Month: October 2009

Review: Your Flying Car Awaits by Paul Milo

Quick review for a quirky little book: I read Paul Milo’s Your Flying Car Awaits: Robot Butlers, Lunar Vacations, and Other Dead-Wrong Predictions of the Twentieth Centuryfor an assignment, and it’s packed cover to cover with tidbits that continue to make me a fountain of worthless information — like why we don’t drive flying cars even though we can technically make them; how hoverboats are accepted but hoverboards are not; and why doomsday scenarios haven’t come to be (unless you are getting all your food via algae pills).

The book doesn’t come out until December, but if you have a friend who’s a science nut, put it on your holiday list. It’s spot on.

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Review: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

In the three and a half years I’ve been running competitively, I have never really hurt myself.

Sure, I’ve turned my ankle here and there (I blame childhood softball and clumsiness more than anything), but I’ve never had real knee pain, heel pain or even shin splints.

This makes me lucky — eight to ten runners gets hurt every year. By delving deep into the middle of the earth and finding a tribe of Indians who run great distances in little more than rubber foot coverings, Charles McDougall has made the case that less is more, especially when it comes to running.

McDougall’s book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, has been called “that barefoot running” book, which perhaps it is. But it’s not just about how Nike may have screwed an entire generation of runners. Born to Run is a wonderful memoir and narrative on why humans evolved into runners, and how we can become better runners when we shuck the marketing mumbo jumbo and rediscover the joy in hitting the open road.

McDougall, a contributor to Runner’s World and Men’s Health, wanted to know why […]

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Full Disclosure

My first book review for a major publication was of The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld. I didn’t pick the book — the then-book editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Frank Wilson, picked it for me based on my clips, my age, and my interests.

I didn’t rush out and buy the book. It wasn’t even out yet. Wilson mailed me a bound copy, which is the novel in what looks like a book report form, without the final covers, but all the text and marketing information. For subsequent reviews, he’d sometimes send me a bound copy, or I’d go into the Inquirer book room and pick something from racks and racks of galleys, which are also preview copies of books but in what would look like a trade paperback form, sometimes with final covers, sometimes not. The paper is sent so many of these bound copies, galleys and finished books that Wilson gave unused copies to prisons.

I tell you this story because of the recent FTC ruling that bloggers must disclose what they receive for free. This seems ludicrous to those of us who work in the book world. We’ve always used bound […]

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Review: Modern Love: 50 True and Extraordinary Tales of Desire, Deceit, and Devotion

I ordered Modern Love: 50 True and Extraordinary Tales of Desire, Deceit, and Devotion from for a simple reason: I’d like to place an essay in “Modern Love,” a column that runs every Sunday in the New York Times that has to do with — you guessed it — love.

I’ve tried before, and after re-reading those essays, I saw why they weren’t accepted: they were angry and jumbled, more the rantings of a broken heart that something someone who doesn’t know me would want to read. I’ve been trying to write about the same relationship since it ended almost three years ago, but I don’t think I had enough distance from the break up to write about it clearly.

I touched on this topic in my review of Cleaving. If I didn’t have enough distance years after a break up, I doubt Powell should have been writing about the dissolution of her marriage while it was still happening.

The capper on trying this project again: the October ASJA newsletter interviewed Daniel Jones, who edits the column, about how to land something, too. Best way to land the assignment is to read what’s already […]

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