AuthorCharlotte Self

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

One of Michael Lewis’s early books is Moneyball, about efforts to find more accurate ways to predict how well an individual baseball player or baseball team will perform. The subject of this book is the work of two Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, that was the background of those efforts to make more accurate judgments and to improve decision-making. The two...

The Fly on the Wheel by Katherine Cecil Thurston

If you love nice long sentences, this is a good book for you. It was published in 1908, the year my father was born, and is set in Waterford, Ireland. The Irish author was successful, having been the first author to have two top-ten best selling books on The New York Times list in one year (1905). She died when she was only 36. It tells the struggle of one family to become middle class in...

The Book of Illusions by Paul Auster

After Paul Auster died, John Self wrote an appreciation of his work for The Times (London, that is) that was available for free for a weekend.  As a fan of both Paul Auster and John Self, I was happy to see that. It was a joy to listen to Paul Auster reading the book that John Self said is his best. The narrator, a college professor named David Zimmer, began by telling about a book he had written...

Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin

This book showed up on my radar recently and I readily listened to it, knowing only that it was described as a cheerful and funny book. The author was born in 1944, wrote for various publications, including The New Yorker and Gourmet, and died when she was only 48 years old. She wrote short stories, novels, and non-fiction relating to cooking. Though the author’s name seems vaguely...

Light Eaters by Zoë Schlanger

I heard Zoë Schlanger, a long time science writer, interviewed on Fresh Air and found her an unusually appealing speaker. Her writing is equally appealing; she explains unfamiliar concepts clearly and in an entertaining way. In the last 15 years there has been a revival of plant behavior research that has brought revelations about the attributes of plants that could be called “intelligence...

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

I am a fan of this author and have read four of his books that I find very clever and quite fun. My favorite was the first one I read, The President’s Hat, that tells a tale of François Mitterrand’s hat changing the lives of the people who happened to have it for a time. I read this one because I discovered it is in the public library. The Portrait is narrated by a man who works as an...

Intimacies by Katie Kitamura

It was the review in Reading Matters that took me to this book and the author’s focus on the importance of precise language that kept me reading. The main character is a translator at “the Court” in the Hague, an unnamed international court that brings charges against those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes. She had left New York after her father died...

Long Island by Colm Toibín

I was happy to learn about this book, a follow-up to Brooklyn, 20 years later. Not only do we get to revisit Enniscorthy, Ireland and learn what’s happening with Eilis and others, there is a casual mention of Nora Webster, the main character in the book of that name. Brooklyn is set in the 1950s, Nora Webster in the mid- to late 1960s, and Long Island in the early 1970s. I truly love...

Knife by Salmon Rushdie

I greatly admired Rushdie’s memoir Joseph Anton about his life during the threat against his life by the fatwah in 1989. This one tells about the attack he suffered in 2022 at Chautauqua that nearly killed him. I found both his memoirs irresistible. He tells in detail about his injuries and what was required to heal from them. I was surprised to find myself thinking of my mother’s...

James by Percival Everett

After Percival Everett’s visit to the book festival here in Charlottesville, I heard from Laura that she she was moved to read this book and liked it very much. Knowing that it was a retelling of Huckleberry Finn, I decided reacquaint myself with that story especially after she added that there was a notable surprise change in the story. What I did was less reading than skimming. It was as...

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