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The Leaning Bookshelf

The Leaning Bookshelf


This sounds pompous, but when I lived in London, I read (for fun, not school) a lot.

Why? Maybe because the summer days lasted so long or because it’s so pleasant to sit outside reading in a park, any park, or because shopping at Waterstone’s feels like such a treat. But it probably really had something to do with “living the life”, having not really started my career and still getting support from Mom and Dad. I do know that I am a lucky kid.

Then I moved home, time went on, and I read less. It probably had something to do with getting a “real job” and growing up. I mean, I made a goodreads account, but I never really used it. I also never caught the kindle reader craze. I think that I didn’t miss leisure reading because I wasn’t doing a lot of pleasure writing.

In balance, I don’t know that I could call myself a “book lover”. This Atlantic piece, The Decline of the American Book Lover was published about the time I got pregnant with OJ, thereby pushing any interest, energy or brainpower for lesiure reading into deep, dormant stage. However, this summer I have really enjoyed moving A FEW BOOKS from “to read” to “read” in my goodreads account, and all of them read as an EBOOK from SAPL (aka for free). It probably has something to do with still being lucky.

Here are some of the highlights from my leaning bookshelf…

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Books 1-4 of the Gabriel Allon series, by Daniel Silva 

Thank God for Lauraine–finally someone else who has heard of, read, and enjoys these books.

Gabriel Allon is art restorer who is also an Israeli spy and the first few books are all related to resolving events of the Holocaust. They read quickly and easily–Lauraine calls it “escape reading”. I appreciate that while there is a formula to the stories, the description of the place is fabulous (Vienna, Rome, London, Tel Aviv, Venice, Munich, etc). Reiterating Lauraine.

When I was in Denver for #TisHerselfTurns40, we visited the Denver Art Museum. I tweeted after the visit and had a favorite from both the Denver Art Museum AND Daniel Silva, the author of the Allon series. BOOM. We’re like besties. 


The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown

Just in time for the Olympics, you can also watch the PBS American Experience called “The Boys of 36“. My opinion: this story (in book or television) is better than anything NBC is shoving down your throat.

Both my high school and college have rowing teams but going to Henley is a “once in a lifetime and it doesn’t matter if I never rowed experiences” (thank you, Junior League of London).

M and Harriet

The Boys in the Boat is not about the privileged guys. The true story is about eight guys from the University of Washington, who came from nothing but wanted a spot on the crew so they could be guaranteed a part-time job at the school ensuring they could eat, learning to row, and later beating all the privileged and elite East Coast schools  to compete in the Berlin Olympics (“in financial terms, it was pretty starkly going to be a clash of old money versus no money at all”), and then beating all of the professional amateurs they rowed against, including England, rowing The Husky Clipper, which had been “christened” with sauerkrat “to get it used to Germany”.

But before there was gold in Berlin, there was this in Poughkeepsie:

“As Washington pulled even, Moch leaned over toward the Syracuse boat, smiled, and said, rather softly but in his deep baritone voice, ‘Go to hell, Syracuse.”

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins

Set in (but more outside) London. Need I say more. It’s the British equivalent of a “beach read” which is a “train/tube/bus read”.

What’s your recommendation?

Life with My Crab, The Leaning Bookshelf

WGCC Author Series: David Kilcullen

From The King’s Speech, which we watched last Saturday night just in the knick of time before it was awarded Best Film 2010 Sunday night, “‎I don’t know what an Australian would do for that amount of money” in reference to Lionel Logue. 

Some Australians would even write a book for money. 

Tonight’s installment of the author series at the club featured David Kilcullen… 

Dr. David Kilcullen is an Australian author and consultant on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism who is the founder and CEO of Caerus Associates, a Washington D.C. based consultancy firm. He is a former Australian Army Royal Australian Infantry Corps Lieutenant Colonel and Analyst with the Australian Office of National Assessments. Kilcullen was seconded to the United States Department of State Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism as Chief Counterterrorism Strategist and then was the Special Advisor for Counterinsurgency to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In 2007 he served as the Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser to the Commander of the Multi-National Force – Iraq General David Petraeus as a civilian position on his personal staff responsible for planning and executing the 2007-08 Joint Campaign Plan which drove the Iraq War troop surge of 2007. Kilcullen has also been an advisor to the British Government and the Australian government, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the International Security Assistance Force and to several private sector institutions. He is also a former Senior Fellow of the Center for a New American Security and now a Member of the Center for a New American Security Advisory Board.

So my parents sent me the invitation for the event, earlier in the week, thinking only of T. 

I played the middle man and passed it forward to him, and he was quite interested in going because he is halfway through Kilcullen’s first book, The Accidental Guerilla.

The subject of his talk was really his second book, Counterinsurgency. He talked about small c counterinsurgency and big C Counterinsurgency and had some nice little anecdotal tales, then took questions. 

Question Time 
The country club being the country club, there was of course the member who was far too many in to his cups (a Florida fan, I pointed out to T) and asked some inappropriate questions which clearly made everyone in the audience uncomfortable, so that was classy. I heard a man sitting behind us and on the other side of the room say in a ‘whisper’ to his wife, “Who is this guy?” 

Since I know that T is a man of many words, and I know how much he likes to draw attention to himself, I challenged him:
I dont’ know how much money it would take for T to talk in public but I learned tonight it is more than twenty bucks. 

Shmooze Time 
After the conclusion, Kilcullen was available to autograph books so we stood in line, I purchased the second book for T to read when he is done with the first, and when Kilcullen was ready to sign our book, I turned around and T was POOF nowhere to be seen. Talk about guerrilla tactics. 

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