Getting Nostalgic Over N

Standard

The word “nostalgia” should always be written in pink, because it, itself, implies a rose-colored glass-tinged world. Nothing embraces this idea more than the way we talk about and think about the concept of family. There’s an idea–particularly in the U.S.–that there was a time that was a golden age for “true families.” You know, the “Leave it to Beaver” kind.  Well, family’s always been a complicated, multifaceted creature.


The Way We Never Were: American Families And The Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz. Amazon for $10.85. The Way We Never Were examines two centuries of American family life and shatters a series of myths and half-truths that burden modern families. Placing current family dilemmas in the context of far-reaching economic, political, and demographic changes, Coontz sheds new light on such contemporary concerns as parenting, privacy, love, the division of labor along gender lines, the black family, feminism, and sexual practice.

Nonfiction not your thing? Try Her Cousin Much Removed, or sign up for my spamless newsletter.

Download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities. It’s free!

Last Train to Istanbul Launches L

Standard

Last is kind of a funny word to choose smack dab in the middle of the alphabet, but it’s one of those words that grabs your attention right away. It’s a story, all by itself, and the use of it in a title gives the book a sense of nostalgia before it’s even started. It makes you ask “why,” and that’s a strong pull to read onward.


Last Train to Istanbul: A Novel by Ayse Kulin; translation John W. Baker.
Amazon for $4.99. International bestseller by one of Turkey’s most beloved authors
As the daughter of one of Turkey’s last Ottoman pashas, Selva could win the heart of any man in Ankara. Yet the spirited young beauty only has eyes for Rafael Alfandari, the handsome Jewish son of an esteemed court physician. In defiance of their families, they marry, fleeing to Paris to build a new life.

But when the Nazis invade France, the exiled lovers will learn that nothing—not war, not politics, not even religion—can break the bonds of family. For after they learn that Selva is but one of their fellow citizens trapped in France, a handful of brave Turkish diplomats hatch a plan to spirit the Alfandaris and hundreds of innocents, many of whom are Jewish, to safety. Together, they must traverse a war-torn continent, crossing enemy lines and risking everything in a desperate bid for freedom. From Ankara to Paris, Cairo, and Berlin, Last Train to Istanbul is an uplifting tale of love and adventure from Turkey’s beloved bestselling novelist Ayşe Kulin.

Like a mystery? Try Her Cousin Much Removed. Or download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities. It’s free!

Longing for more? Sign up for my newsletter.

The Gifts of G

Standard

G was tricky, given that it’s great letter gorged with possibility. So many words, too good to gloss over. So I’m going with “gifts,” and I discovered something kind of of funny and too good to share.

There are a gaggles of books called “The Gift.” Some have subtitles like the one below, some are simply “The Gift.” Gobs of variety under one title. So that will be the title of both books in the book posts today. The genres? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see the other one.

 


The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World (Vintage) by Lewis Hyde. Amazon for $9.15. Discusses the argument that a work of art is essentially a gift and not a commodity. “The best book I know of for talented but unacknowledged creators. . . . A masterpiece.” —Margaret Atwood

“No one who is invested in any kind of art . . . can read The Gift and remain unchanged.” —David Foster Wallace

“Few books are such life-changers as The Gift: epiphany, in sculpted prose.” —Jonathan Lethem

“A manifesto of sorts for anyone who makes art [and] cares for it.” —Zadie Smith

“This long-awaited new edition of Lewis Hyde’s groundbreaking and influential study of creativity is a cause for across-the-board celebration.” —Geoff Dyer

Download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities. It’s free!

Give me the gift of signing up for my newsletter.

Culture Again this Afternoon

Standard

Culture, culture, culture! The more you look, the more there is to see. Or should that be C? Anyway, here’s another handful of cultural books that caught my eye, and there seem to be hundreds more to discover. Today is a great day to explore something a little different, or gain a new understand of something familiar.


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

 


Before Atlantis: 20 Million Years of Human and Pre-Human Cultures

 

 


X vs. Y: A Culture War, a Love Story

 

 


Smart People Should Build Things: How to Restore Our Culture of Achievement, Build a Path for Entrepreneurs, and Create New Jobs in America

 

 

Not sufficiently cultured? Sign up for my newsletter.

Cultural Explosion Commences C

Standard

I’m a sociologist at heart, it’s what I studied in college, and it’s never left me. I am a student of people, and today, C is for “culture.” But I discovered something, looking for my morning book: there are too many amazing-looking books on culture to pick only two for the day. So I’m going a little crazy–also a C word–and posting a bunch, sans descriptions, covers and titles only. And you’ll see what I mean.


The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style

 

 


Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture

 


Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls

 

 


American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

 

 

Not sufficiently cultured? Sign up for my newsletter.

Meet the Wife of the Gods

Standard

Speaking of travel, you don’t have to leave the space-time continuum to visit distant worlds, we’ve got plenty right here on our own planet. You can go to Ghana in the space of a download, and help solve a mystery with this first book in the . Book three of Kwei Quartey’s Soho Crime series,Murder at Cape Three Points, just came out, so if you enjoy it, there are more books ahead.


Wife of the Gods: A Novel by Kwei Quartey. Amazon for $9.99.Introducing Detective Inspector Darko Dawson: dedicated family man, rebel in the office, ace in the field—and one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years. When we first meet Dawson, he’s been ordered by his cantankerous boss to leave behind his loving wife and young son in Ghana’s capital city to lead a murder investigation: In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising medical student—has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Dawson is fluent in Ketanu’s indigenous language, so he’s the right man for the job, but the local police are less than thrilled with an outsider’s interference. For Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind twenty-five years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother’s inexplicable disappearance. Armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, Dawson soon finds his cosmopolitan sensibilities clashing with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods. Delving deeper into the student’s haunting death, Dawson will uncover long-buried secrets that, to his surprise, hit much too close to home.

At Amazon, the Book Buys You

Standard

OK, that’s not entirely accurate. Or remotely accurate, but I couldn’t resist the joke.

Normally, about now I’d be telling you about a book you can buy from Amazon, but today I figured I’d flip that. I don’t know if you know, but Amazon will buy your books as well. It’s like a big, natural circle of reading. Amazon pays for shipping, so it won’t cost you anything. Current best-sellers are probably your best bet, but at least that takes some of the guilt out of buying a full-priced new book.

And it’s not just for books, either. You can trade in movies, video games and other things, and get an Amazon gift card in exchange. When I logged in, it even told me what some things I’d bought from Amazon were worth, which is nice to know, not that I’m parting with my Zumba World Party, which is the most fun game ever, but I digress.

So you can use books to feed your reading habit. It’s beautiful, in a way.

Anyway, thus concludes this public service announcement.