Two Reason’s You’ll Love “The Master and Margarita”

“The Master and Margarita” is a difficult book to summarize because there is so much going on. It is a conglomeration of subplots loosely tied together by Ivan Homeless, a poet who is admitted into an asylum after Woland (Satan) predicts the decapitation of Homeless’s colleague. Because “The Master and Margarita” is a difficult book, Penguin’s “The Master and Margarita: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is especially helpful.

“Calm the F*ck Down” Review

If you read my “The Books I Picked” post for January, you know that “Calm The F*ck Down: How to Control What You Can and Accept What You Can’t so You Can Stop Freaking Out and Get on With Your Life” by Sarah Knight is a tongue-in-cheek guide to accepting the things you cannot change, finding the courage to change the things you can, and using straight up logic to tell the difference. Sounds familiar right? Besides being a nice idea, one that relies on your own powers of logic instead of waiting on the gift of wisdom from a higher being, Knight’s NoWorries Method for calming the f*ck down works. At least it does for me. 

The Books I Picked for February (My TBR List)

My reading goals for January were ambitious, so I’m cutting myself some slack for February. I read/listened to seven books in January. Take that Goodreads goal! In all seriousness, I am not a proponent of ploughing through books, and it’s not something I typically do, which is why I’m looking forward to taking some time with only two books in February. Of course, I say that now…

"The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder" Poetry Review

Poetry is enjoying a renaissance. In fact, citing a National Endowment for the Arts study, Nikki Vanry’s June 7, 2018 Book Riot headline claims “Poetry Is More Popular Than Ever.” I’ve never been an avid reader of poetry, but I appreciate how poetry offers an opportunity to depart from the literal and enjoy some word play/experimentation. The recent increase in poetry readers, however, has more to do with politics and resistance movements. 

Why I'm Starting to Read More Fantasy

Fantasy gets a bad rap for being predictable genre fiction. But The Key to the Half Worlds by Andrew Chaplin surprised me. It’s time to put our prejudices against fantasy aside and read more of it. Included in my review of The Key to the Half Words is a fun side note about the history of washing machines and a discussion of why we should stop using the term “guilty read.”

The Only Self-Improvement Book You Need to Read

In Instant Wisdom: 10 Easy Ways to Get Smart Fast, Beth Burgess successfully summarizes most of the self-improvement books that have been published in the last decade in a fun, casual way. As a self-improvement junkie, I definitely recommend Instant Wisdom. From Instant Wisdom, I learned about Socratic questioning as a way to deal with personal issues and make personal decisions. I also appreciate Burgess’s criticism of the Law of Attraction.

6 Ways to Avoid Fake News (Infographic)

I realize now that my essay, “How to Spot Fake News Despite Your Filter Bubble,” however informative, is LONG. So, I created a simple infographic outlining six easy ways to avoid fake news. I’ve also included a few recommended reputable news sources. At the end of the article, you’ll also find book recommendations on the subject of fake news, journalism, rhetoric, and truth. 

A Bookish Blog Inspired by History

I started Picking Books as a book blog inspired by history. I’ve since expanded to include additional cross-disciplinary book reviews that look at how society and culture also relates to the books I read. Showing others how to learn about history through enjoyable books was my original intention though, so let’s talk about how we can learn about history through books and why learning about history is important even (especially) for adults.

The Ten-Year Nap Review

The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer resonated with every fiber of my being. Never have I read a book that spoke so poignantly to all the thoughts swirling around my brain. Read my review of The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer to learn why I whole-heartedly disagree with the bad reviews of The Ten-Year Nap on Goodreads. Do not overlook or underestimate The Ten-Year Nap because of the bad reviews.

Father Divine's Bikes Review and History

 Father Divine’s Bikes introduced me to a historical figure I had never heard of, Father Divine (though Father Divine is more of a character in spirit). Father Divine was an African-American religious figure who rose to prominence in the 1930s. PBS calls his International Peace Mission Movement, “one of the most unorthodox religious movements in America.”

How to Spot Fake News Despite Your Filter Bubble

We are in the midst of an epidemic of hatred. Or filter bubble, fake news, and rhetoric are three of the many reasons we have stopped using our critical thinking skills and lost our ability to empathize with one another. If the news and politics has driven wedges into your relationships, read on and learn what good journalism is and how to spot fake news despite your filter bubble.

Four Ways to Counteract “What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains”

The internet is affecting our memory and concentration, and not in a goodway, according to Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. But for better or worse, the internet is here to stay. So how do we live with technology without sacrificing our brains? In The Shallows, Carr offers a few suggestions, which I’ve outlined in this article along with one suggestion of my own.

La Befana and 'Beyond the Wicked Willow: Chronicles of a Teenage Witchslayer': A Book Review

After finding out he’s the descendant of a witchslayer, Frankie and his friends are transported to medieval Italy in order to save a young girl from the evil Strega. In my review of Beyond the Wicked Willow: Chronicles of a Teenage Witchslayer by M.J. Rocissono I explore Rocissono’s entertaining fantasy adventure and take a look at the history of the Italian tradition of La Befana.

'Destroying Their God' by Wallace Jeffs: A Book Review

Destroying Their God: How I Fought My Evil Half-Brother to Save My Children by Wallace Jeffs is a fascinating and moving story of Jeffs’ struggle with FLDS. He is still facing the consequences of leaving the insular FLDS community, and he has an interesting perspective on polygamy. In my review of Destroying Their God, I take a look at the technical merits of the book and delve into the ways Rulon and Warren Jeffs manipulated their followers.

'In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills’ Review and History

After a miscarriage, Rachel feels the urge to seek out her estranged photojournalist father, Henry, who she learns lived in Rwanda. She travels to Rwanda 10 years after the genocide to meet Lillian. Originally from Georgia, Lillian operates an orphanage in Rwanda that she and Henry built together. During her stay, Rachel learns about her father while witnessing how Rwandans are coming to terms with the genocide. Continue reading my review of In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills for more information about both the genocide and the book.