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Mar. 14th, 2019

The Damned (Là-Bas)The Damned by Joris-Karl Huysmans

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Durtal is researching and writing a book about Gilles de Rais, the child murderer believed to be the source of the legend of Bluebeard. While he takes comfort in writing about the past, away from what he perceives as a lost, immoral, and decadent present (the novel was published in 1891), he soon finds himself embroiled in sin, Satanism, witchcraft, and in a scandalous affair with the mysterious and elusive madame Chantelouve. A strong story with philosophic elements, the novel raised an uproar when it was first published and still has a potent shock.



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Tumbling Toward the EndTumbling Toward the End by David Budbill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Completed shortly before his passing in 2016, this final collection finds the poet in decline, contemplating his mortality. As he does, he remarks on the things his body will no longer allow him to do and how his influences, classical Chinese poets, confronted their own ends. Brilliant and beautiful, a must-read for Budbill fans.



The Poet, The Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, A Wedding in St. Roch, The Big Box Store, The Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & AllThe Poet, The Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, A Wedding in St. Roch, The Big Box Store, The Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All by C.D. Wright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book is a wonderful amalgamation, a bit of literary theory and history, mixed with the poet's larger experiences, written and steeped in the language of poetry. She analyzes some of her personal favorite poets (Creeley, Williams, et al.) and include a powerful essay about her experience visiting Louisiana prisons and confronting the humanity there. Highly recommended.



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Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1 (Jessica Jones Alias, #1)Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Jessica Jones is a former superhero who has traded in her costume for a private investigator badge, digging up the dirt on people, often finding out what people already suspect. While the book does a good job establishing the character and her role in the Marvel universe, it felt like a standard p.i. story. Potential definitely, but not completely fulfilled in this collection.



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Mar. 5th, 2019

Learning to Die: Wisdom in the Age of Climate CrisisLearning to Die: Wisdom in the Age of Climate Crisis by Robert Bringhurst

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Three short philosophical essays about how people should live amidst climate catastrophe and the coming extinction. Their answers are steeped in classical philosophy and regard what it means to be a good person (the ultimate question of philosophy) in any age. For those of a philosophical bent, this book has a lot to offer.



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Mar. 5th, 2019

The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to LiveThe Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live by Heather B. Armstrong

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An inspiring, riveting memoir. Heather B. Armstrong, known for dooce.com, was struggling with a crippling depression. Desperate for help, she agrees to an experimental treatment where she is "killed" - placed into a chemically induced brain death for fifteen minutes - ten times. She bravely recounts the experience of the experiment, but also her deep depression, its causes, and its effects on her family. Powerful brave writing. Highly recommended.

[I received an advanced e-galley from Netgalley. The book will be published April 23, 2019.]



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Mar. 5th, 2019

Lose WellLose Well by Chris Gethard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A self-help book mixed with some recollections from the career of cult comedian Gethard. He may not be the best known or most successful (by whatever terms you choose), but he has achieved a kind of success and stardom largely on his own terms. His advice, as the title suggests, is unconventional as well, but worthwhile. A pleasantly surprising, entertaining, and motivating read.




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In Praise of Wasting TimeIn Praise of Wasting Time by Alan Lightman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


In this book based on his TED talk, Alan Lightman extols the the virtues of downtime, time devoted to letting the mind wander and be at its most creative. In a culture that practically worships speed and productivity, it's a bit sad that this book is even necessary, but Lightman, a scientist, does his research on both our culture and the virtue of slowing down to think. A short, quick and worthwhile read.



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In a Dream You Saw a Way to SurviveIn a Dream You Saw a Way to Survive by Clementine von Radics

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A strong collection of personal poetry about dark moments mostly in relationships. Brave and powerful words by a poet I was unfamiliar with but who I will now seek out.

[I received an advanced e-galley of this book through Netgalley.]



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CicadaCicada by Shaun Tan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A powerful fable of conformity and corporate culture. Tan's artwork, as usual, is stunning and the story will resonate with many readers, especially older ones. Highly recommended.



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Eat to Love: A Mindful Guide to Transforming Your Relationship with Food, Body, and LifeEat to Love: A Mindful Guide to Transforming Your Relationship with Food, Body, and Life by Jenna Hollenstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


An important book that applies Buddhist principles to an intuitive eating approach while being practical and compassionate. A strong criticism of diet culture and "magical eating" that many should find valuable. I feel like I will be consulting this book often and highly recommend the book.

[Caveat: My wife has been in therapy with the author and found her helpful.]



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