Mostly Fiction BOOK REVIEWS



True Adventure, Politics & More

Read review!
Travels with Charley

by John Steinbeck



Read review!

by Nechama Tec


Read review!
Home: Social Essays

by Amiri Bakara


Read review!
Out of Mao's Shadow

by Philip P. Pan
Read review!
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

by John O'Dowd
Read review!
The Long Embrace

by Judith Freeman


Recently Published Books in Hardcover:

See what's new in paperbacks...

Razor by Amiri Baraka - Intended to cut clean through the oppression imposed upon the mainstream by society's "intellectual superstructure," this collection of revolutionary essays by literary and cultural legend Amiri Baraka raises numerous issues concerning contemporary African American life. The socially conscious will appreciate the creative analyses and stimulating critiques on display here, buoyed by Baraka's distinctive, bold, and aggressive opinions about the ways our culture bestows ignorance upon the ignorant merely to exploit them.(March 2009) author page

Cheever: A Life by Blake Bailey - A luminous biography, a revelation of a writer of timeless fiction and of the man behind the page. (March 2009)

Selling Your Father's Bones: America's 140 Year Destruction of the Nez Perce Tribe by Brian Schofield - Part historical narrative, part travelogue, and part environmental plea, Selling Your Father's Bones recounts one of the most astonishing journeys in the history of the American West. (February 2009) author page

A Dawn Like Thunder: The True Story of Torpedo Squadron Eight by Robert J. Mrazek author page

The Writer as Migrant by Ha Jin - As a teenager during China’s Cultural Revolution, Ha Jin served as an uneducated soldier in the People’s Liberation Army. Thirty years later, a resident of the United States, he won the National Book Award for his novel Waiting, completing a trajectory that has established him as one of the most admired exemplars of world literature. (November 2008)author page

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell - (November 2008)

Against Medical Advice: One Family's Struggle with an Agonizing Medical Mystery by James Patterson and Hal Friedman (October 2008) author page

ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future by Vijay Vaitheeswaran and Iain Carson (October 2008)

More Information Than You Require by John Hodgeman - (October 2008)

State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey - Inspired by the example of the legendary WPA American Guide series of the 1930s and '40s, now 50 of our foremost writers have produced original pieces of reportage and memoir that capture the 50 states in our time, creating a fresh portrait of America as it lives and breathes today.(September 2008) author page

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing by Mayra Calvani, Anne K. Edwards - If you're an experienced reviewer, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing will serve as an excellent reference tool and amalgam of resources. If you're a beginner, this book will show you how to write a well-written, honest, objective and professional book review. (June 2008)

While They Slept: An Inquiry into The Murder of a Family by Kathryn Harrison (June 2008) author page

This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation by Barbara Ehrenreich - From the author of Nickled and Dimed. (June 2008)

Out of Mao's Shadow by Philip P. Pan - From an award-winning journalist for The Washington Post and one of the leading China correspondents of his generation comes an eloquent and vivid chronicle of the world's most successful authoritarian state -- a nation undergoing a remarkable transformation. (June 2008)

The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us by Robyn Meredith - An essential guide to understanding how India and China are reshaping our world. (June 2008 pb)

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris - (June 2008) author page

The Great Derangement by Matt Taibbi - Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi set out to describe the nature of George Bush’s America in the post-9/11 era and ended up vomiting demons in an evangelical church in Texas, riding the streets of Baghdad in an American convoy to nowhere, searching for phantom fighter jets in Congress, and falling into the rabbit hole of the 9/11 Truth Movement. (May 2008) author page

The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport by Carl Hiaasen (May 2008)author page

Maps and Legends: Reading and Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon - (May 2008) author page

The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliosi - (May 2008) author page

Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power, Lies by Ginger Strand - Americans call Niagara Falls a natural wonder, but the Falls aren't very natural anymore. In fact, they are a study in artifice. Water diverted, riverbed reshaped, brink stabilized and landscape redesigned, the Falls are more a monument to man's meddling than to nature's strength. Held up as an example of something real, they are hemmed in with fakery -- waxworks, haunted houses, IMAX films and ersatz Indian tales. (May 2008) author page


(back to top)

Related to this Bookshelf:

Nonfiction Fiction
David Sedaris Ruth Francisco
Cheryl Peck Leslie Epstein
Judith Newman Steven Carter
Farley Mowat Kate Moses
Michael Walsh


(back to top)

About this Bookshelf:

"Adventure is discomfort recollected in tranquility."
- Desmond Bagley

Weather often turns the event...When I was seventeen, I went on a picnic with friends in the NH White Mountains and ended up on the statewide news as rescuers searched for my boyfriend and I. We were really lost. Though I don't think my dad ever believed me. There's nothing like getting so twisted around that it starts to make more sense to go up than down. And then nightfall arrives and it is so black that hands disappear along with the ground as we step down very vertical hillside into air. We stop, build an illegal campfire hoping to attract attention and it rains. So we attempt sleep on a 45 degree angle using the picnic blanket as a tent, worrying about bears and other mountain animals. When morning comes, we see a river flowing in the distance. We know it flows down the mountain; we follow it and eventually it brings us to a road, and the awaiting authorities.

Then there's the time that six of us boarded Travail, a 43' foot Mason, to sail from Maine to Bermuda. Only Hurricane Gloria blows through two days before we depart stirring up the seas so bad that air clogs the fuel lines preventing the batteries from being charged and therefore leaving us without instruments by the fifth day into the trip. This is when I learn about dead reckoning, how big the Atlantic Ocean really is, and a very real lesson about gravity. But we did find Bermuda and we arrived with enough damage to the boat to keep us on this beautiful island an extra week. (So the owners were out a few bucks, the crew was happy.) I still have a lump on my forehead from this journey. I could go on with a few more accounts of stupidity masquerading as adventure, but that's not the point of this page. The truth is that to break up our day to day existence, we humans like to push ourselves to the extreme. Granted, some need to go further than others. But what happens when the need for adventure turns into a fight for your life?

This bookshelf started out as a section to feature "true adventure" (versus that found in fiction). Thus, I focused on biographical accounts of people doing some fairly incredible things and obviously living to tell about it. But then, I would read other nonfiction accounts and want to include those on this bookshelf, for example, Ruth Picardie's Before I Say Goodbye, a book about dying. I justified including it on this bookshelf because I saw it as yet another adventure story. Then I read Walter Mosley's Workin' on the Chain Gang and once again, I justified that it fit on this "true adventure" shelf because here was a black man telling us that even us white middle class people are slaves to the system.

The notion of adventure began to include a wider and wider range as more reviewers joined with interests in reading travel memoirs and historical accounts.

Finally, the post 9/11 politics, showed me another kind of "adventure;" that of speaking out when everyone else is saying that you are "unpatriotic" to talk against the current administration. What these authors tried to say prior to the last election is only now beginning to hit the mainstream news. I don't know about you, but for me, my adrenaline has been running high ever since 9/11, as I've watched the events unfold.

Though we are slow to add books to this "shelf," I am very pleased to have it here to feature those non-fiction books that we stumble upon that entertain us and tell truths as much as the fiction we love.

Judi Clark, Editor
updated 5-6-06 About Us| Last Modified | Join Newsletter | Contact Us | ©1998-2011