Sunday Salon

For over a month I’ve been taking part in The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz. So far it’s been a huge success and I’m striving to make it a regular feature. So here’s another post. 

Last week I started and finished the 2021 novel The Wrong End of the Telescope by Lebanese-American writer Rabih Alameddine. Currently I’m still reading Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons of Cyprus: Life on a Mediterranean Island and Dzevad Karahasan’s Sarajevo, Exodus of a CityLike I mentioned last week all three of these books are for Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge

Articles. With my nose buried in several books last week I managed to read just two articles. This week I’ll try harder and hopefully read more. 

Listening. Like I’ve said before, with so many things going on in the world there’s no shortage of material for my favorite podcasts. 

Watching. Right now I’m watching just one TV show and it’s Mr. Robot. Like I’ve said before it just gets crazier and crazier thanks to insane plot twists, great writing and superb acting. It’s been one hell of a wild ride. Unfortunately for me, I have only two episodes left to watch. 

Everything else. Friday, instead of indulging in my weekly ritual of fine wine and conversation at my favorite local winery I drove up to Portland. After a quick trip to Powell’s Books I proceeded to my friends’ place for an evening of beers, fun and frivolity. Our wonderful hosts fired up the grill and put on the soccer game. After watching the home team come from behind to beat our hated rivals the Seattle Sounders a few of us stayed up past our bedtimes conversing on the porch. Saturday on my way home I hit a massive church yard sale and walked away with small stack of books, almost all of which were free. Among the treasures are Pulitzer-Prize winners American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. 

Sunday Salon

For over a month I’ve been taking part in The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz. So far it’s been a huge success and I’m striving to make it a regular feature. So here’s another post. 

Late last week I finished Yann Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal and posted my review. Currently I’m reading Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons of Cyprus: Life on a Mediterranean Island and Dzevad Karahasan’s Sarajevo, Exodus of a CityLike I mentioned last week all three of these books are Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge

Articles. Even with my nose buried in several books I read a number of excellent articles last week. Inspired by Paula Bardell-Hedley’s outstanding weekly feature “Winding Up the Week” on her great blog Book Jotter I’ve started incorporating article links into my Sunday Salon posts and will continue to do so in the future. 

Listening. Like I’ve said before, with so many things going on in the world there’s been no shortage of material for my favorite podcasts. But with the recent week’s FBI raid on Trump’s Florida residence many of my usual podcasts have been abuzz with commentary and speculation. This has made for some interesting listening.

Watching. Right now I’m watching just one TV show and it’s Mr. Robot. Like I’ve said before it just gets crazier and crazier thanks to insane plot twists, great writing and superb acting. It’s been one hell of a wild ride.

Everything else. In what’s becoming a Friday ritual I met my professor buddies on Friday at our favorite winery for wine, conversation and a killer view. I’ve been drinking coffee in the mornings, but in the evenings I’ve been known to enjoy an adult beverage or two with my books and articles. On Saturday I took in a football scrimmage at the local university.

Sunday Salon

For over a month I’ve been taking part in The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz. So far it’s been a huge success and I’m striving to make it a regular feature. So here’s another post. 

I’m happy to report this week I finished Stuart Jeffries’s Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School as well as David Gilmour’s The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, its Regions and their Peoples. Impressive works of nonfiction,  both books are strong contenders to make my year-end list of Favorite Nonfiction

 With Jeffries’s and Gilmour’s books under my belt, I’ve gone back to reading Dzevad Karahasan’s Sarajevo, Exodus of a City and Yann Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal. I also started Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons of Cyprus: Life on a Mediterranean Island. As you probably guessed all three books are for Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge. 

Articles. Even with my nose buried in several books I read a number of excellent articles last week. Inspired by Paula Bardell-Hedley’s outstanding weekly feature “Winding Up the Week” on her great blog Book Jotter I’ve started incorporating these into my Sunday Salon posts and will continue to do so in the future. 

Listening. Like I’ve said before, with so many things going on in the world there’s been no shortage of material for my favorite podcasts. But with last week’s FBI raid on Trump’s Florida residence many of my usual podcasts have been abuzz with commentary and speculation. This has made for some interesting listening which I’m sure will only intensify. 

Watching. After finishing up season 4 of Stranger Things it’s been all Mr. Robot. Like I’ve said before it just gets crazier and crazier thanks to insane plot twists, great writing and superb acting. It’s been one hell of a wild ride. I also caught on YouTube a special installment of the Lincoln Project’s The Breakdown, devoted mostly to the FBI’s recent raid on Trump’s Florida residence. “So much ‘criming’ as co-host Tara Setmayer described Trump’s ongoing attempts to subvert democracy and proclaim himself President for Life. 

 

Everything else. In what’s becoming a Friday ritual I met my professor buddies on Friday at our favorite winery for wine, conversation and a killer view. I’ve been drinking coffee in the mornings, but in the evenings I’ve been known to enjoy an adult beverage or two with my books and articles. 

Sunday Salon

For over a month I’ve been taking part in The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz. So far it’s been a huge success and I’m striving to make it a regular feature. So here’s another post. 

After finishing Icelandic author Ólafur Ólafsson’s novel The Sacrament  I’ve returned to reading  David Gilmour’s The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, its Regions and their Peoples and Stuart Jeffries’s Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School. Late last week I also started Bosnian writer Dzevad Karahasan’s Sarajevo, Exodus of a City and Yann Martel’s The High Mountains of Portugal for Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge. 

 

Articles. Even with my nose buried in several books I read a number of excellent articles last week. Inspired by Paula Bardell-Hedley’s outstanding weekly feature “Winding Up the Week” on her great blog Book Jotter I’ve started incorporating these into my Sunday Salon posts and will continue to do so in the future. 

Listening. With so many things going on in the world there’s been no shortage of material for my favorite podcasts. Despite this extensive list I feel I should be listening to much more. 

Watching. After finishing up season 4 of Stranger Things it’s all been Mr. Robot. Like I’ve said before it just gets crazier and crazier thanks to insane plot twists, great writing and superb acting. It’s been one hell of a wild ride. 

Everything else. In what’s becoming a Friday ritual I met my professor buddies on Friday at our favorite winery for wine, conversation and a killer view. I’ve been drinking coffee in the mornings, but in the evenings I’ve been known to enjoy an adult beverage or two with my books and articles. 

 

Sunday Salon

For over a month I’ve been taking part in The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz. So far it’s been a huge success and I’m striving to make it a regular feature. So here’s another post. 

Currently I’m still working my way through David Gilmour’s The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, its Regions and their Peoples as well as Stuart Jeffries’s Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School. In addition, late last week I started Icelandic author Ólafur Ólafsson’s novel The Sacrament. I’ll be applying both The Pursuit of Italy and The Sacrament towards Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge. 

Articles. Besides reading books all week I also read assorted articles that pop up on my various feeds. Over the last couple of years Paula Bardell-Hedley’s weekly feature “Winding Up the Week” on her great blog Book Jotter has been my go-to source. Used in combination with Arts and Letters Daily, Longreads and Five Books leaves me perpetually buried in great reading material. Therefore, starting this week I’ll be sharing links to a few of the pieces I’ve recently enjoyed. 

Listening. With so many things going on in the world there’s been no shortage of material for my favorite podcasts. Despite this extensive list I feel I should be listening to much more. 

Watching. With each episode Mr. Robot gets crazier and crazier thanks to insane plot twists, great writing and superb acting. I finished up season 4 of Stranger Thingsand lets just say it was a hell of a wild ride. I don’t know what I’m going to watch to fill the void until season 5 drops, whenever that might be. 

Everything else. We’ve been experiencing a heat wave in my area. With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees Fahrenheit much of last week my professor buddies and I on Friday opted to sit inside at our favorite winery and take advantage of the air conditioned. I’ve been drinking coffee in the mornings, but in the evenings once its cooled down I’ve been known to enjoy an adult beverage or two with my books and articles. Lastly, I snuck out yesterday and enjoyed an adult beverage at one of my favorite watering holes and relaxed in air conditioned comfort. 

 

 

Sunday Salon

For over a month I’ve been taking part in The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz. So far it’s been a huge success and I’m striving to make it a regular feature. So here’s another post. 

I finished Frank Blaichman’s Rather Die Fighting: A Memoir of World War II   as well as Adam Hochschild’s Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. I read both books for Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge. 

Late last week I started David Gilmour’s The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, its Regions and their Peoples. So far it’s shaping up to be an excellent book and perfect for the European Reading Challenge. I’ve also resumed reading Stuart Jeffries’s Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School

Listening. With so many things going on in the world there’s been no shortage of material for my favorite podcasts. Despite this extensive list I feel I should be listening to much more. 

Watching. Mr. Robot continues to entertain with its crazy plot twists, great writing and superb acting. I also caught a few episodes of Stranger Things. On Thursday after watching the January 6 Hearings I followed it up with an entertaining and informative episode of the Lincoln Project’s The Breakdown.    

Everything else. Yesterday my professor buddy and I had some great wine as we took in the amazing view at our favorite local winery. The weather at my place has been nice of late so I’ve been reading on my porch.  While I’ve been drinking coffee in the mornings, in the evenings with my book I’ve been known to enjoy an adult beverage or two.

 

 

Sunday Salon

For over a month I’ve been taking part in The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz. So far it’s been a huge success and I’m striving to make it a regular feature. So here’s another post. 

 

After putting aside both Stuart Jeffries’s Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School and Frank Blaichman’s Rather Die Fighting I started Adam Hochschild’s 2016 Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. So far it’s been very good.

Listening. At least for one day last week the January 6 Hearings were back at it again. In addition to the many other ongoing political developments this has provided no shortage of material for my favorite podcasts. 

Watching. Mr. Robot continues to entertain with its crazy plot twists, great writing and superb acting. I also caught a few episodes of Stranger Things. Tuesday I took in the January 6 Hearings.

Everything else. Met my professor buddies for wine yesterday at an area winery. The weather has been nice so I’ve been reading on my porch. All good things. 

 

 

 

Sunday Salon

For over a month I’ve been taking part in The Sunday Salon hosted by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz. So far it’s been a huge success and I’m striving to make it a regular feature. So here’s another post. 

Earlier this morning I finished Lea Ypi 2022 memoir Free: Coming of Age at the End of History. Hopefully, within the next few days I’ll get my review up and posted for that as well as Karlheinz Deschner’s God and the Fascists: The Vatican Alliance with Mussolini, Franco, Hitler, and Pavelic. I’ll be applying both books towards Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge

I also made major progress with Stuart Jeffries’s Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School. I put Frank Blaichman’s Rather Die Fighting on hold but I hope to finish it in the next few days. 

Listening. With the The National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex proceedings (AKA the January 6 Commission) on hiatus until Tuesday I didn’t do my usual deep dive related podcasts. However, that didn’t deter me from indulging in some of my favorites. 

Watching. Mr. Robot continues to entertain with its plot twists, great writing and superb acting. I also caught an episode of Stranger Things. I haven’t seen a movie in a month or two but last Sunday night I took in the thoroughly entertaining film Everything Everywhere All at Once. (Since any description I’d cobble together could never adequately explain this movie I suggest you just watch it.) 

Everything else. Monday was Independence Day and one of our neighbors hosted a terrific BBQ for the community at his event venue down the road. Even though gas is damn expensive right now yesterday I made a trip to my favorite adult watering hole for a beer. 

 

About Time I Read It: An Appetite for Wonder by Richard Dawkins

Some staff member at my favorite local library must be a fan of Richard Dawkins because for weeks a copy of the esteemed scientist’s  2013 memoir An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist had been prominently displayed in the memoirs, biographies and autobiographies section. One Saturday my curiosity finally got the better of me and I decided to borrow it. Once the memoir was in my possession I slowly made my way through it, finishing mere days before it was due back at the library. Perhaps like most books, there as things about it I liked and things I didn’t.

This is the second book I’ve read by the renowned British evolutionary biologist, science writer and “New Atheist.” Over a decade ago I read his much talked about 2006 book The God Delusion. (Not long afterwards I followed it up with Alister McGrath and Joanna McGrath’s Christian response,The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine.) Written as the first volume of a two volume set, the book covers the lives of his parents, his childhood and his early career as a scientist, ending with the publication of his first book The Selfish Gene.

Before reading Appetite for Wonder I would have assumed even though I wasn’t an expert on Dawkins I probably knew more about him than the average person. After reading this book I learned quite quickly how ignorant I really was. For instance, I had no idea he was born in Africa. (His father had been working as an agricultural civil servant in what is now Malawi when he was drafted into the military. A few years later, after his father was posted to nearby Kenya Dawkins was born.) Likewise, I had no idea one of the world’s most prominent atheists was a devout Anglican in his youth, albeit for a short period. I also wasn’t aware he spent time at UC Berkeley as an assistant professor of zoology during the tumultuous late 60s and took part in anti-war protests. Lastly, I had no idea he was a pioneer in the field of computer programing.

My least favorite passages of the book are the ones where Dawkins goes on and on about early computer programming. I also didn’t enjoy some of the science-related stuff, but his thoughts on evolution towards the end of the book were pretty good. Overall, it’s a decent book and it’s left me thinking I might read more of his stuff down the road.

2018 In Review: My Favorite Nonfiction

Yikes, the year is almost over and I haven’t done My Favorite Nonfiction of 2018 post. I better get cracking because 2019 is mere hours away. And to make matters worse, 2018 was a strong year for nonfiction and I read a ton of great books. Therefore, limiting my list to just 12 is going to be going to be hard. After a lot of thought I’ve narrowed it down to these outstanding works of nonfiction. Of course, it doesn’t matter when the books were published; all that matters is they’re excellent. As always, they’re listed in no particular order.

As you can see, this list reflects my reading interests. It’s heavy on history, especially that of World War II and the Holocaust. I’m happy to report eight of these books came from the public library, with four of those complete unknowns until I spotted them on the shelf. Three books on this list I purchased years ago. One, Fascism: A Warning, I borrowed from a friend.

As difficult as it was to choose the year’s 12 best, harder still was selecting an overall favorite. For months I went back and forth between Lawrence O’Donnell’s Playing with Fire and Gal Beckerman’s When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone. After much thought I’ve decided to break with tradition and declare a tie. These two books will share the honor of being my favorite nonfiction book of 2018.