Nightstand Confessional

Categories: Books
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In honor of this week's Winter Books issue and an appropriate turn in the weather, here's what CP staffers are climbing into bed with these days.


The Devil's Picnic by Taras Grescoe
The Canadian author travels the world in search of forbidden fare, and arranges a nine-course meal of banned delicacies. I borrowed this from the library with thoughts of challenging my puritanical mindset. Sure enough, Grescoe, who's pro-legalization on all counts, keeps my teeth gnashing. I agree that the FDA should rethink its stance on raw-milk cheeses, but 186-proof Norwegian moonshine still sounds like a bad idea. --Lindsey Thomas

For Reasons of Poverty by Leroy Pelton
It's a dusty academic examination of the roots of the U.S. child welfare system checked out of the Hamline library for me by one G.R. Anderson, Jr. One more piece of definitive evidence that the war on poverty was an aberration in this country's history; it's more often been a war on the poor. Also, less strenuously, Psychoanalysis, a combination history and first-person encounter with a real live analyst by journalist Janet Malcolm. I realize Malcolm was roundly discredited after her work on the Freud Archives showed her to have a little honesty problem, but her analyst protagonist seems to have at least as many layers of guile and watching the two of them use their frontal lobes to have at each other is way more fun than Desperate Housewives. --Beth Hawkins

The Disappearance Of The Universe by Gary R. Renard
The only other two people I know who've read this are my dad and Tommy Mischke. Both recommend it, so do I. It's a precursor to the popular metaphysics tome, A Course In Miracles, (which may be too much heavy-lifting for me at this point) and, as the subtitle has it, "straight talk about illusions, past lives, religion, sex, politics, and the miracles of forgiveness." Great stuff. --Jim Walsh

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D Watson
I understood hardly any of the science--and I'm asking "hardly any" to get cozier with "none" that I suspect it wants to--but it's a funny, droll, catty, self-revealing depiction of scientists in search of knowledge and Nobels, not necessarily in that order. --Dylan Hicks

The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald
A totally engaging series of four shorts about Germans in exile: a painter, a doctor, a schoolteacher, and Great Uncle Ambrose. The late Sebald pioneers a sort of realism, combined with documentary artifacts, that draws you into the great unreadable pattern of All Things while making mysterious the mundane. --Quinton Skinner

The Monster at our Door: the Global Threat of Avian Flu by Mike Davis
I want to be fully conscious of how I'm going to die. --Paul Demko

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
Part of my ongoing efforts to read more 20th Century classics. --Corey Anderson

Reading something good? Talk about it in the comments section.


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