Moonwalking with Einstein

moonjpg-e1ae853ce545bbcdJoshua Foer’s Moonwalking with Einstein is Foer’s investigation into memory, how it works and how to use it to its full potential.

He begins his journey when he is assigned to cover a memory championship and is challenged to compete in the U.S. Memory Championship a year later.  Once he accepts the challenge Foer investigate all end of memory spectrum from Kim Peek, “the Most Forgetful Man in the World”, to Grand Masters of the memory world.

The book is incredibly engaging and fascinating. We hold all these things in our heads and know so little about how we keep them there. Foer is easy to relate to. The book seems fair and balance, the author interviewing memory experts, scientists, sceptics and savants.

In the end, I walked away entertained, educated and armed a few memory tricks.

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Firefly Dance

Firefly Dance is a collection of four short stories about taking the journey from childhood to adulthood. I love Sarah Addison Allen’s books which why I picked this collection up. The styles of the authors were very different and the collection itself felt disjointed in the end I was greatly disappointed.

The first short story, by Phyllis Schieber’s, was my favourite, it did what a short story should do- give a snapshot. It took me on a meaningful journey in a few pages.

The second story by Kathryn Magendie was too long. She explained too much and showed too little. I wanted Magendie to let go and let me interpret the characters instead she explained everything to death and I was so bored I stopped caring what happened.

The third story by Augusta Trobaugh, had some good momentum but lost me in the end. Where Kathryn Magendie explained too much, Trobaugh lost me in the last two pages. She makes a giant leap that was too big for me to follow. I needed more.

The last story, from Sarah Addison Allen, was okay. Not my favourite story from her. It felt like something she much have written near the beginning of her career. The endearing characters are there, but under developed.


Paper Towns

This is a fantastic story, beautifully crafted and alarmingly real.

I cannot say enough good things about Paper Towns. It is a must on everyone’s “to read” list and my favourite novel by John Green (sorry TFIOS fans).

Quintin and Margo were friends as children. But high school happened and they went their separate ways. One night Margo knocks on Quintin’s window and takes him on an amazing night of debauchery, revenge and fun. Then Margo disappears without a trace. But she Leaves clues for Quintin to find her. The question is does she really want to be found?

 

American Nerd

American Nerd: The Story of My People is funny and delightful. It is a must read for nerds, dorks and dweebs everywhere. The book was disjointed at times but overall an enjoyable look at nerdom and all its wonders.

Benjamin Nugent reflects on stories of his youth and finding acceptance in his group of nerd friends. It is in these moments Nugent shines. He is charming, funny and thought provoking. Nerds of the world, this is our story told by one of our own.

 

Audrey, Wait!

I was laughing out loud as I read Audrey, Wait! Audrey is regular 16 year old, she is navigating the halls of her high school, she has a crummy part time job and LOVES music. She also has a boyfriend, who like most high school boys isn’t really being the best boyfriend, so she breaks up with him. He also happens to be in a band, The Do-Gooders. The night they break up he writes a song called “Audrey, Wait!’ and it slowly climbs the charts propelling them and her into super stardom.

Robin Benway accurately captures the emotional roller coaster of a teenage girl under the microscope of her peers (and the paparazzi). It’s absolutely charming and a must for all Nick and Norah fans.

Chasing the Rising Sun

I was listening to Q on CBC radio when I first learned about this book. Ted Anthony, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, became obsessed with the song “House of the Rising Sun” and decided to trace the song back to its origins and write a book about the journey.

The result reminds me of a travel memoir. There is a beginning, filled with drive and inspiration. A Middle where you meet the most interesting kinds of people and their stories move you and change you in some way. Finally there is the conclusion where you face a full circle moment and realize how connected we all are. Perhaps I am stretching the journey a little far and making more of it than it was. But I felt connected to Ted Anthony in the height of his fandom. I was moved by what he found. “Chasing the Rising Sun” is a perfect addition to any music lover’s library.

The Frozen Thames

Just finished Helen Humphreys’ The Frozen Thames. It is a collection of short stories which take place between the 15th and 19th Centuries when the River Thames froze over. There are stories of love, loss and ice. I think Christina Decarie’s review sums up the experience best: “to speak of loss lightly but profoundly.”

Overall a satisfying read by the fire place.