On My Bookshelf, March 2016

SarahVowellThe Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell (2002)

I’d never read anything by Sarah Vowell before, although I had heard her one of twice on NPR, so when my sister recommended this to me I decided to pick it up. Or check it out, actually. I audiobooked this one. At first, I didn’t care for Vowell’s pacing or tone, but by the second story I didn’t mind and by the third I didn’t notice. I enjoyed it and will probably read more of her works in the future. She kind of reminded me of me and it is always nice to find a kindred spirit.

From Amazon.com: “In The Partly Cloudy Patriot, Sarah Vowell travels through the American past and, in doing so, investigates the dusty, bumpy roads of her own life. In this insightful and funny collection of personal stories Vowell — widely hailed for her inimitable narratives on public radio’s “This American Life” — ponders a number of curious questions: Why is she happiest when visiting the sites of bloody struggles like Salem or Gettysburg? Why do people always inappropriately compare themselves to Rosa Parks? Why is a bad life in sunny California so much worse than a bad life anywhere else? What is it about the Zen of foul shots? And, in the title piece, why must doubt and internal arguments haunt the sleepless nights of the true patriot?”

StationElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

I have to say. . . I just didn’t love this one as much as the rest of the world seems to. This has happened to be before though; I found The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo practically unbearable. I wasn’t that disappointed by Station Eleven however. I was riveted by the first bit, but started to find the characters somewhat boring and the plot predictable. The story is based around connections between the characters and many of those felt forced to me. Maybe I was just expecting too much. It finishes with just an “okay” from me.

From Amazon.com: “An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all.”

Onions Cure EaracheCan Onions Cure Ear-ache?: Medical Advice from 1769 by William Buchan (1769) edited by Melanie King (2012)

This was fun – original medical advice published in 1769 intended for English-readers unable to get to a doctor. I enjoyed it, but this certainly isn’t for everyone. Not recommended if you don’t usually read “old” literature, as I expect it will just bore you. Also not recommended if you are the kind of person who needs a “don’t try this at home” warning; a lot of these treatments will kill you.

From Amazon.com: “Originally published in 1769, Domestic Medicine was produced for the benefit of those without access to—or means to afford—medical assistance, and copies of the book were found in apothecaries and coffee houses, private households and clubs. In 1797, Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian and his crew even had the foresight to pack a copy before fleeing to the Pitcairns. Derived from folklore and the emerging medical science of the day, some of Buchan’s recommendations for how to live a healthy life still ring true: for instance, exercising, enjoying a varied diet, and getting an abundance of fresh air. Others are delightfully dodgy or even downright dangerous, such as genital trusses, the prescription of mercury, or the suggestion that Spanish fly might soothe aching joints. Bringing together an exceedingly entertaining selection of entries from one of the earliest self-help books, Can Onions Cure Ear-ache? offers fascinating insight into the popular treatments of the time.”

Amazing Book No FireThe Amazing Book Is Not on Fire: The World of Dan and Phil by Dan Howell and Phil Lester (2015)

Secret confession time: I watch a lot of youtube vloggers. Like, a lot. As far as this book goes. . . well, there is absolutely no reason to pick it up unless you know (and love!) Dan and Phil.

From Amazon.com: “From YouTube sensations Dan Howell (danisnotonfire) and Phil Lester (AmazingPhil) comes a laugh-out-loud look into the world created by two awkward guys who share their lives on the Internet. More than 11 million YouTube subscribers can’t wait for this book! Since uploading their first ever videos as teenagers, Dan and Phil have become two of the world’s biggest YouTube stars. Now they invite you on a behind-the-scenes journey, filled with absolutely essential advice, tons of humor, lots of awkwardness, and TMI honesty that they will probably regret.”

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