November 19, 2022

definitely a worthwhile read

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American DreamThe Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Believe it or not, i had never read "The Audacity of Hope", not when it came out, nor during Obama's presidency. I ran across this audio version of it and grabbed it, since he has come again to my attention in the context of the stumping he did for some Democratic party candidates during the 2022 midterm season. As i listened to this abridged version, in his own voice, i was struck by the immense knowledge and intelligence of the man. His reflections on the topics contained in this version (Republicans and Democrats, Values, Our Constitution, Politics, Faith, Race, Family) were informed, engaging, and thoughtful. I found them especially so given that this was written years before his election as President. I would say that Obama falls squarely into the Neo-Liberal camp, which is problematic to me, but his views were nevertheless very interesting. Obviously there is a stark contrast between Obama and his successor Trump, whose intelligence and insight was more on the level of a spoiled child (sorry kids for the comparison :| ) . It is serendipitous that i happened upon this book immediately following reading Bernie Sanders manifesto on Political Revolution, and immediately preceding my reading "We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy" by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which reviews the Obama years in the White House among other things. Really looking forward to it. "The Audacity of Hope" is definitely a worthwhile read, even if your opinions differ from the authors. He embraces a good balance of reason and humanity, and is a really exceptional person in our nation.


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November 16, 2022

information that ALL voters should know

Bernie Sanders Guide to Political RevolutionBernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution by Bernie Sanders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is basically an extended pamphlet explaining Bernie's beliefs and platform (which I love ❤️). It is concise, full of data and stats, and written at a high school young adult level. It is excellent for mass distribution etc, and contains information that ALL voters should know. A quick read and an excellent overview.

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October 25, 2022

as relevant as ever, if not more so

The Man They Wanted Me to Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own MakingThe Man They Wanted Me to Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making by Jared Yates Sexton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really appreciated "reading" this book again via the audio version narrated by Jared. This book is as relevant as ever, if not more so.
Please, please read this book.

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October 9, 2022

a place, it's people and way of life, becoming home

Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in ItalyUnder the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the article https://indyweek.com/culture/page/page-frances-mayes/ in @indyweek about @francesmayes new book, and being a fan of the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, I finally picked up and read the original book for the first time and loved it. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy has the rich feel of a great travelogue, yet is really a book about a place and it's people and way of life, and then that place becoming home. The story is wonderfully told, the account of finding and buying a house in Tuscany, restoring it from disrepair into a beautiful and rich villa, and then setting up housekeeping, and of it becoming Home. The intimate details of the people, the customs, lifestyle, and of course, the food, are rich and real. Reading this book has me wanting to go back to Italia ASAP!!!

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September 26, 2022

interesting, and scattered

The Kindly Ones (The Sandman, #9)The Kindly Ones by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice to continue the Sandman journey. This one had some interesting parts and some scattered parts.

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September 4, 2022

concise yet detailed account of what may be the end of democracy in America

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for AmericaDemocracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Democracy in Chains" is a detailed yet accessible account of the wealthy minority's plans and efforts to undermine every foundation and mechanism of personal freedom and democratic choice in America. Using exhaustive research, the author reveals the mechanisms in motion, inspired by James McGill Buchanan and funded almost exclusively by corporate elites led by Charles Koch. This book is concise yet detailed and provides the timeline and progress of this ominous anti-democratic process. It was enlightening to me to see so clearly that the actual values that this wealthy minority holds supreme are property rights over human rights. Any popular or majority cause that threatens their freedom of complete control over their wealth and property is viewed as a threat. This includes programs for public good, progressive reforms, and human rights and welfare. This shows that they are in fact elitists and materialists and not humanitarians or even truly humans. This puts them in the most evil class of political philosophies, oligarchs and tyrants. Their long range program is nearing completion, and once completed, there will no longer be any means left for "we the people" to oppose it or turn things around. Democracy in America will end, and we'll be voiceless and helpless subjects of the ruling class of wealthy elites.

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August 23, 2022

must-read list for people approaching their Medicare years

10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make by Danielle Kunkle Roberts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"10 Costly Medicare Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make" is a huge jumpstart to a needed working knowledge of Medicare and how to make the right choices in signing up and maintaining an ongoing plan that works best for you. Approaching it from the angle of avoiding common mistakes is a great way to present the information in an interesting and relevant way. I would put this on the must-read list for people approaching their Medicare years.

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June 28, 2022

enlightening and interesting

How to Watch TV News: Revised EditionHow to Watch TV News: Revised Edition by Neil Postman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having read "Amusing Ourselves to Death" i looked forward to this guide to the TV news. This book presents the nuts and bolts of the TV news business, and shares details about how TV news works and what is presented. Most thinking people are generally already aware of the overall picture presented in this book, but reading the details behind the TV news we consume is very interesting. The details presented here help explain the "why" of what we already "know" about TV news. For those who have not given it much thought, this book is an accessible and concise summary of what all viewers and consumers of TV news should be aware of, and keep in mind on some level as they watch and consume. "How to Watch TV News" is both enlightening and interesting, and should probably be read by all news consumers.

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June 13, 2022

a journey though Europe in Bill Bryson's way

Neither Here nor There: Travels in EuropeNeither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book, albeit dated (1990 vintage) delivers a journey though much of Europe in Bill Bryson's irreverent, hilarious, often times politically incorrect way of story telling. It is fun to join the ride. Of course with the fun is included many interesting facts and figures about the places visited. This book was a great time, and another reason i want to go back to Italy ASAP :)

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June 2, 2022

more relevant now than ever before

WatchmenWatchmen by Alan Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Watchmen is more relevant now than ever before. Excellent writing and illustration that could qualify as prophecy! Really excellent.

Excellent resource to help understand the story:

May 23, 2022

powerful story that inspires consideration and thought

The Actual StarThe Actual Star by Monica Byrne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, there is so much to say about this book. It leaves me thinking about all manner of things, and wanting to go back re-read to look for ones I missed. The tale spans 2000 years, following three timelines, each a thousand years apart from the closest. The middle timeline is set about 10 years ago, so is contemporary to our time. Much like "The Girl in the Road", "The Actual Star" introduced me to places, culture and peoples I am not familiar with. Also like tGitR, the writing immediately dives into the deep end and pulls the reader in head first. New terms, languages, technologies, and cultures are encountered from the very beginning, with only hints from context and conversation to help the reader parse the narrative (and a MUCH appreciated glossary!). This is a great technique, which is a lot like William Gibson's narrative style! As each of the three threads progress, we learn of the connections between them, and gain insight into the interrelationships between history, legend, myth, religion, philosophy, politics, sociology, ecology, and so many more aspects of our world. This is a powerful story that inspires consideration and thought about many questions that need be reckoned with as a society and a species. I hope to get a chance to re-read at some point to further unpack and process this powerful story.

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May 6, 2022

creative and edgy, captivating

The Girl in the RoadThe Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Girl in the Road" is two tales, one of a girl and the other of a young woman, each on their respective personal journey and quest, eventually converging into one. It is set in the near future, mid to late 21st century. The inevitable results of 20th and early 21st century politics, economics, and environmental policy are playing out, and help set the context for this story. The plot is fast moving and the reader is pulled rather abruptly (in the style of William Gibson) into the context and jargon of new technology and worldviews. The protagonists of the story's two threads are painted with fine detail and intimacy giving the reader both cause and person to pull for. The two journeys eventually converge unexpectedly to bridge the gap in culture, experience, time and space, and create a single concluding thread. This story is creative and edgy, and told in a captivating way to fully engage the reader through the final chapter and epilogue. I am excited to have discovered this local author, and will be seeking out her other works, specifically "The Actual Star", which was released recently.

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March 6, 2022

rich yet dark, too coded and obscure

BelovedBeloved by Toni Morrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading "Beloved" seemed so familiar, and then it dawned on me that the story telling and themes are very much like Faulkner (see my review of "The Sound and the Fury")
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26197314-the-sound-and-the-fury

But alas, I am apparently missing the requisite skills and/or knowledge to read tales like this. "Beloved" is a rich yet dark story, but the telling of it is too coded and obscure for a reader of my experience or knowledge to fully unpack. I can however see that it is clearly of the same genre and stature as Faulkner, which speaks highly of it among literary scholars but doesn't do much for me the average reader. Again, i am left wishing that the narrative and meaning of the story was more accessible so that i could experience it in full.


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February 18, 2022

a narrative every American should read or hear

The Blood of Emmett TillThe Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"The Blood of Emmett Till" is a narrative every American should read or hear. It conveys the story of the lynching of 14 year old Emmett Till in 1955 Mississippi. The event is told in all its horrid detail. But to fully flesh out the expanse of it, the author brilliantly presents background events and people, the resulting aftermath, and most importantly, the significance and movement that was created and powered by the memory of Emmett Till and how he died. The book is backed by thorough and exhaustive research, 62 of the 300+ pages are devoted references and footnotes, covering background, history, and resulting events, into the 21st century. This is real history that should be taught, and acted upon. There is no healing without first acknowledging the disease and then seeking the cure. This is an important and excellent work of research. Thank you Mr. Tyson.

https://documentarystudies.duke.edu/p...

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February 10, 2022

The Case for Reparations

The Case for ReparationsThe Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This article is a great look at the issue of reparations. Knowing nothing about them going in, i feel like i have a much better idea of the major concepts that support some form of reparations due.

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February 6, 2022

moving and beautifully written

Between the World and MeBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Between the World and Me" is one of the most moving and beautifully written books I've ever read. The book, a letter from the author to his son, insightfully and clearly lays out what it is to be Black in America. The wisdom conveyed in this letter is of the highest order and pulls back the veil which so poorly conceals what America truly is. The Dream that has infected us all, and which we so sorely need to awaken from. This is one of the best books i've ever read, and i cannot recommend it highly enough. Please find a copy and read it. I want to get an audio copy to hear it again in Mr. Coates own voice. I am in awe.

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February 2, 2022

well researched and footnoted, a valuable source

The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal AmericaThe Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America by Carol Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The Second" brings a fresh perspective to the endemic racism in the U.S. by looking at the problem in the context of the 2nd Amendment. Historical insight into the amendment itself, as well as how it was applied over the history of this nation, shows that it is not at all what it seems on the surface. The right to bear arms, like most of the other "rights" we have as citizens, does not apply to everyone. Sadly, this amendment is only one of the many many aspects of the overt and blatant inequality that has been part of this nation from the beginning, and is still tragically affecting large numbers of Americans even as we enter the 21st century. It is a problem that needs to be solved, but also one that we have had from the very beginning. This book is well researched and footnoted, a valuable source, and especially appropriate during Black History Month.

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January 22, 2022

travel richness

Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the RoadHere, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road by William Least Heat-Moon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In "Here, There, Elsewhere", William Least Heat-Moon takes us along on a rich collection on journeys in the format of short journalistic articles. He brings his depth of spirit and discovery to each of the places he takes us, helping us to experience the many dimensions each place embodies. Morning in Manarola holds a special place among this collection, and we are looking forward to going back there. It has been too long since i last read William Least Heat-Moon, and i'm looking forward to continuing his classic travel trilogy with "PrairyErth" later this year.

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January 3, 2022

rich story telling

Horseman, Pass
        By Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having seen the film "Hud" recently, I wanted to experience the story on which it was based. I just completed reading McMurtry's travel book entitled "Roads" and had an idea of the setting for this story. "Horseman, Pass By" is a richly layered and textured story of life on a ranch in central Texas, near the fictional town of Thalia, which based on the town where McMurtry grew up. The characters are 3D and real, their conversations feel authentic, especially compared to my similar rural early years in the Ozarks of Missouri. The personal dynamics between the family members, ranch hands and towns folk all feel as if they were real. The descriptions of the country and landscape are as picturesque as words can make them. The story is told by the teenage grandson of the family patriarch. Step-parents and siblings add to the complication of the relationships and color of the story. Based on my rich experience with this book and the film, I want to read the remaining two books that complete what is informally known as the Thalia Trilogy, the last of which is "The Last Picture Show", which was made into another excellent film. McMurtry's writing and story telling is warm and rich, which makes for a great reading experience.

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