The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the CenturyThe Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
by Kirk W. Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In 2009, Edwin Rist, age 20, American student flautist at the Royal Academy of Music, broke into an outpost of the British Museum and stole hundreds of preserved birds. Among the haul were scientific samples gathered in the 1800s by Alfred Russel Wallace, painstakingly labeled with data about where and when they were obtained. Priceless to researchers, the birds – or, more precisely, their brightly-colored feathers – were worth thousands of dollars to a select group: Victorian salmon fly-tying enthusiasts. When Kirk Wallace Johnson heard about the heist two years later, during a difficult time in his own life, the case gave him something to focus his energy on. Why did Rist do it? What happened afterward? And where, exactly, were those hundreds of birds?

Johnson opens the book with Rist in the middle of the burglary, then jumps back to the history of the birds and their collector, Alfred Russel Wallace, the Tring Museum and its beginnings as the private collection of Walter Rothschild, and the nineteenth-century “Feather Fever” and birth of the hobby of tying salmon flies to exacting standards. He chronicles Rist’s life as the homeschooled tween learns about and becomes obsessed with fly-tying, becomes famous among his fellow hobbyists, and heads to London with his flute. He covers the official investigation as well as his own inquiries into what exactly happened and how. It reads like a novel, introducing characters and backstories while briskly developing the plot. End notes detail his sources, including official records and personal interviews with key figures.

This book sounded interesting from the first time I heard about it – a feather-stealing flautist? Victorian fly-tying masters buying and selling black-market bird parts? It did not disappoint. In my paperback ARC, the photo section was black-and-white and not great quality, so I was very happy to discover the photo gallery on Johnson’s site. This is definitely my kind of true crime book!

Source: ARC borrowed from a friend (thanks, CG!)

Reading Challenges: Counts for Read Harder 2018 (Task #2: A book of true crime)

Related Posts:

Down the TBR Hole #8

Down the TBR Hole was originally created over at Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, you’re Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

My to-read shelf: 1055 titles (Why, yes, that is more than I started with last week. At some point, this will start to shrink, right?)

Antarctica: Life on the Ice by Susan Fox Rogers (Ed.)

Published: September 28, 2007
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Like I’m going to get rid of an Antarctic essay collection.

Stay or Go? Stay

No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women And Their Extraordinary Journey Across Antarctica by Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft
No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women And Their Extraordinary Journey Across Antarctica

Published: September 1, 2003
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Arnesen and Bancroft were the first women to cross Antarctica on foot. Antarctic adventure memoir. I need to read this book.

Stay or Go? Stay

Penguins and Golden Calves: Icons and Idols in Antarctica and Other Unexpected Places by Madeleine L’Engle

Published: 1996
On TBR Since: March 10, 2012

I’m just gonna take this from the GoodReads summary: “Despite protests and warnings from friends and family, author Madeleine L’Engle, at the age of seventy-four, embarked on a rafting trip to Antarctica.”

Stay or Go? Stay

Yarn: Remembering the Way Home by Kyoko Mori
Published: 2009
On TBR Since: March 10, 2012

Knitting memoir. I was definitely on-brand putting things on my TBR that particular day.

Stay or Go? Stay

Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature by Brian Switek

Published: 2010
On TBR Since: March 10, 2012

I’ll probably come back to this one someday, but for now, it goes.

Stay or Go? Go

The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books, edited by by Jeff Martin and C. Max Magee

Published: March 1, 2011
On TBR Since: March 10, 2012

A collection of essays on “the future of books” that is now seven years old.

Stay or Go? Go

The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin

Published: June 1, 2010
On TBR Since: March 10, 2012

I’m just not feeling this one anymore. Too many other things I’m more interested in reading.

Stay or Go? Go

Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright into the Bard by Jack Lynch

Published: June 12, 2007
On TBR Since: March 10, 2012

The “Annotated” podcast episode on “Saving Shakespeare” has reignited my interest in this one.

Stay or Go? Stay

On the Ice: An Intimate Portrait of Life at McMurdo Station, Antarctica by Gretchen Legler

Published: October 25, 2005
On TBR Since: March 10, 2012

Antarctic memoir. That’s all.

Stay or Go? Stay

Runners on Running: The Best Nonfiction of Distance Running by Rich Elliott (Ed.)

Published: November 5, 2010
On TBR Since: March 10, 2012

Another one that I might come back to one day, but today is not that day.

Stay or Go? Go

Four out, six stay in.  New to-read shelf: 1051 titles. Until I add more books in, like, 10 minutes.

Related Posts:

Round-Up Review: Teapot Collector Mysteries by Amanda Cooper

 

Tempest in a Teapot by Amanda Cooper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Shadow of a Spout by Amanda Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Grim Steeper by Amanda Cooper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thelma Mae Earnshaw peeped through the lacy curtains that adorned the side window of La Belle Epoque, her quaint(ish) inn and tearoom. She was trying to figure out what had her archenemy and business competitor, Rose Freemont, in such a fuss.

Another cozy mystery round-up review!

The Teapot Collector Mystery series is centered on Sophie Taylor, who at age 29 has just been through the rise and failure of her own New York City restaurant. Her father is eternally traveling on business, and her mother would like her to marry a nice (wealthy) young man already and turn into the sort of Society Lady Sophie has never wanted to be. Instead, Sophie heads upstate to Gracious Grove, a tiny town with more interest in tea than seems reasonable (maybe because the town also happens to be dry). There, her octogenarian grandmother, Rose Freemont, runs Auntie Rose’s Victorian Tea House and could perhaps use a hand. Next door, Thelma Mae Earnshaw runs a rival tearoom, because her entire life seems to revolve around trying to get even with Rose for a supposed slight decades ago. Her business never quite gets the upper hand, and it isn’t helped any when Thelma’s granddaughter’s mother-in-law-to-be dies suddenly right there in the tearoom. Soon, Sophie is trying to untangle the web of connections between families and businesses in Gracious Grove to figure out who could have murdered the woman and why.

In the second book, Rose and her business partner (and best friend) Laverne go to the annual International Teapot Collectors Society convention together for the first time, since Sophie is still in Gracious Grove to mind the shop. Their jaunt takes a nasty turn when the state ITCS president is murdered in the night… after a public argument with Rose over identification of a peculiar teapot. Since said teapot is found next to the body, Rose quickly becomes the suspect everyone is watching. Sophie drives up to assist in finding the real killer.

At the opening of the third book, Rose has had a health scare, and Sophie wants to help out in any way she can. The town’s annual Tea Stroll is coming up, there’s some sort of scandal going on at the local college, and – eventually – a man turns up dead on the Auntie Rose’s Victorian Tea House property.

This is a fun series, with a cast of quirky recurring characters who get into each other’s business the way people will in a small town. While Sophie grew up in a moneyed family, with luxuries like a vacation house in the Hamptons and an education at private boarding schools, all she wanted as a teenager was to stay at her grandmother’s house in Gracious Grove with the kids she was able to hang out with during her visits. A number of those kids are now the adults of Gracious Grove, and Sophie runs into a few bumps trying to fit back in. The narrative shifts between characters: while it returns frequently to Sophie, the scenes are sometimes viewed through the eyes of Rose or Thelma Mae. The sections told from Thelma Mae’s point of view are particularly interesting, making a character who could have been a flat stereotype of a cranky old lady into someone more real. I could understand why she does some of the things she does, even as I would like to tell her, “No! Don’t do that! Just go talk to Rose!” It’s a good thing the characters are interesting in their own right, since it takes a while to get the mystery in each book, especially the third one. There’s also a very slow burn romance developing for Sophie, which is very sweet. And each book includes tips on tea and a recipe for a little treat. I hope there will be more installments in the series.

Source: Checked out from my public library

Reading Challenges: Um, none. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Related Posts:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide, #1)
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the morning we are to leave for our Grand Tour of the Continent, I wake in bed beside Percy. For a disorienting moment, it’s unclear whether we’ve slept together or simply slept together.

This novel reminded me of reading Voltaire’s Candide in an English translation in college. What I remember most about that is that it was one adventure after another, a sort of Energizer Bunny of a story that just… kept… going. I recently did a little digging to figure out if what I remembered was accurate, and I ran across the term “picaresque novel”, for which the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms provides this explanation:

In the strict sense, a novel with a picaroon (Spanish, picaró: a rogue or scoundrel) as its hero or heroine, usually recounting his or her escapades in a first-person narrative marked by its episodic structure and realistic low-life descriptions. The picaroon is often a quick-witted servant who takes up with a succession of employers. […] In the looser sense now more frequently used, the term is applied to narratives that do not have a picaroon as their central character, but are loosely structured as a sequence of episodes united only by the presence of the central character, who is often involved in a long journey[…].

Okay, so The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue doesn’t strictly meet the definition, but it’s pretty close. It’s set in an unspecified year sometime in the eighteenth century. The first-person narrator, Henry “Monty” Montague, is the eighteen-year-old Viscount Disley, a lad pretty committed to a daily routine of drinking, gambling, and romping with assorted girls and boys. His father, the earl, has been vocal (and physical) in his disapproval of Monty’s habits, especially the “mucking about with boys” that was a major factor in Monty’s expulsion from Eton.

Monty is looking forward to one last hurrah of a Grand European Tour with his best friend (and the boy he’s been in love with for years), Percy, before returning to England, where his father expects him to settle down and learn how to handle estate he is expected to inherit. Monty is disappointed to discover that, in addition to bringing his fifteen-year-old sister, Felicity, along for a portion of the tour, he and Percy have been assigned a “bear-leader” who pledges to keep them on the straight and narrow.

That doesn’t last past Paris; events at a party at Versailles quickly lead to Monty, Percy, and Felicity – separated from their supposed guardian – finding themselves in a flight from city to city, trying to keep one step ahead of some dangerous pursuers. Secrets of all sorts are revealed as one challenge follows another, and Monty learns quite a lot more than he bargained for.

Monty, Percy, and Felicity are all realistically complicated characters. Monty is a rogue who has trouble seeing past his own privilege, but his biracial best friend and science-minded younger sister can (eventually) get through to him. The difficulties Percy and Felicity face are realistic edges in a story that verges on the fantastical.

This book is, most of all, fun. Monty’s attraction to boys as well as girls isn’t an issue for him (other than the fact that it drives his father’s vicious treatment of him); his problem is that he isn’t sure how to tell the boy he likes that he, well, likes him. Having a crush on your best friend that you’re afraid to confess because you can’t bear the thought of losing that friend? That’s a problem teenagers across time, space, gender, and orientation can all understand. This is a picaresque (hey, there’s that word!) adventure novel and a romance, so you know that despite the obstacles (and more obstacles… and more obstacles) they face, our heroes will get to their happy ending.

And Felicity is getting a book of her own, slated for October 2018. I am so looking forward to The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. I can hardly wait.

Source: Checked out from my public library.

Reading Challenges: Um, none. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Related Posts:

Down the TBR Hole #7

It’s back, my friends! Life has been more interesting than usual of late, and the blog has suffered. So has my TBR, since I have fallen down a cozy mystery rabbit hole of late. But that’s another post!

Down the TBR Hole was originally created over at Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, you’re Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

My to-read shelf: 1042 titles (I told you my TBR was suffering.)

The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan_Buettner

Published: January 1, 2008
On TBR Since: Mar 09, 2012

I’ve read a bunch of articles drawing from this book over the years.

Stay or Go? Go

The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture by Joshua Kendall

I’m going to skip this one.

Published: April 14, 2011
On TBR Since: March 09, 2012

Stay or Go? Go

The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life’s Challenges by Paul Gilbert

There are other books on mindfulness in my TBR that I’m more interested in.

Published: March 26, 2009
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Stay or Go? Go

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle

Another topic where there are newer books.

Published: 2011
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Stay or Go? Go

The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human by V. S. Ramachandran

I just recently put The Power of Different on my TBR (thanks for that, Jeff at Book Riot!), and I think I’ll read that one instead of this.

Published: January 17, 2011
On TBR Since:March 9, 2012
Stay or Go? Go


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Speaking of Jeff at Book Riot… he and Rebecca have talked so much about this book that I really have to read it now. And then I can finally listen to their “Better Living through Books” podcast, too!

Published: October 25, 2011
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Stay or Go? Stay

The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards by William J. Broad

According to the reviews, this one was “controversial”. I’m intrigued.

Published: January 1, 2012
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Stay or Go? Stay

Shackleton’s Stowaway by Victoria McKernan

I keep confusing this book with other books about Antarctic voyage stowaways (I love that that is/was even a thing, really). This is a fictionalized account, not a history.

Published:February 8, 2005
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Stay or Go? Go

Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures by Robert K. Wittman

Just not feeling this one.

Published: June 1, 2010
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Stay or Go? Go

The Coolest Race on Earth: Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon by John Hanc

Antarctica. Marathon. Yes, please.

Published: January 1, 2009
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Stay or Go? Stay

Seven out, three stay in. New to-read shelf: 1035 titles

Related Posts:

A Study in Lavender by Joseph R. G, DeMarco (ed.)

A Study In Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes
A Study In Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes
edited by Joseph R.G. DeMarco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is Sherlock Holmes homosexual? Is Watson? Should we even be asking these questions?

DeMarco opens the Introduction to this collection of short stories with these questions. The following stories look at many facets of queer life in Victorian London as they touch on the lives of Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, and various original characters. In most of the stories, the (identified) queer characters are people other than Holmes and Watson themselves. Indeed, Holmes and Watson are all but entirely absent in at least two stories.

As with any anthology, the style varies between contributors. Most of the tales are written in traditional pastiche style, modeled on the Canon stories and narrated by Watson. One story is in third-person, one story is narrated by Holmes himself, and one story is a first-person narration by an original character.

I enjoyed the stories overall. There were a few that I just didn’t connect with, and the very first one surprised me with (content warning and spoiler alert!) references to incest. That topic is a Hard Pass for some readers, and I personally find it problematic in context. But that’s my personal engagement with the book, and yours is bound to be different.

If you are looking for Holmes/Watson romance, this is (mostly) not your book. If, however, you are looking for thoughtful, well-written explorations of the challenges faced by queer people in Victorian London, with a little Sherlockian flair, then this is the book for you.

Source: Purchased new

Reading Challenges: Counts for the Official TBR Pile Challenge and Mount TBR.

Related Posts:

2018 Reading Challenge Check-In #3

The first quarter of 2018 has been and gone, so how are those Reading Challenges going?

 

Mount TBR (hosted at My Reader’s Block for 2018)
Goal: 24 books
End of March Progress: 16(ish)% (target pace: 25%)

I did finish A Study in Lavender, but I haven’t yet reviewed it, so it doesn’t count toward the TBR Pile challenge yet, and so I’m not counting it here yet.

February:
None. Whoops.
January:

 


The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader
Goal: 12 books
End of March Progress: 8(ish)% (target pace: 25%)

What I wrote up there under the last challenge? That.

February:
None.
January:

 


Newbery Reading Challenge at Smiling Shelves
Goal: Konigsburg (75+ points)
End of March Progress: 21% (target pace: 25%)

Falling a bit behind again.

  • Grand Canyon by Jason Chin: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2018)
  • Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2004)
  • Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2018)
  • Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell: 1 point (Caldecott winner, 2018)
  • A Different Pond by Bao Phi: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2018)

February:

  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: 1 point (Caldecott winner, 1963)
  • Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson: 2 points (Newbery Honor, 2018)
  • Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly: 3 points (Newbery Winner, 2018)
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: 2 points (Newbery Honor, 2018)

January:

  • Sounder by William Armstrong: 3 points (Newbery winner, 1970)

Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018 at Read-at-Home Mom
Goal: 12 books
End of March Progress: 17% (target pace: 25%)

This one sort of sneaked in.

  • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum

February:
None.
January:

  • Sounder by William Armstrong, published in 1969

 


Book Riot Read Harder 2018
End of March Progress: 21% (target pace: 17%)

By the way, my hold on Mother of Black Hollywood finally came in.

  • A comic written or drawn by a person of color: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (Book One), written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze

February:

  • A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author: Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
  • A romance novel by or about a person of color: An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

January:

  • A children’s classic published before 1980: Sounder by William Armstrong, published in 1969
  • A one-sitting book: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  • The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

 


2018 Book Blog Discussion Challenge
Goal: Creative Conversationalist (11-20 posts – aiming for 12)
End of March Progress: 8% (target pace: 25%)

Okay, this month, the blog’s been pretty much TBR stuff, one way or another.

February:
None.
January:

 


2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge at Becky’s Book Reviews

I have still not posted anything about tea this year. I’ve been drinking quite a lot of tea, though.

So, how’s your 2018 reading going?

Related Posts:

Down the TBR Hole #6

Down the TBR Hole was originally created over at Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, you’re Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Current “to-read” shelf:  949 titles

Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back – Michele Simon

Published: October 19, 2006
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

This book is now 12 years old, and I’m pretty sure there’s newer material out there.

Stay or Go? Go

Running the Seven Continents: Tales of Travel and the Marathon – Clint Morrison

Published: December 1, 2006
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

This might make a return someday, but for now, I’m going to let it go.

Stay or Go? Go

Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood – Maria Tatar

Published: April 20, 2009
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Professional Reading.

Stay or Go? Stay

Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children’s Literature – Julia L. Mickenberg

Published: November 1, 2008
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

More professional reading.

Stay or Go? Stay

The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales – Bruno Bettelheim

Published: April 12, 1977
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Classic professional reading, and one I’d like to read before the Tatar book.

Stay or Go? Stay

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – Christopher McDougall

Published: May 5, 2009
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

The moment has passed.

Stay or Go? Go

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World – Eric Weiner

Published: January 3, 2008
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Not quite a stunt memoir, but pretty close, since he takes a year to go traveling the world in search of “happy places”. And who couldn’t use some more happy?

Stay or Go? Stay

Wildthorn – Jane Eagland

Published: February 6, 2009
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Victorian era queer historical fiction. That’s a keeper.

Stay or Go? Stay

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything – Joshua Foer

Published: March 11, 2011
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Also something of a stunt memoir, but possibly a useful one.

Stay or Go? Stay

The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul – Dave Bruno

Published: December 15, 2010
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

– Insert joke about starting by getting rid of this here –

Stay or Go? Go

Six to stay, four to go.

March 9, 2012, was a big day for my TBR, it seems. And I clearly need to get going on my professional reading. My only Youth Services class in Library School was YA Literature, so I think at some point, I tried to put together a little crash course in Children’s Lit for myself.

Related Posts:

Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in April

Ten of the books on my TBR coming out in April that I’m especially looking forward to:

Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, the Chef, and the Rise of the Leisure Class by Luke Barr (April 3)

A different look at 1880s London from my usual.

In early August 1889, Cesar Ritz, a Swiss hotelier highly regarded for his exquisite taste, found himself at the Savoy Hotel in London. He had come at the request of Richard D’Oyly Carte, the financier of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas, who had modernized theater and was now looking to create the world’s best hotel. D’Oyly Carte soon seduced Ritz to move to London with his team, which included Auguste Escoffier, the chef de cuisine known for his elevated, original dishes. The result was a hotel and restaurant like no one had ever experienced, run in often mysterious and always extravagant ways–which created quite a scandal once exposed.

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery
Barbara K. Lipska
(April 3)

If you’ve been following my TBR pruning posts, you are not at all surprised to see a new memoir having to do with neuroscience.

Lipska describes her extraordinary ordeal and its lessons about the mind and brain. She explains how mental illness, brain injury, and age can change our behavior, personality, cognition, and memory. She tells what it is like to experience these changes firsthand. And she reveals what parts of us remain, even when so much else is gone.

The Overstory
Richard Powers
(April 3)

A new book from Powers! (Fun fact: my last year of undergrad, I took a writing class he taught.)

In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles)
Amy Spalding
(April 3)

Contemporary queer teen romance set in Los Angeles – I am here for it.

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez.

Maggie & Abby’s Neverending Pillow Fort
Will Taylor
(April 3)

Middle school can be rough on friendships. And that’s without discovering that your pillow fort is connected to a secret, globe-spanning network.

Six. Weeks. That’s how long Maggie’s been waiting for her best friend and partner in crime, Abby, to come home from Camp Cantaloupe. Half of summer break may have been lost, but Abby is finally heading back!

Only when Abby arrives, she’s. . . different. She doesn’t want to play any of their usual epic spy games. All New Abby wants to do is talk about camp things and plan campy activities—she even has the nerve to call Maggie’s massive, award-worthy pillow fort a “cabin.”

But at least Abby’s excited to build a “cabin” of her own. And when Maggie discovers that a pillow in the back of her fort mysteriously leads right into Abby’s new one, the two friends are suddenly just an arm’s length away. Soon they’re adding links and building more forts, until Maggie looks behind one pillow too many and finders herself face-to-face with. . . the authorities.

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer
Barbara Ehrenreich
(April 10)
I don’t think I’ve read any Ehrenreich yet.

A razor-sharp polemic which offers an entirely new understanding of our bodies, ourselves, and our place in the universe, Natural Causes describes how we over-prepare and worry way too much about what is inevitable. One by one, Ehrenreich topples the shibboleths that guide our attempts to live a long, healthy life — from the importance of preventive medical screenings to the concepts of wellness and mindfulness, from dietary fads to fitness culture.

Picture Us in the Light
Kelly Loy Gilbert
(April 10)

Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined.

You Go First
Erin Entrada Kelly
(April 10)

A new book from the most recent Newbery medalist.

Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays
Alexander Chee
(April 17)

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing—Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley—the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
Kirk Wallace Johnson
(April 24)

I think this is another contender for my “true crime” Read Harder selection.

On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London’s Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History, armed with a pair of latex gloves, a miniature LED flashlight, and a diamond-blade glass cutter. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose coppery orange, emerald, and iridescent blue feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin’s obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying, in which exotic feathers are fastened in intricate patterns around fishing hooks. Over the next few hours, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins–some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin’s, Alfred Russel Wallace, who’d risked everything to gather them–and escaped into the darkness.

Related Posts:

Down the TBR Hole #5

Down the TBR Hole was originally created over at Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, you’re Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Current “to-read” shelf: 949 titles

The Worst Journey in the World – Apsley Cherry-Garrard

Published: February 28, 2006
On TBR Since: March 7, 2012

A classic in Antarctic literature. I bought a copy when I was at the Strand back in January.

Stay or Go? Stay

The Last Place on Earth: Scott and Amundsen’s Race to the South Pole – Roland Huntford

Published: 1979
On TBR Since: March 7, 2012

Yep, another book on the Heroic Age of Exporation.

Stay or Go? Stay

Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica – Sara Wheeler

Published: January 1, 1996
On TBR Since: March 7, 2012

One day, I will visit Antarctica. In the meantime, armchair traveling.

Stay or Go? Stay

Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica – Nicholas Johnson

Published: June 1, 2005
On TBR Since: March 7, 2012

Yes, another account of working at the South Pole.

Stay or Go? Stay

Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole – Felicity Aston

Published: February 3, 2011
On TBR Since: March 7, 2012

Wow, I was on TBR-expanding kick that day, wasn’t I? This one is about an all-female skiing expedition to the South Pole.

Stay or Go? Stay

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table – Tracie McMillan

Published:February 21, 2012
On TBR Since: March 7, 2012

This is the book that I have on my TBR Pile list that I think I might not actually have anymore.

Stay or Go? Stay

Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents – Cami Ostman

Published: October 7, 2010
On TBR Since: March 7, 2012

A running and travel memoir. Here for it.

Stay or Go? Stay

In a Sunburned Country – Bill Bryson

Published: June 18, 2000
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

I really enjoy Bryson’s travel writing, so I’m keeping this on the list with the knowledge that it’s still probably going to be a long while before I actually get to it.

Stay or Go? Stay

Artful Dodgers: Reconceiving the Golden Age of Children’s Literature – Marah Gubar

Published: March 1, 2009
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Tagging this one as Professional Reading.

Stay or Go? Stay

Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery, and the Genius of the Royal Society – Bill Bryson

Published: November 2, 2010
On TBR Since: March 9, 2012

Another one that I thought was on the TBR Pile list, but it is not.

Stay or Go? Stay

Well, heck. Everything stays this week.

Related Posts: