Tag Archives: Essays

The Brain in Your Kitchen by David DiSalvo

Synopsis: Subtitled: A Collection of Essays on How What We Buy, Eat, and Experience Affects Our Brains. Review: I read the essays in The Brain in Your Kitchen with interest, but have to admit I was disappointed that they weren’t expanded up on. It was just a collection of reprints–not that I had ever read them before, but I felt a little cheated. The essays were thought-provoking but the execution of the book itself felt more like an amuse bouche than a meal. Share on…

Read More »

Considering the Lilies by Harold Hanson

Synopsis: A reflection in words and photos of the wild lilies flowering in the Shenandoah Valley. Review: I loved this Considering the Lilies. It’s heartfelt and well-observed. I don’t live in this area of the US, so it’s not all that useful as a reference, but it’s a great inspiration for some Charlotte Mason-inspired nature study. Share on Facebook

Read More »

Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, From A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons by James Lowder, Ed.

Synopsis: A collection of essays about A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. Review: As a huge ASOIAF fanatic, I couldn’t wait to read Beyond the Wall, even though it doesn’t totally make sense to release a book of criticism on an unfinished series. But like many fans, my appetite for all things Westeros will take whatever it can get. I liked the diversity of essays in the book. My personal favorite was one on post-traumatic stress disorder as a condition affecting…

Read More »

See Me Naked: Stories of Sexual Exile in American Christianity by Amy Frykholm

Synopsis: Biographical essays about people whose stories didn’t follow the script they were given by their parents and their American evangelical churches. Review: I read See Me Naked after the thoughtful review in Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. I think the very premise will make people uncomfortable and that’s a good thing, because evangelical kids get exposed to a lot of really messed up stuff. Anyone who works with Christian teens really ought to read this book and see that not everyone’s challenges can be met…

Read More »

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

Synopsis: Essays from the chef, commentator, and food chronicler who wrote Kitchen Confidential. Review: I picked up Medium Raw through a sale on Audible, drawn in by the chance to hear Anthony Bourdain read his own book. I really really like the sound of his voice, except for the way he pronounces “restaurant” to rhyme with “runt.” (Or another word he’s really fond of that I won’t type here.) I enjoyed but didn’t love it. I was promised way more Top Chef trivia than I…

Read More »

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

Synopsis: A collection of essays written by Gladwell and published in the New Yorker. Review: Bite-sized is how I like Malcolm Gladwell, and What the Dog Saw contains some of Gladwell’s most memorable essays. His profile of Ron Popeil, creator of the Showtime Rotisserie, stands as one of the finest pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered, and this past spring I assigned it to my writing students, who were suitably enthralled. Gladwell gives you the greatness behind the showman veneer, as well as some of…

Read More »

This is Water by David Foster Wallace

Synopsis: Subtitled “Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life.” Review: This is Water is the text of a speech that David Foster Wallace gave to Kenyon’s class of 2005 at their graduation. It’s a meditation on importance of finding meaning in life. I was prepared to be angered by this work, given Wallace’s ultimate suicide. I have a hard time believing that someone who ended his own life could teach me how to live mine to the fullest. Surprisingly, Wallace’s…

Read More »

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

Synopsis: A collection of previously published works by humorist David Sedaris on the topic of Christmas. Review: To the tune of “Frosty the Snowman” Da-vid Se-daris Was a writer oh-so-droll With a quirky style and take on life That will put you on the floor. Da-vid Se-daris Writes the weirdest stuff you’ll see About the Christmas whore and the Macy’s elves And deathly children’s pageantry. There must have been some crazy In the Sedaris family tree ‘Cause David ain’t the only one Have you seen…

Read More »

Come Along With Me by Shirley Jackson

Synopsis: Short stories, essays, and an unfinished novel by Shirley Jackson, queen of American Gothic and author of “The Lottery.” Review: My love for Shirley Jackson has been well documented in this blog, so I was delighted when my husband got me Come Along With Me for my birthday. The collection opens with “Come Along With Me,” the novel that Jackson was working on when she died at the untimely age of 44. At about 33 pages, there isn’t much of a narrative, just a…

Read More »

Last Night in Paradise by Katie Roiphe

Synopsis: A look at sexual mores in the age of AIDS. Review: I like a good polemic as much as the next person, particularly when it involves people having lots of sex, mostly because I always feel like that’s nice work if you can get it. Last Night in Paradise isn’t hard-hitting investigative journalism as much as it’s an apologia for all the sex that Roiphe and her friends had in the 80s and 90s: “look, we may have slept around but we are always…

Read More »