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James Calhoun (British Columbia, Canada)

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
by Susan Cain
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.56
34 used & new from CDN$ 5.29

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay...., April 6 2012
Quiet, by Susan Cain is okay: it's not a great book, and it's not a complete waste of time either. I watched a video online of the author speaking about her book on introversion at TED event and thought, 'that looks like an interesting read.' Unfortunately, most of the scientific evidence she relies upon is presented in that brief talk, and so are most of the lessons that can be gleaned from her study of introverts. The book is repetitive, anecdotal, and plodding. It would have made a fantastic long essay in a publication like Psychology Today or The Atlantic, but she didn't need 270 pages.

Tommy's War: A First World War Diary 1913-1918
Tommy's War: A First World War Diary 1913-1918
by Thomas Livingston
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.10
20 used & new from CDN$ 6.43

3.0 out of 5 stars Tommy's War..., Sept. 23 2011
I picked this WWI diary up after reading the glowing reviews it received in British and American newspapers, and I have to admit to being underwhelmed. The book itself is beautiful: the pages are glossy, heavy stock, there are whimsical illustrations (from the original diaries) on nearly every page, as well as a wealth of historical context provided in several sections interspersed throughout the text. The book couldn't be more beautiful.

The problem is with the diarist, who seems an affable fellow, but is hardly a great or insightful chronicler of the period. Thomas Cairns Livingston was a Glasgow clerk, with a young son (wee Tommy) and an ailing wife. Not the heartiest of men, Thomas was never called up to serve, though he was subjected to several medical tests and the worry of being called up.

Each day's diary entry is a few sentences and follows a predictable formula: the weather, the health of his family, and the headline from the major story of that day's newspaper. There is very little reflection or commentary on any of these things, despite being an obviously charming and intelligent man. Had the diary been 200 pages shorter it would have been just as interesting.

If you're curious about the view of the war from the homefront, Tommy's War will be of minor interest.

Sapper Martin: The Secret Great War Diary of Jack Martin
Sapper Martin: The Secret Great War Diary of Jack Martin
by Richard Van Emden
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent WWI Diary..., Sept. 20 2011
If you've clicked on this book, chances are you're already familiar with much of the history and literature of the first world war. Martin's diary begins on the 17th of September, 1916, and recounts his time as a sapper with Royal Engineers until he is demobbed on the 3rd of February, 1919 and finally returns home to his family.

Martin's diary entries are extremely literate and literary: there are scattered references to Tristam Shandy, Shakespeare, and even Sassoon. He's observant and philosophical, and in places, tremendously witty. There are sarcastic bits, dreary bits, and some marvelously absurd scenes (like an officer that sentences his dog to Field Punishment No. 1 for wandering off).

Sapper Martin's is a fine diary, well worth the read.

Interview Lowdown Unauthoriz
Interview Lowdown Unauthoriz
Price: CDN$ 16.56
13 used & new from CDN$ 9.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent item for the Moz afficianado...., June 27 2008
The Lowdown includes two compact discs: the first is an hour long biography written by Tim Footman called 'Maximum Morrissey & the Smiths'; the second disc is a disc of interviews over the years. Overall a nice collection, but be aware that the first CD is available separately, so if you order both in a flurry of Moz enthusiasm (as I did) you're going to be disappointed, when you open the box & discover you have the same disc in two different sets of packaging.

Cheers

Bachelor No. 2
Bachelor No. 2

5.0 out of 5 stars Aimme Mann is Brilliant!, March 12 2008
This review is from: Bachelor No. 2 (Audio CD)
I don't normally gush over singers, but Aimee Mann is worth owning. I was introduced to her work by the film Magnolia, and went on a downloading binge from there. There are real gems throughout her entire body of work. You'll be driving along, and suddenly a line that you've heard again and again will strike you as something new and wonderful and insightful. On this album, the song 'Calling it Quits', 'It Takes all Kinds' and 'How am I Different' are particularly striking. Since downloading her music, I've made a point of not only purchasing the albums, but buying them for friends. All have become fans. The album 'The Forgotten Arm' is incredible, as is Bachelor No. 2. Treat yourself and give both of them a listen. She also has an excellent podcast from her website. Here I am 'pouring out praise like a true believer'...which is a word away from an Aimee Mann lyric. Great stuff. You won't be disappointed.

James Calhoun

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