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Saturday, May 18, 2013

A List of Recent Reading

A list of the books which I've recently read which do not merit individual posts (not in chronological order):

1. Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences, by Kitty Burns Florey. This was a quick and fun read about, as the subtitle proclaims, the history and art of diagramming sentences. I enjoyed reading it, though I did disagree with some of the author's conclusions (she lets us know that she enjoyed diagramming as a student, but questions the value of teaching students to diagram; I disagree with her as to the value of diagramming). I would recommend it to readers who enjoy reading about grammar.

2. Maman's Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen, by Donia Bijan. Ms. Bijan was born and spent her childhood in Iran. The summer she was 15 she and her family were vacationing in Majorca, when the Shah was deposed. Her family knew they would be targeted by the new ruling radicals, so they fled to the U.S. Ms. Bijan went on to study at the Cordon Bleu. She presided over several acclaimed San Francisco restaurants, and then opened her own. Maman's Homesick Pie is part memoir, part cookbook, elegantly and poetically written. I believe it will appeal to many different sorts of readers, those interested in food (Ms. Bijan waxes rhapsodic about food), those interested in tales of family love (she also waxes rhapsodic about her mother's love for their family), those interested in true tales of immigrants, those interested in other cultures (Ms. Bijan's memory of the Iran of her childhood is clear and vivid). It was a very pleasant read. I would highly recommend it, to most readers.

3. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell. This book was interesting, but not as interesting or compelling as Outliers, also by Malcolm Gladwell, or other books about how people think, such as Brain Rules, by John Medina, or Distracted, by Maggie Jackson. If you're interested in reading something by Mr. Gladwell, I'd recommend you start with Outliers. If you're interested in reading about how the human brain functions, I'd recommend John Medina or Maggie Jackson, or Oliver Sacks, or even The Survivors Club, by Ben Sherwood. Blink was okay, but not really noteworthy.

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