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plemmdog

plemmdog

Joined January 2018

Favorites include literary fiction, nonfiction, science, history, and medicine. Southerner. Bow tie wearer. Pronouns he/him. 🏳️‍🌈
review
plemmdog
Mehso-so

I usually avoid illness memoirs but this was gifted to me, and it‘s well written. Medicine still fails many living with chronic disease, and long Covid has demonstrated that amply. There‘s so much we still don‘t know about our bodies…

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plemmdog
Kindred | Octavia Butler
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Pickpick

I rarely read sci-fi or fantasy but got an early start on my book club‘s pick. I enjoyed this and it made me reflect on how so little was taught or mentioned about slavery during my 1970s public education in South Carolina.

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plemmdog
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“The Haber-Bosch process is the most important chemical discovery of the twentieth century. By doubling the amount of disposable nitrogen, it provoked the demographic explosion that took the human population from 1.6 to 7 billion in fewer than one hundred years.”

15 likes1 stack add
blurb
plemmdog
Rule Of The Bone | Russell Banks
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He came through my hometown a few years ago. He was generous, kind, and I will always have a special love for him, and his humility and treatment of children who always seemed to draw the short stick in life. RIP.

12 likes1 stack add
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plemmdog
Chemistry | Weike Wang
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Pickpick

NOT to be confused with Lessons in Chemistry, though both deal with biases against women in science. I‘m probably in the minority, but I‘d much rather hang out with this novel‘s protagonist than Elizabeth Zott. She felt more real, and her humor‘s much sharper. I also just realized in writing this that she never has a name, throughout the entire novel!

batsy I adored this book! 💛 3w
plemmdog I did too! I‘m going to have to read her new one now 3w
18 likes2 comments
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plemmdog
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Mehso-so

Come on, did you honestly think we‘d escape a memoir? If you‘re looking for a well-crafted musical memoir in the spirit of Patti Smith‘s Just Kids, this ain‘t it. Granted, there are plenty of anecdotal Bono bonbons/brushes with greatness (Johnny Cash! Pavarotti! Gorbachev!) but the name-dropping eventually lost steam, much the same way that U2‘s late-career output has left me wanting. I longed for more stories from the early years.

SamAnne Good review. I read his interview in the NYT Book Review and said hard pass. Arrogant and pedaling hard to be perceived as the most erudite intellectual. No humility. 🙄🙄 (edited) 3w
17 likes1 comment
blurb
plemmdog
The Member of the Wedding | Carson McCullers
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“Now hoppin'-john was F. Jasmine's very favorite food. She had always warned them to wave a plate of rice and peas before her nose when she was in her coffin, to make certain there was no mistake; for if a breath of life was left in her, she would sit up and eat, but if she smelled the hopping-john, and did not stir, then they could just nail down the coffin and be certain she was truly dead.”

Happy New Year! If you know, you know.

SamAnne Oh, I make this every New Year‘s! 1mo
Anna40 Happy new year to you! 1mo
15 likes2 comments
review
plemmdog
Small Things Like These | Claire Keegan
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Pickpick

I chose Claire Keegan‘s novella for our holiday book club, and made an Irish Christmas cake, which I discovered is basically fruitcake (if you decide to google recipes, I highly suggest going with Aunty Rosaleen‘s, not the Foodellers…I made two!) Each got a weekly dose of Jamesons since November. BTW, the book is wonderful, too. I loved Keegan‘s spare but powerful prose and the way which she makes telling a story seem effortless.

jlhammar I read this book last December and absolutely loved it. Perfect choice for holiday book club and your cake looks amazing! 1mo
21 likes1 comment
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plemmdog
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“Probate had responded to his new name right away. You could say, “Come here, Max,” or, “Come here, Probate,” and he‘d do so. That f#%er would stare at me nonstop until I finally said, “You want to go to the recycling center?” I‘d say, “You want to go see Robin at the liquor store?” I‘d say, “You want to drive over to Senor El Perro Caliente and get a wiener?” He loved me, and I him.

A good dog, is what I‘m saying.”

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plemmdog
Tumbling in the Hay | Oliver St John Gogarty
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Panpan

I've read works by many physician-writers, but hadn't come across Gogarty till now. An Irish otolaryngologist and a Sinn Féiner during the Irish War for Independence, he served as a Free State Senator, and was also the inspiration for Buck Mulligan in James Joyce's Ulysses. I was hoping this novel would provide an interesting glimpse of medical training in the 1900s, but it‘s mostly a collection of vignettes that was a bit of a slog.

Megabooks Too bad because it sounds interesting. 2mo
16 likes1 comment
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plemmdog
Cat's Eye | Margaret Atwood
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It's the birthday of Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, born on this day in 1939.

"[My mother] says she doesn't give a hoot. The word hoot pleases me. It makes my mother into a non mother, a sort of mutant owl…Not giving a hoot would be a luxury. It describes the fine, irreverent carelessness I myself would like to cultivate, in these and other matters."

--Cat's Eye (1988)

Leftcoastzen Yay!👏 2mo
Sparklemn The word hoot pleases me, too. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! 2mo
17 likes1 stack add2 comments
review
plemmdog
We Are the Light | Matthew Quick
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Panpan

I loved the movie “The Silver Linings Playbook” but never read the novel (or anything by Matthew Quick). This is my first Quick and it pains me to say I‘m underwhelmed. I love writers that choose to portray the ripples from a tragic event in a small town (Russell Banks‘ The Sweet Hereafter is an all-time fave) but I just struggled through this one. I think the epistolary format didn‘t help. Are there other Quicks worth exploring?

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plemmdog
Grey Bees | Andrey Kurkov
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“But bees don‘t understand what war is. Bees can‘t switch from peace to war and back again, as people do…That‘s why he had to drive them out to where it was quiet, where the air was…filling with the sweetness of blossoming herbs, where the choir of these herbs would soon be supported by the choir of flowering cherry, apple, apricot, and acacia trees.” —Andrey Kurkov, Grey Bees

Leftcoastzen On my TBR 3mo
plemmdog @Leftcoastzen my advice is stick with it. It‘s slow and methodical, but the translation was good, and I thought it was sort of like a cross between Homer‘s Odyssey and Waiting For Godot, peppered with some dark Russian humor. 3mo
Leftcoastzen That sounds good to me.Thanks for the tip , I will know when I‘m in the right frame of mind to give it the attention it deserves. 3mo
13 likes3 comments
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plemmdog
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Mehso-so

My book club picked this for Halloween. I liked some of it, but ultimately I found the child-narrator voice annoying.

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plemmdog
Bette Davis Speaks | Boze Hadleigh
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Pickpick

Someone left this in my Little Free Library, and it was a hoot. It‘s only transcripts with Bette Davis interviews and the stars that knew her, but if you loved Ryan Murphy‘s Feud, I‘d highly recommend it!

jlhammar Oh fun! I love Bette Davis. I haven't tried Feud yet, but I adore What Ever Happened to Baby Jane so probably should! 3mo
18 likes1 stack add1 comment
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plemmdog
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Pickpick

Our landscape guy gives this book to all his clients after a job. I majored in biology but still learned a lot from this, including how important dead leaves are! Don‘t bag them up. They provide ample home for caterpillars which feed the birds which diversify the land…and so on, and so on. Whenever the writing got dry, there were always some photos as a plus 😊

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plemmdog
Groundskeeping | Lee Cole
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Pickpick

In many ways, this is a standard boy-meets-girl coming of age tale, but Cole‘s voice and perspective kept me engaged on every page. His exploration of class differences and rural vs. urban tension in the contemporary South here were spot-on. I loved it. If you happen to be a diehard fan of Phil Morrison‘s 2005 film Junebug, run to your nearest bookstore and grab it! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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plemmdog
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“One reason we rush so quickly to the vulgar satisfaction of judgment, and love to revel in our righteous outrage, is that it spares us from the impotent pain of empathy, and the harder, messier work of understanding.” —from “How They Tried To F&#k Me Over (But I Showed Them!)”

18 likes1 stack add
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plemmdog
Crying in H Mart: A Memoir | Michelle Zauner
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Pickpick

Memoir is probably my least favorite genre, and I‘m always suspicious of hype, but goodness, this one delivered. Even though I lost my mom to cancer 15 years ago, this one still had me crying. I still keep Mama‘s recipe box and this was such a beautiful melding of cooking and grief. ALL the feels and terrific writing here…and I didn‘t realize the author was also a bonafide pop star until halfway through.

BkClubCare Huh. Was not aware of the pop singer side of her career. 3mo
21 likes1 comment
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plemmdog
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Panpan

Book club pick. I realize this may be an unpopular opinion, but I had high hopes for this, especially after the opening, and it left me disappointed. Elizabeth Zott never really felt like a true character to me, but one more created in response to an agenda. Several books have been written about the unequal treatment of women in science (still a problem in 2022), but Zott felt more like a mashup of Peggy Draper and Julia Child than a real person.

Leftcoastzen Betty Draper or Peggy Olson? 5mo
plemmdog @Leftcoastzen I think Peggy. Betty was never a career woman and never went against the Establishment. There‘s actually a great cookbook I bought my mom years ago by a scientist named Shirley Corraher, who talks about the chemistry of cooking. I wonder if she was also an influence 5mo
19 likes2 comments
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plemmdog
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Pickpick

This novel contains one of the most harrowing scenes in a meth house I‘ve read in fiction. And there‘s plenty of lyrical prose and an homage to Gerald Manley Hopkins. And that‘s why I read most everything Ron Rash authors.

14 likes1 stack add
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plemmdog
Clock Without Hands | Carson McCullers
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Pickpick

Do you ever love a writer so much that you hoard any of their works you‘ve not yet read, like a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, only decanting for special occasions? After seeing the new production of To Kill A Mockingbird, I felt compelled to tackle this one from a similar time, place, and theme. It did not disappoint. Word for word, I think McCullers will always be one of the finest prose stylists of the twentieth century.

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plemmdog
Asthma: The Biography | Mark Jackson
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The original vacuum cleaner was invented by James Spangler, an asthmatic janitor who thought it would help his symptoms. He gave one to his cousin Susan Hoover, and the rest is history.

12 likes1 stack add
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plemmdog
The Idiot | Elif Batuman
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Pickpick

CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE SHADE OF PINK chosen for the cover of the paperback edition of this novel? It‘s UNNERVING. It still lingers, four days after finishing. Every time I completed a section, I would close the cover and just stare at it, contemplating why they chose such an unattractive hue. Then I realized it matches the exact shade of pink as Silly Putty. Which was genius, because Batuman‘s novel was Silly Putty for my BRAIN. Goofy and tactile.

Megabooks Great review!! 😂😂 6mo
jlhammar Yes! Love this review. I really enjoyed this one and Either/Or. 6mo
BarbaraBB Great pic and review 6mo
ItsAnotherJen 😂 5mo
21 likes4 comments
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plemmdog
Gold Diggers: A Novel | Sanjena Sathian
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Mehso-so

This was an upcoming book club pick. Loved the first half. But the second half honestly felt like a slog, and was disappointing. Did anyone else feel the same way?

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plemmdog
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Pickpick

Justin Alexander disappeared into india‘s Parvati Valley in 2016. He hasn‘t been seen since. This account of his life will inevitably be compared to Krakauer‘s Into The Wild. Rustad did some admirable groundwork here interviewing people and providing a framework for why India continues to beckon Westerners. My only criticism is that some of Justin‘s life (childhood trauma,sexual ambiguity) felt glossed over. Despite this, it‘s a page-turner.

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plemmdog
Tell No One | Harlan Coben
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Panpan

I like to read occasionally outside of my comfort zone (literary fiction and non-fiction) and someone picked this for book club. Not a fan. Maybe the protagonist rubbed me the wrong way, but to me, the treatment of inner-city black culture felt very white-guy, even for 2001. I think I‘ll stick with Jo Nesbo and Raymond Chandler for now.

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plemmdog
Cloud Cuckoo Land | Anthony Doerr
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Pickpick

Confession: I was skeptical I‘d enjoy a 600-page novel about medieval Constantinople, a spaceship, the Korean War, and contemporary rural Idaho. But wow. Just wow. I haven‘t read anything exquisitely layered like this since Atwood‘s Blind Assassin.

Sapphire And a square books bookmark! 4mo
19 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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plemmdog
HIDDEN VALLEY ROAD. | ROBERT. KOLKER
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Pickpick

On the surface, the Galvins appeared to be an all-American 1960s family. Half of the 12 children, however, were eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. Kolker seamlessly weaves their story with the history of schizophrenia and psychiatric treatment. I couldn‘t put this down. It‘s a masterful achievement, and represents over a decade of research. The best nonfiction title I‘ve read so far in 2022.

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plemmdog
Tracy Flick Can't Win | Tom Perrotta
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Mehso-so

Read it in a weekend. Entertaining and a page-turner. I still think Little Children is probably my favorite. It‘ll be interesting to see if Reese signs on for the sequel…

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plemmdog
Election | Tom Perrotta
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Tom Perrotta read and spoke at our local bookstore last night. I‘ve read almost all of his works except Election. It‘s quite different from the movie. Reading it now in preparation for Tracy Flick Can‘t Win. Can‘t wait!

SteveWJones I‘d planned to attend but had a conflict. How was it? (And I too haven‘t read Election but have read all the others.) 7mo
plemmdog @SteveWJones he was great. I‘ve seen him before, and he‘s always incredibly humble. He was the first in his family to go to college. I‘ve loved most everything he‘s written 7mo
15 likes1 stack add2 comments
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plemmdog
Silk Hope, NC | Lawrence Naumoff
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My favorite thing about used books: the notes you find inside. Apparently a neighbor (Alice) was “ too young and too active to be sick but we never know what is in store for us,” as her neighbor Ruth says, who apparently delivered some breads and sweet rolls to her at some point in 1994. (PS the novel was pretty good…imagine Chekhov‘s Cherry Orchard set in 1990s Piedmont North Carolina).

16 likes1 stack add
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plemmdog
The Jane Austen Book Club | Karen Joy Fowler
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I‘ve run an in-person book club for almost 20 years. Initially, we sent out invites and announcements via email, then Evite. Are there other invitation platforms out there that folks can recommend? Thinking of an upgrade…

rwmg I've never heard of Evite before. What is the advantage over emails and text messages? 8mo
plemmdog I started using as it gave a head count who was actually coming (on one occasion only one person showed up and the host had embarrassingly prepared a large spread). It also has a link to map apps, for directions. 8mo
SRWCF Could you just send an invite through Outlook with a note to "please accept or decline so we know how much food to prepare"? I am an executive assistant and we use Outlook to set up all meetings, also more important meetings like those for our Board of Directors. It gives a headcount on the Tracking tab of who accepted, declined, or didn't respond, that way you know who to circle back with. 8mo
15 likes3 comments
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plemmdog
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“ in the land of the dying, sentences go unfinished, you know how they‘re going to end.”

9 likes1 stack add
review
plemmdog
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Pickpick

While Peter Taylor‘s work has often been compared to Chekhov, several critics have viewed him as a Southern regional writer of memoir stories. I'm not sure where he'll ultimately land in the pantheon. While he wrote mostly from the perspective and heady pedestal of Southern genteel privilege, I think it can still be argued that his work was hardly conventional, as he remained a keen observer and critic of the very class in which he came from.

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plemmdog
The Maid | Nita Prose
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Mehso-so

My book club picked this one. I have to say I wasn‘t enamored. Sort of a cross between The Curious Incident of The Dog In the Nighttime, and A Gentleman in Moscow, with an ending I found pat and a little too tidy (even though it is a book about a…maid). I realize this may be an unpopular opinion…

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plemmdog
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Pickpick

Over 20 years old now, and I‘d never read this. Lyrically written portrait of an imagined life in the Southern Appalachians in the early 1900s. I kept thinking about all the stories my mother told me about my great-grandmother, and wish she‘d written them down.

20 likes1 stack add
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plemmdog
The Dharma Bums | Jack Kerouac
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Hey, Jack Kerouac, I think it‘s your birthday. One hundredth, to be exact. Photo by Allen Ginsberg.

“I wish the whole world was dead serious about food instead of silly rockets and machines and explosives using everybody's food money to blow their heads off.”
—The Dharma Bums (1958)

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plemmdog
The Intuitionist: A Novel | Colson Whitehead
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Mehso-so

My first Whitehead. Thinking I should‘ve gone with something else…I‘m not sure what to make of his elevator obsession…

BkClubCare I loved this! 😄 I thought it creative. 11mo
plemmdog @BkClubCare I admired his creativity, and also his ability to channel a sort of film noir, yet never really knowing the exact time era or location. But his prose is not easy… 11mo
BkClubCare I read this in 2017, read it because I needed another try of Whitehead‘s writing. Others mentioned that he overwrote this, but my issues were more how vague he can be with setting details? Yet he made a unique world in this. I probably should read something else by him. I didn‘t appreciate The Underground Railroad until others explained to me what they got out of it. Is this your first read of his? He's been busy lately! (edited) 11mo
plemmdog @BkClubCare yep! First read. I actually started Underground but for some reason it didn‘t grab me and I moved on. My book club voted on reading this, and I think we all going to be a little cranky when we meet to talk about elevators😂 11mo
21 likes4 comments
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plemmdog
Killer Diller | Clyde Edgerton
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Mehso-so

I‘ve enjoyed most of Edgerton‘s novels, but reading this one in 2022 had a few cringe-worthy moments. Killer Diller pick up where Walking Across Egypt left off. The characters are engaging, but the over-arching plot that attempts to bring them together left me wanting. Maybe satires of “Christian” schools of higher learning can no longer compete with real-world news (see: Jerry Falwell, Jr)

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plemmdog
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“They smell like roots and earth and that is all.” Mary Roach is a national treasure. Highly recommended!

16 likes2 stack adds
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plemmdog
Hell of a Book | Jason Mott
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“Anything worthwhile takes time. Maybe that‘s what time is for: to give meaning to the things we do; to create a context in which we can linger in something until, finally, we have given it…something we can never get back: time. And once we‘ve invested the most precious commodity that we will ever have, it suddenly has meaning and importance. So maybe time is just how we measure meaning. Maybe time is how we best measure love.”

20 likes2 stack adds
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plemmdog
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Pickpick

This slender volume by Peter Ho Davies (an example of what I suppose is called auto-fiction these days) tackles parenthood, autism, and abortion in just over 220 pages. While I was intrigued by Davies‘s minimalist style and courage in writing this, the petite physical dimensions of this book (5” x 7”) unexpectedly made it a little physically clunky for me to read. Guess I should stick to books larger than my hands 😂

21 likes1 comment
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plemmdog
The Candy House | Jennifer Egan
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Bailedbailed

I LOVED Visit From the Goon Squad and The Keep AND I‘ve never won an advanced reader‘s copy from Goodreads till now, BUT….so far I‘m not into this one. I may have to come back to it. Maybe I‘m just done with dystopias for now…

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plemmdog
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Pickpick

This is an axolotl, one of the creatures illustrated and discussed in this charming amalgamation of memoir and natural history. Nezhukumatathil is also an accomplished poet. Someone suggested this very short collection of essays for my book club, and it‘s a perfect wintering read. Now waiting for firefly season (or as we say in the South, lightning bugs☺️)

Chelsea.Poole I love this book 🦚 12mo
16 likes1 comment
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plemmdog
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Mehso-so

This was an impulse buy. While this was a nice survey of the South as portrayed in film (much more contemporary and inclusive than some others) it was a little disorganized and mishmashed with memoir, as well as commentary on other films outside the South. I will have to agree, though, with the author that the film “Junebug” is an unsung marvel.

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plemmdog
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Mehso-so

I grew up near Pisgah National Forest and visit frequently, but until recently never realized it was the very first designated National Forest (1916). While Spencer‘s book is probably only of interest to Southern Appalachians, the story involves the Vanderbilts, Biltmore House, and a German who ran the very first forestry school in the US. The pic is from last October at Catawba Falls.

Leftcoastzen So beautiful! 13mo
SRWCF That's my kind of place! 12mo
24 likes2 comments
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plemmdog
Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment | Daniel Kahneman, Cass R Sunstein, Olivier Sibony
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Bailedbailed

I loved Thinking, Fast and Slow, but I have to bail on this follow-up (with the exception of a chapter on medical decision-making). Too esoteric and overly scientific writing which could not keep me engaged. The first one succeeded, I think with plenty of brevity and fun examples. Unfortunately, this one doesn‘t.

18 likes1 stack add
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plemmdog
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First big snow here in Tennessee, an uncommon event. This is my Little Free Library. It appears that the door may need some insulation work 😬

erzascarletbookgasm Pretty sight, but hopefully the door gets fixed soon! 13mo
Cathythoughts Beautiful 💫 13mo
Chelsea.Poole Lovely! 📚 13mo
29 likes3 comments
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plemmdog
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A lyric for 2022 (credit to Wallace Stevens)