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Book: Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals


Another good book by Grandin. This one is focused on our principal domesticated animals (dogs, cats, cows, pigs, horses, and chickens) and what we can and should be doing to make their lives better.

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Book: Anthill: A Novel


So one of the world’s leading authorities on ants wrote a novel! And it has ants in it. Wilson is a great writer of non-fiction, but his skills as a novelist clearly need some honing. There is, however, a little gem of a story buried in the middle of the book and it is quite good. Spoiler alert: That story is about ants.

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Book: Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters


A review of the latest research in paleontology with an eye towards debunking creationist misinformation. Perhaps a bit too strident, but I can understand his frustration with their tactics.

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Book: The Post-Office Girl


Pretty good. Zweig is at his best when describing a scene and conveying the atmosphere of the times. Characterization, well, not so much.

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Book: Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

Unbelievable. The stories of a handful of defectors from North Korea: the weirdest, scariest place on Earth.

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Book: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves


My wife Beth introduced me to this dark and deeply affecting novel liberally laced with comic relief. The writing voice is quite unique as well. Plus some bonus nostalgia for anyone who has spent a lot of time in Davis, CA. Highly recommended.

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Book: The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville


The writing in this biography is not always engaging, but the raw facts of the matter more than makes up for that. The story of this remarkable woman, a Polish Jew who spied for Britain during WWII, has to be read to be believed.

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Book: Doubt: A History

This is the second book by Hecht I have thoroughly enjoyed. This one traces the history of religious doubt through the ages.

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Book: Offshore


Really enjoyed this short novel about some folks doing their best to get by as barge dwellers on the Thames in post-WW2 London. A great example of why good stories don’t have to have much in the way of a plot.

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Book: The Origin of Financial Crises


A pretty good but not great book about the recent(ish) history of money, finance, and financial crises and what we should do about them. The author never delves very deeply into the details of macroeconomics and that lack of rigor shows towards the end, particular when it comes to his prescriptions about what is to be done. They sounds nice enough, but one wants a bit more detail in their justification.