Tag: Recommendation

Black History Month – 10 Books by African Americans

Just some books I liked and think you will too. Selections mine, blurbs via Amazon. 

Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul
James McBride
Kill ’Em and Leave is more than a book about James Brown. Brown embodied the contradictions of American life: He was an unsettling symbol of the tensions between North and South, black and white, rich and poor. After receiving a tip that promises to uncover the man behind the myth, James McBride goes in search of the “real” James Brown. McBride’s travels take him to forgotten corners of Brown’s never-before-revealed history, illuminating not only our understanding of the immensely troubled, misunderstood, and complicated Godfather of Soul, but the ways in which our cultural heritage has been shaped by Brown’s enduring legacy.

How I Learned What I Learned
August Wilson
From Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson comes a one-man show that chronicles his life as a Black artist in the Hill District in Pittsburgh. From stories about his first jobs to his first loves and his experiences with racism, Wilson recounts his life from his roots to the completion of The American Century Cycle. How I Learned What I Learned gives an inside look into one of the most celebrated playwriting voices of the twentieth century.

The Big Sea: An Autobiography
Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes, born in 1902, came of age early in the 1920s. In The Big Sea he recounts those memorable years in the two great playgrounds of the decade–Harlem and Paris. In Paris he was a cook and waiter in nightclubs. He knew the musicians and dancers, the drunks and dope fiends. In Harlem he was a rising young poet–at the center of the “Harlem Renaissance.”

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Rock This!
Chris Rock
From today’s hottest stand-up comic–heir to Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy and known for his Emmy Award-winning HBO Specials and The Chris Rock Show–comes this edgy, no-holds-barred humor book about race, relationships, and politics.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
Z.Z. Packer
Her impressive range and talent are abundantly evident: Packer dazzles with her command of language, surprising and delighting us with unexpected turns and indelible images, as she takes us into the lives of characters on the periphery, unsure of where they belong. We meet a Brownie troop of black girls who are confronted with a troop of white girls; a young man who goes with his father to the Million Man March and must decide where his allegiance lies; an international group of drifters in Japan, who are starving, unable to find work; a girl in a Baltimore ghetto who has dreams of the larger world she has seen only on the screens in the television store nearby, where the Lithuanian shopkeeper holds out hope for attaining his own American Dream.

Waiting to Exhale
Terry McMillan
When the men in their lives prove less than reliable, Savannah, Bernadine, Gloria, and Robin find new strength through a rare and enlightening friendship as they struggle to regain stability and an identity they don’t have to share with anyone. Because for the first time in a long time, their dreams are finally OFF hold….

I, Tina: My Life Story
Tina Turner
A reissue of the one of the most fascinating and dramatic true stories in show business history—the massive bestseller I, Tina, in which the legendary Tina Turner tells all about her life and career: from her humble beginnings in Nut Bush, TN; to her turbulent and volatile marriage to Ike Turner; and, finally, to her triumphant return and massive success.

Colored People: A Memoir
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
In a coming-of-age story as enchantingly vivid and ribald as anything Mark Twain or Zora Neale Hurston, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., recounts his childhood in the mill town of Piedmont, West Virginia, in the 1950s and 1960s and ushers readers into a gossip, of lye-and-mashed-potato “processes,” and of slyly stubborn resistance to the indignities of segregation.

Pym: A Novel
Mat Johnson
Recently canned professor of American literature Chris Jaynes has just made a startling discovery: the manuscript of a crude slave narrative that confirms the reality of Edgar Allan Poe’s strange and only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. Determined to seek out Tsalal, the remote island of pure and utter blackness that Poe describes, Jaynes convenes an all-black crew of six to follow Pym’s trail to the South Pole, armed with little but the firsthand account from which Poe derived his seafaring tale, a bag of bones, and a stash of Little Debbie snack cakes. Thus begins an epic journey by an unlikely band of adventurers under the permafrost of Antarctica, beneath the surface of American history, and behind one of literature’s great mysteries.

 

9 Books I Read in 2020 That Weren’t Published in 2020

The following are recommended, in no particular order. Selections mine, blurbs via Amazon.

Hamlet
William Shakespeare (audio book)
Shakespeare’s most famous play is one of the greatest stories in the literature of the world.

Distressed by his father’s death and his mother’s over-hasty remarriage, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is faced by a specter from beyond the grave bearing a grim message of murder and revenge. The young prince is driven to the edge of madness by his struggle to understand the situation he finds himself in and to do his duty. Many others, including Hamlet’s beloved, the innocent Ophelia, are swept up in his tragedy.

Hamlet is played by Simon Russell Beale. Imogen Stubbs plays Ophelia, Jane Lapotaire is Gertrude, and Bob Peck is Claudius. Polonius is played by Norman Rodway.

It’s the cast that makes this an exceptional Hamlet.

A Cab at the Door
V.S. Pritchett
A Cab at the Door, originally published in 1968, recalls his childhood in turn-of-the-century and World War I London with the urbane subtlety and wry humor that have marked his other works. For the wild and eccentric Pritchett family, life is a series of cabs waiting at the door to transport them to a succession of ten-bob-a-week lodgings, in their flight from creditors and the financial disasters of their father. A Cab at the Door also captures the texture and color of the working-class side of Edwardian England.

10% Happier – How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works
Dan Harris
Nightline anchor Dan Harris embarks on an unexpected, hilarious, and deeply skeptical odyssey through the strange worlds of spirituality and self-help, and discovers a way to get happier that is truly achievable. Now revised with new material.

After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had propelled him through the ranks of a hypercompetitive business, but had also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out.

Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction
Elizabeth Vargas
From the moment she uttered the brave and honest words, “I am an alcoholic,” to interviewer George Stephanopoulos, Elizabeth Vargas began writing her story, as her experiences were still raw. Now, in Between Breaths, Vargas discusses her accounts of growing up with anxiety–which began suddenly at the age of six when her father served in Vietnam–and how she dealt with this anxiety as she came of age, eventually turning to alcohol for a release from her painful reality. The now-A&E Network reporter reveals how she found herself living in denial about the extent of her addiction, and how she kept her dependency a secret for so long. She addresses her time in rehab, her first year of sobriety, and the guilt she felt as a working mother who could never find the right balance between a career and parenting. Honest and hopeful, Between Breaths is an inspiring read. Winner of the Books for a Better Life Award in the First Book category Instant New York Times and USA Today Bestseller

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
First published in the Soviet journal Novy Mir in 1962, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich stands as a classic of contemporary literature. The story of labor-camp inmate Ivan Denisovich Shukhov, it graphically describes his struggle to maintain his dignity in the face of communist oppression. An unforgettable portrait of the entire world of Stalin’s forced work camps, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is one of the most extraordinary literary documents to have emerged from the Soviet Union and confirms Solzhenitsyn’s stature as “a literary genius whose talent matches that of Dosotevsky, Turgenev, Tolstoy” — Harrison Salisbury

Ravelstein
Saul Bellow
Abe Ravelstein is a brilliant professor at a prominent midwestern university and a man who glories in training the movers and shakers of the political world. He has lived grandly and ferociously-and much beyond his means. His close friend Chick has suggested that he put forth a book of his convictions about the ideas which sustain humankind, or kill it, and much to Ravelstein’s own surprise, he does and becomes a millionaire. Ravelstein suggests in turn that Chick write a memoir or a life of him, and during the course of a celebratory trip to Paris the two share thoughts on mortality, philosophy and history, loves and friends, old and new, and vaudeville routines from the remote past. The mood turns more somber once they have returned to the Midwest and Ravelstein succumbs to AIDS and Chick himself nearly dies

Water by the Spoonful
Quiara Alegría Hudes
“How many plays make us long for grace? Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Hudes is such a rare play; it is a yearning, funny, deeply sad and deeply lyrical piece, a worthy companion to Hudes’s Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue. The play infects us with the urge to find connection within our families and communities and remains with us long after we’ve left the theater.” – Paula Vogel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of How I Learned to Drive

Writing to Learn: How to Write – and Think – Clearly About Any Subject at All
William Zinsser
Using numerous examples of clear, stylish writing from a broad range of disciplines, and adding the warmth of his personal experiences, Zinsser makes a strong case for his claim that writing about a field of knowledge is the best way to immerse oneself in it and to make it one’s own. Three guiding principles emerge accuracy, brevity, and clarity and, Zinsser argues, writers who keep them in mind will avoid much of the misunderstanding that results from bad writing. Zinnser has particularly harsh words for what he calls “corporation-speak,” the incomprehensible nonsense that invades many professional publications. His reference, whose title so accurately sums up its philosophy, should become a standard for those who care about good writing.

Our Country’s Good
Timberlake Wertenbaker
Australia 1789. A young married lieutenant is directing rehearsals of the first play ever to be staged in that country. With only two copies of the text, a cast of convicts, and one leading lady who may be about to be hanged, conditions are hardly ideal…Winner of the Laurence Olivier Play of the Year Award in 1988, and many other major awards, Our Country’s Good premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1988 and opened on Broadway in 1991. ‘Rarely has the redemptive, transcendental power of theatre been argued with such eloquence and passion.’

Things They Should Bring Back …

If you could bring back one discontinued item, what would it be? from r/AskReddit

7 Up Gold would be my vote. Good stuff.

mattreyu
McCormick used to sell a pizza seasoning in their grinder bottles that was delicious and could make any pizza better. I went so far as contacting them about it, and they told me they don’t even sell a comparable herb mix anymore.

shirobearr
Tangerine Altoids

omglolnub
The headphone jack on cell phones. Thank you, Apple, for your “bravery” that slimmed down the phone 0.0 nanometers.

TutumTeRebore
Not an item exactly, but IMDB discussion boards.

Some were toxic and all were difficult to moderate but, damn, was it excellent for analyzing and discussing films, and getting others’ takes and interpretations.

What are some good college courses on iTunes?

Two classes I enjoyed and recommend without reservation. (I selected the audio classes. I think you can pick video if you want.)

Via Yale:
The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877, David Blight
(HIST 119) This course explores the causes, course, and consequences of the American Civil War, from the 1840s to 1877. The primary goal of the course is to understand the multiple meanings of a transforming event in American history. Those meanings may be defined in many ways: national, sectional, racial, constitutional, individual, social, intellectual, or moral. Four broad themes are closely examined: the crisis of union and disunion in an expanding republic; slavery, race, and emancipation as national problem, personal experience, and social process; the experience of modern, total war for individuals and society; and the political and social challenges of Reconstruction. This course was recorded in Spring 2008.

Introduction to Ancient Greek History, Donald Kagan
(CLCV 205) This is an introductory course in Greek history tracing the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period. Students read original sources in translation as well as the works of modern scholars. This course was recorded in Fall 2007.

Under Their Thumb.

… “He’s vit me!” And it worked. Before I knew it, I was onstage with the Rolling Stones.

Freddy led me to a cubbyhole, right next to the backup singers. It held a dozen or so people and was sort of like a baseball dugout. Jerry Hall was in there, and so was Keith’s dad. We were getting a slightly skewed view

For better or worse, I was seeing what the Stones see. And it helped me understand why rock stars get fucked up. Being in front of 60,000 screaming fans for two hours can be an overwhelming experience. There is no way to healthily match that intensity when the tour is over and you’re home in your slippers eating corn flakes.”
Under Their Thumb, Bill German

OCR App demo

Q – What’s a good Document Scanning app for my phone?
A – Office Lens
See test run below.

Phone Camera image:
BookImageOCRDemo

Resulting text:
The shift-to-contrast reflex is designed so that it is suppressed when neurons in the central processing part of the model are firing at a high rate. When the firing rate drops off, say through fatigue, the reflex is released. We can, somewhat fancifully, think that the reflex is released when central processing is tired of (bored with) the current observation. For simple geometric figures, the net effect of the reflex is to cause the eye to shift to a new vertex of the observed figure.

Testing with this. Check it out.