Title: I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events — the Ones you Plan and the Ones You Don’t Author: Jennifer Gilbert Genre: Memoir Year: 2012 Publisher: Harper Paperbacks Acquired: From the publisher as part of a TLC Book Tour Rating: Review: Jenny Gilbert was a vivacious, outgoing, unflappable [...]
Title: A Chance to Win: Boyhood, Baseball, and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City Author: Jonathan Schuppe Genre: Narrative nonfiction Year: 2013 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. Acquired: LibraryThing Early Reviewers Rating: Publisher’s Summary: For most of his young live, Rodney Mason was good at two things: dealing drugs and throwing a baseball. [...]
When I told people I was reading a memoir by a Morman weight-lifting librarian with Tourettes Syndrome, I got some pretty quizzical looks. And that’s understandable; there are a lot of ways a memoir that tells so many different stories could go awry. But Josh Hangarne isn’t tempted by any of the paths that lead memoirists astray, making The World’s Strongest Librarian one of the most engaging memoirs I’ve read in a long time.
In May of 1953, Sylvia Plath, then a 21-year-old junior at Smith College, arrived in New York City for a one-month assignment as a guest editor for the college issue of Mademoiselle. Plath, along with the 19 other women selected for these prestigious posts, would spend 26 sweltering, frenetic, life-changing days working on the magazine and learning how complicated the world could be for smart, ambitious women at that time.
Pain, Parties, and Work is a biography of a moment, an exploration of the 26-day period that led to the first of Plath’s several breakdowns and suicide attempts. In the book, author Elizabeth Winder interviews many of the women Plath served with to gain and understanding of what Plath was like as a young woman, before she became the tortured, talented, and tragic poet we remember her as today.
On November 5, 1942 a C-53 Skytrooper carrying five American airmen took off from Iceland to return to their home base on the western side of Greenland. Midway through the trip, the plane inexplicably crash landed on an ice cap. Although none of the passengers were killed, the men would need to be rescued. The U.S. military sent search and rescue planes out looking for the lost crew, but the plane and the men on it seemed to have disappeared.
Four days later, a B-17 bomber searching for the missing C-53 was caught in a storm. Despite the pilot’s best efforts, the B-17 hit a glacier and, again, crash landed. The nine airmen and volunteers all survived the crash, but their predicament forced another series of search and rescue missions through the dangerous Arctic landscape. When the B-17 was located, two members of the U.S. Coast Guard attempted a daring rescue mission using a Grumman Duck amphibious plane to bring the men back. But their plane disappeared in a storm and, 70 years later, remained trapped somewhere in the expanse of Greenland’s glacial tundra.
What makes things popular?
That’s the fiendishly complex question at the center of Contagious by Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In the book, Berger looks to explain ”social epidemics” — moments where ideas, products or behaviors spread through a population — and to look at what features converge to make these ideas, products or behaviors viral or likely to spread by word-of-mouth. Berger and his colleagues have outlined six principles of contagiousness: products or ideas that contain social currency and are triggered, emotional, public, practically valuable, and wrapped into stories.
Oh, David Sedaris. When a copy of Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls arrived on my doorstep, I actually squealed because getting one his essay collections always delights me. Admittedly, I was pretty disappointed with his last collection, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, because it felt familiar and formulaic. I remember feeling like the book was a little over-the-top, like Sedaris was pushing too hard to make his stories funny.
I was so happy to discover that Sedaris decided to use a little more restraint in Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. The essays are extremely funny, but in a way that feels more realistic. They’re more subdued, but in a way that makes them feel richer and more reflective. They’re still full of Sedaris’ skewed and strange way of seeing the world, but it doesn’t feel quite so absurd this time around. The collection is delightful.
It probably was a little weird that read Gillian Flynn’s first novel, Sharp Objects, right after finishing Louise Erdrich’s The Round House, since they’re both pretty dark books and what I wanted most after The Round House was a palate cleanser.But in some respects, Sharp Objects fits that bill since it’s an addictive, fast-paced story, but it’s equally as dark and even more twisted. I any case, I enjoyed the heck out of both these books!
Since 2004, the year I moved out of my parents house and into the dorms at my university, I’ve moved 11 different times. And every single one of those times, my mom, my dad, my brother and my sister and my friends have been there to help me. But that’s a luxury (or perhaps tradition) that people who move far away from their social networks often don’t have. Instead, a huge industry of professionals has developed specifically to fill a gap created by diffused communities.
While The Outsourced Self by Arlie Russell Hochschild never specifically mentions movers (I think they’re too functional for her purposes), it was the best example I could think of from my own life that sort of illustrates the conundrum of this book: what happens when we allow market-driven services into our personal lives?
When I read the premise of The New Republic — a wannabe journalist heads to a backwater town to cover a fledgling terrorist movement — I was intrigued by a lot of things. I’ve enjoyed Lionel Shriver’s writing in the past (particularly The Post-Birthday World), and I love stories about foreign journalists (like Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists). This book seemed like it might meld some of those things.