A Riffle of Winter Reviews

I've been posting about recent books instead of dealing with my backlog, and now it's time to do some end-of-year cleanup around here (and on my desk!).

Masterpieces of Terror and the Unknown, by Marvin Kaye -- I read a bunch of the stories featured in this book for RIP.  There are some great classics in here, some really spooky stuff!  I ran out of steam and did not finish the collection (which is huge), but I really liked a lot of what I read.

The Mutabilitie Cantos of the Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser -- OK, it is way too late for me to be posting about these, but I did read them!  I want credit, darn it.  They were pretty interesting actually, being entirely different from the other cantos, set in Ireland (in Spenser's neighborhood, probably), and involving a judicial hearing with Nature as judge.

The Catholic Table: Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet, by Emily Stimpson Chapman -- I'm not Catholic, and lately I'm not much of a cook either, but I follow Chapman's blog and I really wanted to read her book.  It's good stuff.  Perhaps her perspective would not be as surprising and refreshing to her fellow Catholics (though maybe it would!), but I really appreciated the new-to-me angle she brought to her literary table, and I got a lot out of it.  Her book is part memoir (of her progress through and out the other side of an eating disorder), part meditation brought on by those experiences, and part tour through scripture and Catholic theology.  I'm glad I was able to get a copy.

You Just Don't Understand! Women and Men in Conversation, by Deborah Tannen -- I picked this up at random from our neighborhood Little Free Library, where I will shortly return it.  I wasn't necessarily going to read it; I'd never heard of Tannen, but I started it one day and then couldn't put it down.  I'm always a sucker for this kind of book anyway, but Tannen's writing is absorbing and nuanced, all about the broad differences in communication styles between men and women and how common it is for breakdowns in understanding to occur.  She points out that people have different, but equally valid, styles of talking based on differing goals.  We're often focusing on completely disparate aspects of a conversation and thus confused when the other person does not react as we'd expect.  I read a revised edition from 2007, and I bet many of us would get a lot out of this book.

 There is so much end-of-year blogging to do!  But at least I got these off my desk.  Wish me luck with the rest!


  1. "We're often focusing on completely disparate aspects of a conversation and thus confused when the other person does not react as we'd expect." This just happened between me and my boss and threw me into a complete tailspin for weeks, from which I'm slowly recovering. Except she is a woman, so I'm not sure this book would be relevant. However, I do feel I need to find out more about communication styles and this might help. (My husband and I do often have such disconnects as well.)

  2. Well, as she's careful to point out, it's all on a spectrum anyway and there are plenty of folks who lean more toward the other style. However, she's got a different book on figuring out communication styles in general, so maybe that would be more what you're looking for!

  3. Thanks for reminding me about the Marvin Kaye book. I just got a copy of Ghostly Tales from Chronicle Books but, since they're Victorian ghost tales, I've read most of them before! I need a broader selection.


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