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Showing posts from July, 2022

Book 37 of 52: Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success by Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan

I read Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success  by Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan for work, so I'm not going to go too  much into it here right now. When the piece is out, I'll add a link to this post, and also write a new one so those of you who read this chronologically don't miss it.  But you can get a very good idea of what's in the book  via this recent New York Times piece that distills their res earch and data , showing via interactive graphics that a lot of the fear mongering about today's immigrants is just false. Instead, I'm going to share how a piece of this book is related to one of my side projects. For two completely different reasons (and no I'm not telling you those reasons), I've been working on histories of both sides of my family. I learned — as many people had through Abramitsky and Boustan's work — that what's been passed down to me isn't 100% accurate. In building a family tree, I found out th

Book 36 of 52: Murder, She Wrote: A Question of Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain

In January, on my way to Key West, I stopped at Connie's Bookshelf , a wonderful used bookstore in Daytona Beach Shores. I picked up an assortment of paperbacks, including Murder, She Wrote: A Question of Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain. Yes, "Jessica Fletcher" the fictional murder mystery writer/murder mystery solver from Cabot Cove, Maine, is listed as an author. I, like many people, loved Murder, She Wrote . I'd caught episodes here and there when visiting my grandparents, then binged a few seasons at the start of the pandemic (at the time, I couldn't figure out how to stream the whole thing, though now all 12 seasons are on Peacock ). I liked the pattern of the show. I liked the familiarity. I appreciated that Jessica Fletcher was a runner, and that she dressed in a way that the kids today find cool . In 2020, I also read Angela Lansbury's 1999 authorized biography Balancing Act , where she shared many tidbits about the show, including that aft

Book 35 of 52: Where the Deer and the Antelope Play by Nick Offerman

I have so many thoughts about Where the Deer and the Antelope Play by Nick Offerman that I'm going to number them. 1. It's not uncommon for celebrities to partner with ghost writers for their books. I don't mind this — in fact, I think it's a good thing. A celebrity has a story to tell and hires a professional to help them tell that story in the best possible way means we get a better book, and a pro writer gets paid. However, that's not the case here. Offerman calls himself a "humorist" and is a pretty good writer. I listened to and loved Paddle Your Own Canoe  and also The Greatest Love Story Ever Told , which he co-wrote with his wife Megan Mullally ( Good Clean Fun , which is about woodworking, fell flat to me, though I listened to it while running a 24-hour race , so that vibe might be related to what I was doing at the time). I think I need to read his books in physical form. His voice? Fantastic, of course. But I love listening to celebrities read

Book 34 of 52: Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

My plan to go back to Italy in 2023 or 2024 proceeds, as does reading books about Italy. So  Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes it is (or was since I finished the book last night). This 1996 blockbuster memoir is by Mayes, a professor of creative writing who takes her divorce settlement and buys an abandoned villa in Tuscany. Through the course of the memoir, she and her pal Ed (who eventually became her husband) fix up the place, and spend all their summers there ( which seems to be a thing that has only been disrupted by the pandemic ). It's a home renovation story, a second love story, and, probably more than anything else, a food story.  I've spent some time in Tuscany in early fall, which is when Mayes usually returns to San Francisco, but even after the rush of summer, the food is unbelievable. In 2008, I met up with my own "pal" at the time, who was there for work, and we at so much gelato that I thought I'd never be able to eat American ice cream again

Book 33 of 52: The Blue Diamond by Leonard Goldberg

How many more stories can we wring out of Sherlock Holmes & Co? Quite a few, it turns out. The Blue Diamond is the latest installment in Leonard Goldberg's "Daughter of Sherlock Holmes" series. Like the original works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, these books are "written by" by Dr. Watson, except this time, it's the son of the original John Watson, who is married to Joanna Watson, the daughter of Holmes and Irene Adler. Joanna and the Watsons live together at 221B Baker Street, in a household run by the same Mrs. Hudson. Together they - what else? Solve crimes.  Is this all far fetched? Or course it is. That Holmes had a daughter at all, and with Irene Adler, and that Joanna grew up not knowing it, is a leap. But whatever way Goldberg got to this arrangement of these characters, we're here. In this mystery, Joanna and the Watsons are investigating the disappearance of 3,000 carat flawless blue diamond, which turns out to be just the start. It's no

Book 32 of 52: Flying Solo by Linda Holmes

I'm a subscriber to a local weekly newspaper , and I always make sure to read the death notices. I'm nosey, but I also look to see if the parents of someone I knew in high school - or, sadly, sometimes a classmate themselves - has passed on. Unlike obituaries, which are staff written, death notices are submitted and paid for by someone who knew the deceased. Sometimes death notices are pretty rote: born, married, job, died. Other times, they include the person's favorite hobbies, where they traveled, and things they liked to do with the family that is now grieving, information about services, and where you can make a donation in their honor.  The ones that irk me the most those that point out the person wasn't married. Even in death, they're still getting shit from their families for being single.  This is a round about away of getting to Linda Holmes' Flying Solo . It's a novel about Laurie, a Seattle-based freelance journalist who returns to her hometown i