So, I picked this book up because it reminded me of another book I enjoyed which was How the Irish Saved Civilization (by a different author, Thomas Cahill I think?). It's the theme of a culture, usually through diaspora, sharing literature/philosophy/art, etc.
With the Irish book, the argument is that because Irish monasteries housed writing and not gold, they were often repositories of knowledge lost by other European countries during the Medieval ages. Only through the diaspora and inclusion of Ireland (usually via British invasion) was this knowledge dispersed. Granted, it wasn't like the Middle East, Asia, Africa, or the Americas were wandering around clueless...they also had a strong literary tradition of all this stuff, but still.
This book is more on Philosophy and Education that was passed through Scottish diaspora. I took a lot of philosophy courses in college, so this wasn't totally new to me, but I think it can be a bit dry if that's an uninteresting subject. I thought it was really interesting but I'm a huge nerd. The Scottish diaspora was in tandem with the Highland clearances and with the British Empire "colonizing" the world. Colonizing or you know...invading.
NPR did an interview with Arthur Herman, which I managed to embed. I love NPR.
Herman was a coordinator of the Smithsonian's Western Heritage Program. He now a senior fellow at a Think Tank called the Hudson Institute. Think tanks can be full of brilliant people or morons. The Hudson Institute is a conservative think tank that writes semi-interesting reports and blows smoke up conservative men's assholes. So... the norm I suppose. No, seriously, look at who they give awards to and then tell me I'm wrong because I am not.
I live and work around politicians. They need a lot of smoke blowing. A small, select few need to be put in a padded room. We don't have to name names. We all know who.
I was pretty excited to begin this book. I love books about art crime (Mostly the gentleman thief variety). Art and antiquities crime is a huge international black market. Truly harrowing to think about.
Adam Worth was a master criminal, known for his frauds and deceptions, but also for stealing a painting of Georgianna Cavendish (Duchess of something) by Thomas Gainsborough. There are run-ins with the Pinkertons (before they became totally union busting jerkfaces), safe cracking, crimes across Europe and America.
Adam Worth is also the supposed inspiration for Moriarity in the Sherlock Holmes books. Allegedly. Ben Macintyre does talk about this in one of the chapters, so fun to read about it.
Ooo, we're getting into my favorite subject matter in nonfiction---artsy farsty stuff. LOVE it. I'll read anything with art theft, art forgery, and art history. Endless fascinated. I took a lot of classes in art history and humanities in college (way back when), so this book wasn't filled with all new information for me. I loved re-exploring it though.
Alexander Lee focuses on the Renaissance period and touches on the money and power that moved the art to its greatest zenith for the time. Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, and Raphael were just a few of the artists that were patronized by the wealthy and powerful (like the Popes, the Medicis, the royal families of Europe, etc.) that were in constant power struggles with each other and within their own ranks. It's truly fascinating...even if you don't like art.
Samantha Irby has a really eye-catching cover design for her books. I picked up another one because there was a cat on the cover (it was bright yellow I think?).
She's an award-winning essayist that really knows how to land a story. I tend to remember and think about her stories way after I've shut the book. I mean, they aren't all deep and serious, but I wasn't expecting to really have them stay with me like they have. Plus, there's a lot of funny moments.
Yearbook by Seth rogan
I read this through my library. I've become a bit overcome with their digital options and I have a huge wish list. I think I really create more digital clutter (is this the right term) than I should. I'm a big library fan regardless...I've tried a bunch of authors I wouldn't have normally, and I've found a few new favorites that I enjoy.
I'm not sure I'm 100% getting all of Rogan's comedy but I like some of his stuff. I like more of his later projects. Seth doesn't care about that of course; he's doing just fine without my wishy-washy movie watching habit. I figured I'd get on the hold list for his book at the library, and it finally hit my number.
Please excuse my photos. I took them from my kindle...to send to a friend because we talked about one of his stories in here for about a day...and then I realized I still had them, so I put them here. I should have made an effort to get better photos but eh.
October 04th, 2021
I have such a book hangover (is this the right term?) over the last book I read. I basically just need a little bread to recover. The book that did me in was Madame Fourcade's Secret War about one of the leaders of the French Resistance. She survived the war, but many of her comrades did not. It was very, very good but it was absolutely a gut punch of read for me.
I'm going to work on some re-readings and see if I can get back to it. Maybe a lot of happy endings only romance type books? Or maybe some comic books? I own two of Mindy Kaling's books.
I actually took a lot of detailed notes for this book, which is nice because it's been awhile since I read it. I've already read a few books since then, so it's not as fresh in my mind. I had not heard of this story, this woman, or this book. For some reason, I assumed there was a mafia connection (there isn't...that's another case).
There are black and white photos in the book. I have a photo of them, the photos are on the same paper as the print. Sometimes there's a glossy insert but this isn't the case here.
The book is split into several sections, which makes it easy to split into short bursts if you find it gruesome. The author, Glenn Puit, interviewed Brookey Lee West in 2003. Puit has written other books, including two on cases I'm familiar with (the Kathy Valentine poisoning was one) and two I'm not.
The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science by Douglas Starr
Oh, this book was a revelation! It's one of those multi-storied books. We get the story of a serial killer and his apprehension, a story on how the lawyer changed how to prosecute, and the story of how a scientist used forensics to catch the criminal. We also get to have the culture of France at the time, the history aspect really. It's one of my favorite type of book set ups. I'm not sure if it has a name. Popular History? But with this multiple arcs.
That being said, it's a lot of information. Obviously, any of these aspects could fill multiple books by breaking it down in detail. I got enough to understand everything though.
Douglas Starr is a new author to me. He has another book, aptly titled Blood, about how blood became valuable in the medical field. I do like my nonfiction to be science or history, so I might see if I can pick that up soon.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
I am furiously writing Christmas (Holidayish) cards to people and trying to get them sent off so they'll make it to their destinations by New Years Eve. Which is obviously not Christmas but I had a week's worth of migraines and I did nothing last week. Not even decorate for Christmas. I'm the only lightless house in the neighborhood! Even my Trump loving next door neighbor put one of those inflatable yarn ornaments out (by his Trump sign, it's color coordinated!). It's bad when you're the only scrooge on the block!
I read this book awhile ago and liked it. So when it popped up in my "to-be-read/reread" shelf, I went ahead and read it. I've read quite a few Bryson books and enjoyed all but one (he seemed really oddly bitter in that one and I can't tell if I didn't get the humor). Often his books are written for a British audience, but with the caveat that non-Brits might enjoy them. I think I enjoy Bryson more when he's bringing history into his work (re: At Home) verses when he's in a setting of which he doesn't understand or he's uncomfortable. I think sometimes when dealing with people Bryson can punch down. It can come off very elitist but yeah, sometimes it's a bit misanthropic. For instance, whilst I like many of Bryson's books, I'm well aware that he seems to see everyone in the south as something off Deliverance and judges from that. So he probably wouldn't like me for existing I guess. Perhaps that's wrong but it's been a theme in a few of his books (heavily highlighted in The Lost Continent). To be fair to Bryson, it's a thing for some people to punch down (or to take the mickey out of) I guess in Europe and it's not always my favorite type of humor. One of the first things a Danish dude said to me was that "All Americans are fat...you're just not fat yet." Thanks Danish dude. He told me later is was a joke but I mean, we're not going to be friends (which upset him?!).
I've verged. Bryson has a quirk with this writing and is best when he does history and not travel experiences where he has no curiosity (he's done this in Australia, America, UK, Africa, and Europe...occasionally he's overly grumpy and mean). Danish men surely aren't all assholes but I've yet to meet a non-rude one. I've met lovely Danish women though.
The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverant Romp Through Civilization's Best Bits
I took a week off of work last week and used it to clean and do laundry and just veg. I think I needed it because I've fallen so behind with everyone staying with me. I'm still not caught up but it's not unsurmountable and that's just a relief. I also voted and dropped off the ballots for everyone else in the house. It was a group trip. No idea how this election is going to go but I've done my bit.
There's also a hurricane somewhere in the ocean (or a bad storm) because my nerves are on fire. My migraines have shifted and now I have a pronounced sensory aura. When WebMD says that you can have "pins and needles, or burning" it really underestimates what that means. Burning, for me, feels like my nerves (which I can feel) are on fire. It stops me cold. I'm also getting nauseous.
BUT the head pain itself is less. So, it's a trade off I'll take. I guess the medicine is working. Although my doctor pointed out that the aura might have always been there in some form but I didn't notice it because my head pain was so bad and constant. So now I notice all the other things. That was a sobering thought.
Whatever. I'm going to be slow today but it'll get done eventually. I read this book over a period of weeks as it's a lot of information. I think it's a basic recap of what you (should have) learned in high school/middle school history class. Unless you went to the charter school in Texas my cousins (and a few state/national representative's children) went to. They're....dumb. That's not nice to say but there were some hefty payouts for college admission (the "normal" way, not the Operation Varsity way) and lots of remedial courses. I guess dumb isn't the right word, they're uneducated because the charter school failed them. Of course, since there are no (or few) regulations around charter schools there wasn't any safety net where administrators could come in and clean it up. Their mom is furious because my safety school wouldn't admit any of her kids. I don't really understand the total of Texas social scene but apparently the state school which was my safety is where a certain social class goes. I don't know. She explained it to me when I was applying and I had it as a safety as my family was nearby but I chose a different school in the end. I tutored two of her kids through the remedial classes by phone. On top of the tutoring they got at college. So they passed eventually but those remedial classes don't carry the same level of credit as the history 101 stuff if I remember correctly. I asked a lot of questions about their charter school (middle + high) because I couldn't figure out HOW they had graduated without knowing the basic stuff. They learned creationism (and ONLY that) and that all dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time as the Early Civilization peoples (ummm...). Also, they learned that Benjamin Franklin was a President (he was not).
I feel like I've blabbed on a few things I probably shouldn't have. There are just certain children of certain politicians who have been ill served by the environment their fathers (and grandfathers created). I guess you get what you vote for. Not my problem...except now we have a huge bunch of idiots running around.
We should talk about the book. Yup.
An Edited LIfe by Anna Newton
I'm a little iffy on self-help books as I find most of the time them to be shallow or overly generic platitudes. There's no action...just talk about action in the abstract.
On the other side, I'm all in for organizing books, shows, vlogs, etc. I will follow professional organizers on instagram in a heartbeat. I love that crap. I have a whole "want to buy" list of organizing books. It's a (tidy) problem.
I got this book without knowing who Anna Newton was...but in fact, I'm familiar with her already. Her blog has come across my computer screen a few times. It's The Anna Edit. It's a lifestyle, travel, fashion etc. website curated by Anna Newton. While I enjoy some of the content (the organizing stuff really), I'm on the other end of the spectrum with fashion (I don't think neutrals make up more than 10% of my wardrobe) or makeup (no seriously...I love color and drama) or home decor (Anna likes a minimalist neutral theme). Her book fulfills me in ways the website cannot.
Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin
I got this book after a disastrous run-in with Bobbi Brown's advice. Brown is a talented make-up artist and I believe she did makeup for a lot of Hollywood stars who have this "golden glow." She also has "rules" and all the girls in my school growing up assiduously followed them. The problem is of course, with makeup there aren't any rules as everyone's face is different. Also, you can use makeup to change things up and innovate in all sorts of ways. Rule wise, I'd only say that you shouldn't use dangerous chemicals and practice. Just make yourself happy really. The "advice" that I took from Bobbi had to do with yellow toned foundations. She recommended that people (or the actress that she worked with really) use yellow toned foundation. So I went out to give it a go.
Oh.my.gosh. I had yellow face. I was a walking racist character. It was not good. Was it Bobbi's fault? No! I was a stupid kid who didn't really get marketing (Bobbi wanted me to buy a yellow toned foundation from her brand of course) and also I didn't understand color matching and makeup in general. It was also most likely advice more in line to her starlets and not dorky little middle schoolers. I don't want to sound like I'm hating on Bobbi, I think she's a fantastic artist and really the Queen of the neutral look. You can't go wrong with that.
Bobbi had a book at the time and I desperately wanted it. My mom got this book for me instead, and I'm quite grateful for a variety of reasons. I don't remember much from Bobbi's book but it was very much in the same vein "how to do makeup", this was pre-Youtube (we were on our own. It was a wild west of makeup looks y'all!). My friends and I would take this book (and Bobbi's) and do makeovers on each other when we were having sleepovers. I think my mom just went for variety. Whatever the reason, this was a win. It's been with me since that time and I've used it for reference to this day.
Ayoade On Top by Richard Ayoade
I think I'm just allergic to America. Well, maybe my state. Like, some type of thing is setting off my migraines more than normal. Besides the pandemic. Maybe it's just the pandemic.
But I'm going to blame the stupid flowers and weather in my state because I'm in a mood.
Whatever. I'm running on a lot of coffee. I slept like the dead last night after taking a triptan (a pain pill meant for migraines) and I feel like I got hit by a truck. That's not hyperbole --I was t-boned by a massive truck that ran a red light a few years ago and I feel about the same. I finished my work and I've uploaded some photos and so that's where I am in life. Drugged and behind. You know, the norm.
For some reason I thought I had talked about Ayoade's book, but it's because I mentioned it in a Fri-Yay post. Obviously when I realised my error, I decided to make the post. We should all have Ayoade in our life.
Read This If: A Collection of Essays That Prove Someone Else Gets It, Too Review
I picked this book up on a quest for finding books on grief. I started dealing with my grief (and all the stress it caused) about fifteen years since it began. Which is a long time. Society doesn't always give room for grief and sometimes when the situations are all wrong, it can be a rough solo go of it.
This was in the linkages from a grief book so I chucked it in the cart and bought it. As the title states, it's a collection of essays from various authors that covers broken relationships, hurt friendships and feeling stuck, mental disorders and career issues.
This was actually the first book I finished in 2019. I'll be honest and say that I did put it down a few times as it was hard to read (the content was difficult to read, the actual prose is fine). Also of note, I've kept up with this story via the news, documentaries and write-ups (one being from the author himself, via Medium).
The RWA shitshow is still ongoing. I'm not shocked by the excuses or oblivious refusal to see issue from some of the white authors (who benefit from the money and work put in by others) but I'm a bit surprised it's still ongoing since it's hit so many news outlets. I'd like to think people have some form of self-preservation. Speaking of, one of the women who complained about Courtney Milan retracted her statement (only in a newsprint interview) admitting it was false. I think her agent got a hold of her and told her to stop making an international mess of herself. What I do like is that the majority of authors I like to read have signed on saying they do not agree with the RWA's actions or decisions here or in reference to other AOCs (the ones that I can find that is). It's always nice to know the people you buy books from aren't arseholes.