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review 2020-05-05 18:24
Walden - Henry David Thoreau

I am pretty on board with the philosophy that the author is trying to put forward, but I just really can't stand the overdone writing with all its flourishes and tangents. Another era I suppose. I'll try to find a summary of the main philosophical ideas somewhere else. DNF.

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review 2020-05-02 01:29
One of the rare books that will stretch your heart
Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship - Gregory Boyle

I recommend this to any human being, Christian or otherwise, who wants to grow in kinship with others and feel the loving embrace of the Divine. 

 

This was such a beautiful and moving reflection on how Fr. Gregory Boyle has encountered the true meaning of God in his life, his friends, and his work through Homeboy Industries. 

 

 

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review 2020-04-26 18:32
Funny, You Don't Look Autistic
Funny, You Don't Look Autistic - Michael McCreary

At the tender age of 22, comedian Michael McCreary wrote this memoir with the dual goals of helping neurotypical readers/listeners understand people on the spectrum and to help people on the spectrum navigate the NT world and feel less alone--and all with humor. McCreary shares his family/school/camp/job experiences, as well as his early attraction to performance and stand-up (the latter which he began to pursue in his teens). Along the way, he also pokes at certain stereotypes ("I'm very bad at math"; "I know nothing about computers, which is weird, because I thought we were supposed to be good at this computer stuff and … I think I’ll just phone a tech."

 

The book is a quick and enjoyable read/listen, and I recommend it to anyone who wishes to gain a better understanding of ASD, or at least one comedian's experiences with it.

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url 2020-03-29 16:28
Meacham on leadership in a crisis
Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis - Robert F. Kennedy,Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

This morning I read Jon Meacham's essay in the New York Times about political leadership in calamaitous times. As a work of criticism it's quite effective, as it manages to condemn the current president without mentioning his name once.

 

It's not as though we have to look to the past to find examples of how to do it right. There are plenty of officeholders today whose response to our pandemic demonstrates what it takes to manage a crisis. Even in the United States there are numerous examples of state and local leaders who are doing it right, even at times against partisan headwinds. It brings to mind Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.'s incredibly perceptive observation about Franklin Roosevelt, which is that his outstanding quality was his first-class temperament. Our current situation is helping me to appreciate just how important a quality that is in a crisis, especially with the counter example we currently have on display.

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review 2020-03-28 21:40
My Life in France
My Life in France - Alex Prud'Homme,Julia Child

So this book felt off to me about a 1/3 of the way through. I definitely liked the bits about Child learning about cooking and how she fell in love with French cooking. That said, she seemed self absorbed at times. Also I thought it was weird how Child would talk about others and say they were not intellectual. No offense, but I didn't get that she was one either. This book talks about certain things like the "Red Scare" and all, but it skips over things that I would think that Child, a supposed Democrat would highlight, like the Civil Rights Movement. I definitely got a sense of the snobbish about her at times. The ending was very rushed I thought. We somehow go from the 1970s to Child fast forwarding past 20 years to recount the deaths of her friends and her saying goodbye to a home that she and her husband Paul lived part-time in, in France. 

 

"My Life in France" follows Child as she and her husband Paul start a new assignment in France in 1948. The book follows Child as she slowly starts to become enthralled with French cooking and then her taking cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu. From there we have Child meeting Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck who she would have a life-long friendship with and also co-author the famous "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

 

I always tell people that memoirs are tricky. You have to be open about parts of yourself to readers and a lot of people don't do that. I have read a few cooking memoirs, and this is definitely my least favorite. I think at times it was because I felt that Child or her co-author,  Alex Prud'Homme censored certain things. I was left with a lot of questions about Child and her husband Paul. I also thought it sounded like her husband suffered from several maladies that were not really discussed. I don't know, it just felt after a certain while parts of the big were skipping things. I think that the book then trying to throw into the fray the biography of Judith Jones (the woman who brought the masses "Mastering the Art of French Cooking") made the book messier.

 

I definitely get why Child loved French cooking. However, I don't think she ever touched upon the fact that it was cooking that a lot of people in France would not have been able to afford at the time. And honestly I think that is part of the problem with this memoir. At the end of it I didn't really care for Child much. She had a narrow minded focus on things and apparently just ignored the reality of things it seemed. 

 

Also I have to wonder about anyone thinking this was a book that would hit it big in the United States.  When this was all going on, America was starting up the war in Vietnam, the Women's Rights' Movement was starting up, we had the Civil Rights Movement gaining ground too. It just felt so weird that this book came out when it did and it hit with women in America at the time that it did. 

 

When the big eventually ends, we somehow go from the 1970s to the 1990s and we fast forward what sounds like a round of unpleasantness for Child with her husband being in a home, some of her close friends dying, and her finally closing up the home she shared with her husband in France. 

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