Valentine, a Killer Debut Novel, and Banned Books

Sunset in Big Bend National Park

Last week, I finished reading Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore. I previously thought that American Dirt would be my favorite book of 2020 but unexpectedly, Valentine bumped it out of the running by a significant margin. What each of us finds praiseworthy about a book is entirely personal and while I…

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Kiki de Montparnasse, Muse of A Thousand Faces — Part I

Photo of Kiki by Pablo Gargallo

There are many reasons why I love my public library and high on the list is its world language section. Over the years, regularly browsing the French stacks, I’ve often noticed the book Kiki de Montparnasse, by Catel Muller and José-Louis Bocquet. For whatever reason, the cover blurb never managed…

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American Dirt, The Out Crowd, and Cancel Culture

Saguaro National Park by Joe Parks

Since Covid, I’ve been very diligent about staying home, limiting my social interactions, wearing a mask, etc. Last week, however, I decided to escape the confinement and join my husband Andy on a short expedition across Wyoming and South Dakota. I thoroughly enjoyed the break from routine. To sum things…

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Two Graphic Novels, Illuminating Memoirs from the Middle East that are Fun to Read

Panel from Persepolis

For most westerners, the Middle East is a frightening and poorly understood part of the world. It’s impossible to develop an appreciation for the diversity of its people, its rich history, and the range of life experience in the region if you only rely on western news reports. In the…

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Black Authors Matter, Marguerite Abouet’s Positive Images of African Life

Aya de Yopougon, Volume 1

Given the disturbing events of recent weeks, a new movement, labeled with the hashtag #BlackoutBestsellerList, encourages people to purchase books by black authors between now and June 20. The goal is to push black authors to the top of bestseller lists around the world. There are, of course, countless exceptional…

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The real frontline in the battle against Muslim fundamentalism

Review of “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here, Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism”, by Karima Bennoune. I started reading this book a few years ago and while I find it to be an important and well-researched account of Muslim-led efforts throughout the world to combat Islamic extremism,…

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