Everyday Life in Ancient Rome

Thumbs up for Everyday Life in Ancient Rome by Lionel Casson. History.

It takes real skill to write a work of nonfiction that glides by as rapidly as a good novel; Casson has accomplished that. If you want to get a sense of what it would be like to live in Roman times, this book is a good place to start – easy to read, yet detailed and evocative.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Dimension of Miracles by Robert Sheckley. Science fiction.

My boyfriend is quite taken with Sheckley right now, and as the bits he read out loud to me seemed highly promising, I was looking forward to trying some out for myself. He recommended this one for a plane ride, and it hit the spot. Smart, quick-paced, and very witty, it reminded me of Douglas Adams and John M.… >> Read more

Rules for Aging: Resist Normal Impulses, Live Longer, Attain Perfection

Thumbs up to Rules for Aging: Resist Normal Impulses, Live Longer, Attain Perfection  by Roger Rosenblatt. Humor.

I hesitated whether to categorize this book as “self-help” or “humor.” It’s very funny, but like most humor, it’s funny because it’s true. By all means, read it to laugh, which is what I did; that it’s good advice is just gravy. Such as my favorite, Rule #42, which I always try to live by: “The unexamined life lasts longer”:

“People have been living for over a hundred post-Freudian years with the idea that prolonged and continuous introspection is good for one’s mental health, thus they fail to remember how miserable doing this makes them.

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Working IX to V: Orgy Planners, Funeral Clowns, and Other Prized Professions of the Ancient World

Thumbs up for Working IX to V: Orgy Planners, Funeral Clowns, and Other Prized Professions of the Ancient World by Vickie Leon. History.

In clearing out a shelf of books-that-have-sat-too-long-with-bookmarkers-almost-to-the-end, I came across this. Why didn’t I finish this before? Perhaps so I’d have the pleasure of reading it now. This is a hilarious, informative and illuminating book, describing ancient Greece and Rome through the ins and outs of the jobs people had.… >> Read more

The Stars My Destination

A very big thumbs up for The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. Science fiction.

Bester wows me. He has more ideas on one page than most authors come up with for an entire book, and he uses them with bravery, surety and power. I wish I could write like him.

“It took thirty minutes to organize a Christmas party in the Four Mile Circus.

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Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond (Merloyd Lawrence Books)

Thumbs up for Made For Each Other by Meg Daley Olmert. Science/nature.

Supposedly about the man-animal bond, at times it reads more like the author’s love affair with oxytocin. No, not the stuff Rush Limbaugh was famously hooked on (that’s OxyContin), but the “feel-good” neurochemical that is activated in social interactions both between people and people, and people and animals. The book could have been trimmed from 244 pages (not including notes) to about 100 without suffering, but it reads quickly enough, and has enough of value, that skimming through the “ra-ra oxytocin is great” repetition is tolerable.… >> Read more

The Hunger Games

Thumbs up for The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Young adult science fiction.

Invariably, when these books are mentioned in the bookstore where I work, the phrase of the day is “My son/daughter got it, but I picked it up and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.” I hear a lot of rave reviews about books that are in fact mediocre, but I like young adult books, and since I’d never actually seen one of these in the field, so to speak, when this finally came in, I was curious.… >> Read more