Trump Voters: Strangers in Their Own Land?


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Another Article of Interest for MillersTime readers, one I have posted in The Outer Loop section of my blog.

In this article, taken in part from his new book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, sociologist and author Arlie Russell Hochschild reports on five years of interviews with a portion of our population who find themselves strangers in their own country and who, though they didn’t start out as Trump supporters, have been people who believe Trump understands them.

Check out the article from Sept./Oct. Mother Jones. (Hat Tip to Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo for leading me to this.)

Respectful comments and reactions are welcomed.

Movies: Three to See


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No movie reviews for a while. Maybe because our summer has been filled with other activities. But when we have been home and tried to find something to see, there didn’t seem to be much of interest.

As readers of this site know by now, we tend to look for independent films and foreign films, and only occasionally do I write about main stream films, as there is usually enough already available for readers to find that information on their own.

Nevertheless, I do have three films for your consideration, one is a foreign film we saw in last year’s Philadelphia Film Festival, one is a directoral debut, and one is a main stream film.

Ixcanul ***** (Ellen gave it ****)

I noticed that this film is currently being shown in DC (Landmark’s E Street Theater) and so I’m reprinting my mini-review of it from my post about the 2015 Philadelphia Film Festival:

Ixcanul The Volcano_Key Still-0-800-0-450-crop

Oct. 31, 2015: “Guatemala’s first ever submission for the Oscar’s Best Foreign Film and a very good one. This film concerns a young Mayan girl, Maria, her family, and their difficult life in a mountainous region of Guatemala. When Maria makes an adolescent choice, the families’ life becomes even more tenuous. Although the film is fiction, it feels like a documentary and was made with actors who are local people — not professionals. Particularly wonderful is the mother, both as a character in the story and how she portrays that character. This film was the winner of the Silver Bear (second best award) at the Berlin Film Festival. I suspect Ixcanul (Volcano) may be too small of a film to be widely distributed in the US. That would be a shame.”

How glad I am to have been wrong about its US distribution.


Shown at Sundance in January of this year, this film has just been released nationwide. Based on a 2008 novel with the same title by Philip Roth, it is director James Schmaus’ first film (he also wrote the screenplay).


The setting is a small town in Ohio and tells (another) coming of age story. This time the main character is a Jewish boy who leaves his working class family and home in Newark, NJ to attend conservative Winesberg College.

There, Marcus (Logan Lerman) meets the wealthy (and troubled) Olivia (Sara Gadon) and also clashes with the college dean (Tracy Letts) about religion. I’ll leave the details of what ensues for you to discover yourself.

But there is much to appreciate in this film. You will be come involved with both Marcus and Olivia as their stories unfold. And there is a wonderful scene (15 minutes or so?) that involves a verbal confrontation between Marcus and the dean that by itself is almost worth the price of admission to Indignation.

Good acting, good screenwriting, good directing, and a familiar but not worn out story all make for a satisfying film.

Hell or High Water****

Nothing especially new here either in this cops and robbers western, except the acting is terrific and the story has you not sure whose side you are on.


Two brothers are robbing a series of small branches of a large bank in small Texan towns to accumulate a certain amount of money (the details of why they’re doing this become clear partway through the film). It seems as if they might get away with what they’re doing (only taking small amounts of money from each branch) until two Texas Rangers decide to get involved.

The story, tho it takes perhaps too long to unfold, holds you, largely because of the acting, particularly the interactions between all four of the characters. The brothers, Toby and Tanner (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) have a bit of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid about them and are likeable characters. The Rangers, Marcus and Alberto (Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham), are also crusty ‘characters’ who are likewise appealing, particularly Jeff Bridges.

If you’re looking for a ‘bit’ of an old fashioned western film with some moral ambiguity, and engaging characters, Hell or Highwater will do just fine.

She Died Too Soon



 Kerry and her family                                            Kerry and family

Most of you never knew Kerry. She was a woman — a mother, a wife, a friend, a confident — who was the ultimate caregiver, taking care of my mother in the last years of her life, and later doing the same for my father.

My mother, Esty, herself had been a caretaker almost all her life, beginning at a very early age when she was a companion to her own grandmother. So I knew one when I saw one. When Esty needed care herself at age 87, Kerry came into our lives to give comfort and care far beyond what we ever expected. Not long before Esty died, she asked Kerry to promise to take care of Sam. Kerry promised to do so.

Initially, after Esty’s death, Sam didn’t need much physical assistance, but Kerry attended to him and provided stability. As he began to have difficulties of his own, Kerry let us know how much he missed us and needed us. (He would never let us know that directly.) With her encouragement, we eventually were able to convince Sam to come to Washington. Kerry, even though it meant she was then out of a job, was most delighted. She flew with him to DC as he had broken his arm two days before he was due to come to us and couldn’t travel by himself. She stayed a week to be sure he was settled and she could trust us to provide what he needed. She said she’d come back to DC at a moment’s notice if or when we needed her.

Continue reading »

“There’s No Such Thing as a Protest Vote”


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As I occasionally do, I am posting a link to an article that I found of value. It’s not arguing for any particular candidate, but it’s author, Clay Shirky, believes “There’s No Such Thing as Protest Vote,” and he explains why.

If you read the article, scroll to the very bottom and click on “Show All Responses.” Unlike many Comment sections following an article that may be controversial, some of these responses are quite good and many take exception to what Shirky writes, but they do so respectfully.

I’m pasting in the first few paragraphs so you can see if it is something you want to spend the six minutes it will take to read the article:

There’s No Such Thing As A Protest Vote

We’re in the season of protest vote advocacy, with writers of all political stripes making arguments for third-party candidates (Jill Stein, Gary Johnson), write-in votes (Bernie Sanders, Rod Silva), or refusing to vote altogether (#NeverTrump, #BernieOrBust.) For all the eloquence and passion and rage in these arguments, however, they suffer from a common flaw: there is no such thing as a protest vote.

The authors of these pieces rarely line up their preferred Presidential voting strategies — third-party, write-in, refusal — with the electoral system as it actually exists. In 2016, that system will offer 130 million or so voters just three options:

A. I prefer Donald Trump be President, rather than Hillary Clinton.
B. I prefer Hillary Clinton be President, rather than Donald Trump.
C. Whatever everybody else decides is OK with me.

That’s it. Those are the choices. All strategies other than a preference for Trump over Clinton or vice-versa reduce to Option C.

You can link to the article Here and get to the Comments Here.

Clay Shirky is someone I respect and follow. He wrote an important book — Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (2008) — and is one of the more informed and thoughtful individuals on the emerging role of the Internet and on Internet technology. Among the many other things in which he’s involved, he teaches at NYU and his writings and thoughts are usually at the forefront of what is happening in this new world of the Internet.

Medium, the site on which Shirky published this article is a somewhat new ‘publishing platform’ founded by Ev Williams and Biz Stone, who among other things were founders of Twitter. This endeavor is to give writers a longer space (longer than 140 characters) to post articles. They also have writers of their own, and I think Shirky might be writing for them. Their website explains, “Medium is a community of readers and writers offering unique perspectives on ideas large and small.”  If you’re interested in learning more about Medium, you can check out the site here.

Finally, as always, I encourage MillersTime readers to comment, respectfully, on these linked articles directly on my site. Please consider doing so and let others know what you think about Shirky’s view that “There Is No Such Thing as a Protest Vote.”

Ireland: Thru Ellen’s Lens


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We recently had the good fortune to spend two weeks driving in Southwest and Western Ireland. The trip included a few days in County Cork with overnights in Cork, Baltimore and on Cape Clear Island. Then we had five wonderful days with our goodireland_map-2 friend David Stang who has spent four or five months a year for the last 30 years at his home in Kenmare, County Kerry. Dave introduced us to both the historical richness of (Southwest) Ireland and to its geographic beauty. We spent most of four days driving with him on the Beara and Dingle Peninsulas and also had the good fortune to visit a diverse number of his Irish friends who gave us insights into their lives and their country.

Back on our own, we spent another week driving and wandering through Counties Limerick, Clare, Galway, and Mayo, including two nights at Gregan’s Castle in The Burren at Ballyvaughn and part of a day at the Cliffs of Moher. We spent another two nights at Ballynahinch Castle in Connemara, County Galway, where we also marveled at the small towns, the National Forest, and our personal interests in stone circles and neolithic remains.

The pictures below and the slide show that accompanies this post are Ellen’s choice of some of her favorite photos from the trip. Not meant as a travelogue — though the slide show is in chronological order of where we went — the photos are Ellen’s selection of what she saw through her lens of Southwest and Western Ireland.

And for those of you who might want more ‘written’ details, you can click here to see the multiple-choice quiz we made up near the end of our wonderful two weeks on the Emerald Isle.


















To see Ellen’s entire slide show (88 photos), use this link: Ireland: Thru Ellen’s Lens.

For the best viewing, click on the little arrow at the top right of the first page of the link to start the slide show. If the slide show appears to start in the middle, scroll to the top of the page where you’ll see the little arrow in a box.

See all the photos in the largest size possible (use a laptop or desktop computer if you have access to either). They are much sharper and better presented than in this (above) post.

More Mid-Summer Recommendations by MT Readers


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“A Best Friend Is Someone Who Gives Me a Book I’ve Never Read”- A. Lincoln

Not wanting to wait until December to report what books various MillersTime readers are enjoying so far this year, I asked all those who have contributed over the years to  ‘Favorite Reads’ to send me the titles and a few sentences about what they’ve been reading and enjoying in the first half of 2016.

Here are 20 more results from that request. (You can see the first 17 replies here.)

I hope this post will encourage others of you to send in what’s brought you reading pleasure over the last six months. When I get another batch of responses, I’ll post those too.


  1. Sam Black:

Maybe the best book of the year so far…

Into the Silence by Wade Davis (NF). Recounts the story of the 1921, 1922, and 1924 Everest expeditions by the British in the context of biographies of all the principal participants. The biographies tell other stories as well — the enormous effect of WWI on these men, the effect of the War on their generation’s idea of the destiny of the Empire and the relationship of these things to the turn-of-the-century ideal of exploration. The book also covers the 199 discovery Mallory’s body and what it means for how far he and Irvine got near the summit. Recommended by David Banks.

Biography, Memoir:

The Path to Power and Means of Ascent, vols. 1 and 2 in Robert Caro’s multi-volume biography of LBJ (NF). Essential reading for anyone who lived through the Kennedy years and the Vietnam War.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris, Vol. 1 of the triology (NF). Morris is a wonderful storyteller and writer. Crackles with TR’s ability, ambition andpersonality. Recommended by Joe Higdon.

Violin Dreams by Arnold Sterinhardt (NF). An engaging short memoir, with several chapters discussing the Chaconne in Bach’s Partita No. 2 for solo violin, an astounding piece of music — the effect of this single work on Steinhardt’s musical development, the origins of the work, and its multidimensionality.


The Keeper of Lost Causes and The Absent One, books 1 and 2 in the Department Q series by Adler-Olsen (F). The Copenhagen murder deterives’ bureau ostracizes one of its veteran members, exiles him to a basement office, gives him two untrained assistants, and assigns cold cases to him. See what happens next. Well worth your time. Recommended by my sister Molly.


The Fall Line by Nathaniel Vinton (NF). The rise of Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn to the top of the U.S ski establishment. A good read. I learned a lot about how U.S skiers train and advance, relate to their sponsors, deal with speed and pain, and cope and compete on the international circuit. Hair-raising in passages. Recommended by Michael.

2. Chris Bourtourline:

I’ve recently read two good novels: 

The Wildings by Nilanjana S. Roy (F) is a story about various groups of cats in Delhi, India and the adventure that ensues when an extraordinary kitten comes into their midst.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (F) which mostly centers on the lives of a British family between 1910-1945. Through the lens of a time warped, kaleidoscopic telling, the author explores the effect small changes have on outcomes in life.

For non-fiction:

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (NF) is his account as an escaped convict and his life, “on the run”, in Mumbai, India. The story is so fantastic that I often found myself questioning whether it was true but happily turned the pages nonetheless.

3. Lance Brisson:

Most Americans know at least something about the American Revolution, which liberated the 13 colonies from Great Britain. My hunch is that most Americans know little if anything about what historian Joseph Ellis calls “The Second American Revolution” that took place from 1783 to 1789. Ellis’ book, The Quartet (NF), tells the compelling story about how four men – George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison – led this largely bloodless revolution and overcame widespread and deeply held resistance in many former colonies to the formation of a federal government. Their extraordinary efforts led to the writing of the Constitution and the creation of something most of us take for granted today, the United States of America. After reading this book, I believe that the honorific “Founding Fathers” applies in more ways than one to these four men.

4. Jane Bradley:

Twenty hours down, six more to go on audiobook Barkskins, by Annie Proulx (F).  I can see where it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m quite engaged so far!

5. Kathy Camicia:

Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 (NF) — his magnum opus.  If you’re a big fan, as I am, you will love it—all 1167 pages of it.  It is about Japan in 1984 with reference to Orwell.

Kate Atkinson’s books (F):  A God in Ruins, Case Histories, and Behind the Scenes at the Museum. They are all well-written literary mysteries.

The Best American Short Stories, 2015  Ed. T.C.Boyle (F).  Great selection.

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama (F).  Not great writing but a good story beginning in 1939 about a family in Tokyo.

A Hero of France by Alan Furst (F).  Not his best but still good.

6. Ellen Davis:


My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (F): See The Guardian review.

7. John Friedman:

Paradise Now by Chris Jennings (NF). This book examines a series of Utopian communities in the United States, like the Shakers and the Oneida colony. All of them are totally fascinating, and though they each fail, they were all able to gain a large number of followers for a substantial period of time. The writer is terrific at bringing out their visions.

The Only Rule Is It Has to Work by Ben Lindberg and Sam Miller (NF). Two baseball statisticians who write for baseball prospectus get to take control of an independent baseball team for a year. Their experiments say a lot about the balance between analytics and people management in baseball, but it’s also just a highly amusing take on life in the independent leagues.

The Witches by Stacy Schiff (NF) The Salem Witch Trials are interesting in their own right, but tracing how this kind of populist hysteria rose and then fell is also an interesting backdrop for current events.

The Song Machine by John Seabrook (NF). A book by a New Yorker columnist about the business side of contemporary pop music. Learning how this works is interesting, and needless to say, the stories about artists and studios wrangling with each other provide a highly entertaining backstory to famous songs.

8. Meg Gage:

Just finished A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (F). A debut novel that came out three years ago. Beautifully written story placed in the Chechen wars of 1996 – 2004. Horrific, hilarious at points, and a reminder we didn’t need about the horrors of war. I was chagrined at how I had not remembered (forgotten?) much about that war. There have been so many subsequent ones. It’s a complicated tale told unchronologically.  I kept thinking I had missed something and then discovered that it hadn’t been told yet. So much sadness and cruelty that accomplishes nothing.   An eight-year old girl (is) at the center of the story, (and her) survival is at stake.

Another novel about war and a child I recently finished is All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (F), another story about war — WW II — and another vulnerable child, this one blind.  Also very well-written and one of the best WW II novels I’ve read — comparable to Marge Piercy’s Gone To Soldiers.

9. Rebekah Jacobs:

A Little Life by Hanya Yangihara (F).

Before The Fall, by Noah Hawley (F)

Until I Say Goodbye by Susan Spencer-Wendel (NF)

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (NF)

10. Rebecca Lemaitre:

The Secret History by Donna Tartt (F).

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (F).

11. Tim Malieckal:

I’m currently in a Harlen Cobren move. Definitely too lowbrow for MillersTime readers. Writes like Lupica. (Ed. note: Then I guess I’m ‘lowbrow’ too as I enjoy his thrillers, multiple plots lines, escapism, etc.)

First I read Just One Look (F) which was pretty good. The end was sorta sloppy. Then I read Missing You (F) which I liked a bit more. Now I’m reading No Second Chance (F). I can’t say any of them are super memorable, for me at least, and the titles seem incidental at best.

The reason I’m on this kick is because once upon a time, over five years ago, I was paging through the NYT Book Review, and they had an illustration of him on the authors of note page. I don’t really know why, but the pic ‘spoke’ to me’, so I cut it out and pinned it to my cork board. This is kind of part of my process, Someties I get a gut feeling about something, sit on it for a while, then explore it. Anyway, I was cleaning up my cork board recently and figured I should figure out why I mean to read this guy.

12. M.L.:

Just finished the 948 page Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens (F) (1848).  Before radio, movies, TV, reality TV, there were serials by Dickens.  Dickens’ bad guys are just as bad as any conjured by Quentin Tarantino.  His materialistic men and women are just as grotesque as any Trump or Kardashian.  But he also documents the 19th century–before photography.  So if you can weather the constant plot twists (very, very B-movie), you really can travel to another country (the past — as Pinter wrote in The Go-Between, where they do things differently).  As a writer of fiction, Dickens is not a genius, but as an accidental social historian, there is no one like him.

13. Ellen Miller:

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin (F). Detailed and sympathetic portrait of a women coping with the death of her husband and raising her two children in a small town in Ireland. Beautifully written, great story-telling, compelling read.

14. Robin Rice:

Feathers by Thor Hanson (NF). A fine, engaging writer exploring the evolutionary wonder of avian adaptation.

15. Ellen Shapira:

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson (F).
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (F).
We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (F).
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende (F).
The Dinner by Herman Koch (F).

16. Ben Shute:

In preparation for a trip to Berlin, we’ve been reading Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, the story of Ambassador William Dodd and his family’s year in Berlin in 1933. (NF).

Without joining in to hyper-partisan discussions, I am struck by the extent to which the “establishment,” especially the German army elite, believed they would be able to control Hitler once he achieved power.

The account of the murder of two distinguished army generals is particularly chilling.

It’s a sobering read.  We (not me, I wasn’t born yet) closed our eyes to what was happening there. And we reaped the whirlwind.

17. Micah Sifry:

I Shall Bear Witness, 1933-1941 and 1941-45, the diaries of Victor Klemperer, a German Jew who, with his Christian wife Eva, survived the rise of Nazism in Dresden. I’ve never read anything like it — completely transformed my understanding of why some German Jews didn’t flee but attempted to ride out Hitler’s reign. Nothing like Anne Frank’s diary or any of the Holocaust memoirs by Wiesel or Levi; these diaries hit closer to home because they describe a familiar world turning incredibly dark. (NF)

Look Who’s Back by Timur Vermes (F). A viciously funny satire where Hitler wakes up in 2009, gets mistaken as a character actor and is given a TV show. Which he proceeds to use as a launching pad to return to power…

18. Suzanne Steir:

Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein (NF). This will raise the hair on your head if you are of a certain age. The amount of sex and sexism that Orenstein reports is staggering. She interviews young girls of junior high school age, high schoolers and college women. I fear for both my grand-daughters and grand-sons…Reader beware.

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance (NF), a biography of Elon Musk, Space and Tesla motors. Fascinating. The man is a visionary, persistent and egotistical.

The English Spy by Daniel Silva (F). I do love reading Daniel Silva and his character, the Israeli spy who is a restorer of ancient art.

Just finished The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman (F). It is fiction, and the surprise is a bit of biographical history about the artist Camille Pissarro. A good read.

I finished the four book saga by Elena Ferrante (whose actual identity remains a mystery) (F). The first one is My Brilliant Friend, the second is Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third one is The Story of a New Name, and the last is The Story of the Lost Child. The books follow two Neapolitan women, who know each other since childhood, their loves and losses. Well written and compelling.

19. Elliott Trommald:

Just reread East of Eden by John Steinbeck (F). So beautifully depressing, brilliantly written – some pieces of that book should be circulated as stand alone essays. My reaction was totally different from what I remembered from the 1950s. I am now rereading books more often – and convincing 3 or 4 people I meet reading in a coffee shop (some I know and some I meet for the first time) to do the same. We plan to meet over lunch or dinner a couple of weeks later for discussion. August 8, four of us will be discussing East of Eden during a Happy Hour at the Fields Bar and Grill. Join us. Am in the middle of Malraux’s Man’s Fate and looking forward to discussion with a young trio I met who just happened to be interested in French Literature. I have read this book 5 or 6 times – it still speaks to me.

Two other books I highly recommend are Edward O Wilson’s The Meaning of Human Existence (NF) and Hanya Yanagihara’s heavily reviewed A Little Life (F). The first, short but important, and I am trying to force it down the throat of my 5 grandchildren, four of whom are mired in the STEM world. Wilson, after dealing with the meaning of meaning makes a plea (really a demand) for marrying science with the humanities if science is going to have meaning for we mortals. I loved this book and love the writer. The second is much much much longer than the first is short, much darker, quite painful and maybe not worth recommending – but if you take it on don’t expect to be pulled in for at least 150 pages. If you get there you won’t easily put it down – and you will have at least another 700 pages to go. If it was not for the hub bub about it I don’t know if I would have read it. I am not sure I liked it – some similarities to East of Eden, but Eden is for me the better choice.

I have not found any more good escapist reading but am desperately in need of a new Crais or Child. (Have read everything they have written.) I tried Steve Hamilton’s first Alex McKnight novel, A Cold Day in Paradise. It won the Edgar Award in 1998 – but may not buy another until my next flight. But I will buy another. This was my first read of him.

A good friend just published his first book, and it is the mystery genre I so enjoy. He will get better, but you will see a lot of Portland in Larry Erickson’s A Bullet for Your Thoughts, (F). Nate Harver is his Alex McKnight. And it was Larry who got two of us rereading East of Eden.

20. Land Weyland:

One I just finished rereading the Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy(F) which was the book that introduced me to Science Fiction about 60 years ago.  Then I was captivated by the idea of being able to use mathematics to reliably predict the future and I was so taken with this concept that I vowed that I would do this for a career.  I soon realized that to do this, I would have to know everything about many, many subjects and this was the reason I took classes in college in every subject in the school catalog except art history and modern dance.  164 units in four years and I could have had a quadruple major in History, Political Science, Economics and Philosophy it I had taken one or two more classes in  History, Poly Sci and Phil.

That is when I realized that there is a heck-of-a-lot more to learn about even one thing than most people can master in a lifetime (because, no matter what the subject, the questions just keep on coming and because every subject, no matter how simple, is directly related to at least  twenty other subjects and they ALL have many outstanding questions that simply must be answered.)  So I left my quest to someone with more brains and more time and decided to just study one subject (law…and soon discovered that it is so complex that even one small area takes many years to understand and even then can never be completely mastered because the facts of every case are so frustratingly different.

Upon again reading the Foundation series, I realize now why they call it ‘science fiction” —It is because it is fiction that is posited as being something that could conceivably happen some time, some where.  It is like the Stars Wars movies which are set in a galaxy far, far away a million years ago or a million years in the future.  (why doesn’t English have a word that mirrors the word “ago” with the word “futuro”

To think that one person or any group of persons could master enough subjects and develop the mathematics to reduce them to a series of formulas that can precisely predict the future  is only a dream or a hope…or a nightmare .  Advertising consultants can’t do it. Political pollsters can’t do it.  Economists can’t yet begin to do a credible job of predicting the future of an economy or a business in even the short run.  For at least a thousand years, Mr. Asimov’s dreams must remain a fiction.

But he wrote well and was able to present an interesting idea in an exciting (to a 14 year old boy) story and I loved it.  Unfortunately the same 74 year old boy is not so ignorant or optimistic as to believe the basic premise and this time it  was merely a pleasant reminiscent read.  Even the writing now seems geared to appeal to the mind of a 14 year old.

Ah, to regain the innocence and arrogance of youth (along with a lot of other attributes). I can’t recommend this book because, other than the basic idea, the writing is so shallow and formulistic/formulaic that it would turn off any serious reader.

P.S.  I also recently reread the The Iliad and was pleased to note that the writing of Homer and his editors stands up to the test of time. (Surprise, surprise).

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If you’re looking for book suggestions from last year’s MillersTime readers’ favorites, you can get to the list in any of three ways:

MillersTime Readers Favorite Reads of 2015. This post includes a list of the favorites of the favorites as well as individual comments by every reader who contributed to the list.

Favorite Books Listed by TITLE, (non-fiction then fiction), then author, then the MillersTime contributing reader. A quick way to scroll through the list, bypassing what readers’ said about each book. You can easily print out this list.

Favorite Books Listed by the NAMES of the Contributing MillersTime readers, followed by title, (non-fiction then fiction), and then author. A quick way to check out what people whom you may know liked best. You can also easily print out this list.

“The Humans” — See It If You Can


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The Humans.1

Fortunately, we had tickets for this Broadway play prior to its winning four Tony Awards. But you can still get tickets to this outstanding drama more easily and at less cost than ones for Hamilton. If you enjoy a universal story, wonderful acting, and a remarkably well written drama, see The Humans.

Everything about The Humans seems just right, from the set and staging, to the slowly unfolding story, and especially the superb acting by the entire cast.

Continue reading »

Books MillersTime Readers Are Enjoying




“A Best Friend Is Someone Who Gives Me a Book I’ve Never Read”- A. Lincoln

Not wanting to wait until December to report what books various MillersTime readers are enjoying so far this year, I asked all those who have contributed over the years to  ‘Favorite Reads’ to send me the titles and a few sentences about what they’ve been reading and enjoying in the first half of 2016.

Here are the results so far. I say “so far” as I hope this post will encourage others of you to send in what’s brought you reading pleasure over the last six months. When I get another batch of responses, I’ll post those too.


  1. Gabrielle Beaumont:

I loved Sweetbitter by Stephanie Daniel (F). Here’s what the NY Times had to say.

2. Elizabeth Lewis Goodman:

The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe by Elaine Showalter (NF) – she of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” fame, but it turns out of so much more.

I just finished this book, and the story moved me so much that I had to let you all know what awaits you if you pick up the book.  It is a scholarly, feminist piece –quite brief and written plainly.  The broad outline of the story of a 19th century woman endowed with artistic and political gifts who was hamstrung by “Victorian” society, her father, and her husband is a story you think you know.  And then it turns out you know nothing about someone who gradually threw off the restraints, travelled widely, read broadly, struggled with her own racism and social beliefs, and in 1908 went on to become the first woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters (the 2nd woman wasn’t inducted until 1930).  Her poetry is “mush.”  But her life is amazing.  Give it a good 3 hours; then give it to your daughters.

3. Emily Nichols Grossi:

A quick note that I am reading and loving Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller (NF), an author whose work I like very much. I’m nearly done and really sorry to see it coming to an end. I love Fuller’s memoirs out her childhood in Africa (then Rhodesia) and her family who threads the needle between crazy and delightfully eccentric. This book is about all of that but also the dissolution of her marriage.

Just finished 32 Yolks: My Mother’s Table to Working the Line (NF) by Eric Ripert. It’s not a literary powerhouse but is a very enjoyable, illuminating read. The world of professional chefs is not one I’d ever want to be part of, but as I love to cook and hold great chefs in the light of admiration and esteem, I really enjoyed this peek into Ripert’s childhood and early culinary education and experiences. This book stops just as he arrives in the States, so nothing about Le Bernardin. But his childhood in St. Tropez and Andorra, the sad stories of his parents and parental figures, his years with Robuchon…it all makes for an engaging tale!

4. Fruzsina Harsanyi:

A Hero of France by Alan Furst (F) is also a good companion to Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. I’m sure his hero and the Nightingale worked together.

Just finished Smoke by Dan Vyleta (F). It takes place in 19th century London. Part allegory, part science fiction, reminiscent of Aldous Huxley. Not my kind of book, but I couldn’t put it down. Somebody please read it so we can discuss.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (NF).  It’s likely to become my favorite this year and is right now my most talked-about book experience.  I will re-read it…and can’t wait to discuss it.

5. Kate Latts:

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (F) was one of the best books I have read in a long time. Far exceeded The Nightingale and All the Light You Cannot See. I loved it!

6. Chris McCleary:

One book to suggest: Captain Riley by Fernando Gamboa (F), translated from Spanish).

7. Larry Makinson:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (F). Two sisters take different paths in wartime France. This is a very popular book, which kept me from reading it at first. But it’s definitely worth it.

A Rage for Order, by Robert F. Worth (NF). Whatever happened to the Arab Spring? This book chronicles the chaos and unmet promises that followed. Excellent background as the drama continues.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (F). Cross-cultural love story, following a Nigerian woman who comes to the US, makes it, then returns to Nigeria to a life and former soulmate she had left behind. Absorbing and very wise.

Dark Money by Jane Mayer (NF). Definitive history of the billionaire ideologues – led by the Koch brothers – who’ve taken over American politics in the age of unlimited giving. Sobering, but ought to be required reading.

8. Ellen Miller:

I’m on a pretty good reading streak this year, and number of books have gotten four and five stars in my own rating system. (Five stars = must read; four stars = very good read).

In the 5 star category I have to agree with Richard that Peacekeeping, by Mischa Berlinski (NF), The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria by Janine Di Giovanni (NF)Redeployment, by Phil Klay (NF), When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanithi (NF), LaRose by Louise Erdich (F), and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbes (NF), (high on last year’s lists) all belong there. I’d add another nonfiction piece to this list as well, The Boys in the Bunkhouse: Servitude and Salvation in the Heartland, by Dan Barry (NF), an incredible story of an effectively enslaved group of mentally disabled men, and the people who ultimately saved them.  And my final 5 star read thus far this year – especially a must for anyone visiting Iceland — is entitled Burial Rights, by Hannah Kent (F), the story of a convicted murderess set in the harsh landscape of that country which we visited last February.

9. Richard Miller:

A. Books suggested by other readers from the 2015 list (See earlier post — I’m Reading What You Recommend — for details on these):

New Reads (See earlier post for details on these):

PS – Son-in-Law BT claims I should have included the book in this ‘sneaked’ photo:


10. Donna Pollet:

I saw that you listed Redeployment by Phil Klay (F) MillersTime. You may have already read, seen or heard about this title but just in case here is a story in the same vein that may be of interest…..Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman (F).

11. Cindy Olmstead:

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah (F). Excellent novel about two French sisters and their individual participation in the resistance movement in WWII. A very poignant read.

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald (NF), her journey with raising a goshawk and how it helped in overcoming her grief for her father’s death. It is interesting but dense.

Lights Out: A Cyberattack by Ted Koppel (NF). Reveals the impact of a cyberattack on our power grids and the reality of it occurring.

12. Fran Renehan:

Find Her by Lisa Gardner (F). About a girl that gets abducted twice. Very dark.. But well written

Placebo by Steven James (F). An old books (2012). Mystery/Drama. OK. His later books were better.

The Last Mile by David Baldacci (F). An inmate on death row gets a last minute reprieve.The true story about the murder ensues!

13. Lydia Hill Slaby:

Oh! When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (NF)…yes. Yes yes yes. Heartbreaking, beautiful, wonderful read. I’m so glad it’s on this list! Oliver Sachs (On the Move) and Christopher Hitchens (Hitch-22) also wrote extraordinary terminal cancer memoirs…much longer, but if you’re engaged in the genre (maybe not for the summer), they’re worth reading.

14. Brandt Tilis:

I just finished The Arm by Jeff Passan (NF).  Read it!  Touches every part of baseball (youth levels, struggling minor leaguers, fringe major leaguers, and stars like Jon Lester).  It even goes into Japanese baseball.

15. Elizabeth Tilis:

You can probably see a theme here. Probably only helpful only for someone with a young baby. Nevertheless, here they are:

16. Carrie Trauth:

Two books I really liked:

The Lonely War: One Woman’s Account of the Struggle for Modern Iran by Nazila Fathi (NF). This tells her story of her life in Iran as a child and as a reporter. She explains the struggle between the people and the government.

Father, Son, Stone by Allen Goodman (F). Although fiction, much authentic history regarding The Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

17. Judy White:

Yes, Mike & I also loved When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (NF) and Being Mortal by Atul Gwande (NF) — by the way did you catch Atul Gwande in a visual version of the book on PBS last week?) And Mike just finished The Morning They Came for Us by Janine di Giovani (NF). So some of our reading has been on parallel tracks with yours.

A few others I’ve especially enjoyed this year:

The Water Is Wide by Pat Conroy (NF) — I’ve never been a fan of Conroy’s fiction, but this true tale of his year teaching on Dafuskie Island in the 1960s was delightful and very funny, taking me back to our year of teaching in D.C. about that time.

Crashing Through by Robert Kurson (NF) — Amazing story of a very talented man who became blind at age three and what he was able to do with his life. Kurson’s Shadow Divers (NF) is a big favorite of Mike’s.

The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge (NF) — The latest research about the workings of our brains, complete with lots of good stories. Like the previous book, there are so many exciting and riveting real-life stories that I rarely read fiction.

A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home by Sue Halpern (NF) — This book has more substance than the title and cover would suggest. Halpern’s experiences bringing her therapy dog into a nursing home illuminate all the choices we have — and don’t have — about growing very old. (Helpern is married to Bill McKibben, by the way.)

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If you’re looking for book suggestions from last year’s MillersTime readers’ favorites, you can get to the list in any of three ways:

MillersTime Readers Favorite Reads of 2015. This post includes a list of the favorites of the favorites as well as individual comments by every reader who contributed to the list.

Favorite Books Listed by TITLE, (non-fiction then fiction), then author, then the MillersTime contributing reader. A quick way to scroll through the list, bypassing what readers’ said about each book. You can easily print out this list.

Favorite Books Listed by the NAMES of the Contributing MillersTime readers, followed by title, (non-fiction then fiction), and then author. A quick way to check out what people whom you may know liked best. You can also easily print out this list.

August Tickets for the Nats


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I’ve got some tickets available for Washington Nationals game in August.

They’re free if:

  1. You go with me. (You may have to buy me some peanuts, however.)
  2. You take a ‘kid’ (broadly defined), in which case you can have two tickets for that game.

You reimburse me for the tix (at the price I paid) if:

  1. You want two but don’t plan to take a kid.

Available Games

  1. Friday, Aug. 5, 7:05 vs Giants, includes parking next to the stadium

2. Wednesday, Aug. 10, 4:05 vs Indians, includes parking

3. Thursday, Aug. 25, 7:05 vs Orioles, includes parking

4. Saturday, Aug. 27, 1:05 vs Rockies, includes parking

5. Sunday, Aug. 28, 1:35 vs Rockies, includes parking

Let me know of your interest by Wednesday, July 13, and I’ll do my best to accommodate (not doing a ‘first come, first serve’).

I also have a bunch of tickets (with and /or without me) for Sept. and will put those on Millerstime around mid August.



New Reads, Recent Favorites, Part II


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To follow up the previous post on books recommended by MillersTime readers, here are six (‘new’ ones) that I’ve enjoyed in the last few months. Not sure if all of them will be on my year end list of most favorites, but I thought you might consider putting some of them on your summer reading list.

When Breath Becomes Air, by Paul Kalanthi (NF). This wonderful book will certainly make it as one of my favorites, probably THE favorite of the year. Just as Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal was/is an important book for anyone concerned about the late stages of life, so too is Paul Kalanthi’s book about his struggle with illness and ultimate death a gift to all of us. It’s a short book that can be read in just one or two sittings, though a second reading, as is often the case, is maybe even more valuable than the first. It certainly allows for appreciation of his gift of using language as art.

The story is simple. Kalanthi was a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 36. In the 22 months that remained in his life, he was able to write brilliantly, honestly, with great feeling and great clarity about what gives life meaning and how to face death with integrity. The first part of the book (“In Perfect Health I Begin”) tells his story until he must face his mortality. The second part, and overwhelmingly the most important part (“Cease Not till Death”), is simply superb, and if there is such a thing as a “must read,” then this it.

In a Foreward to the book, Dr. Abraham Verghese (author of Cutting for Stone) says it perfectly:

Be ready. Be seated. See what courage sounds like. See how brave it is to reveal yourself in this way. But above all, see what it is to live, to profoundly influence the lives of others after you are gone, by your words. In a world of asynchronous communication, where we are so often buried in our screens, our gaze rooted to the rectangular objects buzzing in our hands, our attention consumed by ephemera, stop and experience this dialogue with my young departed colleague, now ageless and extant in memory. Listen to Paul. In the silences between his words, listen to what you have to say back. Therein lies his message. I got it. I hope you experience it too. It is a gift. Let me not stand between you and Paul.


Redeployment, by Phil Klay by (F). This one was a National Book Award winner in 2014 and one of the NYTimes Best Books of 2014. While it is fiction, essentially a series of short stories, each told in a different voice, it reads more like a memoir. Klay is a former Marine, and this book tells of the Iraq War and what it did those who Americans who fought there. Just as Tim O’Brien (Going After Cacciato, 1978 and The Things They Carried, 1990) has become the human voice of the Vietnam War, Klay helps us understand how fighting in Iraq affected our soldiers and the families of those soldiers.

In his review of the book for the NYTimes, Dexter Filkins’ writes, “It’s the best thing written so far on what war did to people’s souls.” Read Filkins’ review. Even better, read Klay’s Redeployment. You may know much about this war, but I suspect you will moved by Klay’s writing of “how it changed the lives it (did) not consume.”

The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria, by Janine di Giovanni (NF). In this series of ‘dispatches’ – Giovanni was a foreign correspondent and is currently the Middle East Editor of Newsweek and a contributing editor of Vanity Fair – we learn what the civil war in Syria (at least in its early stages) has meant for ordinary people as their world has disintegrated around them. “Syria began,” she writes, “as a peaceful (revolution), but as I write this four years in, the revolution has since spiraled into a gruesome, a brutal, a seemingly forever war.”

This award winning author has experienced similar events in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Sierra Leone and says, “After all the lessons we had learned from the brutality of the wars in the 1990s — Rwanda, Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chechnya — we were allowing it to happen again.” When she was asked to go to Syria, she was warned by a friend, a diplomat, not to take the job “because you will be angry all the time and it is an anger you never will be able to reconcile.”

Fortunately, for the world, she did not take that advice and instead went to Syria where she applied her reporting skills and insights to the effect of war on women, children, and families. She writes to bear witness to what these individuals (a doctor, a nun, a musician, a student, etc.) experience and because she too believes the world must know and never forget these events.

It’s a powerful account of horrors that are still taking place today, and The Morning They Came for Us indeed “bears witness” and will help readers understand why thousands and thousands are fleeing Syria. It’s a difficult book to read, but it’s an important accounting of events that deserves to be known and passed on to others.

And three others that I enjoyed recently:

The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien (F). Her latest is about a man who mysteriously appears in a small Irish town and passes himself off as a healer. I’ll leave the details of what happens for readers to discover on their own, but the questions the story raises and explores are not so far from what Janine di Giovani was writing about in The Morning They Came for Us (see above) – “the limits of our own blinkered vision, the fragility of our own safe havens.” O’Brien is a wonderful story teller who uses her ability to involve us in her stories in order to see a world beyond our own.

Peacekeeping, by Mischa Berlinski (F). His second book, another good story, well told, and one that gives outsiders an insight into the culture, the politics and the way of life in Haiti. You’ll cheer for some of the characters — both Haitian and non-Haitian — and dislike others, and along the way you’ll learn about a society that you may not know but that in many ways does not seem unfamiliar. The book is set in the time period just prior to the Haitian earthquake

LaRose, by Louise Erdich (F). Her newest one after her wonderful award-winning novel of revenge, The Round House. (See previous post, How Come I Didn’t Know About Her?) 

Set in 1999, this story begins when a man (an Objiwe Indian) accidentally kills his best friend’s five-year old son. To make reparations, he and his wife give their own young son (LaRose) to the grieving family, saying, “Our son will be your son now.” As both families try to come to terms with these losses, Erdich takes us back through four generations of family members named LaRose and forward to how each of the main characters deals with the fallout from a parent’s worst nightmare — the loss of their child. Erdich is wonderful at drawing and developing her characters, and her writing in LaRose is every bit as good as it was in The Round House.

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And once more, here’s how you can get to the favorites from last year, and earlier:

MillersTime Readers Favorite Reads of 2015. This post includes a list of the favorites of the favorites as well as individual comments by every reader who contributed to the list.

Favorite Books Listed by TITLE, (non-fiction then fiction), then author, then the MillersTime contributing reader. A quick way to scroll through the list, bypassing what readers’ said about each book. You can easily print out this list.

Favorite Books Listed by the NAMES of the Contributing MillersTime readers, followed by title, (non-fiction then fiction), and then author. A quick way to check out what people whom you may know liked best. You can also easily print out this list.

For those of you who may want to see the lists from previous years, simply click on which year you want to review – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.


Finally, let others know what you’re reading and enjoying, or perhaps what books to avoid, by listing those titles along with a comment or two in the Comment section of this, or the previous, book post.


“I Want My Country Back”


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From time to time I link to or quote an article that seems to explain something that is going on in this country or abroad, something that resonates with me.

So this morning, I draw your attention to a column in the NewStatesman, Britain’s current affairs and political magazine. It doesn’t cover everything about Brexit (for instance there is nothing about the poor turnout of millennials who ‘backed’ the Remain side of the ballot – Brexit Is What Happens When Millennials Don’t Vote), but it does explain and react to some of what has occurred in the United Kingdom.

Don’t many of us, no matter our political views, feel “hiraeth“? That’s the Welsh word that roughly translates as a deep desire for home, “a home you can never return to, a home which may never have existed at all.”

See Laurie Penny’s I Want My Country Back, published yesterday in the NewStatesman.


I’m Reading What You Recommend

I try to read at least one book a month that was recommended/highlighted on last year’s Books Most Enjoyed by MillersTime Readers (2015).

Here are a few I’ve particularly enjoyed so far, including some of the comments from contributing readers.

The Door, by Magda Szabo (F). Larry Makinson wrote: “Story of a cantankerous but unforgettable character in postwar Hungary.” Larry was in DC when he was reading this one and kept raving about it. So it was the first book I read in 2016, and I’m delighted I did.

Largely it’s a character study, two characters actually, and you will long remember one of the two. The Door was a NYTimes ten best in 2015: “In Szabo’s haunting novel, a writer’s intense relationship with her servant — an older woman who veers from aloof indifference to inexplicable generosity to fervent, implacable rage — teaches her more about people and the world than her long days spent alone, in front of her typewriter. Szabo, who died in 2007, first published her novel in 1987, in the last years of Communist rule; this supple translation shows how a story about two women in 20th-century Hungary can resonate in a very different time and place. With a mix of dark humor and an almost uncanny sense of the absurd, she traces the treacherous course of a country’s history, and the tragic course of a life.”

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson (NF). Sal Giambanco wrote, “This may be the the most important book of 2015. With racial injustice and inequality in the headlines, Bryan Stevenson tells the story of Walter McMillan, and he makes the clarion call for compassion in the pursuit of justice in this country”.

And Emily Nichols Grossi was equally enthralled: I haven’t been this moved by a non-fiction, book length work in some time. Written by Bryan Stevenson, co-founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, it is both memoir and fact-based call to action on behalf of the grim, unequal system of “justice” meted out in America. Stevenson grew up poor in Delaware. His great-grandparents were slaves. His grandfather was murdered on the streets of Philadelphia. And yet he forged on, graduating from Eastern University and then Harvard Law School before moving south to represent impoverished clients facing death row. We are taken through Stevenson’s incredible life story through the lens of several of those he represented and tried to free from what were often completely fabricated claims. The systemic racism that pervades the American justice system is undeniable; if you doubted before and are willing to read with an open mind and heart, you will doubt no more once finishing this critically important work. Stevenson is a lovely writer and a hell of a person.”

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League, by Jeff Hobbs (NF) (Recommended by Anita Rechler,Cindy Olmstead, High Riddleberger and Matt Rechler). For those of you who have read this Hobbs’ book, Just Mercy is a fascinating and uplifting companion bookIn this case, though the early years of both individuals were difficult, what Stevenson was able to do with his gifts is a story that deserves attention. Stevenson is a true, modern day hero, and what he has done and continues to do is vitally important and deserves to be better known.

The Wright Brothers, by David McCullough (NF). Contributor Lance Brisson wrote, “If you think you know all you need to know about the Wright brothers, think again. Relying primarily on letters, diaries, news articles and other written materials from hundreds of sources in the U.S. and Europe, David McCullough has crafted a fascinating biography of the Wright brothers. He tells the story about how they, first and foremost, and other aviation pioneers literally changed the world. Early on the book reminds the modern reader, who likely takes airplane and space travel for granted, that just a little over a century ago birds were the only creatures that could truly fly in the sense that they could control their speed, altitude and direction. The idea of humans engaging in mechanical flight was derided by many as an impossible dream pursued by cranks. The Wright brothers, designers and makers of bicycles in Dayton, Ohio, had the passion to pursue this dream in the face of countless obstacles, including great personal danger. The details of what they did, how they did it and the people their lives intersected help make this book so interesting. McCullough has a knack for bringing to life historical figures that the reader thinks he or she already knows well. He has done this once again with The Wright Brothers.”

I have added Wilbur and Orville Wright to my list of heroes, not just for what they accomplished but also for who they were and how they conducted their lives. We can learn much from their story.  A good and valuable read.

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah (F). This book was second to All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (F) on readers’ most favorite fiction of 2015. Initially, I thought maybe Hannah’s book was ‘chick lit’ as all those who listed it were female readers. But those readers were all friends whose judgment I trust, and when I saw that Hannah was going to be in DC for a book talk, I read it.

Kate Latts summed it up pretty well, writing, “I am not usually a Kristin Hannah fan, but this was a solid WWII story focused on women fighting in the resistance in France. The two central characters are sisters trying to cope as best as they can during the hardships of war. One takes the more passive route and the other as an active resistance fighter. Moving and engaging story.”

Usually we read about WWII, and other wars, through the eyes of men, whether memoirs, histories, or fiction. Hannah believes there are many untold stories about women’s experiences and actions that need to be told. In The Nightingale, she models one of the two sisters after a woman who indeed played an important role in helping downed Ally pilots get to safety. In addition, the relationship of the two sisters and the role of their father add to what is a good story.

Martin Beck Detective series, by Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall (F). I mentioned these books in my 2015 favorites as did several readers. Whenever I simply want to escape, I pick up one of the ten of these and get lost in the wonderful character development, detail, and mystery that each one offers. They don’t have to be read in the order in which they were written, and if you want to try one, check out Roseanna, The Man on the Balcony, or The Laughing Policeman. Also, try listening to one while you’re exercising, walking, or traveling. It will help you get the Swedish names and places set in your mind. These folks ‘taught’ Erik Larsson and others what good detective writing is all about.

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If you’re looking for book suggestions, you can get to the list of MillesTime readers’ favorites in any of three ways:

MillersTime Readers Favorite Reads of 2015. This post includes a list of the favorites of the favorites as well as individual comments by every reader who contributed to the list.

Favorite Books Listed by TITLE, (non-fiction then fiction), then author, then the MillersTime contributing reader. A quick way to scroll through the list, bypassing what readers’ said about each book. You can easily print out this list.

Favorite Books Listed by the NAMES of the Contributing MillersTime readers, followed by title, (non-fiction then fiction), and then author. A quick way to check out what people whom you may know liked best. You can also easily print out this list.

For those of you who may want to see the lists from previous years, simply click on which year you want to review – 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.

Thru Ellen’s Lens: The Alligator Blinked First


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Whenever we travel, we try to add something on to the main trip, either at the beginning or at the end, something extra on the way or on the way home. We call this “A Travel Lagniappe”.*

esm.2We recently celebrated two family gatherings, one in Jamaica, followed immediately by one in New Orleans. So as usual, we added something at the end, spending 26 hours in southern Louisiana, where we enjoyed two swamp tours (Cajun Country Swamp Tours at Lake Morten, Breaux Bridge, LA and Cajun Man Swamp Cruise, Gibson, LA), one terrific meal (Grapevine Cafe, Donaldsonville, LA), an overnight at Maison Madeleine’s Guest House, QuirkyYurt, and a fais-do-do** (La Poussiere, in Breaux Bridge).

(*Lagniappe is a Cajun/French term used in the south and referring to “something extra thrown in.” Not sure if anyone has ever used it in conjunction with traveling, but why not?)

(**Fais-do-do generally refers to a Cajun dance party, and the origins of the term could have something to do with putting a baby to sleep in a cry room off the dance floor so the mother could get back to her husband before he danced with someone else, or it could just mean ‘make a dance,’ as in ‘make a dos-a-dos’. For more on this, see The Fais Do-Do)

Here are a dozen pictures from this “Travel Lagniappe,” followed by a link to a slide show with more pictures if these 12 are not enough for you.

PS – One of the alligators in these photos did blink while Ellen was ‘capturing’ him/her with her camera. Ellen didn’t.









To see Ellen’s entire slide show (59 photos), use this link: Southern Louisiana & the Swamps.

For the best viewing, click on the little arrow at the top right of the first page of the link to start the slide show and see all the photos in the largest size possible (use a laptop or desktop computer if you have access to either).



Understanding Trump’s Appeal



For a few months now I’ve been ‘loosely involved’ with a group of friends who are concerned about what is happening in our politics and who have been exchanging emails about where the country is headed. One of the intents of the individual who brought this group together was to answer the question about how we might direct our energies and move beyond the “divisiveness and denouncing the other side.” The questions he posed were these: “Isn’t it our obligation to seek to understand and look for ways to heal the schism and reduce the divisiveness? Isn’t that our best response to what we see happening at this time in our history?”

One of my bedrock beliefs and something that has formed the core of my professional life (working with troubled children, adolescents, parents, and families) is that before solutions to troubles are possible it is necessary to understand what is upsetting to each of the ‘parties.’

In that light, I draw your attention to a lengthy blog post by someone named James A. Lindsay whose somewhat provocative title to what he has to say is Liberals, Want Trump to Win? Keep Calling Him a Racist.

I hope you will take the time to read what Lindsay has to say. Not because I agree with all of it nor because I think all of his views or his conclusions are valid. What is valuable is that Lindsay writes from the ‘right’ and explains what is so upsetting to others like himself.

Probably the easiest way to read the article is to click on this link, but I am also posting it in its entirety below.

Continue reading »