The Wild, Wonderful World of Couchsurfing in Russia

Book review: Behind Putin’s Curtain, by Stephan Orth (Amazon / Book Depository) Hamburg-based journalist Stephan Orth has written several books about his global couchsurfing adventures in unconventional locales. Orth brings a certain cheerful openness and humorous curiosity to his adventuring, and of the touristic method of couchsurfing, he mentions that it offers “the mutual gift of time and curiosity,” something lacking in all-inclusive trips or … Continue reading The Wild, Wonderful World of Couchsurfing in Russia

Jon Krakauer’s Classic On An Ill-Fated Walk Into Wilderness

Book review: Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer (Amazon / Book Depository) His exact words were: “I think I’m going to disappear for a while.” At 24, Chris McCandless was a young man with, on the surface, a lot going for him. His family had provided wealth and economic stability, he was smart and college educated, and possessed a unique ability to connect with people, … Continue reading Jon Krakauer’s Classic On An Ill-Fated Walk Into Wilderness

Andrew McCabe’s FBI Perspective On Why None of This is Normal

Book review: The Threat, by Andrew McCabe (Amazon / Book Depository) Several times throughout The Threat, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe describes a scene in the Oval Office. People called in to meet with Donald Trump sit on small wooden chairs lined up in front of the Resolute desk, “like schoolboys who’d been called to the principal’s office.” Considering who’s positioned like this, from … Continue reading Andrew McCabe’s FBI Perspective On Why None of This is Normal

Julia Child Remembers France

Book review: My Life in France, by Julia Child & Alex Prud’homme (Amazon / Book Depository) In Paris in the 1950s, I had the supreme good fortune to study with a remarkably able group of chefs. From them I learned why good French food is an art, and why it makes such sublime eating: nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way … Continue reading Julia Child Remembers France

Light Essays on Heavier Topics from Roxane Gay

Book review: Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay (Amazon / Book Depository) These essays are political and they are personal. They are, like feminism, flawed, but they come from a genuine place. I am just one woman trying to make sense of the world we live in. I’m raising my voice to show all the ways we have room to want more, to do better. Like most … Continue reading Light Essays on Heavier Topics from Roxane Gay

“Mindhunter” John Douglas Breaks Down Behavior and Psychology in Four Profiles

Book review: The Killer Across the Table, by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker (Amazon / Book Depository) This is a book about the way violent predators think – the bedrock of my twenty-five years as an FBI special agent, behavioral profiler, and criminal investigative analyst, as well as the work I have done since my retirement from the bureau. John Douglas hardly needs an introduction, … Continue reading “Mindhunter” John Douglas Breaks Down Behavior and Psychology in Four Profiles

Harper Lee’s Abandoned Work: A Crime Spree and a Mysterious Reverend in the Deep South

Book review: Furious Hours, by Casey Cep (Amazon / Book Depository) Seventeen years had passed since she’d published To Kill a Mockingbird and twelve since she’d finished helping her friend Truman Capote report the crime story in Kansas that became In Cold Blood. Now, finally, she was ready to try again. Novelist Harper Lee, long beloved for To Kill a Mockingbird, has always seemed a somewhat bittersweet figure … Continue reading Harper Lee’s Abandoned Work: A Crime Spree and a Mysterious Reverend in the Deep South

Narrative Nonfiction Classic on Ebola’s Origins

Book review: The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston (Amazon / Book Depository) Nature is anything but simple. This emerging virus was like a bat crossing the sky at evening. Just when you thought you saw it flicker through your field of view, it was gone. Richard Preston’s 1994 bestseller about the origins of Ebolavirus and early outbreaks, The Hot Zone, has been criticized for inaccurately depicting … Continue reading Narrative Nonfiction Classic on Ebola’s Origins

Investigating the Extreme of Psychopathy

Book review: The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson (Amazon / Book Depository) Journalist Jon Ronson’s “journey through the madness industry” begins with a stressful situation in parallel with a mystery dropped in his lap: First, he’s tapped to use his journalistic prowess to trace a book that’s been sent to prominent academics around the world without a clear source or reason. This project materializes at … Continue reading Investigating the Extreme of Psychopathy

The Long Story of an LAPD Cold Case

Book review: The Lazarus Files, by Matthew McGough (Amazon / Book Depository) In 2009, a decades-old cold case, the 1986 murder of Sherri Rasmussen, a young newlywed nurse in Van Nuys, heated up when a suspect was finally arrested. As in many recent cases, new testing of old DNA evidence – here, an allegedly misplaced swab from a bite mark on Sherri’s arm – was … Continue reading The Long Story of an LAPD Cold Case

A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

Book review: Black Earth City, by Charlotte Hobson (Amazon / Book Depository) ‘You must understand,’ said Rita Yurievna, ‘that in Russian, verbs are not only about action. They are also about the experience. Think how different it feels if you walk down a street every morning of your life, and if you walk down it for the first and only time. It maybe be the … Continue reading A Year Abroad As the Soviet Union Was Falling

The Inflamed Brain and The Unreliable Narrator

Book review: Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan (Amazon / Book Depository) The mind is like a circuit of Christmas tree lights. When the brain works well, all of the lights twinkle brilliantly, and it’s adaptable enough that, often, even if one bulb goes out, the rest will still shine on. But depending on where the damage is, sometimes that one blown bulb can make … Continue reading The Inflamed Brain and The Unreliable Narrator