The Shipwrecked Man by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

In 1527, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca served as treasurer on an ill-fated expedition to the Florida Peninsula.  Early on, the expedition was shipwrecked near what is now Tampa Bay.  Cabeza de Vaca tried to convince the expedition’s leadership that they should remain on the shore until rescue arrived, but the thirst for gold and the mistaken belief that there were Spanish settlements nearby resulted … Continue reading The Shipwrecked Man by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

Acts of Passion by Georges Simenon

From the very first page, we know who the killer is; we know that he’ll be captured, found guilty and sentenced to prison; but we don’t know who his victim is. Georges Simenon’s novel Acts of Passion takes the form of a long letter, written by a killer to the judge who sentenced him.  The killer wants to explain why he did what he did; … Continue reading Acts of Passion by Georges Simenon

My New Favorite Book: Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi

This book is perfect for your reading challenge.  Back in the day, when book blogs were still young, there were all sorts of reading challenges going around that this book would have been perfect for. Translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman, Eve Out of Her Ruins is set in the author’s home of Mauritius, an island nation east of Madagascar. Perfect for your Read Around the … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi

Sunday Ramble: Travels, Art and Jane Austen Challenge

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

Sunday Ramble and Two Books I Didn’t Like. Sorry.

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.

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu Translated by D.C. Lau

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

A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse

This is the most pornographic book I’ve read all year. My definition of pornography is probably different from yours.  Pornography offers its viewers a fantasy depiction of something they cannot have, usually a sexual fantasy.  At some point in life, one finds  that Playboy, or Blueboy, or whatever, has been largely replaced with Architectural Digest– pictures of beautiful people give way to pictures of beautiful … Continue reading A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse

Human Acts by Han Kang

I suppose I’m like most Americans in that I know little of Korea’s history.  We know the war, at least the version of it we saw on television’s M*A*S*H, and the Korean miracle–the economic powerhouse South Korea has become.  But anything in between, certainly the dark chapters many South Korean’s would like to keep buried, we don’t know. This has begun to rapidly change lately, … Continue reading Human Acts by Han Kang

Sunday Rant and Ramble: Lionel Shriver Makes me Mad; A New Cat Arrives; Tournament of Books Results

What makes a book a classic? Lionel Shriver was a guest on my favorite BBC program A Good Read.  You can listen to the program here.  It was the dullest episode of my favorite program ever. Knowing something of what Ms. Shriver is like in person, I almost didn’t listen, but I thought I’d be open-minded, give it a try. The conceit of A Good … Continue reading Sunday Rant and Ramble: Lionel Shriver Makes me Mad; A New Cat Arrives; Tournament of Books Results

Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer

Before she was executed, Anne Boleyn’s head was shaved.  Afterwards, her hair was given to the executioner as part of the payment for his work.  He then sold it, at a considerable sum for the time, to a maker of tennis balls, which were often filled with human hair in that century.  Anne Boleyn’s hair was valued material for tennis balls because it was female, reddish … Continue reading Sudden Death by Álvaro Enrigue translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer

Murder in Memoriam by Didier Daeninckx

On October 17, 1961, thousands of Algerians took to the streets of Paris in a peaceful demonstration against a curfew that had been imposed only on them.  At the time, Algeria was engaged in a struggle for Independence from France which had long held the nation as a colony. The demonstrators were met with extreme violence from the police who opened fire on them without … Continue reading Murder in Memoriam by Didier Daeninckx

Maigret in New York by Georges Simenon

The trouble with Maigret in New York is clearly stated in the title. Inspector Maigret should stay in France, preferable in Paris.  I suppose over the course of 75 novels Maigret was bound to leave the country at least once, but I much prefer him when he is at home. Certain books are associated with certain places–that becomes part of the fun, maybe part of the … Continue reading Maigret in New York by Georges Simenon