A Brave, Heartbreaking Look at a Life with Mental Illness

Book review: I’m Telling the Truth but I’m Lying, by Bassey Ikpi (Amazon / Book Depository) It’s difficult to distinguish which lies from my childhood are my own and which belong to my family. Which lies I told myself to close the gaps in my brain and which were told to me to silence my questions. Which lies were the only things that could quiet … Continue reading A Brave, Heartbreaking Look at a Life with Mental Illness

Four Women and their Crime “Obsessions”

Book review: Savage Appetites, by Rachel Monroe (Amazon / Book Depository) For the past few years, as the US murder rate has approached historic lows, stories about murder have become culturally ascendant…whether our tastes tended toward high-end HBO documentaries interrogating the justice system or something more like Investigation Discovery’s Swamp Murders. (Or, as was often the case, both. True crime tends to scramble traditional high/low … Continue reading Four Women and their Crime “Obsessions”

A Library Provides Hope for the Soul in Syria

Book review: Syria’s Secret Library, by Mike Thomson (Amazon / Book Depository) When I first heard rumors of a secret underground library in Daraya, I thought it must surely be an exaggerated account of events. Yet over the months that followed I interviewed dozens of people there, some of whom sent me photographs, and it became clear that this really was true. Young people there … Continue reading A Library Provides Hope for the Soul in Syria

The Second Installment of Eugenia Ginzburg’s “Whirlwind” #WITMonth

Book review: Within the Whirlwind, by Eugenia Ginzburg (Amazon / Book Depository) The most fearful thing is that evil becomes ordinary, part of a normal daily routine extending over decades. It’s hard to believe, considering the popularity over time and general excellence of Eugenia Ginzburg’s first memoir, Journey into the Whirlwind, that her second one is less widely read and somewhat difficult to come by. … Continue reading The Second Installment of Eugenia Ginzburg’s “Whirlwind” #WITMonth

A Crime Reporter and Citizen Sleuth on the Cases and Innovations of His Career

Book review: Chase Darkness with Me, by Billy Jensen (Amazon / Book Depository) Crime writer and citizen digital detective Billy Jensen is known for his collaborative efforts to finish Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark posthumously, but he has an impressive resume of his own in true crime journalism. In this account of his progression from crime news reporter with the show Crime Watch … Continue reading A Crime Reporter and Citizen Sleuth on the Cases and Innovations of His Career

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Essays on Women and Islam #WITMonth

Book review: The Caged Virgin, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Amazon / Book Depository) Any Muslim who asks critical questions about Islam is immediately branded a “deserter.” A Muslim who advocates the exploration of sources for morality, in addition to those of the Prophet Muhammad, will be threatened with death, and a woman who withdraws from the virgins’ cage is branded a whore. I hope to … Continue reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Essays on Women and Islam #WITMonth

The Hows and Whys of a Church-Turned-Cult and a Murder

Book review: Without a Prayer, by Susan Ashline (Amazon / Book Depository) Each year, Chadwicks had a Halloween parade, and families would line Oneida Street–except for the spot in front of the redbrick building. People from the church would chase them off the lawn. Though Oneida Street was a typical stream for trick-or-treaters, no one knocked on door 3354. The men in trench coats would … Continue reading The Hows and Whys of a Church-Turned-Cult and a Murder

8 Nonfiction Titles for Women in Translation Month 2019 #WITMonth

August is Women in Translation month, an event started by Meytal Radzinski of Biblibio to encourage reading more of the too-few books written by women that are translated into English each year (statistics are a bit hard to come by, but women writers only account for around a third of what’s translated.) You can learn more about it here. There are various happenings around literary sites and … Continue reading 8 Nonfiction Titles for Women in Translation Month 2019 #WITMonth

A Warts-And-All Take On Female Anatomy and Beauty Issues

Book review: Gross Anatomy: A Field Guide to Loving Your Body, Warts and All, by Mara Altman (Amazon / Book Depository) Mara Altman’s Gross Anatomy, a loose memoir told through investigation of myths, practices, and biases around the female body, is a book I ignored on its original publication last August. It seemed guidebook-y or goofy, or just not something I felt all that interested in. Also, … Continue reading A Warts-And-All Take On Female Anatomy and Beauty Issues

An Insider’s Account of the Woman Who Fooled New York

Book review: My Friend Anna, by Rachel DeLoache Williams (Amazon / Book Depository) If you’d asked me before I met Anna, I wouldn’t have thought I lacked this type of common sense. I was skeptical of strangers, suspicious of new people. But I didn’t see Anna coming. She slipped through my filters. You read about those characters in books, you see them in movies, but … Continue reading An Insider’s Account of the Woman Who Fooled New York

Fast Food and the American Dream

Book review: Drive-Thru Dreams, by Adam Chandler (Amazon / Book Depository) Drive-Thru Dreams opens with an affecting story about how a prank inspired one of those benevolent gestures from a big company, leading to a feel-good video for social media and wins all-around for everyone involved — on the surface, at least. It establishes an interesting idea of what fast food restaurants and branding mean … Continue reading Fast Food and the American Dream

An Exposé of America’s Low-Wage Workplaces

Book review: On the Clock, by Emily Guendelsberger (Amazon / Book Depository) When the newspaper she worked for closed in 2015, journalist Emily Guendelsberger used the opportunity to pursue a project she’d long been interested in. Over the next two years she worked in some of America’s common, controversial low-wage jobs to see what conditions were like, how they affected workers physically and psychologically, and … Continue reading An Exposé of America’s Low-Wage Workplaces