A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again

Book review: In Putin’s Footsteps, by Nina Khrushcheva and Jeffrey Tayler (Amazon / Book Depository) The new stories were no longer those of Yeltsin’s Russia, which was perceived, both at home and abroad, as a weak, insignificant, and corrupt bogeyman reeling from its Cold War defeat. These were stories of an enigmatic young technocrat tirelessly crisscrossing the country and meeting with workers, farmers, and cultural … Continue reading A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again

Shame in the Age of Social Media: Jon Ronson Investigates

Book review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson (Amazon / Book Depository) It seemed to me that everybody involved in the Hank and Adria story thought they were doing something good. But really they only revealed that our imagination is so limited, our arsenal of potential responses so narrow, the only thing anyone can think to do with an inappropriate shamer like Adria … Continue reading Shame in the Age of Social Media: Jon Ronson Investigates

Witty, Sharply Smart Essays on All Kinds of Thickness

Book review: Thick, by Tressie McMillan Cottom (Amazon / Book Depository) Being too much of one thing and not enough of another had been a recurring theme in my life … Thick where I should have been thin, more when I should have been less, a high school teacher nicknamed me “Ms. Personality,” and it did not feel like a superlative. I had tried in … Continue reading Witty, Sharply Smart Essays on All Kinds of Thickness

Highly Anticipated: 14 New Nonfiction Titles in 2019

As the year comes to a close, I’ll leave you with another look to the future and what’s new in nonfiction in 2019. Wishing you a happy, healthy year ahead, and the most heartfelt thanks to everyone who reads and discusses here. Your engagement means so much to me. Here’s to another year of enlightening reading, sharing ideas and thoughtful discussions around all the wonderful … Continue reading Highly Anticipated: 14 New Nonfiction Titles in 2019

The Human Toll of the Opioid Crisis is Painfully Felt in ‘Dopesick’

Book review: Dopesick, by Beth Macy (Amazon / Book Depository) The first time Ed Bisch heard the word “OxyContin,” his son was dead from it. Journalist Beth Macy is a longtime reporter with the Roanoke Times. Beginning in 2012, from her vantage point within the Roanoke community, she observed the swiftly worsening opioid crisis as it engulfed her region of the western half of Virginia. … Continue reading The Human Toll of the Opioid Crisis is Painfully Felt in ‘Dopesick’

The Opioid Crisis Through the Lens of Government, Medicine, and the Personal

Book review: American Overdose, by Chris McGreal Book Depository A former head of the Food and Drug Adminsitration has called America’s opioid epidemic, “one of the greatest mistakes of modern medicine.” It is neither a mistake nor the kind of catastrophe born of some ghastly accident. It is a tragedy forged by the capture of medical policy by corporations and the failure of institutions in … Continue reading The Opioid Crisis Through the Lens of Government, Medicine, and the Personal

How the Instinct to Eat Can Go Wrong: Personal Stories of Food Anxieties

Book review: The Eating Instinct, by Virginia Sole-Smith Book Depository Nutrition has become a permanently unsolvable Rubik’s Cube. So we read more books, pin more blog posts, buy more products, and sign up for more classes and consultations. And we don’t realize how many of the so-called experts guiding us through this new and constantly changing landscape are … fighting their own battles with food. … Continue reading How the Instinct to Eat Can Go Wrong: Personal Stories of Food Anxieties

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 Working Poor of the Heartland

Book review: Heartland, by Sarah Smarsh Journalist Sarah Smarsh is a fifth generation Kansan who grew up with her family life centered around a wheat farm in the countryside, with Wichita being the closest big city. In her memoir, she chronicles generations of her family, particularly the strong but troubled women in her lineage, and puts their struggles and choices into clear economic and cultural context. … Continue reading The Working Poor of the Heartland

The Interstate and the Murderer

Book review: Killer on the Road, by Ginger Strand America became more violent and more mobile at the same time. Were they linked? Did highways lead to highway violence? Yes and no. More highways meant more travel, more movement, more anonymity—all conducive to criminality. Highway users could become easy victims: stranded motorists, hitchhikers, drifters, and truck stop prostitutes were vulnerable to roving predators. But most … Continue reading The Interstate and the Murderer

Winchester’s Mark On Americana and Its Changing Face

Book review: Homeplace, by John Lingan Winchester’s residents have always been engaged in the process of defining this place and its character, and those definitions are often forged in living rooms more than state houses or courtrooms. That’s where people learn their values and hear their legends. Homes – the places to gather with your people – were the true currency of a region in … Continue reading Winchester’s Mark On Americana and Its Changing Face

The America Hiding in Plain Sight

Book review: Hidden America, by Jeanne Marie Laskas (Amazon / Book Depository) I discovered this book through the excellent New York Times Match Book column. If you’re not already familiar, people write asking for specific book recommendations based on previous favorites or highly specific genres. This one was mentioned in a social issues-themed reading list. Hidden America began when author Laskas was writing about coal mining … Continue reading The America Hiding in Plain Sight