Reader's Link - June 2009 Staff Picks Archive

The Happiest Places in the World

The Geography of Bliss: One grump's search for the happiest places in the world

Title: The Geography of Bliss: One grump's search for the happiest places in the world
By: Eric Weiner

Part travelogue, part memoir, part twisted self-help guide, this humorous ramble takes the reader around the world in search of the happiest places to live. NPR correspondent Eric Weiner discovers some surprises as he blends travel, psychology, science, and humor to ask not what happiness is, but where it is. His explorations take him to such varied locales as Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Switzerland, and Moldova, ending in America (not even in the top ten). While his conclusions may not be ground-breaking, his journey provides great fun and happiness for the reader.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction,travel
Posted on June 20, 2009 at 2:49 a.m.

The Wife of a Famous Man

Song Without Words

Title: Song Without Words
By: Sophia Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy's wife bore him 13 children. He scribbled his novels in notebooks that only she was able to read so she spent all night copying in a legible hand everything he wrote the previous day...think about THAT the next time you see a copy of WAR AND PEACE. But who was she? Her name was Sophia. She was a photographer and she kept very personal journals which have been translated from the Russian by Leah Bendavid-Val. As revealing as Sophia's journal entries are, her photographs tell us so much more. SONG WITHOUT WORDS is a beautiful combination of journal entries and photographs that reveals the joy and pain of a 48-year marriage in a very keen way. Emotions are sometimes so raw that the reader winces. Sophia's style of photography reminds me of Julia Cameron's but most arresting are two series that she continued throughout her life. She made numerous self-portraits and she took a photograph of herself and her husband every single year on their wedding anniversary. She would meticulously set up the shot and the camera and have someone else snap the shutter. In this book, you can see her talent and skill grow until the very culminates in a stunning image of Sophia and Leo on their 48th anniversary, shortly before he died. This is a not-to-be-missed book for anyone interested in photography, Russia, Tolstoy, or biography.

View similarly tagged posts: history,biography,photography
Posted on June 11, 2009 at 2 a.m.

A Wild Romp Through the French Quarter!

A Confederacy of Dunces

Title: A Confederacy of Dunces
By: John Kennedy Toole

This book made laugh so hard that I literally cried. Ignatius J. Reilly is one of the most colorfully hilarious characters I have ever come across. This is the best tour through the French Quarter that I could ever possibly take, without actually going there, especially with a paradoxically intelligent moron as the tour guide. Follow all 300 pretentious pompous pounds of Ignatius J. Reilly through the French Quarter as you meet unforgettable characters and engrossing encounters that will leave you laughing yourself silly. Three simple words: Read this book.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction
Posted on June 3, 2009 at 3:03 a.m.

Like Reading an Episode of "The Wire"

Lush Life

Title: Lush Life
By: Richard Price

Reading Lush Life is like reading an extended episode of HBO's series "The Wire." Not coincidentally, Price writes for the series and was recently nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for his writing on the show.
The novel starts with the murder of a young screenwriter and bartender in a botched mugging in the early morning hours in Manhattan's Lower East Side, and ends with a gunman confessing, but what happens in between is anything but ordinary. Price explores the relationships and boundaries between victims, perpetrators, witnesses, cops, and their families. In the end, the murder is solved, but we know it is only a matter of moments before another will occur and the web between victim, perp, wit, and cops will be woven anew.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction
Posted on June 1, 2009 at 3 a.m.

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