[I've been 
reading]

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything   book icon  
by Joshua Foer (2011)

read: 19 September 2014
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

I must admit, I maybe liked this book better before I learned that Foer got a 1.2 million dollar advance for it. In any case, this book is a fun romp through Foer’s year of learning about memory and about his attempts (and successes) to compete successfully in memory competitions. The basic thesis is that you don’t need to be smart to be good at remembering things and to some people being able to remember things makes you look smart. And Foer does a really good job of explaining this through words and actions, showing the difference between people with autism and people who are just really focused, taking the reader along with him as he learns to do what he does (I still have a large jar of garlic in my memory palace). I enjoyed it.

Deadline   book icon  
by John Dunning (1997)

read: 13 September 2014
rating: [+]
category: fiction

I’ve read all of Dunning’s bookseller books and enjoyed them a lot. I didn’t really know he’d written any other kinds. This book showed up on the FREE table at my local community college and even though the cover seemed sort of blah, I recognized the name and picked it up. Dunning claims he wrote this book in one sitting--well not exactly but that the entire plot came to him at once. This may explain why it’s such a simple read. It has its own momentum, a cast of characters that you can understand, and a slightly edgy mystery involving the FBI, the Amish and some 60s revolutionaries now decades older. Worth picking up to see what else Dunning can do.

A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley   book icon  
by Neal Thompson (2013)

read: 13 September 2014
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

This was a great book about someone I’d always wanted to know more about. I grew up reading Ripley’s books but Ripley himself had been dead since long before I was born. This is a meticulously well-researched biography of a man that even his biographer didn’t seem to like much even as he accomplished becoming a household name and the best paid cartoonist in the world. I also learned about Norbert Pearlroth, Ripley’s researcher who had a full time+ job going to the downtown NYPL every single day to find material and never got any credit. I enjoyed this book but was a little bummed that larger-than-life Ripley was just in a lot of ways a normal weirdo.

Friends with Boys   book icon  
by Faith Erin Hicks (2012)

read: 31 August 2014
rating: [+]
categories: fiction, graphic novel

I first became aware of Faith Erin Hicks when I read the graphic novel that she illustrated, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. This story about a homeschooled girl’s transition to a regular high school while dealing with the absence of her mom is written and illustrated by Hicks. It’s a great story that looks at a lot of various gender roles and expectations without bogging you down in a politicky story. The high school felt real, the story felt realistic and not preachy. Very well done.

Life Inside a Shell   book icon  
by Donald Jackson (2013)

read: 30 August 2014
rating: [+]
category: non-fiction

I admit, I bought this book because I had some credit at Harvard University Press and this had a great cover. Plus, I like turtles. What I did not know is how interesting turtles are from a physiological perspective. They can go without air for months. Months! They also have a funny way of breathing because they don’t have a conventional ribcage. And they make use of nutrients stored in their shells during the long hibernating period that they have. And their hearts work in a weird way and they have metabolism that’s all over the map from one speed to 10000x that speed (in contrast, the human metabolism ranges from about one speed to 4x that speed). Jackson looks into many of this interesting facts and describes the research that allowed him to discover or support these assertions. It’s a short well-written book for people who enjoy biological sciences.

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