"Hal Ashby and the Making of Harold and Maude" by James A. Davidson

Quick Book Review: “Hal Ashby and the Making of Harold and Maude” by James A. Davidson

I go through phases where I don’t think about the movie Harold and Maude very much, and then I become obsessed with it again.  It’s my favorite movie; I find the humorous bits hilarious and the philosophical bits poignant and uplifting, and whenever there’s some kind of crisis (like 9-11 or the current corona pandemic), I find myself immersed in…

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"Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña" by David Hajdu

Quick Book Review: “Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña” by David Hajdu

A well-written and detailed account of the intertwined lives of four prominent, larger-than-life fixtures of the folk music scene of the early 60s.  The book very effectively transports you back to those heady, exciting days of the Greenwich Village music clubs and cafes.  I really knew nothing about Joan Baez’s sister Mimi, nor anything about her enigmatic, fascinating husband, Richard…

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"Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story" by Celeste Bell and Zoe Howe

Quick Book Review: “Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story” by Celeste Bell and Zoe Howe

Back in the late ‘70s, when punk music was all the rage, I became fanatically obsessed with it.  I especially loved British punk and was very into The Sex Pistols, Clash, Stranglers, Buzzcocks, Jam, and countless other punk bands. One major favorite, though, was the band X-Ray Spex, led by the brilliant, talented singer Poly Styrene (born Marion Elliott). Poly’s…

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"Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles" by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan

Quick Book Review: “Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles” by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan

My friend Mike is very into comics, anime, and graphic novels.  He raved about this re-imagining of the life of the cartoon character Snagglepuss.  Treated as serious subject matter, the collection takes us through the McCarthy era and blacklisting, Stonewall (yes, Snagglepuss is gay!), the Rosenberg executions, Marilyn Monroe’s relationship with Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, and many aspects of…

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"An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of The Immune System. A Tale in Four Lives" by Matt Richtel

Quick Book Review: “An Elegant Defense: The Extraordinary New Science of The Immune System. A Tale in Four Lives” by Matt Richtel

This is a big book with a long title, but I ended up plowing through it pretty fast.  Although I have a Master’s degree in immunology, the science has changed rapidly, and this book refreshed my memory on the basics and also got me caught up on some of the newer developments in the field.  Using real people as examples,…

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"On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous" by Ocean Vuong

Quick Book Review: “On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong

This novel recounts the life of Little Dog, the son of Vietnamese immigrants, and his experiences growing up in the US.  The author is an award-winning poet, and he certainly deserves the accolades.  Nearly every sentence is dripping with perfect, beautiful wordplay.  Sometimes I found myself stopping and re-reading some of the sentences simply because the words were amazing.  For…

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"10% happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics" by Dan Harris and Jeffrey Warren

Quick Book Review: “10% happier: Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” by Dan Harris and Jeffrey Warren

This was a really good, practical book.  I go through phases where I meditate regularly, and when I do, my life is much better.  But I sometimes let my travel schedule distract me from the practice, and I forget to do it on the weekends, and before I realize it, I’ve let the practice of meditation fall by the wayside. …

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"The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery" by Sam Kean

Quick Book Review: “The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery” by Sam Kean

Although I didn’t like seeing neurology cases as a veterinarian, I seem to have a penchant for reading books about human neurology.  This one started out slow, but got better and better as it went along.  Filled with clear descriptions of how the neurological system works (kinda basic for me, but probably very lucid for laypeople), the book follows up…

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