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My Book Reading

Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

   (in progress)

The Night Trade - Barry Eisler (revew published)

The Woman in the Window - A.J. Finn - (review published; just get your hands on this and read it!)

The Kremlin's Candidate by Jason Matthews - (review published)

Into the Black Nowhere - Meg Gardiner - (review just published; superb)

Agent in Place - Mark Greaney (Gray Man thriller, review up)

The Saboteur - Paul Kix (review up)

The Escape Artist by Brad Meltzer (review published)

Operator Down - Brad Taylor (done, great book)

Robicheaux - James Lee Burke (in progress - outstanding, of course)

Podcast Favorites

Joe Rogan Experience #1058 Dec. 28 2017 . Nina Teicholz


Fire and Rain - The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSN&Y and the Lost Story of 1970 by David Browne  

The magical 1960s ended right on time. 1970 was the line in the sand - pivotal events took place in and out of music quickly defining the new decade. Think about it - the Kent State shootings, homegrown terrorist bombings, Apollo 13, changes in the Selective Service draft laws. Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died in 1970; Jim Morrison in July of 1971. 

Browne uses these four performers and the definitive albums they recorded in 1970 to vividly chronicle the sweeping changes taking place. Not only would rock’n’roll never be the same (the singer-songwriter movement was gaining steam), but American culture would forever be altered.

I was growing up right in the midst of this. In 1970 I was 16 years old, a confirmed rock music junkie, buying obscure albums mail-order from The Dedicated Fool, Greg Shaw and others, and already publishing my fanzine Cowabunga. My life revolved at times around the four albums upon which author Browne centers Fire and Rain - Let It Be, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sweet Baby James and Deja Vu. Just listing those albums brings memories; reading this book took me back in time every few pages. Virtual floods of memories, mostly all wonderful, certainly all formative.

If you have no personal memories of rock music from this period, I cannot certify you’ll enjoy Fire And Rain. It’s so evocative and splendidly written, however, that I’m confident anyone interested in our pop culture will find themselves wishing they were of high school age in ’70. I’m glad I was, and I’m damn happy David Browne cared and wrote this book.

$29, Da Capo Press


33 Revolutions Per Minute (A History of Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day) by Dorian Lynskey

33 Revolutions Per Minute comes along at a good time in our current history, I feel. Since it was published earlier this year the spirit of protest has come alive in the United States, as it has worldwide. There’s a great deal to be upset about in this world, and I know as well as anyone that singing and playing music only effects so much change, but I absolutely know the currents that music can awaken in people make lots happen.

Lynskey has written a gigantic tome covering this neglected style of music, an important art form that’s a part of our cultural heritage. One of the primary reasons the books is so long (636 pages in trade paperback) is this isn’t just about the performers and music. All of it’s wound together with histories of the social movements that inspired and spawned the songs. They go hand in hand, of course.

I couldn’t get all the way through 33 Revolutions Per Minute. Perhaps I should feel bad about it, but I didn't find myself interested enough in the history. My gut feeling is this book is important, but it was a slog for me.

$19.99, Ecco Press

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Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail! - Stories of Crime, Love and Rebellion  

short stories edited by Gary Phillips and Andrea Gibbons

Great book title, one that will help this book be placed cover facing out on bookstore shelves for a week or so. Hopefully exposure will pump up sales and garner some publicity, as this collection of short stories has extreme personality and a bunch of worthwhile writing. If there’s a theme holding these authors together, it’s riots, love, crime, revolution and chaos.

Some pretty heavy hitters are included in this collection:  Michael Moorcock, Sara Paretsky, Cory Doctorow, and many others.  Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail reminds me of an era gone by, writers from a different time, and attitudes not often seen today. This isn’t pulp fiction; these are splendid wordsmiths.

trade paperback, PM Press, $19.95



Reamde: A Novel by Neal Stephenson

A new Stephenson novel presented a bit of a reading challenge, in the past. One I gladly undertook, enjoyed and appreciated; similar to how good a difficult workout feels, once it’s completed. Satisfaction about working hard and achieving something.

Reamde surprised me. Not due to it’s 1044 pages and scale weight (but it is weighty, and tough to read lying in bed. Stephenson not only demands your attention, but you must sit up straight to read it). No, my head-scratching moment was as I realized the author wrote a wonderful, straight-forward adventure story. Believe me, I’m excited at what might be a slight change of direction for Stephenson, a gentle adjusting of course. By page two I’d fallen down the well and was involved with the characters populating this engrossing storyline.

If you’ve any experience reading Neal Stephenson, you expect a dense, detailed, technology-driven world, one perhaps difficult to follow that doesn’t truly come together until you’re partway through the book. Or maybe that was just me! Experience and empathy for the online world, of course technology, and altered reality in general was always handy for full effect. Anyone with a smattering of time living in the last two decades without their head in the sand will deeply enjoy Reamde

Sure, if you spent time immersed in World of Warcraft for a while, or have been involved in other multiple-player games, some of the technical descriptions in Reamde may come to you more quickly. But no worries, as Stephenson so cleverly brings the T’Rain world to life, through the eyes and experiences of various characters, that I felt as if I was peering over the shoulder of a player. Here's how compelling Reamde was for me. I generally am reading two or three books at a time; one always fiction, one non-fiction, sometimes a third. When and where they land in the house depends upon many things, but rarely do they travel from one floor to another. Reamde traveled everywhere; bedroom to living room to kitchen. Constantly.

Reamde is a tech-based adventure story involving greed, faith gone bad, civil liberties, and people. No matter the computers, the fictional worlds, it’s all about the people. At the epicenter is Richard Forthrast, a vivid guy carrying a storied past. Sometimes he runs away from who he is, often he revels in what he can do. As owner and main brain for a large online game company, events worldwide spin in and around his T’Rain world and begin to drag the real people of his life in.

Reamde is exciting and dramatic; compelling and addictive. I find it a fabulous book, so well written I’m hoping nobody attempt to make a movie from it!


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American Pickers Guide to Picking by Libby Callaway, Mike Wolfe, Frank Ritz and Danielle Colby  

Mike and Frank are the stars of the History Channel’s American Pickers. I’ve only seen the show a couple of times, but from all I know and saw, they’re the real deal. Entertaining and smart, both on TV and in this book.

This isn’t really a guidebook in the traditional sense, but it’s well done and very fun. Readers unfamiliar with real American pop culture may find themselves surprised by some of what’s desirable and what isn’t, but the guidelines ring true.

See, I was a picker for a number of years, during my refinishing antiques / selling antiques and collectibles / driving around to flea markets, auctions and rummage sales years. My kids grew up thinking it was entirely normal behavior to get in the van at 10:00 p.m. Saturday night, drive downstate a couple of hours, park in front of the gates to a fairground, and go to sleep on the floor so we could get up at 4:30 in the morning when the flea market opened! I call this book fun and smart, and compelling me to find episodes of American Pickers online and watch ‘em.

$24.99, Hyperion



Developing Agility and Quickness (NSCA) by Jay Dawes and Mark Roozen 

Functional training is a popular buzz-word in personal training these days. The popularity of Crossfit has helped push more people to perform exercises in the gym that prepare them for real life, and events other than just being good in the gym. But few trainers, much less athletes, know much about how to train for agility, speed, and quickness.

Coaches from the National Strength and Conditioning Association developed the routines and exercises displayed in Developing Agility and Quickness. Photographs make a big difference in helping the reader understand the movements, but in my opinion, even better are the illustrations displaying what needs to be done.  Drills are important, but performing them properly is even more critical. This roundtable of experts have assembled a helpful guide I plan to incorporate into my training.

trade paperback, $19.95, Human Kinetics