Books read recently by J. Zimmerman.
Inspired in part by's book blog.

Reader's Bill of Rights - after Daniel Pennac in Better than Life as quoted in the November 2003 Utne Magazine - includes the rights to:

{ March (marzo (see also books on Spanish)) 2005 }


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Diamond, a biologist and bio-geographer, described the collapses of civilizations as varied as those of Easter Island, the Maya, Angkor Wat, and the Norse in Greenland. How did they happen? And could such ruin happen to us? See our notes on Collapse. (03.03.2005)

{ February (febrero (see also books on Spanish)) 2005 }


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"Drawing, like so many other skills, is a matter of being able to think of several things at once" begins the book.

The best book I've seen for teaching figure drawing, using the examples of our greatest anatomy-intelligent figure-drawing artists of Europe's second millenium.

Hale's text is concise, readable, re-readable, and full of relevent observations and exercises. His 100 illustrations are from the true masters of drawing: Bruegel, Carracci, Cambiaso, da Vinci, Degas, Durer, Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens, Tintoreto, and other brilliant figure artists of the last six centuries.

p.30: "Every artist will tell you how to learn to draw: keep a sketch book and just draw and draw."

p.33: "By simply drawing a cube, you can understand some of the significance of line in creating the illusion of reality."

The judgement you can develop, even from reading his book without actually drawing. will improve your recognition of the quality of other artist's figure drawings (02.10.2005)


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As a professional journalist, Woodward created a book that is richer, less score-settling, and much better written than Richard A. Clarke's Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror.

Historically, in 2003 George W. Bush ordered the American invasion of Iraq. The justifications he offered the American citizens for spending their tax dollars on the invasion were:

According to Woodward, Bush began explicit planning in November 2001, two months after 9/11, when he asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to begin an update of war plans for Iraq, but to do so in such a way that it would not alert attention to his interest in Iraq. Bob Woodward shows how Vice-President Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were as focused as George W. Bush on war. Meanwhile Secretary of State Colin Powell and General Tommy Franks opposed the invasion, until they fell into line.

Woodward fills his book with transcripts and paraphrases of hours of direct interviews with George W. Bush and dozens of other key figures, to show what, how, and why decisions were made.

A jingo is a person who boasts of patriotism and favors an aggressive foreign policy. If you want a more sane approach to a plan of attack, see the book Jingo by Terry Pratchett. (02.02.2005)


{ January (enero (see also books on Spanish)) 2005 }



Jingo: (noun) A person who boasts of patriotism and favors an aggressive foreign policy. Of uncertain origin, possibly from the nonsense words of magicians.

Terry Pratchett's Jingo is a hilarious satire of war mongers, and very timely. Despite the delicious wit of the book, it addresses serious topics: nationalism, militarism, sexism, and racism.

It is now the funniest book so far this year, which means that it slightly beats Terry Pratchett's Thief of Time. In fact it is almost as good as his Hogfather.

This recording of Jingo is read by Nigel Planer, who read Hogfather so brilliantly. In Jingo he uses a range of voices that Peter Sellers might admire, including a military man who sounds like Sergeant Bloodnock and the Demon Pocket Organizer (or Dis-organizer, an arrogant and interfering little pocket computer that says things like "Two o'clock pee em! Hello, Insert Name Here!"), which (who?) sounds like Bluebottle. The Dis-organizer is the vehicle through which Pratchett probes his favorite concept: Time, and its many paths.

The war is between the western Ankh-Morpork and the middle-eastern Klatch. As an Amazon reviewer commented, Jingo, "was written in the finest tradition of the City Watch series, which seem to always show that true duty and realism tend to win out over the insanity that the majority of the world engages in. Watch out for 71-Hour Ahmed and the rest of the D'Regs, but even they seem weak next to the power of Corporal Nobbs in a dress."

Its humor is a quaint mixture of really stupid and really intelligent, interwoven with great satire.

Also see other books by Terry Pratchett. (01.27.2005)

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A compassionate book for those that help the dying and those that are preparing to die. Their special contribution is to compare what happens to the mind, body, and spirit during the process of dying with what happens during birthing.

See our Death and Dying web page. (01.22.2005)

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This is the funniest book so far this year. It's a witty and inventive fantasy, almost as good as Terry Pratchett's Hogfather.

This recording of Thief of Time is by a 5-person reading team, plus the 'guest appearance by Harlan Ellison'. Its humor is (as with Hogfather) a quaint mixture of really stupid and really intelligent, interwoven with interesting satire.

Again, trouble in Paradise is caused by the Auditors, the literal-minded accountants who want to get rid of the messiness caused by life. They create the ultimate solution - they freeze time. Fortunately, Death gets his three traditional riding companions to ride out with him against the bad guys. They make little headway, till they are joined by the Fifth Rider of the Apocalypse ... Meanwhile, Death's adopted granddaughter Susan is sorting out the rest of the known universe by using her ultimate weapon - very smooth, very luscious, very heart-stopping chocolate.

The Amazon comments (February 26, 2004) by Dr. Christopher Coleman are among my favorites:

"In Thief of Time Pratchett strikes a unique balance between many different types of humor (from silly take-offs of oriental martial arts names (okidoki) to literate inside jokes (the raven named 'Quoth') and far beyond) with a complex and even philosophical plot. It's truly an amazing bit of writing that admittedly might fall flat for those looking for lighter entertainment, but I was delighted.

... there are plot twists aplenty, all of which make 'sense'. Especially nice are the scenes dealing with the revelation of the identity of the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, and the Zen Buddhist humor. So do yourself a favor, read this book and make your life better."

Also see other books by Terry Pratchett. (01.04.2005)

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