Russian Literature’s Surprisingly Positive Life Lessons

Book review: The Anna Karenina Fix, by Viv Groskop Book Depository The Russian classics are, admittedly, not the most obvious place to look for tips for a happier life. Russian literature is full of gloomy people wondering how on earth they have ended up in the appalling predicament in which they find themselves, looking around desperately for someone else to blame and then realizing that, … Continue reading Russian Literature’s Surprisingly Positive Life Lessons

Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, and the Promise and Ruin of Spiritualism

Book review: Through a Glass, Darkly, by Stefan Bechtel and Laurence Roy Stains Book Depository What had come to be known as “spiritualism”—the conviction that those who have passed over had the ability and the desire to make contact across the veil of death with those they’d left behind—seemed to have bewitched the Western world.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, forever linked with his character, Sherlock … Continue reading Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, and the Promise and Ruin of Spiritualism

The Spookiest Soviet Unsolved Mystery

Book review: Mountain of the Dead, by Keith McCloskey Book Depository What is this trouble that wanders the Taiga at night? Who can give an answer? If you don’t already know the story of the Dyatlov pass incident, I envy you, because the Google rabbit hole you’re about to fall down is a marvelous one. But to tip-of-the-iceberg this high strangeness story from Soviet Russia: … Continue reading The Spookiest Soviet Unsolved Mystery

The Historic Los Angeles Library Fire Sparks a Bigger Story: What Libraries Are to Us

Book review: The Library Book, by Susan Orlean All the things that are wrong in the world seem conquered by a library’s simple unspoken promise: Here is my story, please listen; here I am, please tell me your story. Journalist and author Susan Orlean began her latest book by investigating the devastating 1986 fire at Central Library in Los Angeles. By the time the fire was … Continue reading The Historic Los Angeles Library Fire Sparks a Bigger Story: What Libraries Are to Us

The Epicenter of Silly: Light Looks at Modern Magic and Magical Thinking

Book review: Not in Kansas Anymore, by Christine Wicker (Book Depository) Forty years ago, when the current occult revival was beginning to gain strength, the wisest thinkers in the land predicted that faith in the supernatural was shriveling and would soon die back to insignificance. The scientific worldview demanded such a shift. Who could possibly withstand it? Organized religion, mystical meanderings, and magical ideas could … Continue reading The Epicenter of Silly: Light Looks at Modern Magic and Magical Thinking

Hope in Historical Precedence

Book review: Lessons from a Dark Time, by Adam Hochschild Book Depository When times are dark, we need moral ancestors, and I hope the pieces here will be reminders that others have fought and won battles against injustice in the past, including some against racism, anti-immigrant hysteria, and more. The Trumps and Putins of those eras have gotten the ignominy they deserve. Journalist, public historian … Continue reading Hope in Historical Precedence

Elegies for the Dead She’s Known

Book review: The Baltimore Book of the Dead, by Marion Winik Book Depository People do not pass away. / They die / and then they stay. Poet and author Marion Winik opens this second volume of creative short elegies to departed people she’s known, tinged with personal memoir, with those lines from Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Voices in the Air”. I couldn’t imagine a more fitting … Continue reading Elegies for the Dead She’s Known

A Reporter’s Cold Case Obsession

Book review: Amy: My Search for Her Killer, by James Renner (Book Depository) How long does it take a crime to become legend? Does it vary based on circumstances, on affluence? If the Bay Village police charged someone in Amy’s death after sixteen years, would anyone really believe it? Or has so much time passed that the residents of this quiet suburb will stick to … Continue reading A Reporter’s Cold Case Obsession

Life After Death from a Scientific Perspective

October is naturally the perfect time for creepy, scary, haunty reading, so I’m reviewing some ooky spooky supernatural, paranormal-themed titles throughout the month. Personally, I find nothing scarier than some of the true crime cases out there, so delving into the supernatural side of things feels more light-hearted than sinister and I love Halloween-time for that! First up: Mary Roach’s Spook, truly a doubter’s dream. … Continue reading Life After Death from a Scientific Perspective

Writing Her Grandparents’ Lives and a Memoir of Childhood

Book review: On Sunset, by Kathryn Harrison Never mind that we live in Los Angeles and that I was born in 1961; my childhood belongs to my mother’s parents, who, in the way of old people, have returned themselves to their pasts, taking me along. Author Kathryn Harrison writes a memoir of a slice of her childhood, a well-adjusted one considering some of the troubling … Continue reading Writing Her Grandparents’ Lives and a Memoir of Childhood

Nonfiction November is Coming!

Nonfiction November is taking place again this year! What began as a challenge to read nonfiction for a whole month has become a month-long celebration of reading, writing about and discussing nonfiction, with a different themed discussion prompt to take part in every week. It’s such a fun way to expand your nonfiction horizons, and it’s definitely the perfect time to challenge yourself and tackle … Continue reading Nonfiction November is Coming!

Unraveling a Life of Deceit

Book review: The Adversary, by Emmanuel Carrere It should have been warm and cozy, that family life. They thought it was warm and cozy. But he knew that it was rotten at the core, that not one moment, not one gesture, not even their slumbers had escaped this rot that had grown within him, gradually eating everything away from inside without showing anything on the outside, … Continue reading Unraveling a Life of Deceit