Book Review: Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks


Musicophilia (2007) by Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people with neurological conditions that involve music, and a study of the human brain and music in general.  The book relies largely on case studies of Sacks’ patients and others in the annals of medical literature, and more uniquely on Sacks’ own experiences.  Cases include people…

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier


Beer: Samuel Adams Blackberry Witbier Brewer:  Boston Beer Company Source:  12 oz. bottle Rating: ** (6.3 of 10) Comments: Continuing my fruity beer kick, I sampled the “local brewery’s” latest from the Brewmaster’s Colletion.  The blackberries (which the label informs us are from Oregon) are sweet but subtle.  A strong and alluring spiciness is the…

Beer Review: Wachusett Blueberry Ale


Beer: Wachusett Blueberry Ale Brewer: Wachusett Brewing Company Source:  12 oz. bottle Rating: ** (6.9 of 10) Comments:  I confess, I like fruity beers, and this is one of the better ones I’ve encountered.  The blueberry aroma and flavor is quite apparent but it’s good that it is a real blueberry aroma/flavor, not artificial.  Appearance-wise…

Beer Review: Brooklyn Lager


A beer from the city of my paternal ancestors (but quaffed in Boston). Beer: Brooklyn Lager Brewer: Brooklyn Brewery Source: Draught Rating: ** (6.4 of 10) Comments:  This is a dark, bubbly beer without much noticable aroma.  It tastes hoppy and fruity with a good balance and nice finish.  This is a decent beer that…

Book Review: Lincoln at Gettysburg by Garry Wills


My annual Lincoln Day book for 2009 is Lincoln at Gettysburg (1992) by cultural historian Garry Wills (previously, I’ve read Wills’ works on Catholicism Why I’m A Catholic and Papal Sin).  In this book Wills sets out to analize the 272 words spoken by Lincoln when he consecrated the Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19,…

Beer Review: Dogfish Head Raison D’Etre


Beer: Raison D’Etre Brewer: Dogfish Head Source: 12 oz bottle Rating: ** (6 of 10) Comments:  This beer has a great punny name, but is a cute name enough to make a good beer?  It looks good colorwise, a deep reddish-brown although the head was thin and the carbonation was made up of some large…

Beer Review: Leinenkugel’s Fireside Nut Brown


I just can’t resist the name Nut Brown Ale, especially on a snowy day. Beer: Fireside Nut Brown Brewer: Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company Source: 12 oz bottle Rating: * (5.7 of 10) Comments:  Not all Nut Browns are created equal.  This one had the earthy brown color and a musty aroma, but OMG! this beer…

Book Review: Rough Crossings by Simon Schama


Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution (2006) by Simon Schama (author of the excellent Dead Certainties) tells the story of people who found liberty at the time of American Revolution, but not from the Americans.  Enslaved blacks served in British regiments trading their loyalty to the king for promises of freedom (which…

Book Review: Snakepit by Moses Isegawa


Set in the 1970’s during the brutal regime of Idi Amin, Snakepit (2004) by Moses Isegawa is my Around the World for a Good Book selection for Uganda.  The novel tells the story of Bat, a young man returning to Uganda after getting an education at Cambridge University.  He figures that a government job in…

Beer Review: Sevens Dark Ale


This is a beer on tap at the Sevens Ale House in Beacon Hill. Beer: Dark Ale Brewer:Sevens Ale House Source: Draft Rating: *** (7.1 of 10) Comments: I tried this beer at the Sevens Ale House on Sunday where it is apparently the house beer, however I don’t know who does the brewing. It’s…

Book Review: Respect: An Exploration by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot


It’s good to give, it’s good to get.  Respect: An Exploration (2000) by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot works at understanding this crucial aspect of human relationships through the stories of six people.  Each  of these messengers works in a field where respect is vital and represents a different qualities of respect: Empowerment: Jennifer Dohrn, a nurse-midwife who…

Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini


A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) by Khaled Hosseini is a novel set in modern day Afghanistan which by definition means it will be tragic.  It tells the story of two women against the backdrop of war with the Soviet Union, the mujahideen, the rise and fall of the Taliban, and the American invasion of 2001….

Book Review: Brisingr by Christopher Paolini


Brisingr (2008) is the third volume in Christopher Paolini‘s Inheritance Cycle following up on Eragon and Eldest.  Since I’m not a regular reader of fantasy novels, I was a bit disappointed that Paolini decided to extend this series from three to four books, meaning I will be compelled to read yet another fantasy novel in…

Book Review: Freeman Walker by David Allan Cates


I read Freeman Walker (2008) by David Allan Cates on the tails of completing The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, both of which feature young men in slavery in extraordinary situations, but their tales diverge rapidly from that similarity.  The life story narrated by Jimmy Gates, later to rename himself Freeman Walker, tells of a…

Beer Review: Hofbräu Dunkel


Here’s a beer that had me singing “In München steht ein Hofbräuhaus.” Beer: Hofbräu Dunkel Brewer: Hofbräu München Source: 12 Fl. Oz. Bottle Rating: *** (7.8 of 10) Comment:  Hard to believe that it’s been five years since I visited Munich and I’m still trying to recapture beer nirvana here at home.  This dark beer…

Book Review: Trawler by Redmond O’Hanlon


Trawler (2003) by Redmond O’Hanlon is one of those books where a novice goes on board a commercial fishing boat to see how hard life is for the trawlermen and finds it hard in ways one never imagined.  No big surprise there, but what O’Hanlon does in this book is write almost entirely in dialogue…

Book Review: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides


I’ve been wanting to read Middlesex (2002) by Jeffrey Eugenides since its release six years ago.  The title attracted me because I then lived in Middlesex County, but this book is not set in Massachusetts but in Michigan.  And the Middlesex of the title refers to the address of the narrator/protagonist Calliope “Cal” Stephanides’ childhood…