March Bookshelf

I have great and grandiose literary plans. Early spring may be my only realy chance to read until next year, so I’m wasting no time.

Already underway:

Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. (Short answer? Deliberate practice.) Paired with Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. (Gist? Success is at the intersection of opportunity, talent, and hard work.) There are some revelations in the intersection of these two books. I’ll let you know what they are if my brain doesn’t explode by the time I finish them.

The Cambridge Companion to Monteverdi. She hinted broadly.

Annie Lamott’s Traveling Mercies – re-reading for my April book club meeting. A perfect read for this time of year, and almost potent enough to lift me from my current funk.

Almost done with Nassim Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness and ready to start on The Black Swan. Among Taleb’s “top life tips”: 1. Skepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be skeptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic. 6. Learn to fail with pride, and do so fast and cleanly. Maximize trial and error — by mastering the error part.

Send other suggestions my way. As you can tell, I’m a little light on fiction.



I love Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series, just finished listening to the audiobooks of it and cried like a baby for the last hour of the production. It’s in the fantasy genre however, so make sure you’re at least a Harry Potter fan before delving into it! (Book 1 of the series was made into the huge flop of a movie The Golden Compass, so don’t judge a book by its awful adaptation). I hope you like it if you get around to reading it!


Hmmm… I’ll have to pick up that Companion to Monteverdi. Glad to know it’s out there! :)


You should really check out Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad if you haven’t already.

Rachel Budde

Seconding “His Dark Materials.” Also, if you’re interested at all in historical fiction, I highly recommend anything by Margaret George. And I think everybody on the planet has read it, but “To Kill a Mockingbird” is always worth a reread. And probably my favorite book that I’ve read in the last year is “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd. The movie is a decent adaptation, but the book is better, as it usually is with these sorts of things. Hope you find something you enjoy!


I third “His Dark Materials.” Probably the best and most original universe created since the Lord of the Rings books. Also, I just finished reading “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger. Also an incredibly well-written book with some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read in a long time. Also, the mother of the lead character is an opera singer, so that’s cool :)

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