I’ve recently gotten back into doing yoga. And the thing that nobody ever tells you about yoga is that it becomes kind of addictive. So when I walked into my library and saw Hell-Bent I had to pick it up. It is a compelling and revealing memoir about one man’s descent into Bikram yoga, a bit of a take down of Bikram himself by a practitioner and a look at the darker side of what yoga has to offer. Oh, and it’s un-put-downable. Continue reading
A Queer and Pleasant Danger by Kate Bronstein
Yes, it’s true, the title – A Queer and Pleasant Danger had me hooked before I had even opened the book. But come on, word play like that? you know the whole book is going to be well-written if nothing else. And it’s by Kate Bornstein, the original gender outlaw. And it’s got its fair share of Scientology in it. I may as well stop my review here because this book ticked all my boxes. I loved it. Continue reading
Without You, There is No Us by Suki Kim (audio)
I don’t listen to audio books very frequently. So often they just don’t ‘sound’ right to me. But I’ve had a head cold and a massive headache and did not read for 5 days. This is almost unheard of in my life. The one thing that saved me was the audio version of Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim. Continue reading
Visiting Hours: A Memoir of Friendship and Murder by Amy Butcher
I finished Visiting Hours by Amy Butcher last night, and I still don’t know exactly how i feel about it. The real-life premise is stunning: in college one of Butcher’s best friends commits a horrific and grizzly murder. Seriously. Put yourself in her shoes. How do you move on from such an event? That is what Visiting Hours is about – Butcher trying to piece together her life in the immediate aftermath of the crime and in the years following it. Continue reading
Born To Walk by Dan Rubinstein
Two things to confess before we get into the review of Born To Walk by Dan Rubinstein:
- I love to walk. We don’t have a car and I walk everywhere. So, Rubinstein is kind of preaching to the choir with this book.
- I know Dan. He’s a great guy. But what i never knew, and I don’t know how this is possible, is that he is even more into walking than I am.
The Porcelain Thief by Huan Hsu
I don’t know why I am drawn to tales such as this one – an individual’s search for their family’s origins – when in actuality, i find the topic of family history rather dull. But The Porcelain Thief sounded truly intriguing to me: an American Born Chinese (ABC) goes back to China to try to find the treasure his great-great-great grandfather buried when the Japanese invaded in the early part of the 20th century. Continue reading
Geek Sublime by Vikram Chandra
I don’t even know where to start with talking about Geek Sublime. Vikram Chandra has long been a favorite author of mine, so I knew I was going to read this before I even knew what it was about. Then I found out that it was about computer coding and Sanskrit poetics and I was hooked. Continue reading
The Psychopath Inside by James Fallon (audio)
I was debating about whether or not to review The Psychopath Inside here because instead of reading it, I listened to it. This is a bit of a new experience for me, to start and FINISH an audio book, but finish it I did. I’ve been toying around with audio books for almost a year, but haven’t found my groove until now.
James Fallon is a neuroscientist at the University of California. While flipping through a pile of brain scans he came across one that he recognized to be very psychopath-like. After further investigation, it turned out to be his. The Psychopath Inside recounts Fallon’s search for meaning in this discovery. It lead him to change his mind regarding his attitude to the nature vs. nurture debate and come to face some pretty horrifying facts regarding his own personality.
So basically, the book is fascinating. The audio version was particularly gripping due to the dispassionate voice of the narrator. Just like a a psychopath, he reveals very little emotion throughout reading when I would be freaking out. It is all very level headed and truly startling.
At times, I must admit, the book drifted into some fairly difficult jargon. Fortunately I was able to let that wash over me with limited comprehension and it did not effect my over all enjoyment of the book.
Who would like this book? I am fascinated by the brain and how little we actually understand about it. Throw that together with a little psychopathy and you’ve got a recipe for a book that will enthrall me. Like The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (review), The Psychopath Inside shows how little understand about psychopathy. Not all psychopaths are killers or even predators. Some are brilliant leaders, business people and regular Joes. This books looks at how different factors like environment and genetics come together to make us who we are, psychopathic or not.
Never Mind the Bullocks by Vanessa Able
My love of India, and the colorful cover, drove me to pick up Never Mind the Bullocks (also published as The Nanologues) by Vanessa Able. In this book, Able sets herself up with the challenge to drive around India in a Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car. And perhaps I should have stopped right there. I seemed to have forgotten that I hate car trips; Able, on the other hand, seems to live for them. Continue reading
The Setting Sun by Bart Moore-Gilbert
I was immediately drawn to The Setting Sun for two reasons: 1) I was familiar with the author, Bart Moore-Gilbert, and his work on Post Colonial Literary Theory from graduate school, and 2) this books was a memoir of sorts about the father Moore-Gilbert didn’t know. So a little academic gossip matched with mystery and intrigue and I was sold. Even if you are not familiar with Moore-Gilbert, the journey of discovery he embarks on to uncover his father’s questionable past makes great fodder for a memoir of this type. Continue reading