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Showing posts from February, 2015

Some War Novels

I was going to title this post "Best War Books" or something like that, but then I realized it would be really, really arrogant to assume that my little slapped-together list actually contained the very best books on a subject that has been so well covered by so many authors.  So I only hope to share a few of my favorite books about war with you; I can't promise they are the best.  
     War is terrible, but it sure inspires some wonderful books.
1. Dispatches by Michael Herr - I've never read a book like this before - it's very stream-of-consciousness and studded with historical and musical allusions (I actually made a playlist out of all the songs and artists that Herr mentions).  It's a mash-up of poetry, journalism (Herr was reporting on the Vietnam War), and novel that captures the chaos of war in a way that no standard narrative could.

2. Exodus by Leon Uris - Reading Exodus, which in simplest terms explores the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and Je…

The Iris Bookcafe

Tonight I am not writing to you from New York City.  Tonight I am writing to you from Cincinnati, a half-shuttered and intriguing Ohio city, and I would like to tell you about a book store that I have discovered here.
     It is called the Iris Bookcafe, and I love it already.  Today was blowy and snowy and frozen, so I took refuge there for about an hour (although I would have liked to stay much longer).  The Bookcafe sells exactly what the name suggests: books (used ones) and coffee (as well as standard coffee shop foods like soup and pastries).  There are shelves of books in the front 'eating area' of the shop and even more in back.  I got really sucked in while browsing!  Used book stores always have an interesting mix of book topics.  The Bookcafe also sells records.  I spent quite a while going through the "5 for $1" singles box :)  Then I ordered a mocha latte - my first ever, shhh, I'm pretending to be a grown up - and found it delicious.  Like hot chocola…

Podcast Review: Welcome to Night Vale

Before I begin: Is this ok?  Do you guys mind if I extend the scope of this blog to include podcasts as well?  
     I only ask because I am a rabid enemy of e-readers - e-readers will eclipse bound paper pages over my dead body - and feel perplexed as to why podcasts enchant rather than irritate me.  I think that I feel this way because podcasts are too different from books to be a replacement.   
     The podcast is less like a book and more like the descendant of old-fashioned serial radio programs. Listening to a podcast, you can close your eyes.  You can picture the story and its characters and its setting in your head.  You can appreciate the skill of voice actors and the power of a few well-chosen sound effects. And the podcast listener receives other benefits - she can escape her morning commute or a sleepless night just by slipping on a pair of headphones, for example.  
     In short, I feel no shame in promoting podcasts on this blog because they are alternatives to and not su…