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Booknotes 2.4


  • Stealing from the Saracens, by Diana Darke. Fascinating commentary on early Christian architecture’s debt to Islamic architecture. It was somewhat slow going because of all the architectural terms I wasn’t familiar with, but I’m glad I kept with it. Learned a lot. Fun fact: “One striped fabric imitated by the Arabs in Spain was traded under the name tabi, after an Umayyad prince called Attab. It became popular across Europe and survives today in our word ‘tabby’ for a streaked or striped cat.” Also, before this I had never seen photos of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, but I’m glad I now have (mmm).
  • The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard. Great book about Teddy Roosevelt’s journey through the Amazon. Really loved it. It’s a bit intense once they get into the jungle — when I told my wife about the candiru and piranha parts, for example, I accidentally all but ensured that there’s no way we’re ever doing a family trip there — but oh, it’s so good. Very much looking forward to reading all of Millard’s other books.


  • Small Miracles, by Olivia Atwater. Recent winner of SPFBO. It was okay, but it didn’t really click with me and I don’t know why. If you like cozy comedy fantasy, though, I’d recommend trying it. (Clearly a lot of other people really liked it.)
  • The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Didn’t really care for it. I’m learning that while I want to like Le Guin’s books, the ones I’ve read haven’t really done it for me. Not sure why. Probably not going to read any more of hers, sadly.