Monday, July 14, 2014

Catching Up

Finished yesterday: Book #98: Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr (Richard Rhodes), a short, fun bio of the actress who liked to invent stuff in her spare time.

Big Read Catch-up:  June 2014 Books Read


Audubon Nature Encyclopedia, Volume 11 and the last one of the set, Volume 12

Field Notes on Science and Nature (Michael Canfield, editor)
In which scientists from various disciplines describe their field note methods, with illustrations, in a gorgeously designed book.

Folklore of Birds (Laura Martin)
Just what it says.  Birds.  Folklore.

Frederic Church, Winslow Homer and Thomas Moran (Smithsonian)
Essays on the artists accompany excellent reproductions.

Fringe-ology:  How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable – and Couldn’t (Steve Volk)
One of my rare borrows instead of buy (and glad I did), this was an odd little work wherein the author, a journalist, looks at ghosts, telepathy, clairvoyance, UFOs and so on with an open mind.  He has a few intriguing stories to relate but nothing really new or interesting to say.

Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death (Deborah Blum)
This book on the paranormal, however, was much more interesting (and I’m glad I bought it).  William James and the other people in the book were well-known researchers and scientists in “legitimate” fields of study who were keenly interested in discovering an explanation for odd phenomena, with studies focused on mediums who purported to contact the spirit world – at least one of whom was extremely well tested and documented, raising fascinating questions.  Good stuff.

Glacial Lake Missoula and Its Humongous Floods (David Alt)
Dull, duller, and dullest.


A Guide to the Birds of East Africa (Nicholas Drayson)
Totally charming story of a widower who enters a competition with an old rival to spot the most bird species in a week – with the prize being the right to ask a pretty widow to an annual ball.  Delightful story in every way.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Muriel Barbery)
Contemporary French novel about a middle-aged concierge who hides her intelligence from the rich apartment dwellers of her building, and the young daughter of one of those families who does the same, told from alternating viewpoints in journal-like form.   Philosophical, often amusing, with engaging characters; marred solely by the far-too-obvious ending (which most readers seem to have found “bittersweet” but which I nearly burst out laughing at).

The Bloody Wood (Michael Innes)
The  Mysterious Commission (Michael Innes)
Classic British mysteries.

Black Orchids (Rex Stout)
Classic American mystery.

Champions of Breakfast (Adam Rex)
Final book in the amusing though overwrought middle-grade fantasy trilogy.

The Provincial Lady in London (E. M. Delafield)
1930s humorous novel told in diary form.


  1. Didn't you have another book on the humongous floods that you found more interesting? You probably mentioned it already & I missed it. I saw something about Hedy Lamarr on "Mysteries at the Museum". I had no idea she was so scientifically minded. Good stuff.

    1. Yup -- the MUCH better book is called "Bretz's Flood" by John Soennischen. Very engaging biography of the geologist who first proposed the cataclysmic flood explanation back in the 1920s. I think you'd enjoy it (and it's not very long!).