Beneath the Lion’s Gaze

Greetings from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! I’m on vacation! I read this book in preparation for my trip, and although we’ll only be here until tomorrow afternoon, my friend and I have been sightseeing all day with a guide and have talked about some of the things in this book (namely, Emperor Selassie). My friend andContinue reading “Beneath the Lion’s Gaze”

Night at the Fiestas

Mostly set in New Mexico, the ten short stories in Kirsten Valdez Quade’s new book capture mesmerizing glimpses at the lives of outsiders. From deadbeat dads trying to make amends, to girls coming of age, to many a character trying to navigate race/class lines, the stories in this collection are heavily infused with Catholic, Mexican American, and New MexicanContinue reading “Night at the Fiestas”


A community on a remote island of Newfoundland has been in gradual decline for decades. Without any real job prospects or potential for growth, young people move away from Sweetland and build their futures in bigger cities; now, the town is mostly populated by an older generation that is dying away. The Canadian government has offeredContinue reading “Sweetland”

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment

When people think of Japan and World War II, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are probably what come to mind. For some reason, people seem to forget the firebombing of Tokyo in March of 1945, but it claimed more lives than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined, left millions homeless, and burned down half of Tokyo.Continue reading “The Gods of Heavenly Punishment”

Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History

Considering how much breasts are revered and/or fetishized — especially in Western cultures — it’s shocking how little is actually known about how they work. Relying on science, anthropology, history, and a healthy dose of whimsy, science writer Florence Williams presents an entertaining and illuminating cultural history of breasts. From the beginning, you know it’s going to beContinue reading “Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History”