Dark, Darker, and Darkest: A Journalist Lights Up the Dark Web

Book review: The Darkest Web, by Eileen Ormsby (Amazon / Book Depository) In The Darkest Web, Australian lawyer and journalist Eileen Ormsby breaks down “the internet’s evil twin” into three levels of badness: dark, darker, and darkest. I have spent the past five years exploring every corner of the dark web, one of the few who is open about who I am and what I do there. … Continue reading Dark, Darker, and Darkest: A Journalist Lights Up the Dark Web

What Dead Writers Can Tell Us About How to Live

Book review: The Dead Ladies Project, by Jessa Crispin (Amazon / Book Depository) It was my circumstances that were killing me, I was sure of it. Jessa Crispin, editor of the now-defunct online literary magazine Bookslut, published a memoir, The Dead Ladies Project in 2015, but I was in no hurry to read it. I couldn’t get into Bookslut despite feeling like it was something I … Continue reading What Dead Writers Can Tell Us About How to Live

Into the Underworlds

Book review: Underland, by Robert Macfarlane (Amazon / Book Depository) What happened here? The mouth of the chasm says nothing. The trees say nothing. Leaning over the edge of the sinkhole, I can see only darkness beneath me. British author Robert Macfarlane’s Underland is a difficult book to describe or do justice to. It’s more of a literary experience than anything easily summarized. At its core, it’s … Continue reading Into the Underworlds

One Parisian Street in Profile

Book review: The Only Street in Paris, by Elaine Sciolino (Amazon / Book Depository) Former New York Times Paris Bureau Chief Elaine Sciolino’s The Only Street in Paris is a travelogue memoir meets micro-history and sociocultural study of the Parisian street where she and her family made their home for a time. There’s a lot going on, but the busyness just seems to mirror the profiled … Continue reading One Parisian Street in Profile

Inside Looks at the Women of ISIS

Book review: Guest House for Young Widows, by Azadeh Moaveni (Amazon / Book Depository) She looked at the girls in the shadows of the backseat, as they drove past grain silos whose towering outlines were visible in the dark. How little they knew what awaited them. They would soon find out that the caliphate ruled by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi troubled itself little with the Prophet’s … Continue reading Inside Looks at the Women of ISIS

Ruth Reichl’s Beginnings in the Kitchen

Book review: Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl (Amazon / Book Depository) Food writer, magazine editor, and restaurant critic Ruth Reichl’s first memoir, Tender at the Bone, is a significant one in the “foodoir” genre, blending recipes into stories and scenes from a life. It covers the connections she made in her early life with food and cooking, laying the groundwork for the prominent … Continue reading Ruth Reichl’s Beginnings in the Kitchen

A Forensic Ecologist on Life, Death, and Crime-Solving

Book review: The Nature of Life and Death, by Patricia Wiltshire (Amazon / Book Depository) Patricia Wiltshire is a botanist, forensic ecologist, and palynologist — what she defines as “one who studies pollen and other palynomorphs.” She works with the police in the United Kingdom, drawing on decades of experience and meticulous microscopic examinations to determine what pollen, fungi, microbes and all manner of plant … Continue reading A Forensic Ecologist on Life, Death, and Crime-Solving

High Strangeness and Lore from the Midwest

 Book review: Midwestern Strange, by B.J. Hollars (Amazon / Book Depository) Professor B.J. Hollars set out, after a challenge from his writing students, to investigate his region’s tales of inexplicable monsters and events of “high strangeness,” that is, “encounters that are improvable either as events or illusions.” I’ve selected the Midwest as my testing ground because as a midwesterner, I’m well-versed in our region’s oddities. … Continue reading High Strangeness and Lore from the Midwest

Snapshots of the Summer of 1927

Book review: One Summer: America, 1927, by Bill Bryson (Amazon / Book Depository) Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs. The Federal Reserve made the mistake that precipitated the stock market crash. Al Capone enjoyed his last summer of eminence. The Jazz Singer was filmed. Television was created. Radio came of age. Sacco and Vanzetti were executed. President Coolidge chose not to run. Work began on … Continue reading Snapshots of the Summer of 1927

Popular Science on How Genes Can Influence Who We Are

Book review: Pleased to Meet Me, by Bill Sullivan (Amazon / Book Depository) Bill Sullivan, professor of pharmacology and microbiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, writes that he’s always been curious about why we are the way we are, with all of our many often curious differences. So many traits, preferences, and physical qualities seem inherent, unable to be altered — like his strong distaste … Continue reading Popular Science on How Genes Can Influence Who We Are

Oral Histories from “The Last of the Soviets” #WITMonth

Book review: Secondhand Time, by Svetlana Alexievich (Amazon / Book Depository) In writing, I’m piecing together the history of “domestic,” “interior” socialism. As it existed in a person’s soul. I’ve always been drawn to this miniature expanse: one person, the individual. It’s where everything really happens. 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Secondhand Time is an oral history comprising interviews with “the last of the … Continue reading Oral Histories from “The Last of the Soviets” #WITMonth

Tina Fontaine and the Issue of Missing, Murdered Indigenous Canadians

Book review: Red River Girl, by Joanna Jolly (Amazon / Book Depository) “The wide, frozen snake of the Red River curved through the city’s landscape, a timeless witness to all that had gone before and all that would come.” BBC journalist Joanna Jolly learned of the murder of Tina Fontaine, a 15-year-old Indigenous girl from the Sagkeeng First Nation, when a colleague in her Washington, … Continue reading Tina Fontaine and the Issue of Missing, Murdered Indigenous Canadians