C.J. and I visited Los Angeles this past week to see the James Kerry Marshall retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the same show we saw last summer in Chicago. We’ve become big fans of Mr. Marshall’s work. It was a mad-cap three-day trip–drive down, day in L.A. and drive home–but we managed to visit three bookstores while we were there. We stayed in … Continue reading Sunday Ramble: Travels, Art and Jane Austen Challenge
Visited the local Friends of the Library book sale yesterday, in the rain, where C.J. and I managed to spend much more than we intended. He got several art books and a couple of books full of house plans while I nearly completed my Jane Austen collection. Can you name the book I still have to find. I’ve decided it’s a good time to re-read all … Continue reading Sunday Ramble and Two Books I Didn’t Like. Sorry.
For many years now, I have taught Daoism as part of my 7th grade history unit on China. I wish I could call back my previous classes and correct all the mistakes and misrepresentations I have made over the years. Fortunately, what 7th graders take away from a lesson on Daoism isn’t all that deep, so I probably haven’t done much damage. Still. It’s symptomatic … Continue reading Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Translated by D.C. Lau
It was a little un-nerving to be reading Blood Done Sign My Name right now. America really should have moved beyond this issue by this point in time, the opening years of of the 21st century. William Faulkner got it right when he said, “The past isn’t done with us; it’s not even past.” Blood Done Sign My Name is Timothy B. Tyson’s memoir/reflection on racism … Continue reading Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B. Tyson
If you’re a reader but not an English major, or just anyone who’d like to fill in the holes in your knowledge of the subject, you could do worse than John Sutherland’s A Little History of Literature. Divided into 40 short chapters, Mr. Sutherland’s book covers all the greatest hits from Beowulf to Borges and most of the main topics covered in graduate schools from What … Continue reading A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland
While Modigliani: A Life by Meryle Secrest was not exactly the biography I was looking for, it is an entertaining, educational read that has much to offer both fans of the artist and general readers. Several years ago I picked up a copy of Becoming Judy Chicago more or less on a whim to discover one of my favorite reads of 2007. Turns out I … Continue reading Modigliani: A Life by Meryle Secrest
This doesn’t count as a resolution, but on New Year’s Day I finally embarked on reading Kevin Starr’s history of California which currently stands at six volumes, last time I checked. A few years ago I read his single volume history California and loved it. Entertaining and informative, a clear eye-ed history of the state written by a man who’s been in love with the place … Continue reading Americans and the California Dream by Kevin Starr–Chapter I: Prophetic Patterns 1786-1850
I’m going to stick to my guns here, enforce my long time rule for selecting the top ten list which is “Do I want to read this book again someday?” The answer must be yes to qualify. Which means there are many books that I loved reading that will not make the list. Lots of books are great books, great reads, but not something I’ll … Continue reading Top Ten Favorite Reads for 2016.
Some things I learned from reading William Rosen’s book Justinian’s Flea: Justinian I was as unlikely to become emperor as Theodora was to become empress. Theodora really did work in a brothel, most likely, but she had retired prior to meeting Justinian in her early twenties. That bit about covering herself in seed and letting a small flock of geese peck it all off was probably … Continue reading Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe by William Rosen
Claudia Rankine was all the rage at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs national conference in Los Angeles last spring. Her keynote address was sold out, the extra room where you could watch it all on video projection was sold out. She was huge. I had never heard of her, so I didn’t go. Probably a mistake, in retrospect. It’s difficult for me to … Continue reading Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
This is a book for people who love language. Ideas, too. William H. Gass has plenty of ideas, but, for me, this book was about language. Reading William H. Gass was spending times in the hands of a master, a master who is having a very good time. I had a good time, too. On Being Blue is the most thorough look at the word … Continue reading On Being Blue: a Philosophical Inquiry by William H. Gass
What struck me, most about David Talbot’s history of San Francisco was just how violent the times were. Season of the Witch concentrates on the years between the Summer of Love, 1968, and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s. The 1970’s are largely remembered today for disco and very, shall we say, creative fashions but this was a period of violent upheaval in America, certainly … Continue reading Season of the Witch by David Talbot