Books

Book 516: Jane Austen: A Brief Life – Fiona Stafford

After being disappointed by the much hyped (by me internally at least) Jane Austen, the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly I looked elsewhere to nurse my mental wounds and found this lovely brief biography by Fiona Stafford. I reached out to the publisher for a copy as the book was recently re-released as part of Austen’s 200th death anniversary.*

I’ve surprisingly steered clear of nonfiction works concerning Austen (not really though because I like that she’s a bit of a mystery even with what we know about her. That being said I do have a few on my shelf that I plan to make my way through eventually. I’m not sure many, if any, will top this delightful read.

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Books, Professional Development

Book 507: If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? – Alan Alda

Only two ARC/Galleys left and I am all caught up! The same publicist who sent me Finally Out reached out about this book and the title had enough humor in it I figured it was worth a shot.* I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would!

What Alan Alda—I didn’t even recognize him from M*A*S*H (IMDb link), I just recognized his caricature—is doing is what the Plain English Campaign (website) has been trying to do since the late 70s, just through a different venue: improv. Both are trying to get things translated from the indecipherable jargon of science or government into easily relatable language. Alda, has basically made a side career out of this with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where the observations he made from his many years on Scientific American Frontiers are put into practice to teach scientists how to talk to non-scientists.

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Books

Book 502: Jane Austen, the Secret Radical – Helena Kelly

Perhaps I’m too smart for my own good, but overall this book was a bit disappointing. With a title like Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, you’d expect there to be revelations of sorts and yet there weren’t. I mean that’s why I requested a copy from the publisher.* I was hoping as the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death rapidly approaches there’d be something completely new and innovative to talk about, but there wasn’t.

Sure Kelly highlighted a few things that I missed when reading Austen, but really she just expounded upon the things that those of us who don’t read Austen ONLY as a romance novelist, but as a social commentator hopefully picked up on. She provided more detail of course, especially when it came to names and places, but overall there just weren’t a lot of revelations.

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Books

Book 471: Ray and Joan – Lisa Napoli

napoli-lisa-ray-joanWhat a fascinating story. I figured it would be, I mean it’s about the guy who made McDonald’s what it is today and his wife who gave away billions of dollars, but I was still surprised at just how fascinating it was.

When Dutton reached out to me about a copy of the book* I jumped at the chance because not only do I find philanthropy personally fascinating, but I also work in fundraising, so it was a win-win either way for me.

I mean the subtitle “The man who made the McDonald’s fortune and the woman who gave it all away,” caught my attention pretty quick because I knew nothing about the founding of McDonald’s or the people behind it. I had no idea about most of it.

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Books, Personal Project, Professional Development

Book 465: A Truck Full of Money – Tracy Kidder

kidder-tracy-a-truck-full-of-moneyUgh. (Nothing to do with the book, which I quiet enjoyed.)

This is what I get for not responding to my reading of the book in a timely manner. Like the other book published this week (You Will Not Have My Hate), this has been sitting in my queue to be responded to for almost an entire month.

I wish I could say what took me so long to respond but I have no idea. I’ve just been so busy at work and with Thanksgiving that I dropped the ball. Unfortunately that means my normal Opening and Closing Lines at the end aren’t there because this was a book from NetGalley* and by time I went to write this, they’d already archived it 😦

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Books

Book 464: You Will Not Have My Hate – Antoine Leiris (Trans. Sam Taylor)

leiris-antoine-you-will-not-have-my-hateI don’t want to generalize things, but we’ve all seen the headlines about someone’s world being shattered in an instant. We’ve all seen, heard about or experienced some after-effects of terrorism at this point. We hear about the people who commit these acts, we hear about those that die and those that survive, but what we rarely hear about are those that are left.

It’s those people whose world isn’t shattered in an instant, but over a grueling length of hours where they know nothing about their loved one’s fate, that this book’s story shares with the world.

I don’t go out of my way to read books associated with grief or with current political issues, but when the publisher reached out to me about a copy* of this book I thought I would give it a chance. The title is what drew me to it, the fact that Leiris, was not going to allow the attackers to have his hate, that he was going to raise his now-motherless little boy without that hate that spoke to me.

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Books

Book 461: A Pirate Looks at Fifty – Jimmy Buffett

buffett-jimmy-a-pirate-looks-at-fiftyThe first and only book I didn’t finish in time for this year’s autobiography book group. I did finish it, but only about a week late. I wasn’t the one that picked it, and honestly was probably the one who enjoyed this most out of the group.

I grew up listening to Jimmy Buffett thanks to an aunt who has been to many of his concerts. I’m not going to lie though, when I re-listened to Songs You Know by Heart (Amazon link) right after finishing the book I did have to question why I was given that album couldn’t have Jagged Little Pill (Amazon link) until another aunt bought me a copy and said don’t tell your mother. Some of the lyrics are down right questionable! Without reading the book I never would’ve connected Cheeseburgers in Paradise with Buffett’s party days and he ACTUALLY talks about staying skinny doing speed. If you’ve never listened, I’ve dropped the video in at the end of this post.

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