Inbox/Outbox: October 17, 2014

All right. I’m in the final seasons of The West Wing (yep, still going), and the weather has finally turned cooler here in the south, at least some of the time. So it’s all slow-cooked meals and long evenings on the couch, and ohhhh friends, the reading is good.

Inbox (Books Acquired)

sweetlandSweetland by Michael Crummey (Liveright, January 2015) – A man in a small Canadian town that is in its decline observes his neighbors leaving one by one and reflects on the town’s history and residents. This looks like exactly the kind of quiet, thoughtful lit fic I crave on cold winter nights, and I can’t wait to curl up with it.

Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen by Dana Cowin – How’s this for irony? The long-time editor of Food & Wine magazine is terrible in the kitchen. Or, she was terrible in the kitchen before she set out to get advice from the pros and conquer her mistakes. This cookbook is built on that clever conceit, and it contains recipes and tips for cooks both seasoned and not.

Outbox (Books Finished)

how we got to nowHow We Got to Now by Steven Johnson – Taking a long-view, zoomed-out approach to the history of culture and technology, Johnson explores six innovation that changed the world at their inception and went on to have incredible, unimaginable-at-the-time effects. For instance: one New Hampshire man’s early-1900s discovery of how to transport ice from New England to South America (where they had never seen ice and didn’t know what to do with it) led eventually to refrigerated train cars and ships that transformed the beef industry and shaped Chicago. If you find stuff like that fascinating (as I totally do), you will find much to love here.

Johnson has done his homework, and his writing is filled with interesting anecdotes and unusual facts. And it’s not just science wonkery, here. Johnson places these discoveries squarely within social, cultural, and geopolitical context and connects them to the concepts and ideas of his previous books (of which Where Good Ideas Come From is my favorite, if you’re looking for a recommendation). This is smart writing made fun and approachable, and it’s a real joy to read. Highly recommended.

In the Queue (What I’m Reading Next)

ms marvel 9Ms. Marvel #9 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona – The newest take on Ms. Marvel–a young Pakistani girl from Jersey City who finds she has Powers and can fight baddies–was my first superhero comic, and I’m so glad for that. Kamala Khan is smart and funny and so relatable, whether you’re a Muslim teenager or who feels like an outcast or a grown-up who just remembers what being a teenager (and longing to have pals like Wolverine) was like. I always look forward to new issues, and I’ll be cozying up to catch up with Kamala this weekend.

 

 

That wraps it up for me, readers. What are you into this week?

 

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