elisabeth Tova Bailey

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Bareham. Lindsey Bareham

The Fish Store: Recipes and Recollections

Barnard. Neal D. Barnard and Bryanna Clark Grogan

Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs

The Cheese Trap: How Breaking a Surprising Addiction Will Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy, and Get Healthy

Beard. James Beard and Julia Child

Beard on Pasta

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Belton. Kevin Belton, Rhonda K. Findley, and Rhonda Findley

Kevin Belton's Big Flavors of New Orleans

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Cooking Like Mummyji: Real Indian Food from the Family Home

Bittman. Mark Bittman

How to Cook Everything—Completely Revised Twentieth Anniversary Edition: Simple Recipes for Great Food

Bourdain. Anthony Bourdain

The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Bowens. Natasha Bowens

The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience and Farming

Brennan. Georgeanne Brennan

Williams-Sonoma Salad of the Day: 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year

Bruton. Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal

Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies

Butcher. Nicholas Butcher

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Calimeris. Dorothy Calimeris and Lulu Cook RDN

The Complete Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Beginners: A No-Stress Meal Plan with Easy Recipes to Heal the Immune System

Carle-Sanders. Theresa Carle-Sanders and Diana Gabaldon

Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook

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Plant Power Bowls: 70 Seasonal Vegan Recipes to Boost Energy and Promote Wellness

Christian. Glynn Christian

Real Flavours: The Handbook of Gourmet & Deli Ingredients

Cole. Dr. Will Cole

Ketotarian: The (Mostly) Plant-Based Plan to Burn Fat, Boost Your Energy, Crush Your Cravings, and Calm Inflammation: A Cookbook

Coronado. Shawna Coronado

The Wellness Garden: Grow, Eat, and Walk Your Way to Better Health

Costa. Margaret Costa and Delia Smith

Margaret Costa's Four Seasons Cookery Book

Critser. Greg Critser

Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World

Cross. Eliza Cross

101 Things To Do With Beans

Damrosch. Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman

The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook: From the Garden to the Table in 120 Recipes

Darrow. Diane Darrow and Tom Maresca

The Seasons of the Italian Kitchen

David. Elizabeth David, Juliet Renny, and Julia Child

French Provincial Cooking (Penguin Classics)

Davis. William Davis

Wheat Belly Total Health: The Ultimate Grain-Free Health and Weight-Loss Life Plan

Deppe. Carol Deppe

The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times

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Dunlop. Fuchsia Dunlop

Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking

Edge. John T. Edge and Angie Mosier

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The Healthy Meal Prep Instant Pot® Cookbook: No-Fuss Recipes for Nutritious, Ready-to-Go Meals

Foster. Sydney Foster, Amanda Stewart, and Charlie Hughes

Ketogenic Diet Guide for Beginners: Easy Weight Loss with Plans and Recipes

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Dinner in Minutes: Memorable Meals for Busy Cooks

Graham. Peter Graham

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Mini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting. Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle Without Suffering.

Gundry. Dr. Steven R. Gundry

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Five Fat Hens: The Chicken and Egg Cookbook

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A Turkish Cookbook

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The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand

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Delicious Mediterranean Diet Recipes: From the Editors of America's Top Magazines

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It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It: Misadventures of a Suburban Hunter-Gatherer

Herring. Bert Herring

The Fast-5 Diet and the Fast-5 Lifestyle

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Permaculture: Permaculture Gardening Guide For Self Sufficiency (Permaculture, Gardening, Self Sufficiency)

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The Essential Wok Cookbook: A Simple Chinese Cookbook for Stir-Fry, Dim Sum, and Other Restaurant Favorites

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Jackson. Julius Jackson

My Modern Caribbean Kitchen: 70 Fresh Takes on Island Favorites

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Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less

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Livingston. Glenn Livingston Ph.D

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Lo. Anita Lo, Charlotte Druckman, and Lucy Schaeffer

Cooking Without Borders

Longo. Valter Longo

The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight

Luard. Elisabeth Luard

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Maangchi's Real Korean Cooking: Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook

Mabey. David Mabey and David Collison

The Perfect Pickle Book

Miers. Thomasina Miers

Wahaca - Mexican Food at Home

Mileti. Meredith Mileti

Aftertaste:: A Novel in Five Courses

Miller. Mark Miller

Salsas of the World

Minich. Deanna M. Minich PhD. CN

An A-Z Guide to Food Additives: Never Eat What You Can't Pronounce

Mitchell. Carrie Mitchell

Permaculture for Beginners: Build Your Sustainable and Edible Garden with the Permaculture Basics (Gardening- Permaculture Book 1)

Mitford. Nancy Mitford

Christmas Pudding and Pigeon Pie

Monson. Josh Monson

The Back to Eden Gardening Guide: The Easiest Way to Grow Your Own Food

Mullin. Gerard E. Mullin

The Gut Balance Revolution: Boost Your Metabolism, Restore Your Inner Ecology, and Lose the Weight for Good!

Nardozzi. Charlie Nardozzi

Foodscaping: Practical and Innovative Ways to Create an Edible Landscape

Nguyen. Andrea Nguyen

Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors [A Cookbook]

Norwak. Mary Norwak

English Puddings: Sweet & Savoury

Ogden. Ellen Ecker Ogden

The Complete Kitchen Garden: An Inspired Collection of Garden Designs & 100 Seasonal Recipes

Ogles. Max Ogles

Boost: Create Good Habits Using Psychology and Technology

Patrick. Toni Patrick

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Marguerite Patten's 100 Top Teatime Treats

Marguerite Patten's Best British Dishes

Poore. Marge Poore

1,000 Mexican Recipes (1,000 Recipes Book 41)

Ramos. Amy Ramos, Rockridge Press, and Amanda C. Hughes

The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle

Rao. Sri Rao

Bollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films

Robin. Marie-Monique Robin, Allison Schein, and Lara Vergnaud

Our Daily Poison: From Pesticides to Packaging, How Chemicals Have Contaminated the Food Chain and Are Making Us Sick

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Folks, This Ain't Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

Salt and Pepper Publishing

LEAKY GUT NO MORE: 18 Proven Ways to Heal Leaky Gut Naturally: Boost Metabolism and Lose Weight Permanently. Look & Feel Great (The Gut Repair Book Series)

Sandoval. Richard Sandoval and Penny De Los Santos

Richard Sandoval's New Latin Flavors: Hot Dishes, Cool Drinks

Santibanez. Roberto Santibanez, JJ Goode, and Todd Coleman

Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales: Flavors from the Griddles, Pots, and Streetside Kitchens of Mexico

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Your Herb Garden (Month-by-Month)

Segal. Jennifer Segal and Alexandra Grablewski

Once Upon a Chef, the Cookbook: 100 Tested, Perfected, and Family-Approved Recipes

Shaida. Margaret Shaida

The Legendary Cuisine of Persia

Shanahan. Catherine Shanahan

The Fatburn Fix: Boost Energy, End Hunger, and Lose Weight by Using Body Fat for Fuel

Southworth. Howie Southworth and Greg Matza

Chinese Street Food: Small Bites, Classic Recipes, and Harrowing Tales Across the Middle Kingdom

The Quintessential Cast Iron Cookbook: 100 One-Pan Recipes to Make the Most of Your Skillet

Spencer. Colin Spencer

British Food: An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History

Spry. Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume

The Constance Spry Cookery Book

Stevenson. Struan Stevenson and Tony Singh

The Course of History: Ten Meals That Changed the World

Stobard. Tom Stobart

Herbs, Spices & Flavourings

Cook's Encyclopaedia

Straker. Vicky Straker

Bicycles, Bloomers and Great War Rationing Recipes: The Life and Times of Dorothy Peel OBE

Symon. Michael Symon and Douglas Trattner

Fix It with Food: More Than 125 Recipes to Address Autoimmune Issues and Inflammation: A Cookbook

Thaler. Casey Thaler

The Essential Instant Pot® Keto Cookbook: 210 Delicious Ketogenic Recipes to Fuel You Every Day

Toy. Chris Toy

Easy Chinese Cookbook: Restaurant Favorites Made Simple

Uffindell. Andrew Uffindell

Napoleon's Chicken Marengo: Creating the Myth of the Emperor's Favourite Dish

Wansink. Brian Wansink Ph.d.

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think

Waters. Alice Waters and Patricia Curtan

The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution: A Cookbook

Wilson. Robert Wilson

Ketogenic Diet: The Complete How-To Guide For Beginners: Ketogenic Diet For Beginners: Ketogenic Cookbook: Keto Diet: The Complete How-To Guide For Beginners

Kindle Languages

Barach. John Barach


Hughes. Kieran Hughes and Maureen Hughes

Being British


The Castle of Otranto Kindle Edition by Horace Walpole

The classic Gothic novel that influenced writers from Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley to Edgar Allan Poe and beyond. This masterpiece of Sanskrit literature provides a fascinating glimpse into an ancient culture and its traditions and values, such as how one chooses a mate, how husbands and wives should comport themselves, and which romantic relationships are healthy and which are destructive.

This book was born from the photographer’s unease with the far right’s influence in Germany. 3/15/21

Larry McMurtry, award-winning novelist who pierced myths of his native Texas, dies at 84

Antitrust: Taking on Monopoly Power from the Gilded Age to the Digital Age by Amy Klobuchar

Kindle $16.99

Antitrust enforcement is one of the most pressing issues facing America today—and Amy Klobuchar, the widely respected senior senator from Minnesota, is leading the charge. This fascinating history of the antitrust movement shows us what led to the present moment and offers achievable solutions to prevent monopolies, promote business competition, and encourage innovation.

In a world where Google reportedly controls 90 percent of the search engine market and Big Pharma’s drug price hikes impact healthcare accessibility, monopolies can hurt consumers and cause marketplace stagnation. Klobuchar—the much-admired former candidate for president of the United States—argues for swift, sweeping reform in economic, legislative, social welfare, and human rights policies, and describes plans, ideas, and legislative proposals designed to strengthen antitrust laws and antitrust enforcement.

Klobuchar writes of the historic and current fights against monopolies in America, from Standard Oil and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to the Progressive Era's trust-busters; from the breakup of Ma Bell (formerly the world's biggest company and largest private telephone system) to the pricing monopoly of Big Pharma and the future of the giant tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

She begins with the Gilded Age (1870s-1900), when builders of fortunes and rapacious robber barons such as J. P. Morgan, John Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt were reaping vast fortunes as industrialization swept across the American landscape, with the rich getting vastly richer and the poor, poorer. She discusses President Theodore Roosevelt, who, during the Progressive Era (1890s-1920), "busted" the trusts, breaking up monopolies; the Clayton Act of 1914; the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914; and the Celler-Kefauver Act of 1950, which it strengthened the Clayton Act. She explores today's Big Pharma and its price-gouging; and tech, television, content, and agriculture communities and how a marketplace with few players, or one in which one company dominates distribution, can hurt consumer prices and stifle innovation.

As the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar provides a fascinating exploration of antitrust in America and offers a way forward to protect all Americans from the dangers of curtailed competition, and from vast information gathering, through monopolies.

John Grisham talks basketball — and books

Books I Wish I Had Read Sooner: 28 Readers Share

20 BOOKS TO READ THIS SUMMER. By Washington Post Editors and Reviewers May 27, 2021

All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake By Tiya Miles, Random House

NONFICTION | Knowing her daughter was about to be sold, Rose, enslaved in 1850s South Carolina, handed her 9-year-old a cotton bag of keepsakes. That heirloom, passed from one generation to the next, led Miles, a MacArthur fellow and historian, to re-create the trajectory of Rose’s descendants.

Black Buck By Mateo Askaripour, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

FICTION | Askaripour’s irresistible novel concerns Darren, a young Black man who trades a job at Starbucks for staggering success at an absurd tech start-up. This razor-sharp corporate satire also delves into the thorny issue of race in the modern workplace. As the only Black man in the office, Darren finds himself among colleagues determined to prove how post-racial they are. You can imagine how well that goes.

Broken (in the Best Possible Way) By Jenny Lawson, Henry Holt and Co.

NONFICTION | The fourth book — and fourth bestseller — by the author otherwise known as the Bloggess goes to some dark places, including her years-long battle with depression, anxiety disorder and autoimmune diseases. But her levity is her buoy and her brand.

Chasing the Thrill: Obsession, Death, and Glory in America’s Most Extraordinary Treasure Hunt By Daniel Barbarisi, Knopf

NONFICTION | File this one under stranger than fiction: In 2010, an art dealer, believing he’s on death’s door, hides a treasure chest full of gold and gemstones “in the mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe” and sets in motion a massive search with a cryptic, clue-laden poem. Barbarisi, a journalist, got pulled into the hunt by an obsessed friend and spent years documenting the deadly and controversial race for riches.

Crying in H Mart By Michelle Zauner, Knopf

NONFICTION | This moving memoir, by a writer who moonlights as the musical artist Japanese Breakfast, explores how H Mart, the supermarket chain specializing in Asian food, came to serve as a bridge to her Korean heritage after her mother’s death. As it turns out, making kimchi was a natural step toward healing.

Early Morning Riser By Katherine Heiny, Knopf

FICTION | Heiny is a master at switching registers, delivering poignant heartbreak one moment and big laughs the next. Her novel teems with eccentric characters who swirl around 26-year-old Jane after she moves to Boyne City, Mich., for a job as a second-grade teacher. She immediately falls for Duncan, a woodworker so charming he’s bedded half the town. Is he marriage material? Maybe, maybe not. But the community’s a keeper.

Empire of Pain By Patrick Radden Keefe, Doubleday

NONFICTION | The investigative journalist and author of “Say Nothing” excavates the history of the Sackler family, known mainly, until a few years ago, for their lavish donations to universities and museums. But the family’s fortune, made from pharmaceuticals such as OxyContin, has invited recent scrutiny, including that of the dogged Keefe, who tells the family’s story as the saga of a dynasty driven by arrogance, avarice and indifference to mass suffering.

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest By Suzanne Simard, Knopf

NONFICTION | If there’s a celebrity in the world of forest ecology, it’s Simard, whose TED Talks about trees have been viewed by millions. Her first book blends memoir — the story of her upbringing in Canada as a descendant of loggers — with fascinating research about how forests are much like human communities, alive with messages, warnings and protective tips shared among neighbors.

Gold Diggers By Sanjena Sathian, Penguin Press

FICTION | This remarkable debut — already optioned by Mindy Kaling for a TV series — takes inspiration from striving immigrant tales, Old West mythology and even madcap thrillers. The story follows Neil, the son of Indian immigrants, who can’t quite live up to his parents’ towering expectations. A magical potion capable of boosting his potential seems like the perfect solution — until things go awry.

Good Company By Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Ecco

FICTION | Following the success of her comic debut, 2016’s “The Nest,” Sweeney delivers a sweeter, gentler novel about the ways different people experience the same events, decisions and mistakes. Flora gave up her Broadway dreams to support her family, including her husband, the head of a high-quality, low-profit theater company. But when she discovers the wedding ring he claimed to have lost years earlier, Flora starts to question everything about her existence.

Great Circle By Maggie Shipstead, Knopf

FICTION | Shipstead combines a soaring work of historical fiction about a “lady pilot” in the mid-20th century with the tale of a famous modern-day actress trying to save her career after some highly publicized debauchery. This is a long one — about 600 pages — but the novel makes full use of its length to explore parallel stories about powerful women who rise from tragedies to forge their own way.

Hour of the Witch By Chris Bohjalian, Doubleday

FICTION | The “Flight Attendant” author’s historical thriller is subtly packed with details about the realities of 1662 Boston, where Mary, a young Puritan woman, winds up marrying an abusive widower twice her age. When the violence escalates, she decides divorce is the only way to save her life. But in a society always alert to the work of the devil, she winds up as endangered as ever.

Infinite Country By Patricia Engel, Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster

FICTION | When Elena and Mauro leave Colombia for Texas looking for financial security, they have no idea that the land of plenty they’re seeking is just as violent as the country they left — and that their future is just as precarious. Engel is a gifted storyteller whose writing shines even in the darkest corners, which in this case means exploring the pain of a family torn apart after a father’s deportation.

A Lonely Man By Chris Power, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

FICTION | Power’s debut, like the best noir fiction, manages to be both suspenseful and cosmically destabilizing. Nothing and no one are what they first appear to be. The plot bears more than a passing resemblance to the classic film “The Third Man,” diving into the story of a struggling novelist who finds his way out of writer’s block by taking inspiration from a ghostwriter who’s convinced that Russian assassins are after him.

Malibu Rising By Taylor Jenkins Reid, Ballantine

FICTION | To the world, Mick Riva is perfection — a handsome heartthrob with a voice like an angel. To his four children, he’s a deadbeat dad whose absence destroyed their mother. Years after their abandonment, the kids have traded poverty for wealth and are preparing for a massive party in a house on a cliff above the coastline. But riches and ocean views can’t quite mask the devastating effects of the past. (Available June 1)

Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War By Jeff Shesol, W.W. Norton & Co.

NONFICTION | There was a lot riding on Glenn’s launch into space on Feb. 20, 1962, as part of the Friendship 7 mission. Making history was part of it, and he became the first American to orbit Earth. But Shesol’s account from interviews and archival material also explores the emotional importance of that flight, showing Americans that their country could take on the Soviets anywhere. (Available June 1)

The Plot By Jean Hanff Korelitz, Celadon

FICTION | The author of 2014’s “You Should Have Known,” which inspired HBO’s “The Undoing,” delivers a witty nightmare of a thriller about the dangerous consequences of sticky fingers in the literary world. When a once-celebrated author winds up teaching in a middling MFA program, he’s sure he’s squandered his chance at lasting success — until one of his promising pupils dies, inspiring the novelist to claim the student’s book idea as his own. Review: The plot of ‘The Plot’ — the best thriller of the year (so far) — is too good to give away

The Secret to Superhuman Strength By Alison Bechdel, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

“Genius” cartoonist who burst on the scene with the 2006 graphic memoir “Fun Home” — inspiring a Tony-winning musical — set out to write a light book about her lifelong commitment to exercise, including stints as a cyclist, climber, skier and yogi. As usual, her story and art are about so much more — the realities of aging, the quest for transcendence and the drumbeat of mortality. Interview: Alison Bechdel thought she was writing a book about exercise. It became a metaphysical adventure.

Somebody’s Daughter By Ashley C. Ford, Flatiron

NONFICTION | Ford, a writer and podcaster, mines a painful past in this chronicle of a splintered family. As a child, growing up poor and Black in Fort Wayne, Ind., Ford knew that her father was in prison, but she didn’t know why. Her path to discovering the truth, intertwined with childhood misadventures and a harrowing account of her sexual assault at 13, makes for a riveting coming-of-age story. (Available June 1)

Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR By Lisa Napoli, Abrams Press

NONFICTION | Newsrooms of the late 1960s were not especially welcoming to women: “Great legs, face only fair,” read one note about a job candidate at the New York Times. But public radio’s shaky beginnings created openings for the likes of Susan Stamberg, Linda Wertheimer, Nina Totenberg and Cokie Roberts. Napoli chronicles not just the camaraderie among the “founding mothers” but also their commitment to help the younger women who aspired to follow them.

24 Books to Make You Smarter

15 Authors Tell Us Which Book They’d Choose to Read for the Rest of Their Lives

While Justice Sleeps: A Novel Hardcover – May 11, 2021 by Stacey Abrams

kindle $13.99

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From celebrated national leader and bestselling author Stacey Abrams, a gripping thriller set within the halls of the U.S. Supreme Court—where a young law clerk finds herself embroiled in a shocking mystery plotted by one of the most preeminent judges in America.

"Abrams follows in Dan Brown’s footprint with this masterfully plotted thriller that unfolds like the ultimate chess match—bold move to bolder move with lives hanging in the balance."—Lisa Gardner, author of Before She Disappeared

"A first-class legal thriller, favorably compared to many of the best, starting with The Pelican Brief, which it brings to mind. It’s fast-paced and full of surprises—a terrific read."—Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent

Avery Keene, a brilliant young law clerk for the legendary Justice Howard Wynn, is doing her best to hold her life together—excelling in an arduous job with the court while also dealing with a troubled family. When the shocking news breaks that Justice Wynn—the cantankerous swing vote on many current high-profile cases—has slipped into a coma, Avery’s life turns upside down. She is immediately notified that Justice Wynn has left instructions for her to serve as his legal guardian and power of attorney. Plunged into an explosive role she never anticipated, Avery finds that Justice Wynn had been secretly researching one of the most controversial cases before the court—a proposed merger between an American biotech company and an Indian genetics firm, which promises to unleash breathtaking results in the medical field. She also discovers that Wynn suspected a dangerously related conspiracy that infiltrates the highest power corridors of Washington.

As political wrangling ensues in Washington to potentially replace the ailing judge whose life and survival Avery controls, she begins to unravel a carefully constructed, chesslike sequence of clues left behind by Wynn. She comes to see that Wynn had a much more personal stake in the controversial case and realizes his complex puzzle will lead her directly into harm’s way in order to find the truth. While Justice Sleeps is a cunningly crafted, sophisticated novel, layered with myriad twists and a vibrant cast of characters. Drawing on her astute inside knowledge of the court and political landscape, Stacey Abrams shows herself to be not only a force for good in politics and voter fairness but also a major new talent in suspense fiction.

Author Favorites

Asimov. Isaac Asimov [Youth]
Barry. Dave Barry [Big Trouble]
Beck. Greig Beck [Primordia: In Search of the Lost World]
Bell. Odette C. Bell [Ouroboros Episode One: A Galactic Coalition Academy Series]
Brody. David S. Brody [Powdered Gold: Templars and the American Ark of the Covenant ]
Burger. Jeffrey Burger [Wings of Steele ]
Burroughs. Edgar Rice Burroughs [The Return of Tarzan]
Calvert. Joshua T. Calvert [The Fossil: Science Fiction Thriller (Secrets Of Mars Book 1)]
Christie. Agatha Christie [Hercule Poirot's Christmas]
Clancy. Tom Clancy [thrillers]
Clark. Gary Clark [The Given-Interland Series #1]
Clarke. Arthur C. Clarke [Rendezvous with Rama]
Cobb. James H. Cobb [Choosers of the Slain... Capt. Amanda Lee Garrett]
Crichton. Michael Crichton [Jurassic Park]
Daniels. April Daniels [Dreadnought (Nemesis Book 1)]
Dickens. Charles Dickens [The Pickwick Papers]
Dobbs. LA Dobbs [No One to Trust [Snickerdoodle & Henry](Rockford Security Mystery Series Book 5)
Doyle. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Eisler. Barry Eisler [The Detachment (A John Rain Novel)--Japanese]
Elise Sax. An Affair to Dismember (Matchmaker Mysteries [Zelda’s Matchmaking Services]
*** Evanovich. Janet Evanovich [Stephanie Plum series]
** Fiona Grace. A Villa in Sicily: Olive Oil and Murder (A Cats and Dogs Cozy Mystery
Foner. E. M. Foner [Turing Test (AI Diaries SciFi Trilogy Book 1)]
Foster. Alan Dean Foster [Quozl]
Gardner. James Alan Gardner [Radiant (League of Peoples Book 7)]
Godinez. Victor Godinez [The First Protectors: A Novel--Comanche]
Graver. Evan Graver [Dark Water: A Ryan Weller Thriller: Book 1]
Gray. Christopher A. Gray and Howard E. Carson [All The Big Ones Are Dead (Bishop/Rector)]
Grisham. John Grisham [Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer]
Grumley. Michael C. Grumly [Leap; Talking to animals with computer!]
Guin. Ursula K. Le Guin [The Left Hand of Darkness]
Hess. Joan Hess [Maggody mysteries]
Hines. Rafael Amadeus Hines [Bishop's War (Bishop Series Book 1)]
* Holiday. Ryan Holiday [Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue]
** Howard. Linda Howard. Romantic suspense
Huggins. James Byron Huggins [Cain --Hebrew]
Kemelman. Harry Kemelman [Conversations with Rabbi Small (The Rabbi Small Mysteries Book 8)]
Kennedy. J. Robert Kennedy [The Protocol (A James Acton Thriller]
Larsen. Ward Larsen [Cutting Edge: A Novel]
Lerman. Rhoda Lerman [God's Ear: A Novel]
Madow. Michelle Madow [Elementals 1: The Prophecy of Shadows [witches]]
Mark Twain [Roughing It]
Marquand. John P. Marquand [Mr Moto]
McCutchan. Philip McCutchan. [Gibraltar Road (Commander Shaw Book 1)]
McJeile. H. C. McNeile [Bulldog Drummond]
Morley, Christopher Morley [The Haunted Bookshop]
Orenduff. J. Michael Orenduff [The Pot Thief Who Studied Pythagoras (The Pot Thief Mysteries Book 1)]
Patten. John D. Patten [Miami Burn]
Pendleton. Don Pendleton [The Executioner Series Books 1–3: War Against the Mafia, Death Squad, and Battle Mask]
Pengelly. Gareth K Pengelly [Brian Helsing: TheWorld'sUnlikeliestVampireHunter: Mission #1: Just Try Not To Die]
Potok. Chaim Potok
Rohmer. Sax Rohmer and Otto Penzler [The Hand of Fu-Manchu]
Ryan. JC Ryan [Unchained: A Rex Dalton Thriller; Delphi Technique]
Sawyer. JT Sawyer [Dead in Their Tracks: A Mitch Kearns Combat-Tracker, Black-Ops Thriller Book]
Sayers. Dorothy L. Sayers [Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries]
Sharp. Audrey Sharpe [Arch Allies (Starhawke Rogue Book 1)]
Shea. Hunter Shea [The Montauk Monster]
Sheldon. [Sidney Sheldon's Reckless: A Tracy Whitney Novel]
Silkstone. Jack Silkstone [SEAL of Approval (SEAL Series Book 1)]
Smith. Stan C. Smith [Diffusion Box Set: An Alien First Contact Adventure Series]
Stevenson. Robert Louis Stevenson [Kidnapped]
Stoker. Susan Stoker [Protecting Cheyenne (SEAL of Protection Book 5)
Sullivan. Nick Sullivan [Deep Shadow (The Deep Book 1)]
Tinto. Kevin Tinto [ICE: The Ice Trilogy Volume 1]
Wilde. Oscar Wilde [De Profundis]
Wodehouse. P. G. Wodehouse [The Inimitable Jeeves]
Yip, Mingmei Yip [Peach Blossom Pavillion]

Beard. Mary Beard [the classics]
Belzer. Richard Belzer and David Wayne [Corporate Conspiracies: How Wall Street Took Over Washington]
Bradbury. Kate Bradbury and Julie Watson [The Wildlife Gardener]
Burgis. Tom Burgis [Kleptopia: How Dirty Money Is Conquering the World]
Callan. Jamie Cat Callan [French Women Don't Sleep Alone:: Pleasurable Secrets to Finding Love]
Chesterton. G. K. Chesterton [A Short History of England]
Cole.Dr. Will Cole [Ketotarian: The (Mostly) Plant-Based Plan to Burn Fat, Boost Your Energy, Crush Your Cravings]
Coyote. Peter Coyote [The Rainman's Third Cure: An Irregular Education]
Critser. Greg Critser [Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World]
Damrosch. Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman [The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook]
Dorren. Gaston Dorren [Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages]
Eisler. Riane Eisler [The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future]
Elon. Amos Elon [The Pity of It All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch, 1743-1933]
Greenwald. Tom Engelhardt and Glenn Greenwald [Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and..]
Greyberg. Zane Greyberg [3:10 to Boca and Other Meshugeh Tales of the Yiddish West]
Gwynne.S. C. Gwynne [Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches]
Hadleigh. Boze Hadleigh [Holy Cow!:Doggerel,Catnaps,Scapegoats,Foxtrots,andHorseFeathers...]
Heavey. Bill Heavey [It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It: Misadventures of a Suburban Hunter-Gatherer]
Hedges. Chris Hedges [Unspeakable]
Houbein. Lolo Houbein [One Magic Square Vegetable Gardening]
Karlen. Neal Karlen [The Story of Yiddish: How a Mish-Mosh of Languages Saved the Jews]
Katz. Sandor Ellix Katz and Sally Fallon Morell [Wild Fermentation: TheFlavor,Nutrition,andCraft of Live-Culture]
Lansky. Aaron Lansky [Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books]
Miller.Daphne Miller M.D. [Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up]
Molot. John Molot MD [12,000 Canaries Can't Be Wrong: What's Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It]
O'Neill. Zora O'Neill [All Strangers Are Kin: Adventures in Arabic and the Arab World]
O'Rourke. P. J. O'Rourke andAndrewFerguson [Parliament of Whores:A LoneHumoristAttemptstoExplainthe Entire U.S.]
Piketty. Thomas Piketty and Seth Ackerman [Why Save the Bankers?: AndOtherEssaysonOurEconomicandPolitical Crisis]
Raymond. Dick Raymond [Joy of Gardening]
Richardson.Heather Cox Richardson [How the South Won the Civil War]
Riotte. Louise Riotte [Roses Love Garlic: Companion Planting and Other Secrets of Flowers]
Roy. Arundhati Roy [Capitalism: A Ghost Story]
Schultz. R. Louis Schultz Ph.D., Rosemary Do Feitis, Diana Salles, and Ronald Thompson [Fascial Anatomy]
Schur. Norman W. Schur [British English from A to Zed: A Definitive Guide to the Queen's English]
Segall. Barbara Segall [Your Herb Garden (Month-by-Month)]
Servon. Lisa Servon [The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives]
Shanahan. Catherine Shanahan. [The Fatburn Fix: Boost Energy,End Hunger,Lose Weight by Using Body Fat for Fuel]
Shaw. Scott R. Shaw [Planet of the Bugs: Evolution and the Rise of Insects]
Stevenson. Struan Stevenson and Tony Singh [The Course of History: Ten Meals That Changed the World]
Sutherland. John Sutherland and Martin Rowson [Curiosities of Literature: A Feast for Book Lovers]
Tallamy. Douglas W. Tallamy [Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard]
Tompkins.Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird [The Secret Life of Plants]
Tuchman. Barbara W. Tuchman [history]
Wolff. Richard Wolff [Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism]
Zepezauer. Mark Zepezauer and Arthur Naiman [The CIA's Greatest Hits]

Ange.Sinistre Ange [His Favorite Hucow]
Arsan.Emmanuelle Arsan and Lowell Bair [Emmanuelle]
Ash. Nikki Ash and K Webster [Hidden Truths (Truths and Lies Duet Book 1)]
Ashe. Penelope Ashe and Mike McGrady [Naked Came the Stranger]
Daniels.Krissy Daniels [Truck Stop Titan: A Dark, Bad Boy Romance]
Day.Ellis O. Day [Six Nights Of Sin]
Howard. Linda Howard [sexy mysteries]
Pearce.Kate Pearce [Simply Carnal]
Rose. Renee Rose [His-Zandian-Human Slave]
Ryans.Leann Ryans [Proposition #1: A Virgin Auction Romance]
Thomas.Kitty Thomas [Perfection]
Vassi. Marco Vassi [Mind Blower (The Vassi Collection Book 2)]
Warren. Skye Warren [Beauty and the Professor (A Modern Fairy Tale Duet Book 1)]

We could all use a laugh. These comedic romance novels deliver.

17 Readers Share the Book They Still Think About Years Later

21 Nonfiction Books That Are Perfect for the Beach

14 Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels with Shocking Twists

Built from Broken: A Science-Based Guide to Healing Painful Joints, Preventing Injuries, and Rebuilding Your Body Paperback – June 7, 2021 by Scott H Hogan (Author) $12.57 ppbk

Stretching to Stay Young: Simple Workouts to Keep You Flexible, Energized, and Pain Free Paperback – December 13, 2016 by Jessica Matthews (Author) kindle $6.99

'Three women' author Lisa Taddeo on her new novel, women's desire and more

Faith that the truth can still defeat misinformation

In 'Something Wild,' sisters try to protect their mother from domestic violence

A top columnist who exposed corruption — and sometimes betrayed his principles

'The Vixen' turns Cold War paranoia into smart comedy

A humble cloth sack tells a story of enslavement and separation

Rajiv Mohabir's 'Antiman' is a memoir that refuses genre

A biologist finds solace in a wild animal's friendship

The Washington Post: Life & Entertainment | An anthology of great speeches, from the inspirational to the ominous

An indictment of William Barr's tenure as attorney general

Facebook's strategy: Avert disaster, apologize and keep growing

The trial of the man who killed the man who killed Kennedy

Beyond 'Dune': Science fiction and fantasy novels about ecology and climate change

A '50s mom finds her calling as a spy in a captivating novel

An antic novel about expats in Africa

We need comic novels more than ever. So where are they?

It's not that we lack funny writers. Tina Fey, Jenny Lawson, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Issa Rae and so many others publish hilarious memoirs and essay collections. But none of them has ventured into the foreboding realm of the comic novel.

Last year, for instance, Christopher Buckley’s "Make Russia Great Again" offered a hilarious sendup of Donald Trump’s disastrous presidency. But now with the country returning to normal and the Very Stable Genius holed up in his Florida palace, who wants to think about that bigly old mess?

Make Russia Great Again: A Novel Kindle Edition by Christopher Buckley (Author) $12.99 kindle

In “the Trump satire we’ve been waiting for” (The Washington Post), award-winning and bestselling author of Thank You for Smoking delivers a hilarious and whipsmart fake memoir by Herb Nutterman—Donald Trump’s seventh chief of staff—who has written the ultimate tell-all about Trump and Russia.

Herb Nutterman never intended to become Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff. Herb served the Trump Organization for twenty-seven years, holding jobs in everything from a food and beverage manager at the Trump Magnifica to being the first general manager of the Trump Bloody Run Golf Course. And when his old boss asks “his favorite Jew” to take on the daunting role of chief of staff, Herb, spurred on by loyalty agrees.

But being the chief of staff is a lot different from being a former hospitality expert. Soon, Herb finds himself deeply involved in Russian intrigue, deflecting rumors about Mike Pence’s high school involvement in a Satanic cult, and leading President Trump’s reelection campaign.

What Nutterman experiences is outrageous, outlandish, and otherwise unbelievable—therefore making it a deadly accurate account of being the chief of staff during the Trump administration. With hilarious jabs at the biggest world leaders and Washington politics overall, Make Russia Great Again is a timely political satire from “one of the funniest writers in the English language” (Tom Wolfe).

Humorous Novels

- "Big Trouble," by Dave Barry. The funnyman’s first novel involves nuclear bombs, Russian gangsters, giant pythons — just ordinary life in Miami.

- “Black Buck,” by Mateo Askaripour. This irresistible comic novel pokes fun at corporate America and the tenacity of racism.

- “Dear Committee Members,” by Julie Schumacher. The academic satire gets a fresh overhaul in this novel composed of recommendation letters.

- “An Evening of Long Goodbyes,” by Paul Murray. A penniless young aristocrat determined to maintain the contemplative life of a country gentleman must, suddenly, get a job.

- “Heartburn,” by Nora Ephron. This debut novel, inspired by Ephron’s failed marriage to Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein, was later made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson.

- “The Hills at Home,” by Nancy Clark. One summer, relatives come to visit a retired schoolteacher in her sprawling, run-down estate — and courteously refuse to leave.

- “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal,” by Christopher Moore. So funny, it’s worth risking an eternity in hell.

- “Less,” by Andrew Sean Greer. This Pulitzer Prize-winning story follows a writer around the world from one disastrous author event to another.

- “Lucky Jim,” by Kingsley Amis. The story of a young English professor is the best comic novel of all time.

Lucky Jim (New York Review Books Classics) Kindle Edition by Kingsley Amis (Author) $9.99 kindle

A hilarious satire about college life and high class manners, this is a classic of postwar English literature.

Regarded by many as the finest, and funniest, comic novel of the twentieth century, Lucky Jim remains as trenchant, withering, and eloquently misanthropic as when it first scandalized readers in 1954. This is the story of Jim Dixon, a hapless lecturer in medieval history at a provincial university who knows better than most that “there was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones.” Amis’s scabrous debut leads the reader through a gallery of emphatically English bores, cranks, frauds, and neurotics, with each of whom Dixon must contend in one way or another in order to hold on to his cushy academic perch and win the girl of his fancy.

More than just a merciless satire of cloistered college life and stuffy post-war manners, Lucky Jim is an attack on the forces of boredom, whatever form they may take, and a work of art that at once distills and extends an entire tradition of English comic writing, from Fielding and Dickens through Wodehouse and Waugh. As Christopher Hitchens has written, “if you can picture Bertie or Jeeves being capable of actual malice, and simultaneously imagine Evelyn Waugh forgetting about original sin, you have the combination of innocence and experience that makes this short romp so imperishable.”

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'Strange Beasts of China' is a luminous, beguiling chronicle of fantastical beings

The ancient Chinese collection “The Classic of Mountains and Seas” offers a vision of a world rich with fantastical landscapes and creatures. It is less a compendium of curiosities than a guide to the elusive beings that roam the earth — and a testament to the uneasy covenant between humans and beasts. The bestiary form is revived, urbanized and made modern in Yan Ge’s luminous and beguiling novel “Strange Beasts of China,” first published in 2006, when she was just 21, and now appearing in an English translation by Jeremy Tiang. Each chapter is devoted to an encounter with one of the fantastical inhabitants of Yong’an, an industrial city, flanked with a description of the beasts written in the lapidary language of the “Classic.”

The city is haunted by the violent suppression of the beasts, which has been written out of history — Yong’an, comically, means “eternal peace.” The unnamed narrator, a heavy-drinking, chain-smoking zoology student-turned-novelist, is assigned to investigate the beasts and tell their stories for a local newspaper. She seeks them out with a gumshoe gumption, or just waits for them to drift into her favorite haunt, the grimy Dolphin Bar. The nine beasts are delightfully drawn: there are the “flourishing beasts,” with six fingers and blue markings, who, after death, are cut up and buried, then nourished with rice wine until they become saplings; there are “sorrowful beasts,” who “fear trains, bitter gourd and satellite TV,” and die if they smile.

However, the whimsical characterizations of each creature are a feint — their “otherness,” invariably, is tied to their exploitation. Before being married off to humans, female “sorrowful beasts” are hypnotized and injected with hormones to suppress their nonhuman nature. The last surviving “sacrificial beasts” are exterminated by the government. Simplistic narratives and cold taxonomy are shown to do enormous harm.

The book itself defies easy categorization. Along with its classical allusions, it melds the fable-like haze of Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” with a heady drag of noir. The narrator, in her effort to humanize the beasts, turns their lives into romantic melodramas for her tales. Despite the restless shifts in tone, the style never feels disjointed, in large part due to Tiang’s tremendous, fine-drawn translation.

Yan is a deft and engaging storyteller, with a proclivity for dramatic revelations, often to a fault. “Strange Beasts” lacks the wit and control of her later writing. Yet, though each chapter follows a similar, repetitive structure — perhaps reflecting the book’s initial serialization —Yan’s rare versatility and inventiveness keeps the narrative continuously surprising.

At its best, “Strange Beasts” transfixes you like a vivid dream, offering glimpses of the waking world contorted into uncanny forms. Though it never becomes a neat allegory, beneath the fantastical elements is a blatant critique of anthropocentrism and state control, and a keen concern for the way power is wielded against the marginalized. The world of “Strange Beasts” is more familiar than it initially seems. As the scholar Guo Pu wrote in his commentary on the “Classic,” “A thing is not strange in itself; it depends on me to make it strange.”

A history of horrors, committed in the name of science

Trust science. It's a mantra we've all heard repeatedly in the past year and a half, and for many of us, it may seem natural to put our faith in people who wear white lab coats. After all, haven't they dedicated their lives to finding out the truth for the benefit of mankind?

You may think differently after reading Sam Kean's newest book, "The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science." His delightful, highly readable indictment of scientists behaving badly is a timely reminder that no field, no matter how seemingly selfless, is immune from corruption.

Kean takes his readers on an engrossing - and sometimes horrifying - historical tour of the many ways the search for knowledge can go wrong. Organized in rough chronological order, each chapter focuses on a specific transgression. Written with the flair of a beach thriller and the thoughtfulness of philosophy, the pages explode with a wealth of information and juicy details, all held together with virtuoso storytelling.

There's no shortage of sensational characters. First up in the rogues gallery is William Dampier, an Englishman turned buccaneer (the least respectable class of pirate). Dampier chose his career to support his insatiable interest in biology, and his field notes reveal a man easily distracted from the business of raiding a town by his delight at discovering colorful parrots. A naturalist and renowned navigator, his research laid the groundwork for Charles Darwin's theories and added more than 1,000 citations to the Oxford English Dictionary. He also robbed and killed people along the way.

You may have heard of Burke and Hare, the notorious Scottish graverobbers who murdered the poor and friendless to supply bodies for the anatomist Robert Knox. But did you know that in the frenzied race to provide universities with fresh cadavers, rival gangs would fight over the bodies at public hangings? Or that a latter-day review of cases found that 10 out of 36 autopsies began on bodies whose hearts were still beating?

Consider the ice pick surgeon from the book's title. Walter Freeman did for lobotomies what Henry Ford did for cars - he simplified the process and made them accessible to the masses. His "innovation" was that, instead of drilling through the top of the head, he just shoved an ice pick into the eye socket and swung it back and forth until it severed the limbic system connecting the frontal lobe to the rest of the brain. It was so simple that most could be completed in less than 20 minutes, with the only visible injury being two black eyes. Unfortunately, Freeman's haphazard approach to the procedure killed a number of people.

Nonetheless, as the "Johnny Appleseed of psychosurgery," he barnstormed around the country like an evangelist, visiting asylums and touting lobotomies as a miracle cure. On any given day he might perform half a dozen or so. Being a showman at heart, he frequently entertained crowds by doing two lobotomies at a time, one with his left hand and the other with his right (he was ambidextrous).

Sometimes, the victims take center stage in Kean's narrative. In an effort to discover the best methods of interrogation, Harvard professor Henry Murray designed a deliberately cruel psychological experiment inflicting brutal verbal abuse on his volunteer subjects. One student, a young genius who at 17 required parental permission to participate in the study, endured more than 200 hours of savage, needless ridicule. The young man's name was Theodore Kaczynski, and he went on to become the Unabomber.

Doctors in Germany were among the first professionals to join the Nazi Party, and they did so in great numbers. During the war, they performed countless highly unethical experiments resulting in problematic but valuable medical knowledge. Can we ever justify using the fruit of this poisonous tree? Before you answer, Kean challenges you to imagine that someone you love has been trapped beneath ice. Would you want to know the best treatment for hypothermia - even if it's something Nazi scientists discovered? Even if their unwilling research participants begged for death by the end? It’s a deeply uncomfortable thought.

That said, there aren't nearly as many Nazis in this book as you might expect. Kean purposely doesn't talk about monsters like Joseph Mengele, because when we compare ourselves with the extremes, we tend to let ourselves off the hook. He wants to avoid the psychological trap of thinking, "We're not as bad as the Nazis; therefore we must be okay."

In telling the story of "Why Good Scientists Do Bad Things," Kean is careful to call out extenuating circumstances and, when they happen, acts of humanitarianism along the way. Nazis aside, his scientists aren't cartoonishly evil; they fall from grace by pursuing knowledge to the point where the ends supposedly justify the means. He wants us to imagine ourselves thinking as they do, so if we come to the same slippery slope we can learn from their mistakes.

Sometimes with a book review or movie trailer, the worry is that the most exciting parts will be spoiled, leaving you little to discover on your own. There's no fear of that happening here - there is too much fascinating stuff going on. And make sure you read Kean's footnotes! They are chock full of tantalizing facts, such as the strategies that have proved most effective in getting a criminal to confess (hint: not torture). They also list links to Kean's podcast if you want an even deeper dive on some of the stories. Aspiring screenwriters should check out his appendix for a range of futuristic and imaginary - for now - scientific crimes.

In his conclusion, Kean argues that unethical science is objectionable not only because it is morally repugnant, but also because it is sloppy, shoddy and just plain bad science. Refreshingly, he proposes specific policies and lays out exactly why they might work. The Nuremberg Code's guidelines for human experiments, he reminds us, were created for a reason, and they are still effective if we take care to follow them. The best antidote is being on guard.

Kean begins and ends with a quote from Albert Einstein: "Most people say that it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character." It is an observation that resonates fully by the last page.


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Mary Trump takes on America's evils, beyond her famous uncle

The Reckoning: Our Nation's Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal Kindle Edition by Mary L. Trump (Author) Format: Kindle Edition

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On Virginia’s Chincoteague Island — all this and ponies, too. By Nevin Martell 9/2/21

Wild horses graze in the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on Assateague Island. (Nevin Martell for The Washington Post)

Chincoteague Bay stretched before me, golden flecks of sunlight glinting off its smooth waters. In the distance, the Virginia mainland stayed low to the ground, a dark green strip underlining a pale lapis blue sky, empty except for a few shreds of cotton candy clouds. It was pure peace, and it was our view for the next week.

My wife, 8-year-old son and I had rented a house with friends on the quiet northern end of Chincoteague Island perched off Virginia’s Eastern Shore. A long wooden walkway wended its way from our front porch to a partially covered dock in the bay. By the time we got there, our friends already had crab traps in the shallow waters and had dug up palm-size clams from the sandy bottom, earning enough fresh shellfish to fuel several meals. Soon enough, the elementary-school-age children on our trip would be in the water, playing a freewheeling maritime version of King of the Mountain with a paddleboard. There wasn't a wild horse in sight.

When most people think of Chincoteague, they think of its fabled mares and stallions galloping through its marshy, wild lands and grazing along its shoreline. Sometimes, they are fondly reminded of Marguerite Henry’s 1947 children’s book, “Misty of Chincoteague,” a tender tale that popularized the origin story of the horses surviving a Spanish shipwreck (perhaps more convenient myth than historical truth) and the tradition of their annual roundup and auction, which continues to this day, though the auction has been virtual the past two years because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the island is so much more than the horses, a tranquil and tantalizing getaway only about a 3½ hours' drive from D.C.

Seven miles long and just about 1½ miles wide, Chincoteague boasts roughly 2,900 permanent residents, but the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce estimates that four or five times that number of visitors are on the island during the height of the summer tourist season. After Labor Day weekend, though, those numbers drop precipitously, except in October, when hordes flock back for the annual Chincoteague Oyster Festival. Generally, the tourist season starts in the spring and doesn't end until the late fall, and many of the island’s attractions are fully open throughout that time.

A dock extends off Chincoteague Island and into Chincoteague Bay. (Nevin Martell for The Washington Post)

The slender slip of an isle is dotted with one- and two-story homes, mostly painted in demure natural colors: windswept sand, dusky gray, pale robin’s egg blue. These usually belong to locals, and some are available to rent. There are also lots of newer residences built specifically with visitors in mind. Either way, travelers have plenty of lodging options, because there are also plenty of inns and motels, many with sea views.

Chincoteague is cozied up alongside the slender 37-mile-long Assateague, a barrier island running up Virginia’s and Maryland's coastlines. It's home to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, an epic preserve of more than 14,000 acres that the horses call home. Though camping is allowed, there are no hotels or homes for rent there.

An egret catches lunch off the coast of Chincoteague Island. (Nevin Martell for The Washington Post)

The refuge is a paradise for birders. Since tallying began in 2008, more than 300 species have been spotted there. Its Woodland Trail and Wildlife Loop are both popular hikes for bird nerds. It’s common to see multiple duck and heron species, bald eagles, ospreys and an array of songbirds. Put on bug spray before you go out. The islands can be beyond buggy, especially early in the day and in the evening. Use industrial-strength repellent made with picaridin or DEET. The natural alternatives just don't pack enough punch.

Many days, an afternoon trip to the refuge’s beach was our only goal. One morning, we did an obligatory pony-focused tour with Daisey’s Island Cruises. Not only did we get within mere yards of the horses, but we also saw bottlenose dolphins and a bald eagle, and we got a quick rundown of the island's history.

How time was measured, and what it meant, across the centuries

How have different ages conceptualized and marked the passing of time, and how do these various attitudes manifest in culture and consciousness, from the straightness of our streets to the subjective experience of those moving along them? In “About Time: A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks,” David Rooney, a former museum curator and director of the Antiquarian Horological Society, assembles an engaging miscellany of stories and details about timekeeping technologies spanning a huge range of cultures and periods — from ancient Rome and China to 14th-century Italy, 19th-century India and many others. Though the book aspires to engage grand themes of ethics, power and historical transformation, it rises only intermittently above the thickets of moderately interesting trivia to survey this broader landscape.

The book is not in fact a history of civilization in 12 clocks. Each of the 12 chapters is organized around a broad theme — virtue, resistance, knowledge, identity, etc. — that a collection of loosely related examples of timekeeping devices is supposed to illuminate. Much of this material is quite interesting, but the book’s frenetic pace can make it hard to catch more than occasional glimpses of meaning. In the space of just two pages, for instance, Rooney leaps from a tower clock in 14th-century Italy to a cannon fired at noon each day by the British in 19th-century Cape Town to a boom of clockmakers in Australia in the 19th century to clock towers in British India in the 1850s. When he does surface for a broader reflection, it’s banal: “Whatever the circumstances of any individual clock, power politics was never far away.” Closer analysis of these individual circumstances, and a smaller set of examples more deeply considered, might have enabled more original conclusions.

But the details of his innumerable examples are often very intriguing. In a medieval cathedral in Lübeck, Germany, an astonishingly intricate mechanical clock behind the altar included niches with carved figures representing the deadly sins; zodiac signs surrounding a calendar; and a dial showing the moon’s age, religious festival days and solar as well as lunar eclipses. A nearby inscription articulated the intended moral of this extraordinary display: "So often as Thou hearest the melody of the sonorous bell, think then of God who governs the Stars; and at the same time praise Him."

A decidedly more worldly motive spurred the invention of increasingly accurate chronometric devices that enabled the calculation of longitude at sea. Though Philip II of Spain offered a cash reward in 1567 for a practical longitude reckoning system for sailors, it was not until the 1750s that John Harrison developed sufficiently accurate timekeeping devices that could withstand the swings in humidity and temperature at sea, allowing an accurate fixed reference time to be compared with the time at sea, as the difference in times tracks longitude.

The accuracy of a clock, of course, is a matter of degree, and the subsequent technical achievements in this domain would have astonished Harrison. In the 1920s, the best mechanical pendulum clocks would gain or lose no more than a second every two or three months. By 1955, an atomic clock was accurate to one second every 300 years; in the 1980s Britain’s National Physical Laboratory made atomic clocks accurate within one second every 300,000 years. Atomic clocks currently being developed have an accuracy of plus or minus one second in 30 billion years.

The development and dissemination of increasingly accurate clocks were never politically neutral, as Rooney rightly emphasizes. The standardization of time in the late 19th century not only enabled the coordination of railroad schedules and financial markets, it also allowed the enforcement of Victorian laws that limited the hours during which pubs and bars could sell alcohol. Henry Ford was fascinated by clocks and watchmaking, and it’s not hard to see how the intricate meshing of interdependent mechanical parts could form a template for his own factories using humans as replaceable components in a broader production system. Amazon’s fulfillment centers are one of the more disturbing culminations of this same mania for hyper-regulated efficiency at all costs.

With its hasty rushing between examples and themes, Rooney's book itself feels calibrated to slot into the schedule of an overly busy reader snatching a few minutes at the end of an overstuffed day. One longs to wander with Hardy’s Tess down a dark, winding path, tracking the time only by the sun overhead.

A History of Civilization in Twelve Clocks
By David Rooney
271 pp. $28.95

In search of a way to diagnose mental disorders — and to make money

"All of our provisional ideas in psychology will presumably one day be based on an organic substructure," Sigmund Freud wrote. By clarifying the biological foundations of the symptoms of mental disorders, science would be able to find the appropriate description of and treatment for specific illnesses. For most of the 20th century, though, clinicians didn’t worry too much about precise classification; most patients sought treatment for combinations of depression, anxiety and other forms of distress. But by the 1970s the classificatory impulse as a vehicle for scientific legitimacy came to the fore. In “DSM: A History of Psychiatry’s Bible,” Allan V. Horwitz tells the story of how the third incarnation of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders revolutionized our understanding of psychological suffering. As with so many revolutions, it’s a cautionary tale.

An abolitionist's hope meets a president's hypocrisy

Robert S. Levine's "The Failed Promise: Reconstruction, Frederick Douglass, and the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson" opens with an extraordinary scene not often recorded in history books. On Oct. 24, 1864, seven months before the end of the Civil War, thousands of Black people in Nashville marched carrying torches in a parade to Andrew Johnson’s residence at the state capitol. Johnson, then the military governor of Tennessee, announced to the crowd that he was declaring freedom for Black people in Tennessee, a border state not covered by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.


They could not have known the hypocrisy that would later come as Johnson betrayed them and their descendants, setting the country on a trajectory of racism and racial terror still felt today.

Levine captures the political climate that set the stage for the Civil War, covering Lincoln’s waffling and eventual decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as his assassination and the brutal aftermath of terrorist attacks on Black people. The book shows how Johnson, who became president after Lincoln was killed, reneged on political promises and removed Union troops from the South. These troops had provided the only protection Black people had against barbaric former enslavers who could not accept their freedom.

Levine is the author or editor of several historical narratives and biographies, including "The Lives of Frederick Douglass," "Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, and the Politics of Representative Identity" and "Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville: Essays in Relation." In "Failed Promise," he turns his scholarly research toward explaining the parallel lives of Johnson and Douglass, and provides a vivid account of the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. Levine shows that Johnson "turned out to be the absolutely wrong president for his times" and illuminates the life of Douglass, who is portrayed as a fierce critic.

Levine recalls an encounter between Douglass and Johnson at the White House, after Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865. Lincoln had invited Douglass to the inauguration. During a reception afterward, the president greeted him as "my friend Douglass" and asked him what he thought of his speech. Douglass responded, "Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort."

During that reception, Douglass exchanged an uncomfortable glance with Johnson, and what he later wrote about the encounter proved prescient. Douglass was standing with a Black woman named Louise Tobias Dorsey "when Mr. Lincoln touched Mr. Johnson and pointed me out to him. The first expression which came to his face, and which I think was the true index of his heart, was one of bitter contempt and aversion. Seeing that I observed him, he tried to assume a more friendly appearance, but it was too late. . . . His first glance was the frown of the man; the second was the bland and sickly smile of the demagogue. I turned to Mrs. Dorsey and said, 'Whatever Andrew Johnson may be, he certainly is no friend of our race.'"

Levine gives amazing insight into Douglass’s life, personality and political acumen. There are no known recordings of his speeches, but reading this book I could "hear," for the first time, the power of his anti-slavery addresses. Douglass, who had been enslaved until he was 20 years old, demonstrated his eloquence "with a voice, as one observer described, of 'terrific power, of great compass, and under most admirable control.'" His range was formidable. He was able to appeal to different audiences, Levine writes, and was "known as an excellent mimic who could do comical impressions of proslavery southerners." The Black abolitionist William G. Allen wrote in 1852 that "in versatility of oratorical power, I know of no one who can begin to approach the celebrated Frederick Douglass." As Allen put it, Douglass "touches chords . . . which vibrate music now sweet, now sad, now lightsome, now solemn, now startling, now grand, now majestic, now sublime."

In this book, Douglass emerges fully as the intellectual and moral force pushing Lincoln to free Black people - all Black people. Levine reminds the reader of the moral indecisiveness of Lincoln, who has come to be known as the great emancipator. And while that is true, he did not free enslaved Black people merely to free them but to save the Union. "Douglass had been enraged by Lincoln's August 1862 statement to Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Daily Tribune, that 'if I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it.'"

Levine deftly exposes how Johnson moved after the assassination to unravel any progress that Black people had made during Reconstruction under Lincoln. The new president promised amnesty for former Confederate leaders, and under his watch, Black Codes, which later evolved into Jim Crow laws, were quickly enacted, restraining the newfound freedom of Black people.

Levine's prose is often beautiful, but even more beautiful is his reliance on the truth of history. "Republicans had hoped for a fundamental transformation of southern society that would bring equal rights to the freedpeople," the author writes. "But that was not part of Johnson's vision. He wanted the former Confederate states to be quickly readmitted to the Union after setting up new state governments, and he had no problem with former Confederate leaders being part of those governments. All he asked was that the states ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, offer some sort of statement about their regret for seceding (even though he believed no state truly had seceded), and repudiate their war debts."

Levine argues that racism clearly was behind the president’s deceit: "Johnson may have conceived of himself as a leader for African Americans, but that did not mean he regarded Blacks as equal to whites in the way of people like [Charles] Sumner and [Thaddeus] Stevens."

Johnson's betrayal cost thousands upon thousands of Black people their lives in the era of racial terror that was to come. "Mississippi became the first of several ex-Confederate states to adopt Black Codes," Levine writes, "laws that disempowered African Americans by sharply restricting their mobility and legal rights." In Mississippi, Black people were barred from owning or renting land, bearing arms, or even meeting at night. Black people were arrested as vagrants and forced to work on chain gangs, in an approximation of plantation slavery.

Sumner was horrified by Johnson, observing, "What could you expect from an old slave-master & an old democrat?" He implored the president to change his policies toward states that had seceded, arguing that the new system "abandons the freedmen to the control of the ancient Masters." Stevens, who believed that Southerners were "a conquered people" and the South "a conquered territory," joined in writing urgent letters to Johnson, contending that the "restoration" of rebel states would "greatly injure the country."

Levine explains that Johnson was a con man [like Trump] who had orchestrated a con job on the country. On Feb. 19, 1866, Johnson vetoed an extension of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, known as the Freedmen's Bureau, whose agents were posted throughout the South to distribute food, clothing and medical assistance to the more than 4 million newly freed Black people. "The bureau also offered some police protection for the freedpeople," Levine writes. "It was, in many respects, a radical agency that challenged the racial hierarchies and exclusions that had been central to slave culture." Levine argues that Johnson "either didn't care about or was willfully blind to the harm done by the southern Black Codes and various forms of anti-Black violence."

After his impeachment in 1868, Johnson was portrayed in Black and Radical Republican newspapers as the "demented Moses of Tennessee." Levine explains that he was "the white president who promised to be the leader of Black people and turned out to be their oppressor." Johnson, the author writes, was a "president for whom Black lives did not matter."

Johnson and his deceit turned back the hope inspired by the Emancipation Proclamation and gave rise instead to an enduring culture of violence and discrimination against Black people. "The Failed Promise" is an important book for anyone on a quest to deeply understand the racism in America’s history, the villains who propelled it and the heroes who fought against it.

The Failed Promise: Reconstruction, Frederick Douglass, and the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
By Robert S. Levine
312 pp. $26.95

Flashing blades, secret passages, mistaken identities: 'A Gentleman of France' is a classic adventure tale

This horror movie fan’s delight will have you hanging on by your fingernails

A memoir that finds dignity in troubled people and places

A tantalizing mystery: Why do our brains love the unknown?

A 1926 newspaper article reports on the search for English crime writer Agatha Christie (pictured with her daughter, Rosalind), who had recently vanished. The mystery of her disappearance captured the public’s imagination. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

On a winter night in 1926, a young Agatha Christie put her daughter to bed, told the maid she was going for a drive and vanished. The next day her car was found with its wheels overhanging the edge of a cliff. The story became a sensation: Was it an accident? Suicide? Possibly even murder? Jonah Lehrer launches his latest book with this intriguing account from the famous writer's past (she was found alive more than a week later) and, in so doing, effectively dramatizes the question he intends to answer: Why does mystery create a mental itch that must be scratched?

In Lauren Groff's hands, the tale of a medieval nunnery is must-read fiction

If "Matrix" were written by anyone else, it would be a hard sell. But Lauren Groff is one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed fiction writers in the country. And now that we’ve endured almost two years of quarantine and social distancing, her new novel about a 12th-century nunnery feels downright timely.

Early Bird Books 9/6/21

A Tryst of Fate (The Xanth Novels Book 45) by Piers Anthony (Author) to be released

Demons Don't Dream (The Xanth Novels Book 16 of 45) Kindle Edition by Piers Anthony (Author) 4's/131

Harpy Thyme (The Xanth Novels Book 17 of 45) Kindle Edition by Piers Anthony (Author) 4's/94

Geis of the Gargoyle (The Xanth Novels Book 18 of 45) Kindle Edition by Piers Anthony (Author) 4's/62

Roc and a Hard Place (The Xanth Novels Book 19 of 45) Kindle Edition by Piers Anthony (Author) 4's/91

Faun & Games (The Xanth Novels Book 21 of 45) Kindle Edition by Piers Anthony (Author) 4's/106

Zombie Lover (The Xanth Novels Book 22 of 45) Kindle Edition by Piers Anthony (Author) 4's/120

Xone of Contention (The Xanth Novels Book 23 of 45) Kindle Edition by Piers Anthony (Author) 4'/82

Fire Sail (The Xanth Novels Book 42 of 45) by Piers Anthony 4's

Jest Right (The Xanth Novels Book 43 of 45) by Piers Anthony (Author) 4's

Skeleton Key (The Xanth Novels Book 44 of 45) by Piers Anthony (Author) 4's

The Cluster Series: Cluster, Chaining the Lady, Kirlian Quest, Thousandstar, and Viscous Circle Kindle Edition by Piers Anthony (Author) 4s/63

Yotam Ottolenghi, Wikipedia

Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi (born 14 December 1968) is a Israeli-born British chef, restaurateur, and food writer. With Sami Tamimi, he is the co-owner of six delis and restaurants in London, as well as the author of several bestselling cookery books, including Ottolenghi (2008), Plenty (2010), Jerusalem (2012) and SIMPLE (2018).[1]

He is of Italian Jewish and German Jewish descent, and often spent his childhood summers in Italy.

Ottolenghi is an Italian name, an Italianised form of Ettlingen, a town in Baden-Württemberg from which Jews were expelled in the 15th and 16th centuries; many settled in Northern Italy.[5]

Ottolenghi served as a pastry chef at three London restaurants: the Michelin-starred Capital Restaurant, Kensington Place, and Launceston Place in Kensington New Town. In 1999, he became head pastry chef at the artisanal pastry shop Baker and Spice, where he met the Palestinian chef Sami Tamimi, who grew up in Jerusalem's Old City.[12] Ottolenghi and Tamimi bonded over a shared language—Hebrew—and a joint "incomprehension of traditional English food".[13]

In 2002, the duo (in collaboration with Noam Bar) founded the eponymous delicatessen Ottolenghi in the Notting Hill district of London. The deli quickly gained a cult following due to its inventive dishes, characterised by the foregrounding of vegetables, unorthodox flavour combinations, and the abundance of Middle Eastern ingredients such as rose water, za'atar, and pomegranate molasses.

When asked to explain his cooking philosophy, Ottolenghi said, "I want drama in the mouth."[7] The Ottolenghi brand has since expanded to include two more delis (in Kensington and Belgravia), a formal restaurant in Islington, a brasserie named NOPI in Soho, and a vegetable-centric restaurant named Rovi which opened in Fitzrovia in June 2018.[15]

In 2006, Ottolenghi began writing a weekly column for The Guardian titled "The New Vegetarian," though he himself is not a vegetarian and has sometimes noted where a vegetable-centric recipe would pair well with a particular cut of meat. Influenced by the straightforward, culturally-grounded food writing of Nigella Lawson and Claudia Roden,[16] Ottolenghi's recipes rarely fit within traditional dietary or cultural categories.[17] He explained that his mission is to "celebrat[e] vegetables or pulses without making them taste like meat, or as complements to meat, but to be what they are. It does no favour to vegetarians, making vegetables second best."[8]

His debut cookery book Ottolenghi was published in 2008 and has sold over 100,000 copies.[2] Seven volumes have followed: the all-vegetable cookery books Plenty (2010) and Plenty More (2014); Jerusalem (2012); Nopi (2015); the dessert cookery book Sweet (2017); Ottolenghi Simple (2018); and Ottolenghi FLAVOUR (2020). Ottolenghi's bestselling cookery books have proven influential, with The New York Times noting that they are "widely knocked-off for their plain-spoken instructions, puffy covers, and photographs [that Ottolenghi] oversees himself, eschewing a food stylist".[10] In 2014, the London Evening Standard remarked that Ottolenghi had "radically rewritten the way Londoners cook and eat", and Bon Appétit wrote that he had "made the world love vegetables".[18][19]

9 Books to Read When You’re in a Bad Mood

Happiness Becomes You, Tina Turner

Tina Turner has led an amazing life — a life of artistic and personal triumph as well as great tragedy. Now past 80, Turner offers not just platitudes, but her own personal spiritual map to happiness. This includes her devotion to Buddhism and ancient philosophy, both of which have helped her process health problems, the loss of her son, and other tragedies. What makes this book remarkable is how Turner offers a straightforward, no-nonsense guide to rise above the difficulties in your life.

Why O. Henry is so much more than those short stories you had to read in school. By Michael Dirda Critic September 8, 2021

I first realized there was more to O. Henry than surprise endings when, a few years ago, I picked up a Penguin edition of the writer's selected stories edited by Guy Davenport. In his introduction, Davenport - an essayist of the most sophisticated literary intelligence - noted that O. Henry's reputation has long stood extremely high in Europe. Yevgeny Zamyatin, author of the chilling 1924 dystopia "We," found in his work "the art of brevity and speed proper to America,' while the Italian novelist Cesare Pavese praised the writer for the strange beauty with which he imbued city life, transforming turn-of-the-century New York into "Baghdad-on-the-Hudson."

15 books to read this fall. 9/7/21

The Best Historical Fiction to Read This Fall

23 adult books for teens who are ready to read beyond the YA shelf. 10/4/21

'The Beekeeper's Apprentice,' by Laurie R. King

Sherlock Holmes meets his match in the teenage Mary Russell. This is the first of a long-running series and a perfect next step for fans of the Enola Holmes books by Nancy Springer. Teens will especially enjoy the battle of wills between Russell and Holmes.

'Blanche on the Lam,' by Barbara Neely

In this first of a quartet of books, a Black housekeeper named Blanche White becomes a prime suspect when there's a murder in the house where she's working. Teens will find interest in Neely's exploration of the racism - both overt and indirect - experienced by Blanche even as they enjoy a good mystery and Blanche's irrepressible personality.

'Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood,' by Trevor Noah (also available in an abridged YA version)

Known for his sharp humor as the "Daily Show" host, Noah describes growing up in apartheid South Africa with a White father and Black mother. Humor leavens the book's harder moments, including depictions of domestic abuse and other violence. Teens will be fascinated by how Noah endured a sometimes horrific journey to adulthood to become a household name.

'Dial 'A' For Aunties,' by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Part caper, part rom-com, this page-turner of a mystery offers a madcap plot, an irresistible protagonist and a fascinating look at Indonesian and Chinese culture. Teens looking for a new twist on mysteries will welcome this lighthearted, often hilarious page-turner.

'Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,' by Barack Obama

The former president writes movingly of his efforts to understand his identity as a biracial man. Obama's book will engage teens in the midst of their own self-discovery.

'Ender's Game,' by Orson Scott Card

Kids sent to an orbital battle station to train for the next alien invasion are pitted against each other in teams: "Lord of the Flies" meets Hogwarts with laser tag substituting for magic. At this point, "Ender’s Game" is pretty much considered a YA novel. The sequels are more thoughtful, philosophic even, and at an adult level.

'The Fifth Season,' by N.K. Jemisin

In the first book in the Hugo Award-winning Broken Earth trilogy, Jemisin describes a mother’s search for her daughter in the midst of cataclysmic geological events. Teen fans of speculative fiction will savor Jemisin's fine writing, the story's setting and the memorable characters.

'Gaudy Night,' by Dorothy L. Sayers

Detective-novelist Harriet Vane must come to terms with her feelings for famous sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey in this masterful, classic 1935 novel built around a mystery and set in Oxford, England. Teens who devour mysteries will enjoy the depth of this book, especially how Sayers explores the role of women in the working world.

'Moon of the Crusted Snow,' by Waubgeshig Rice

A haunting but hopeful work of speculative fiction, Rice's tale traces the tale of a family in northern Canada as it rebuilds following the collapse of society. Rice weaves his Anishinaabe heritage into an absorbing, unique story that will interest teens fans of this genre.

'Neuromancer,' by William Gibson

In this classic work of modern cyberpunk, a hacker faces down a powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth. Gibson's visions of the democratizing ability of computers to dissolve geographical, economic and political boundaries - here in a common hallucinatory graphic interface called cyberspace - will fascinate teens who love speculative fiction.

'Parable of the Sower,' by Octavia E. Butler

In a world beset by climate change and lawlessness, Lauren Olamina was born with the ability to feel others' emotions, especially their pain, as her own. Although the book was published in 1993, teens will readily relate to the themes of social injustice and environmental calamity.

'Ready Player One,' by Ernest Cline

Rollicking action, good humor, plausible characters and a believable future from the perspective of a now-a-day time when kids spend more time hanging out with each other in video game space than they do in the physical world. High jinks and action ensue. Cline's book is a natural for teens who love speculative fiction.

'A Spy in the Struggle,' by Aya de Leon

FBI attorney Yolanda Vance is assigned to infiltrate a group of mostly teenage Black eco-activists who believe a government-protected corporation is poisoning their community. Things get complicated when Vance finds herself drawn to their cause. Teens will appreciate the emotional complexity of this mystery and the way de Leon spotlights young adults working to create a better world.

'Three Ordinary Girls: The Remarkable Story of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Became Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assassins - and World War II Heroes,' by Tim Brady

A true story about how a group of ordinary teens helped the Dutch resistance against the Nazis. The book’s teenage protagonists and their bravery will enthrall young adults, who may find themselves inspired to take up their own causes.

'The Widows of Malabar Hill,' by Sujata Massey

The first of a series set in 1920s Bombay and featuring a protagonist based on India's first female lawyers. The book's feminist theme, an intriguing setting and a doomed romance will keep teens turning the pages.

'World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks and Other Astonishments,' by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

A beautifully illustrated book that weaves the author's personal story with fascinating facts about some of nature's wonders. Teens will find much to like in the way Nezhukumatathil mixes an exploration of nature with her compelling story of growing up as the daughter of immigrants in a sometimes unwelcoming America.

Teen recommendations:

'Beach Read,' by Emily Henry

Romance writer January Andrews and literary fiction author Augustus Everett could not be more different. So, they decide on a challenge: January will try writing serious fiction while Augustus will pen a rom-com novel. Guess what happens? Teens looking for an opposites-attract romance will enjoy this tale.

'Circe' and 'The Song of Achilles,' by Madeline Miller

In these two books, Miller delivers provocative, imaginative retellings of the story of the goddess Circe and of Homer's the Iliad, making them accessible and exciting to the young, modern reader.

'Normal People' by Sally Rooney

What starts as a secret relationship between two young adults becomes a painful yet unbreakable connection that determines their future. The intense sexuality between Marianne and Connell might worry parents, but many teens will find themselves drawn to the emotionally-complex dynamics between the characters.

'The Kite Runner,' by Khaled Hosseini

Set in Afghanistan, this stirring story of an unlikely bond between two young men, Amir and Hassan, has become a modern classic, and an especially important and timely book, nearly two decades since its publication. "The Kite Runner" has some tough moments, especially when a group of bullies sets upon Hassan, but teens will readily relate to this poignant tale of friendship and betrayal.

'Red, White & Royal Blue,' by Casey McQuiston

In this deliciously escapist novel, Alex Claremont-Diaz, the charismatic son of the first female U.S. president, gets together with Henry, the Prince of Wales - and sexual fireworks ensue. Teens will enjoy the sometimes rowdy humor as well as McQuiston's gift for witty dialogue.

'The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,' by Taylor Jenkins Reid

When reclusive film star Evelyn Hugo chooses little-known magazine writer Monique Grant to finally tell her life story, everyone is surprised - including Monique. Reid's book is a page-turner, with plenty of well-drawn characters and - parental alert - sex.


Joan Didion was the essence of effortless cool, amid a life of loss and disillusionment

Highlights from our brief encounters with Joan Didion

The 20 Best Nonfiction Books Coming Out in 2022

Email comments to Professor Colby Glass, PhDc, MLIS, MAc at

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