Nonfiction From Chilly Places: White Fever, Black Square

Is it cold where you are? Egads, it's freezing in New York City right now. A good excuse to round up some of my long-overdue reviews of books I'd love to share but haven't managed to writing reviews for. That's been a pattern the last year plus. And when is the best time to read... Continue Reading →

What Pianos Mean to Siberia, And More

Book review: The Lost Pianos of Siberia, by Sophy Roberts (Amazon) There is no dramatic curtain-raiser to the edge of Siberia, no meaningful brink to a specific place, just thick weather hanging over an abstract idea. It is a modern economic miracle, with natural oil and gas reserves driving powerful shifts in the geopolitics of... Continue Reading →

Two Narrative Nonfiction Mini-Reviews

I love narrative nonfiction, and in discussing this genre, two titles that inevitably come up as outstanding examples of nonfiction perfectly crafted into a narrative structure are Five Days at Memorial and In the Kingdom of Ice. Let's talk about them! Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink  Physician and... Continue Reading →

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... Continue Reading →

Mythbusting Rasputin’s Life and Legend

Book review: Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs by Douglas Smith (Amazon / Book Depository) The life of Rasputin is one of the most remarkable in modern history. It reads like a dark fairy tale. An obscure, uneducated peasant from the wilds of Siberia receives a calling from God and sets out in search... Continue Reading →

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