Washington Politics: Might As Well Laugh

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Even to insiders, Washington, D.C. doings dwell in the absurd. With the primaries under way, I propose a few nonfiction books that take a lighter (if often still outraged) look at national politics. The first is a seminal look at electoral politics by the dean of Gonzo journalism: Hunter S. Thompson. Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail […]

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Far From Heaven: Ecological, Economic Dystopias

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Dystopias (the opposite of utopias) are popular right now, whether you like The Hunger Games or Divergent. Here are three dystopian novels to come out recently, where the rich get the resources and the meek inherit the dirt. Karl Taro Greenfeld's latest, The Subprimes, melds the ideas of ecological and economic dystopia seamlessly. Subprimes are people whose credit […]

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Think Deep Thoughts: Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit is enjoying a bit of a renaissance with her latest collection of essays: Men Explain Things to Me. The title essay explores how Solnit and women in general tend to assume that men are more knowledgeable on a subject than they are, even when the woman is the expert. This essay gave rise to […]

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Women in the Fun Home

In most traditional societies, caring for the recently deceased is the province of women. And yet, there are very few women undertakers in America. Here are three nonfiction books about women and the funeral directing business. The most recent is The Undertaker's Daughter by Katherine Mayfield. Growing up above a funeral home in the 1960s and 70s, the Mayfields lived […]

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Die Laughing: California Mysteries

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Feeling cold? Want to laugh a little? Like mysteries? Have I got a deal for you! These mysteries are all set in balmy California and have at least a touch of humor to them. Curl up with these books on a midwinter's night. On the surface, Theophania Bogart has it together: she owns a body-care store […]

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Medieval Mysteries

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Around this time of year, my thoughts turn to the Middle Ages. Not sure why, but they do. So, in that spirit, I offer these often overlooked medieval mysteries. The ones set earliest in history are the King's Hounds mysteries by Martin Jensen. In them, Winston, an ex-religious and illuminator, and his man Hafdan, a former nobleman, do […]

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Fencing Females

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You can look at most of my posts and deduce that I'm a big fan of historical novels and unconventional heroines. Some of the books I review are easier reads than others. In the spirit of the holidays, here are three books that are propulsive, fairly quick reads that ask, what if a woman acted more like a […]

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Novel Museum Secrets

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Museums are fascinating places, both as a visitor and behind the scenes. While there are lots of books about mysteries taking place there for younger readers, I've found a few of the more popular ones for adults. Unless you've been under a rock for the past 15 years, you've probably heard of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci […]

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Star Bard and Other Star Wars Fun

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To say that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is highly anticipated is like saying Elizabeth I was a queen of England. There's so much more. And what better way to prepare than to look at the lighter side of this iconic franchise? It is well known that Shakespeare never used an original story in his life, […]

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Gunning For Redemption

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Delpha Wade has paid her debt to society and is on a shaky path back to normalcy in Lisa Sandlin's The Do-right. She gets a job as a secretary to Tom Phelan, a newly minted private investigator. While the two get involved in several mysteries in this intricately-plotted novel, the story is mostly Delpha's. Her adjustment […]

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