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Paul's Reading

  • Kirk, Lucy: The Poison Factory: Operation Kamera

    Kirk, Lucy: The Poison Factory: Operation Kamera
    After a half century of avidly reading spy novels, I find, for the first time since my teenage self haunted the newsstand, waiting for the latest episode of James Bond in Playboy, that I am excited about the publication of a new entry into the genre: Lucy Kirk’s novel Poison Factory: Operation Kamera. And I mean REALLY new, because the protagonist is not James or George but Decktora “Decky” Raines. Just as I am tired of pale, male and stale in my choice of politicians, I have grown tired of pale, male and stale spy novel protagonists and authors. (*****)

  • Jacobs, Gregg D.: Say Good Night to Insomnia: The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program Developed At Harvard Medical School

    Jacobs, Gregg D.: Say Good Night to Insomnia: The Six-Week, Drug-Free Program Developed At Harvard Medical School
    This book could have made a serious difference in my life, had I the discipline to follow its Sleep Hygiene program. It turns out I didn’t, but if you can I am here to tell you it will change your life and improve your sleep beyond comprehension. You’ll never need a sleeping pill or a Tylenol PM or even melatonin again. This is the only scientifically proven sleep program that involves no drugs. When I found I couldn’t do it by myself, I took the six-week course based on the book offered by Kaiser (and, I am sure, by other health organizations). That’s how I know it works. If you read it carefully, and do what it says (easier said than done, I know), I guarantee you it will be life-changing. If you are a person than can stay on Weight Watchers without meetings, just buy the book. Otherwise, buy the book, read it, and then take the class.You won't lose weight, but you will sleep better. (*****)

  • Nelson, Rob: Hacking Reality: Upgrade Your Life From the Inside Out

    Nelson, Rob: Hacking Reality: Upgrade Your Life From the Inside Out
    Quantum physics came after my time (or in one of the classes I skipped), so I never quite got it. Rob Nelson thinks he did, but not in a way, I suspect, most physicists would. He says we don’t actually store out memories in our heads, we store them in the Quantum Cloud, share them with the other people involved, and access them via cosmic wi-fi. And he says we can hack those memories in the cloud. I tried it. It helped me deal with trauma. My wife is a psychotherapist, and has had some success as well. He also says we are a blueprint in the cloud, and that our physical existence is just a moment-to-moment copy of the blueprint, which sometimes gets corrupted in transmission. It helped me, it might help you, and, in any case, it makes good reading. (*****)

  • Ann Patchett: This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

    Ann Patchett: This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
    David Sedaris liked this book so much her arranged for Moe's Books of Berkeley to sell it in the lobby after his reading at Zellernbach Hall last year. I can see why; Pratchett is an interesting and able essayist. I haven't read her fiction, but if it is as good as her essays, it is good indeed. As a recently bereaved cat owner, I couldn't read her essay on the death of her dog, but all the others were fine. (*****)

  • Nora Ephron: The Most of Nora Ephron

    Nora Ephron: The Most of Nora Ephron
    I have always been a big fan of Nora Ephron, so I was enraptured with this omnibus, which includes her novel, her Harry met Sally screenplay and many of her essays, some of them previously uncorrected. They say you should never meet the authors you love, but I think I'd have enjoyed her, even if she was telling me to "get over it." (*****)

  • Edward St. Aubyn: Lost for Words: A Novel

    Edward St. Aubyn: Lost for Words: A Novel
    I heard the author on "Fresh Air" being interviewed by Terry Gross, and I am glad I did. I don't think I'd enjoy the Patrick Melrose books for which he is famous (based on the descriptions, I don't care to read them) but this relentlessly amusing sendup of the literary prize culture in Britain has laughs on every page, delivered with standard British panache. (*****)

  • Thomas Vinciguerra: Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from the New Yorker

    Thomas Vinciguerra: Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from the New Yorker
    A fantastic collection of writing by one of the most brilliant writers ever to grace the staff of "The New Yorker." His most famous parody, of the writing style of "Time" Magazine, is referenced in the title of this volume; "Backwards ran sentences until reeled the mind." But his fiction, his reviews, and his other parodies are all priceless. (*****)

  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld Books:
    Terry Pratchett has written 40 books about Discworld. I have read just over half of them, most recently Equal Rites. Everyone of them is hysterically funny and also makes a few comments about the world around us. His 2000 novel "The Truth" is one of the best journalism books ever written. He is a genius. (*****)
  • Dave Eggers: The Circle (Vintage)

    Dave Eggers: The Circle (Vintage)
    Finally, a novel of Silicon Valley with some literary merit. I have looked at the book club discussion questions, which make it clear to me that there's a whole lot going on I didn't get. But the parts I did get were a fascinating exploration of where we're going. As I used to teach students, "Science Fiction is not about what it is about, it is about the time in which it was written." True here. Marvelous and gripping. (*****)

  • Bob Garfield: Bedfellows

    Bob Garfield: Bedfellows
    Co-host of NPR's "On the Media" and Slate's "Lexicon Valley," Bob Garfield is a quick-witted, sharp-tongued commentator. This novel of the modern mafia in fictional Brooklyn is humorous and amusing (albeit not really laugh-out-loud funny), with a clever yet somehow contrived plot. Lots of swearing, not too much violence. I have read several books on my Sony E-reader; this is the first book I read on the Kindle I-phone ap. Weird experience. If you'd told me I'd ever read a book on my phone... (****)

Favorite Movies

  • My all-time favorite movie:
    Groundhog Day. I have created a fan site that is universally acknowledged to be the best on the Internet dedicated to this work of art.

    All the rest of my favorite movies (Deadline USA, The Paper, CitizenKane) are Journalism movies.


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