His Dark Materials Trilogy – recommended

I loved the book titled in North America The Golden Compass. And enjoyed the movie too.

Just this morning, sadly, I finished the next 2 books in the Trilogy and found them equally strong.

His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)

His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)

Highly recommended. Especially as audio books. The narrators on the versions from Audible.com are superb.

When will author Philip Pullman, an outspoken atheist, by the way, publish the next installment? I can hardly wait for the war between God and the fallen angels.

Pullman has written two companion pieces to the trilogy entitled, Lyra’s Oxford, and the newly released Once Upon a Time in the North. A third companion piece Pullman refers to as the “green book” will expand upon his character Will. He has plans for one more, the as-yet-unwritten The Book of Dust, which is tentatively set for release in 2009. This book is not a continuation of the trilogy but will include characters and events from His Dark Materials. …


the 10 oddest travel guidebooks

Thanks Peter Long for the tip on guides for my future travel:

The 10 oddest travel guides ever published.
By Paul Collins …

1. The Truth About Hunting in Today’s Africa, and How To Go on Safari for $690.00, by George Leonard Herter (1963)

2. A Guide Through the District of the Lakes in the North of England, by William Wordsworth (5th edition, 1835)

3. Das Generalgouvernement, by Karl Baedeker (1943)

4. Fodor’s Indian America, by Jamake Highwater (1975)

5. Bollocks to Alton Towers by Robin Halstead, et al. (2006)

6. Travel Guide of Negro Hotels and Guest Houses, by Afro-American Newspapers (1942)

7. Lonely Planet Guide to Micronations, by John Ryan et al. (2006)

8. The Night Climbers of Cambridge, by “Whipplesnaith” (1937)

9. A Tramp Trip: How To See Europe on Fifty Cents a Day, by Lee Meriwether (1886)

10. Overland to India and Australia, by the BIT Travel & Help Service (1970)

“Baboons Are Simply Too Small for Leopard Bait” – Slate.com

Uncommonly British Days Out

Bollocks to Alton Towers: Uncommonly British Days Out

Barbecue Secrets DELUXE

From Rockin’ Ronnie by email:

Greetings, barbecue fans!

ron1531.jpgAfter a year-long sabbatical, my barbecue batteries are recharged and I’m back in the game. I’m writing to let you know that I’m working on my next book, a special expanded edition of Barbecue Secrets called Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!

The full-color book will include the best recipes, tips and stories from Barbecue Secrets as well as my second book, Planking Secrets. It will also have a bunch of new recipes, new photos and some new stories from my last four years along the barbecue trail.

I’m in the middle of putting together the manuscript of the book, and I’m having a blast!

I have two invitations for you to join in the fun:

1. I invite you to follow along and preview some of the new recipes before the book comes out. I’ll be showcasing them on my Barbecue Secrets blog at http://barbecuesecrets.libsyn.com/. There are already a couple of great summer salsa recipes up there now. Whenever I post a new recipe I’ll point to it with a post on my Twitter account. You can follow me at http://twitter.com/rockinronnie.

2. You’re also invited to share a favorite grilling, plank-cooking or barbecue recipe. If I include it in the new book I’ll make sure you get credited and I’ll give you a free copy when it’s published!

Also, Denzel Sandberg and I have launched the “Ronnie & Denzel’s” line of all-natural barbecue sauces. Check it out on my website:

That’s all for now. If you’re going to be up at Whistler for the Canadian National Barbecue Championships on the first weekend of August, I’ll see you there. The Butt Shredders are putting on our aprons in an attempt to reclaim that big trophy. Otherwise, have a great summer and happy cooking!

Yours forever in smoke,
Rockin’ Ronnie

Ron “Rockin’ Ronnie” Shewchuk
Barbecue Evangelist


The Stone Diaries – finally

Carol Shields‘ 1995 novel is essential CanLit since it won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize.

Her “profound insights into human nature” make it essential. Or so they tell me.

… the fictional autobiography about the life of Daisy Goodwill Flett, a seemingly ordinary woman whose life is marked by death and loss from the beginning, when her mother dies during childbirth. Through marriage and motherhood, Daisy struggles to find contentment, never truly understanding her life’s true purpose. …


I’ve started and failed to finish this classic several times over the years. Yet recently I got through an audio version. Yay me.

MP3 files got jumbled, though. The timeline jumped forward and backward somewhat randomly. I kind of liked that.

The Stone Diaries (Penguin Essential Edition)

The Stone Diaries (Penguin Essential Edition)

Leave a comment if you have an opinion on this book.

Nudge – the book – libertarian paternalism

Listened to an Economist magazine interview with one of the authors of a fascinating new book called Nudge.

Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

… how to steer people toward better health, sounder investments, and cleaner environments without depriving them of their inalienable right to make a mess of things if they want to.

Thaler is a hard core economist who believes government should intervene in our lives. But only by giving us better information to make decisions.

… policymakers should “focus on making the world easier”, he argues in a new book, “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness”, written with Cass Sunstein, a law professor (and an adviser to Barack Obama). By this he means defining more carefully and simply the financial choices that people have to make, and building “sensible default options” into the design of financial products …

Getting it right on the money – The Economist

the greatest recluse author – Trevanian

I recently learned that one of my favourite authors died in 2005.

One obituary:

TREVANIAN, author of The Eiger Sanction, Shibumi and The Summer of Katya, is no longer with us. He died on Dec. 14 in London. Even when he was alive, no one knew who he was, because Trevanian was merely a pseudonym. Rodney Whitaker was his real name, and he published both fiction and nonfiction under multiple pen names. He may be the only person who can claim to have sold millions of books worldwide without making one single promotional appearance or doing one single booksigning or live interview. …


It was often rumored that he was actually Robert Ludlum using a pen name to which Trevanian stated, “I don’t even know who he is.

Mr. Whitaker lived much of his life in a little Basque village on the French side of the Pyrenees and used it as a setting in his writing.

Trevanian tried to disappear in 1979, actually doing a farewell interview with the NY Times that year. But that pseudonym did not die until The Summer of Katya (1983).

Then nothing for 15-years.

When I saw — unexpectedly — Incident at Twenty-Mile (1998) appear on the shelves, I assumed it was a successor, perhaps a son. The book was excellent — but much different than his earlier work.

Then <a href=”Hot Night in the City (2001)

And Death Dance (2002)

Finally, the last book before his death:


The Crazyladies of Pearl Street: A Memoir (2006)

It’s an excellent read, somewhat based on the author’s own life. A life still shrouded in mystery.

Trevanian’s final novel is the warm, entertaining coming-of-age story of an imaginative boy in working class New York.

He has additional unpublished works in the works, I understand.

Middlesex wins most important prize in literature

Middlesex is a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. It was published in 2002 and was selected the summer 2007 must read for Oprah’s Book Club.

A Novel

Middlesex: A Novel

Just finished listening to it on MP3. Excellent.

The narrator and protagonist, Calliope Stephanides (later called “Cal”), an intersexed person of Greek descent …

Born a girl, he lives his live as a man.

The books jumps between the story of his coming-of-age and his immigrant family history.

New to me in this book was the horrific description of the Great Fire of Smyrna (1920). I’ve often wondered why Greeks and Turks are such mortal enemies. It’s because of atrocities like this: up to 360,000 Anatolian Greeks killed in the Pontic Greek Genocide during and after WW I.

It’s from this horror that Cal’s grandparents (brother and sister) escape to Detroit, Michigan.

Middlesex is entertaining and fascinating from start to finish. Extremely well written, yet very down-to-Earth and accessible. It would make a terrific movie.

The author Jeffrey Eugenides teaches at Princeton.


Mighty Hermaphrodite – NY Review of Books