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the quiller memorandum (1966)

I can see why this is a lesser known 60s spy thriller I mean it’s got the intrigue and the atmosphere but it just doesn’t really have the stakes, I think because of a weak plot. 
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ringworld by larry niven

I think in 1970 this kind of hard sci-fi worldbuilding was novel enough, and this kind of heinlein-style reactionary politics was attractive enough, that people happily overlooked the utterly banal characters, ridiculously cluttered plot, nonsensical technical details, and general misogyny. 

Fire on the Prairie by Gary Rivlin

I’ve recently seen this book compared to Robert Caro’s classic The Power Broker which I would say is accurate in terms of subject, caliber of writing, and deeply fascinating political anecdotes, but where Caro goes deep and wide, Rivlin is more focused, and the tighter result is in some ways better: a masterpiece encapsulation of the ugliest and most inspiring aspects of human governance. 

watership down (1978)

There’s just no way to fit even a quarter of the plot of the book into a 90 minute kid’s movie, and unfortunately this 70s edition tries to fit a third, and so altho the animation is gorgeous and the movie does have a certain ineffable greatness, it suffers a bunch from pacing and plot issues. 

watership down by richard adams

Older children’s books like this one ask a lot of the reader, from plot complexity to vocabulary to attention span, and like other enduring classics this one earns it and then some; there are enough deep ideas to can keep any adult entranced, and the dramatic intensity of the characters and setting will reward everyone alike. 

The spectacular failure of the star wars hotel by Jenny Nicholson

In this incredibly detailed, well researched 4+ hour deep dive into a Disney theme experience I’d never heard of before, I discovered once again a funny truth about art, and culture, and entertainment, and fandom, and maybe even the human experience as a whole, which is that the Quality of a thing, the craft, the passion, is 98% of the experience - and what it’s about, or whether you agree or think you ought to care, hardly even registers. 

Richie Rich (1994)

It may be nonsensical, completely obvious, and unoriginal, but the characters are fun and the over the top acting works for the genre, and if you, like me, saw it 100 times between 94 and 97, it gives you a big ole dose of nostalgia. 

Cribsheet by Emily Oster

I appreciate Oster’s approach to data driven decision-making, so even tho I actually disagree on how she handled the discussion on co-sleeping / bedsharing, which is probably the most impactful decision new parents make, I still think this book is a valuable resource. 

The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by Corey Robin

It’s amazing to consider that the news that Thomas had been caught taking undisclosed gifts from a conservative billionaire came out only 2 years after this book, but it does highlight my single issue with what is otherwise an excellent, impeccably written and thoroughly researched investigation - this wacky supreme court justice is interesting to the extent that his twisted belief system makes any sense, but the more it comes out that he’s just a corrupt death cultist, the less relevance there is to his future jurisprudence (and his past, retroactively) that he was once a black nationalist. 

The Brothers by Stephen Kinzer

Stephen Kinzer delivers an excellent biography of the Dulles brothers, those cold warriors that shaped and defined so much of modern history - and altho the book could sometimes have had a little less redundant summarizing and a little more historical detail, it was extremely well written, well researched, easy to read, and fascinating. 

The Haunting of Hill House (2018 on Netflix)

I don’t usually go for horror because I don’t enjoy the feeling of being creeped out, which this miniseries certainly had plenty of (along with some excellent practical effects), but I will say that the story itself was superb, with lots of twists and reveals that had me hooked, and even tho some of the characters’ monologues got a little long and theatrical for my taste, the overall journey was surprisingly fulfilling and heartfelt. 

mating in captivity by esther perel

I appreciate the sentiment and goal here, which is to help long term monogamous couples maintain an erotic spark in their homes, but I must say that this book is so unrigorous, in that it doesn’t attempt to prove or define anything, that it honestly does a disservice to its own thesis.