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jd 🔆

Joined 1 year, 2 months ago

I end up reading more nonfiction than fiction these days, but certainly enjoy a good fictional yarn from time to time.

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jd 🔆's books

Cody Cassidy: Who Ate the First Oyster?: The Extraordinary People Behind the Greatest Firsts in History (2020, Penguin Books) 4 stars

First things first

4 stars

Who wore the first pants? Who painted the first masterpiece? Who first rode the horse? Who invented soap? This adventure across ancient history uses everything from modern genetics to archaeology to uncover the geniuses behind these and other world-changing innovations. Nicely written. Too short!

Peter Frankopan, Peter Frankopan: The Silk Roads (Hardcover, 2015, Bloomsbury Publishing) 4 stars

First class history

5 stars

A sprawling history of the famous silk road and its offshoots, the civilizations they nurtured, the empires and power centres that rose and fell along them. An excellent history but also a primer for understanding the forces that continue to shape the region today.

Ed Yong: An Immense World (2022, Penguin Random House) 5 stars

The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electric and …

Animals experience different realities than we do

5 stars

We tend to think the way we experience the world is the way it is. But animals, using or emphasizing different and other senses than our five, may experience ‘reality’ in entirely different ways. Young leads us on a deep dive into the sensory experiences of animals.

Barbara Kingsolver, Barbara Kingsolver: Demon Copperhead (Paperback, 2022, HarperLuxe) 4 stars

David Copperfield redux

4 stars

Inspired by Dicken’s David Copperfield, the novel, set in rural Kentucky circa 1980-2000, centres around Demon, a trailer park kid who got kicked around to various foster homes, briefly became a local high school football star until a knee injury put an end to that, and sent him crashing into a life of opioids and addiction. His one talent, drawing, helped with his ultimate redemption. A theme running through it, like that of the Dicken’s novel, is that of institutional poverty and its effects on the lives ordinary people. Though it held my interest, the book was ultimately too long.

Amor Towles: A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel (Paperback, 2019, Penguin Books) 5 stars

When, in 1922, thirty-year-old Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik …

An aristocrat survives, no, thrives! In Soviet Russia

5 stars

An aristorcat—a count—is sentenced after the Russian revolution to house arrest at the Metropole Hotel in Moscow where he remains for the next 30 years. A thin premise for a book? Not on your life. The author unfolds a rich and nuanced story of this extraordinary man’s life, plots, and liaisons, with the tumultuous years of mid-20th century Russia as a backdrop. The pages are generously spiced with commentaries, asides, and diversions on culture, literature, art, music, science, philosophy, food, drink, and politics. And at the end, the reader is rewarded with a thrilling conclusion worthy of a great spy novel. Brilliantly written with charm, wit, humour, and insight.