Thumbs up for Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo by Matthew Amster-Burton. Travel/food.
Since I cannot go to Tokyo right now, and furthermore can’t eat most of the food even if I were in Tokyo, this book was a deliciously comforting substitute. The author says flat-out in the introduction that he’s never had a complicated inner life, and I really appreciate that: you know what you’re getting.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast. Travel.
I know nothing about Roz Chast other than that she is a cartoonist, but I share her love of New York, and specifically, wandering around on foot just looking at things. I got to do that for about five days once and they were some of the best days of my life.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris.
A portrait of a place – the Dakotas – interwoven with the changing religious life of the author. I am tempted to say that I can’t write a review of this book because too long has passed between my reading and my writing. Which is true. However, the time passed because I didn’t know how to review it right after I read the last page, either.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Nine Hills to Nambonkaha by Sarah Erdman. Travel.
I picked this up as research for a story and within a few pages realized it was not what I needed. But by that time, I’d been hooked by Erdman’s writing. There are so many ways that a white woman’s memoir of her Peace Corps work in an African village could have been irritating or obnoxious.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism by Jim Krane. History/travel.
Astonishingly good. I would wish that all countries had books this riveting written about them, but I don’t think it’s possible; most places just won’t make your jaw drop this often. If this were a story about oil, I wouldn’t find it very interesting. But oil came late and comparatively little.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Clueless In Tokyo: An Explorer’s Sketchbook Of Weird And Wonderful Things In Japan by Betty Reynolds. Travel.
With all these bright fun illustrations, this looks like a kids’ book. It’s not, being a little too honest about all of the things sold in vending machines. It does however seem to be a great book to read before visiting Japan, so, having enjoyed it once, I am keeping it around to re-read when I’m rich and can actually afford to go to Japan.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Imagined London: A Tour of the World’s Greatest Fictional City by Anna Quindlen. Travel.
A small, charming book that is exactly as the subtitle says: a look at the old-fashioned London of fiction, and how that image overlaps (and doesn’t) with the real London of today. Well-written and thoroughly enjoyable – even if my personal imaginary London is the London of imported cop shows, rather than the city of Dickens and Galsworthy that Quindlen grew up with.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey. Travel.
I want to visit Japan, but that is not in the cards, so I am traveling vicariously instead. This is a small, charming little book about the author’s trip to Japan with his son, as they search to understand even of a fragment of the Japanese spirit that they think they discern in manga and anime.… >> Read more