Book 16 of 52: They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

As I plan this summer’s cross country road trip, I’m figuring out with National Park Service units (there are more than 400!) I want to see along the way. I read Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston (and her husband James D. Houston) as Book 22 of last year, which puts the Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, California on the list.

Actor and activist George Takei may be the most public face of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. They Called Us Enemy is the graphic novel version of his story. And while he was sent to different sites than Manzanar, these two books feel like companion reading.

Where Houston’s perspective is more of a child experiencing what she did, this graphic novel is from the perspective of an adult looking back at what happened, and the reverberations of that across his whole life, using a discussion Takei had with Kermit Roosevelt III at Hyde Park in 2017 as the starting point (fun fact: one of the first authors I ever profiled was Kermit, when he published his first book, In The Shadow of the Law).

I used “incarcerated” instead of “interned” […]

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Book 15 of 52: A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi

As I mentioned a the end of last week’s Friday Folio, I have been querying agents for a new book I want to write, and part of the process is telling them what very successful book you think yours will be like. At the same time, I was also reading A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena De Blasi. I’m guessing it was pitched as the next Under the Tuscan Sun, which was Book 34 last year. It even has recipes.

Good marketing if that’s the case, though I don’t think this book is quite at the level.

De Blasi is an American chef and writer who traveled to Italy often to write about food. She meets a stranger (who she often calls The Stranger) while in Venice, and he convinces her to give up her home and her restaurant in the U.S. and move with him to Venice to be his wife — right then and there. Despite her friends telling her no, she does it anyway.

I picked up some bad vibes from the Stranger, including but not limited to he seems to dominate her life, and tries to make her a kept woman, so much of the book […]

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Friday Folio: March 24, 2023

Goooood morning! Time for some news!

First, an update on this year’s Book 8 of 52: No Place to Go by Lezlie Lowe. I said at the time that I was reading it for work. That story (with an interview with Lowe) is now out: “Why Are Public Restrooms Still So Rare?” for The New York Times. I really tried to work in how Elizabeth Taylor played a role in ending paid toilets at airports, which I read about in Book 3 of 52: Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit and Glamour of an Icon by Kate Andersen Brower. Alas! (that part was also excerpted in The Washington Post).

Attempts to ban books have doubled. BIG FUCKING SIGH. Via The New York Times.

Speaking of, Publisher’s Weekly has a fascinating story of what feminist book stores are doing right now given [waves hands].

They also covered how the war in Ukraine has affecting publishing there.

I missed the news that the Trans Rights Book Readathon happened this week. Doesn’t mean we still can’t buy books! Buzzfeed has 16 suggestions.

And let’s end with a bizarre one: the publishing employee who stole 1,000 manuscripts, including from big name authors […]

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Book 14 of 52: Someone to Love by Mary Balogh

I saw a recent tweet complaining that romance novels are boring because they’re predictable. The two leads get together in the end. How can they be interesting at all!

What I wanted to say (but didn’t, because I am already too online) is that the predictability is the point. You don’t go into reading a crime novel thinking you won’t find out who did it in the end. The same is with romance novels: knowing there’s a happy ending is one of the reasons I sometimes pick one up. I don’t need to be surprised. I just want some enjoyable company.

Which is how I once again selected a Mary Balogh book, this time Someone to Love, the first book in the Westcott series (Book 39 of 52 of 2022 was also a Westcott book). I’ve said this before, but I’ll sometimes buy three or four books in a romance series just to have on hand for when I need them. Two weekends ago, I had a brush with hypothermia (I went out running early to beat the rain, and I didn’t) and couldn’t focus on anything more than Donald Duck cartoons. When I started to feel better, I tried […]

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Friday Folio: March 17, 2023

Some personal news! My new ebook, Notes from a Hired Pen: Freelance Writing for Laid-Off Journalists (and Those Who Want to Quit) is now out! Hooray! It’s usually $10 but discounted to $7 for the launch.

Oprah’s Book Club turns 100! Well, has chosen it’s 100th book.

Toni Morrison is now on a stamp!

I know some people are mad about Leigh Bardugo getting a reported eight-figure book deal. But she’s popular, her book sell, so…what? I’m way more annoyed about people who become famous for being dicks immediately signing a book contract. Remember “Princeton Mom?”

I did not know book vending machines were a thing! Now I do. And you do too.

Expect to see this on the blog in the future: Chita Rivera has a new book out next month. I hope she reads the audiobook!



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Book 13 of 52: Corrections in Ink by Keri Blakinger

When Keri Blakinger first made big headlines, it wasn't for a good reason. She was a former figure skater turned heroin addict, charged with a...
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Friday Folio: March 10, 2023

Friday! Let's hit it! Handling rare books? No cotton gloves please! Via The New York Times. There's almost too much book banning news to cover....
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Book 12 of 52: A Caribbean Heiress in Paris by Adriana Herrera

Luz Alana and James Evanston Sinclair are both in a pickle. Both are the children of distillers — she of a Dominican Republic rum family,...
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Friday Folio: March 3, 2023

Friday. Yay! McSweeney's has a taken on the whole editing of Roald Dahl's books thing: "Fuck You, You Fat-Headed Roald Dahl-Censoring Fuckers." It also appears...
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Book 11 of 52: The Devil’s Element: Phosphorus and a World Out of Balance by Dan Egan

Here I am again with a review but not really, because I might be interviewing the author for work. I've put off posting something until...
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Friday Folio: February 24, 2023

Good afternoon! Sorry I'm late, but I had a very long, complicated piece due this morning (that has to do with two books I've reviewed...
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