The View From Tehran

Book review: I’m Writing You From Tehran, by Delphine Minoui (Amazon / Book Depository) The taxi rolls along gray lines. That’s all we can make out in the darkness: gray lines, as far as the eye can see, marking out the road to the airport. Outside, beyond the window, the night devours the last forbidden words I heard. How many will still dare to shout … Continue reading The View From Tehran

Notes From Self-Imposed Siberian Exile

Book review: The Consolations of the Forest, by Sylvain Tesson (Amazon / Book Depository) I’d promised myself that before I turned forty I would live as a hermit deep in the woods. I wanted to settle an old score with time. French author Sylvain Tesson felt an itch familiar to many: to escape the stress of modern city life, to retreat to the middle of … Continue reading Notes From Self-Imposed Siberian Exile

5 Mini-Reviews from the Did-Not-Finish Stack

I used to hold myself to a strict standard of finishing every book I started. It was painful. Why insist on spending precious time finishing something I’m not enjoying just because I made a decision one time to read it? Abandoning feels freeing in its own little way. Time for another look into some of the books I’ve tried and put aside over the past … Continue reading 5 Mini-Reviews from the Did-Not-Finish Stack

Art and Anecdotes from One Year in Paris

Book review: A Paris Year, by Janice MacLeod (Amazon / Book Depository) Bonjour Bonjour Ça va Ça va Ça va Ça va Bonjour Bonjour. It’s really that easy to have an entire conversation in French. There is no waving hello. This is not the French way. When you wave hello their eyes follow your hand like a litter of kittens. Non. They prefer words. Janice … Continue reading Art and Anecdotes from One Year in Paris

Pre-2018 Favorites

I noticed this year that several of my pre-2018 picks were published in 2017, so they’re not actually that far from being new releases. I’m a little disappointed that it turned out that way, but I guess 2017 was just a great year for nonfiction! Here are the books that were my favorites among what I read published before 2018: My top backlist favorite this … Continue reading Pre-2018 Favorites

Unraveling a Life of Deceit

Book review: The Adversary, by Emmanuel Carrere Book Depository 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 … Continue reading Unraveling a Life of Deceit

The Mystery of a Clairvoyant and a Con

Book review: A Deal with the Devil, by Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken (Amazon / Book Depository) We knew that many people thought of all psychics as frauds. We’d heard plenty of horror stories about people who lost thousands of dollars to storefront psychics or psychic hotlines. But we had never heard of a psychic scam quite like this one, in which fraudsters used the mail … Continue reading The Mystery of a Clairvoyant and a Con

Catfishing ISIS

Book review: In the Skin of a Jihadist, by Anna Erelle (Amazon / Book Depository) When one worked on “societal” issues, it was out of passion. If only I could write about this topic in a new way, one that avoided treating individuals as part of a succession of similar cases. I wanted to investigate the roots of “digital jihadism” and get to the bottom … Continue reading Catfishing ISIS

The Subtle Joys of Traveling Alone

Book review: Alone Time, by Stephanie Rosenbloom Amazon What follows are impressions of four journeys; a love letter to loners, to witches and shamans, to those who cherish their friends, spouses, and partners yet also want alone time to think, create, have an adventure, learn a skill, or solve a problem…find your “thinking path,” to discover what you want from your own solitary moments. New … Continue reading The Subtle Joys of Traveling Alone

Reflective Writing on Solitude and Creativity

Book review: The Art of the Wasted Day, by Patricia Hampl Amazon If you’re a “seeker” (and who, opening a book, is not?), isn’t the open road the only way, paradoxically, to find the lost life of daydream where all the rest – wisdom, decency, generosity, compassion, joy, and plain honesty – are sequestered? If life is a journey, has it just become a getaway to somewhere … Continue reading Reflective Writing on Solitude and Creativity

A Group Biography Tells Women’s Stories from the French Resistance

Review: A Train in Winter, by Caroline Moorehead (Amazon / Book Depository) They had spent the months in Romainville very close together and it was as a train full of friends, who knew each other’s strengths and frailties, who had kept each other company at moments of terrible anguish, and who had fallen into a pattern of looking after each other, that they set out for … Continue reading A Group Biography Tells Women’s Stories from the French Resistance

A Light in the Darkest Places

Book review: The Only Girl in the World, by Maude Julien (Amazon / Book Depository) My father is convinced that the mind can achieve anything. Absolutely anything: it can overcome every danger and conquer every obstacle. But to do this requires long, rigorous training away from the impurities of this dirty world. He’s always saying, “Man is profoundly evil, the world is profoundly dangerous.” This … Continue reading A Light in the Darkest Places