back to the blog

Pause! That’s what it feels like to be reading at a leisurely pace and not to be writing. But now that the temperature is soaring into the 40s and the ice is melting, it feels like Play! – or at least, a time of new beginnings. So, I am back to the blog with a few thoughts on recently read books.

Have you been in a meeting when one comment starts an avalanche of agreement that soon seems to lead to an inevitable conclusion? That is one of the symptoms of bad groupthink in WISER: GETTING BEYOND GROUPTHINK TO MAKE GROUPS SMARTER BY Cass R. Sunstein. Other symptoms: incorrect statements get amplified, instead of corrected; groups become polarized; common knowledge is emphasized, instead of new knowledge being introduced. Suggestions for remedies to make groups smarter include: silencing the leader until others comment, rethinking rewards and incentives, and assigning roles based on unique strengths of participants. Sunstein is a professor at Harvard and has served in the Obama administration. An interesting and fresh look at how meetings do and do not work.

I am an Anne Tyler fan. I like her quirky characters and the Baltimore flavor of her books. A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD is her newest novel, (her 17th!) As usual it’s the story of a family living in Baltimore and moving towards a destiny that seems driven by both their histories and their usual roles in the family. Four generations of an ordinary family who “imagined they were special” fill a narrative that moves back and forth through time and reveals secrets and explanations for the characters’ choices and attitudes.

I become ever more intrigued by short stories that at their best expand fewer words on the page into greater impact in my mind. HONEYDEW: STORIES by Edith Pearlman is indubitably one of the best examples of this art form. Pearlman’s writing is exquisite. Each story drops you into a world confusing at first and then intricate and perceptive and totally engaging. Characters and settings are varied, as are the concerns- some actual, some psychological- of the characters. Human predicaments abound – affairs, pregnancy, anorexia, trauma, displacement, to name a few. Keen understanding without judgment pervades each story. Harsh topics softened by human kindness.

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2 thoughts on “back to the blog

  1. Did you like Anne Tyler’s new novel? There was a rumor that it was her last novel…but it was a rumor. She said she possibly couldn’t tell if another novel would come upon her or not which makes sense.

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  2. Hi Amy. I liked it, but not as much as some of her others. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant & Saint Maybe were favorites of mine, when I read them years ago. Whenever I recommend an “old favorite” I wonder if it would still evoke the same reaction after so much time. Maybe some re-reading should be added to my to-do list.Have you ever changed your opinion about a book after re-reading years later?

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