Entries categorized "Books"

Book on Autism that was promoted on The Daily Show

Reason-i-jumpHello, everyone! I was on holidays for a couple of weeks, so I was a bit behind on updating my list. And wouldn't you know it, a book that REALLY picqued a lot of interest was on The Daily Show last week.

If you're looking for the book on autism, it's called The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. It was written by by Naoki Higashida and translated by David Mitchell who was a guest on the show.

Joanna Brooks, Daily Show guest, posts delightful "behind the scenes" look as an interviewee

Joanna Brooks, author of the book The Book of Mormon Girl, was interviewed on The Daily Show last week. After her interview, she posted an "inside edition" account of her time with Jon and The Daily Show crew.

Joanna Brooks on The Daily Show
After reading it, I love Jon even more and am super-excited to read Brooks' book.

But then, from the end of the hallway, I hear that unmistakeable voice singing a boisterous “HAVA NAGILA HAVA NAGILA HAVA . . .”  and clapping along.

Oh. My. Heart.

He is short—but not as short as you may have heard.  He’s about 5’7” or 5’8”.  About the same height as my husband.  Which I’ve always thought to be the perfect height, but I’m biased. And 5’3”.

He is also very intense, but in a powerfully good, generous, funny, and deeply intelligent way.  He was in the green room exactly the mensch you see on your television screen.

He gives us a huge hello, shakes hands with everyone—me last.

“I bring greetings from the Mormon feminists of America,” I said, “who adore you, and they send these pioneer bonnets as a token of their adoration!”

And I handed him the bonnets made by feministmormonhouswives.org founder Lisa in festive star of David and Hannukah fabrics–with ironed on Feminist Mormon Housewives labels–and he chuckled and smiled and examined them with appreciation.  And then I handed him the bonnet made in a fetching blue wool by Reese Dixon.  “This one,” I said, “My friend Tresa made to match your handsome suit.”

He was delighted.

And then he spied the bad Mormon dessert on the table.

“What is this?”

“It’s a bad Mormon dessert,” my editor explained.  “Strawberry jello pretzel pie.”

“I want to taste that!”

I started fishing around to set him up with a spoon and a plate and he took a big bite of the Jello-Cool-Whip concoction and says, “That’s not bad at all!  I like that!”

Someone jokes about the Jello-Cool-Whip Mormon thing, and David vocalized his usual complaints about the yucky goyishness of the food, to which Mr. Stewart replied, “And you think kasha varnishkas are any better?”

Brooks mentions she took several pictures - I really wish she had posted some - especially of any of Jon in a pioneer bonnet.

Make sure you check out Brooks' blog, Ask Mormon Girl, and her Twitter stream.

Bill Moyers and Jon Stewart Continuing the Conversation

Bill Moyers + Jon Stewart = Completely and Utterly Awesome

Bill-moyers-journal-bookBill Moyers is one of my heros. I have loved him from when I saw his interviews with Joseph Campbell. His voice, his questions, his conversations are something that are so desperately needed in modern society today - to try to bring some rational context to the mix.

So, when I saw he had a new book out of these conversations, I was quite excited. But then, when I found out the first interview was with Jon himself, I was over the moon!

For those of you who are Daily Show fan girls and fan boys like me, have I got a treat for you - the Table of Contents and first chapter of Moyers' book. I found it over on Athena Learning when I was searching for a postable Table of Contents (the publisher only includes SOME of the interviewee .. dammit, give me the full freakin' list!). So, I saved a copy and am posting it here.

Excerpt ...

Moyers: So many people seem to want just what you did, somebody to cut through the talking points and get our politicians to talk candidly and frankly.

Stewart: Not that many people. You’ve seen our ratings. Some people want it. A couple of people download it from iTunes. The conversation that the Senate and the House are having with the president is very similar to the conversation that McCain and I were having, which was two people talking over each other and nobody really addressing the underlying issues of what kind of country do we want to be, moving forward in this? And it’s not about being a pacifist or suggesting that you can never have a military solution to things. It’s just that it appears that this is not the smart way to fight this threat.

Moyers: Your persistence and his (McCain's) inability to answer without the talking points did get to the truth—that there’s a contradiction to what’s going on in that war that they can’t talk about.

Stewart: That’s right. There is an enormous contradiction, and it is readily apparent if you just walk through a simple sort of logic and simple rational points. But the thing that they don’t realize is that everyone wants them to come from beyond that contradiction so that we can all fix it. Nobody is saying, “We don’t have a problem.” Nobody is saying that “9/11 didn’t happen.” What they’re saying is, “We’re not a fragile country. Trust us to have this conversation, so that we can do this in the right way, in a more effective way.”

OMG, if it's possible, I'm a little more in love w/ both Stewart and Moyers after reading it.

Sarah Vowell and Unfamiliar Fishes

Unfamiliar Fishes Oh Sarah Vowell, how I love your books!  I have all of them.

Yeah.  I know.  This mini-review/booklist update will be completely biased.

Sarah Vowell is a history buff, humorist, and the voice of Violet in The Incredibles. I am so excited to read her latest book Unfamiliar Fishes.  Vowell's latest is on the history of Hawaii, and if it's anything like her other writings, she integrates her research experience with quirky historical tales.

She finds the most bizarre tidbits and weaves them into an informative and irreverent history of America.  For instance did you know, back before Hawaii was a territory, the two groups of foreign visiters were missionaries (who were converting) and sailors (who were on "vacation").  These groups, as you might imagine, were visiting the islands with very different agendas.  Can't wait to read this one!

Brian Christian's The Most Human Human

MostHumanHumanHow human are you?  Author and poet Brian Christian writes about his experience of the Loebner Prize Competition.  Basically, a bunch of scientists chat online with humans and with computers, but the scientists aren't told which they are talking to.  They have 5 minutes to decide who is human and who is not.  The prize goes to the most human human, that is, the person who distinguishes him or herself as the most human through their textual conversation.  Who is off-the-wall?  Who shows their emotional intelligence?   If you're interested in our interaction with computers (and computers as equals, such as Watson on Jeopardy) as well as what makes humans different, then you should check out The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What it Means to Be Alive.

Senator Rand Paul and The Tea Party Goes to Washington

TheTeaPartyGoestoWashingtonOkay, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) might not be your cup of tea.  He opposes all gun control, abortion (even the case of rape or incest), and has made some questionable statements about civil rights.  Stewart calls him "the walkiest of the talkers," that is, that Senator Paul walks the walk of his talk.

In his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington, Senator Paul narrates the Tea Party's history and attempts to demonstrate why the Tea Party isn't extreme.

Consistent with his interviews on other broadcasts, Senator Paul is calm and collected and sticks to his proverbial guns.

Diane Ravitch and the Death and Life of the Great American School System

Jon Stewart interviews Diane Ravich about her latest book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System.  The woman's got cred: Dr. Ravitch is the former US Assistant Secretary of Education and is now a research professor at NYU and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Her book, which broadly speaking is about education values, digs into how the privatization of the US school system (think: charter schools and corporatization of schools) hasn't proven to better students' learning.  In the interview, Dr. Ravitch points to how race and poverty play out in the classroom, and I'm interested in how she extends on this topic in her book.  Sounds amazing. 

And Jon?  Okay Jon, I couldn't love you more in this interview when you speak about your admiration for your mom, a long-time educator!

Allison Stanger's One Nation Under Contract

OneNationUnderContractDr. Allison Stanger,  Chair of the Political Science Department at Middlebury College, Vermont, is a powerhouse when it comes to US foreign policy.  Beyond her academic accolades, she's provided congressional testimony on issues of wartime policy and government oversight and has served on the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff (Dept. of State).

Her book, One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy, documents the transformation of how the US fights wars, wars becoming a far more privatized endeavor.  As Dr. Stanger notes, jobs have been created, but not necessarily for Americans.  Wartime contracting she argues "is a  story of unprecedented waste, fraud and abuse."

The interview is compelling, and I bet the book is equally so.  It's on my list to read.

King Abdullah II of Jordan and The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril

Our Last Best Chance: The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril In a time of great change and violence in the North Africa and the Middle East, King Abdullah II's book The Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril will be interest to people all over the world.

On today's broadcast of the Daily Show, the Jordanian ambassador to the United Nations, Prince Zeid Ra'ad, speaks with Jon Stewart about the book.  Given the current state of affairs in the region, The King couldn't come to The Daily Show.  Understandable.

Hmm,  something that I don't think they bring up is the fact that there are a TON of books by US politicians.  But there are far fewer books promoted to an American audience that are written by leaders of Middle Eastern countries.  It seems to me that this perspective  is one that we should be reading about.