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About this blog: This blog is a place for conversation about books. I post reviews of what I'm reading--lots of contemporary fiction, but also classics and the occasional work of narrative nonfiction. I am always looking for new books to read, so ...  (More)

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2013 Holiday Book Guide (Nonfiction Picks)

Uploaded: Dec 8, 2013
Last week I listed three of the best works of fiction I read in 2013. Here are my picks in nonfiction:

Theroux, Paul. Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari. (2013) - Theroux this year also published a novel set in Africa, but I have always preferred his nonfiction. This travel narrative is about Theroux's return to Southern Africa, where he worked as a Peace Corps teacher 40 years ago. He describes a hellscape of squalor, corruption, and yes, safari animals. He also has some choice words for Angelina Jolie and her admirers.

Byrne, David. How Music Works. (2012) - This book surprised me with the breadth and depth of Byrne's scholarship. The articulate rock star is a rare breed, and rarer still is the one who can articulate how he works. In a series of illustrated essays, Byrne covers everything from how the the acoustics of performance venues influence composers to how rock musicians might make a living in the age of downloads. The hardcover edition was pricey, at $32, but it's now in paperback for $20. Perfect for anyone who remembers the 80s.

Wiseman, Rosalind. Queen Bees and Wannabees. (2003) - The subtitle of this book explains why I picked it up: "Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World." My elder daughter will be starting middle school next year, and I found Wiseman's descriptions of tween and early-teenage girl society utterly fascinating--especially the taxonomy of the typical clique.

Still to come...picks in poetry and children's literature.
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The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 10, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category. Sponsored by Kepler's Books, Linden Tree Books and Bell's Books.

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