Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov is a satirical allegory of the Russian Revolution, telling the absurd story of a dog implanted with the testes and pituitary gland of a recently dead man

reading YA and pretending to understand obtuse Russian literature – book reviews for the week

Just finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell This book was a special treat that I’d been saving as a sweet palate cleanser between two much more challenging novels (Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer and Mikhail Bulgakov’s Heart of a Dog). It served its purpose well, but I didn’t love it as much as the other Rainbow Rowell books […]

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The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen tells the story of a communist sleeper agent after the Vietnam War

revolutionary allegories to wash out the aftertaste of misogyny – book reviews for the week

Just finished This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper I’m not sure how to talk objectively about this misogynistic piece of garbage without revealing my bias. Whoops. See? There I go already. It’s like a Mad Libs Frankenstein monster of every book you’ve ever read by a white guy before 2010. Dad didn’t say much growing […]

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The Bricks that Built the Houses is written by British poet and rapper Kate Tempest

women in books, bit of a mixed bag – book reviews for the week

Just finished Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood Grace Marks was a real person, a maid convicted of the murder of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, in 1843. She was originally sentenced to death but ended up in an insane asylum, briefly, before spending 30 years in prison and eventually being pardoned. When I was reading this book last […]

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Augustus is a historical fiction novel written in epistolary form by John Williams, telling the story of Rome's first emperor

off-brand classics – book reviews for the week

Just finished Augustus by John Williams Book club selection this month was an unlikely choice. I’m grateful for the diversion off our typical, contemporary path because I definitely would never have picked up this book otherwise. My knowledge of Roman history is spotty at best (largely informed by Shakespeare), so I didn’t know the story or […]

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Tipping culture in Amsterdam

Regardless of what you think of tipping culture in the United States, one of its clear advantages is that the rules are pretty consistent. Expensive, yes, but consistent. Service workers in the Netherlands get paid a livable wage so, in theory, tipping isn’t required. Perhaps if you’re particularly wowed by extraordinary service, you might be moved […]

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Greg Hrbek's searing and tense novel about fear, big and small. Not on Fire, But Burning

More books about time travel – is the universe trying to tell me something? Book reviews for the week

Just finished Not on Fire, but Burning by Greg Hrbek This is a powerful and intense book that manages to tackle a lot of Important Topics without becoming overloaded or unfocused. The way that Hrbek initially unsettles you and then manages to stretch the tension out through the book was incredibly skillful. I was in the […]

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enjoying some frieten at the Amsterdam Craft Beer Festival at Bret Bar in Sloterdijk

Fighting FOMO with festivals

Living in Amsterdam necessarily means reckoning with FOMO in one form or another. There is so much that you could be doing that you cannot, within the limitations of space-time, do it all. Some weekends, Trenton and I cope with FOMO by resisting the pressure to experience life and deploying a willfully ignorant response, buckling down with the Xbox […]

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Half of a Yellow Sun, second novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Getting schooled about the Nigerian-Biafran war and contemplating bubbles in spacetime – what I’ve been reading this week

The monthly posts were getting a little out of control, so I’m switching it up and trying a weekly review of the stuff I’m reading. Just finished Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie While not quite as perfect as Americanah, Half of a Yellow Sun is still better than most of the other novels I’ve […]

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Books I read in May

Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution by Fred Vogelstein I wasn’t surprised to learn that Vogelstein is a writer for WIRED because this book reads like a nicely paced piece of long-form journalism. There is enough historical context to accompany the deeply nerdy stuff so that I didn’t get bogged […]

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