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text 2018-04-05 16:16
TBR Thursday
The Awakening of Miss Prim: A Novel - Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
Corvus - Harold Johnson
The Dirty Book Club - Lisi Harrison
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World - Alfred Birnbaum,Haruki Murakami
The Dragon Reborn - Robert Jordan
Unbuttoned : a History of Mackenzie King's Secret Life - Christopher Dummitt
Heir to the Empire - Timothy Zahn

So, I skipped ahead in my reading queue last week and read two "just picked up books" instead of what had been sitting by my reading chair for a while.  (Burn Bright and Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner?)   As a result, four of these books are repeats from last week's TBR post.

 

Finally, Unbuttoned has arrived at my library!  Mackenzie King is one of the most intriguing Prime Ministers that Canada has ever had.  He never married, he was devoted to his mother and his dog, and (as the book blurb tells us) he communed with ghosts and cavorted with prostitutes.  Plus he left detailed diaries which let us in on all the weird details. (Never trust someone else to burn your journals!)  There's been a long wait-list for this one and its available for me at the library!

 

Also, there are two more titles for my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project--The Dragon Reborn and Heir to the Empire.  Its great to be getting back to this project a bit more seriously and there's some fun reading ahead.

 

What else is new?  Well, I bought a new toilet last night.  I've been meaning to get one that would use less water for some time now and a notice from my condo management company got me moving on it.  My current toilet was one of the originals when the building was constructed (1979) and some of them apparently have flaws which occasionally cause catastrophic failures.  They are urging us to change them out asap.  So, I have a date with a plumber on Monday. 

 

Have a good weekend, everyone!

 

 

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review 2018-02-22 22:10
A great read, full of fascinating, curious, sad, and even horrifying stories.
A Secret History of Brands: The Dark and Twisted Beginnings of the Brand Names We Know and Love - Matt MacNabb

Thanks to Alex and the whole team at Pen & Sword for providing me with a review paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

I would not class myself as particularly “brand-aware”. Although when I was younger I wanted to have the latest of everything, especially if all my friends had it (oh, the wonders of peer-pressure, even then), with time I’ve become quite skeptical about it, and I tend to avoid them if I can. (I understand the status thing, but I can’t see why I should have to pay and then, on top of that, be happy to advertise the product by making sure everybody knows what it is). Give me local craft any day! So, of course, I could not resist a book that promised to share with its readers ‘The Dark and Twisted Beginnings of the Brand Names We Know and Love’. And it delivers, for sure. I suspect if you are big authorities on the subject, you might already know a lot of the information contained in this book but if like me, you are just curious, this is a gem.

I’d never read anything by this author before, but his style is engaging and he pitches this volume at the right level for the subject: he includes the adequate amount of historical information about each one of the brands and characters (inventors, creators, public figures…) to make sure that the readers understand the context of each brand and its products, and then focuses on the more intriguing and less publicized aspects of their evolution. Some of them might be more familiar than others (I suspect a lot of readers will know about Coca-Cola and its early cocaine content), but even then, MacNabb manages to unearth elements of the story that are bizarre and less well-known (so Coca-Cola still contains extracts of coca leaves [no actual cocaine though, don’t worry!] supplied by the only lab in the US with a permit to import coca leaves).

While some of the chapters are curious and amusing (like the Coca-Cola one or the chapter on the Kellogg’s ‘war on sex’), some can be quite disturbing. There are many connections to Nazi Germany I was not aware of, like Hugo Boss’s manufacture of Nazi uniforms, Adidas & Puma’s Nazi connections (I had no idea the creators of these two brands were brothers, either), Chanel’s spying for the Germans (and the fact that the information was kept under wraps by the French government). For me, the most shocking were the chapters on Bayer (not so much the Heroin production, even if they seem to have become aware of its addicting properties quite early on, but its direct connection to slave labour and the production of Zyklon B, used in the gas chambers in the concentration camps), and Henry Ford and his anti-Semitic beliefs and writings (that seem to have inspired Hitler). The chapters on Winchester and Bakelite were intriguing (as I didn’t know anything at all about the history of the objects, other than some vague notion of the importance of the rifle) but sad, due to the personal tragedies behind the stories.

This book is a great read, a page-turner, and I suspect most readers will move on to read full accounts on some of the selected topics. Although the brands are chosen for their interesting stories, the author gives credit where credit is due and always tries to offer as balanced an account as possible of the people and the companies, making sure to emphasise how things have changed for most of them. It is a sobering thought to reflect upon the past of some of these household names, and it is important we don’t forget the lessons learned.

I recommend this book to anybody interested in brands, pop culture, history, and it will be a resource of interest to writers and researchers. (The notes contain bibliographical information for those interested in further reading). Another great addition to the publisher’s varied catalogue.

 

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text 2017-07-14 18:28
Nonfiction Science Book Club Reading List
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean
Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermid
Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution - Rebecca Stott

You may have seen MbD's posts on the new nonfiction book club and the suggestions for future reads floating down the dashboard in the last couple of days:

 

There's now a list containing all the books that have been suggested so far:

 

http://booklikes.com/apps/reading-lists/799/nonfiction-science-book-club-reading-list

 

The discussion group is currently still named for the buddy read that inspired it, "The Invention of Nature" -- the group page is here:

http://booklikes.com/groups/show/980/buddy-read-for-the-invention-of-nature

 

-- and the corresponding book club page is here:

http://booklikes.com/book-clubs/90/buddy-read-for-the-invention-of-nature

 

Do take a look and see if you'd be interested in joining!

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text 2017-07-13 19:54
BT's Science Shortlist
The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean
Life in a Shell: A Physiologist's View of a Turtle - Donald C. Jackson
Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution - Rebecca Stott
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History - Elizabeth Kolbert
How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction - Beth J. Shapiro
Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story - Angela Saini
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright
Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermid
Human Universe by Professor Brian Cox (7-May-2015) Paperback - Professor Brian Cox
Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments Of The 20th Century - Lauren Slater

Inspired by the posts my fellow future potential Science Reading Buddies, I've browsed my shelves, my tbr, and library catalogues for Science-related books that looked interesting.

And when I say inspired, I mean I stole lots of books off those lists also. ;)

 

There are lots and lots of other books I would like to read, but I needed to narrow down a short list.

 

Also, I have created a shelf for the long-list and science books I have read.

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text 2017-07-12 20:25
Some Science Ideas from my Library
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry - Neil deGrasse Tyson
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski
American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World - David Baron
Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness - Peter Godfrey-Smith
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World - Michael Pollan
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe - Lisa Randall
The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time - Jonathan Weiner
Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution - Rebecca Stott
The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science - Richard Holmes

I know that there's been a suggestion that we read more science together; these are just some books my own library has that I think look interesting.

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