Monday, March 31, 2008

Three Cups of Tea : One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson

Mortenson, lost and weak after a failed attempt to climb K2, stumbles into a village in northern Pakistan where the girls sit outside and, without a teacher, scratch multiplication tables in the dirt with a stick. He begins a one-man effort to build girls' schools in Pakistan. He's crazy and adventurous and big-hearted and doesn't seem to mind getting shot at. This is a magnificent book--highly recommended for individuals and book groups.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Absolutely magical! The integration of art with the story is a category-killer: this isn't an illustrated story--the pictures are used cinamatographically to convey the story. And there are a few surprises beyond that. Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gang Leader for a Day : A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh

You never hear about gangs and drugs anymore. Did things get better or did the media get bored? I have no idea. Anyway, this book is a must-read: Venkatesh befriended a gang leader and spent years shadowing him. The extent to which the gang is run like any old business is amazing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Where Does the Money Go? : Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis by Scott Bittle,

This is one of those books that if you think about it too much, you'd hide your money under the mattress and buy some ammo for fear of the coming crash (caused by the impossibility of the US meeting its Social Security and Medicare obligations). But because the book is so goofy and flippant in tone (and here I must admit that I bought it mostly because of the cover) that it is easy not to take it too seriously. In any case, this is fun and interesting reading.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

This was a fun (and very light, very quick) read. There are all sorts of interesting insights into human behavior here. (Warning: one section is a bit graphic--they did research on decision making of aroused males.) Recommended.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw: One Woman's Fight to Save the World's Most Beautiful Bird by Bruce Barcott

This was a very enjoyable read--I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give the game away, but there is a fascinating case study here. Recommended.

The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

I read this to the boys. They loved and so did I--this is one of the best written and best plotted YA books I have ever read. Highly recommended.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles : Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee

I loved this book. Lee (and howabout that middle name?) covers everything from the Chinese immigrant experience to the link between the American Jewish community and Chinese food to the origin of General Tso's chicken. Highly recommended.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Barbara Bush : A Memoir by Barbara Bush

I hate W as much as the next guy, and I wasn't too sure what I'd think of his momma. Well, I adored this book. Bush did a great job conveying her personality and I ended up liking her. She also has some great stories to tell: playing footsie with Yeltsin, rats in the White House swimming pool, etc. Recommended.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Josephine : A Life of the Empress by Carolly Erickson

This was pretty good but not extraordinary.

The Invisible Sex: Uncovering the True Role of Women in Prehistory by J. M. Adovasio, Jake Page, Olga Soffer

This was boring--a mishmash of ideas I had encountered before.

One True Thing by Anna Quindlen

This was terrible. The characters totally didn't work.

Fork It Over: The Intrepid Adventures of a Professional Eater by Alan Richman

Eh--there are much better foodie books than this.

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