Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Review: How to Knit a Love Song

I picked this book off my shelf not because I particularly wanted to read it at the moment - my knitting teacher had received it from someone and passed it along to me months ago - but because it was the smallest paperback I had and I was about to travel.
How to Knit a Love Song by Rachel Herron is your typical modern fiction romance.  The back of the book accurately sums up the plot and there’s no surprises.  That’s not a bad thing, and in fact can make for a nice little escape from the real world.

The heroine is an avid knitter who inherits a small cottage from a knitting guru.  Herron does an excellent job of weaving knitting into the story.  It plays an important role as the heroine’s refuge from her fears, serves as an analogy for life throughout the novel, and offers some very realistic everyday fun such as when the heroine hugs the hero with small needles in her pocket and accidentally stabs him.

The heroine’s new cottage is near the California coast, just south of San Francisco.  - I appreciated the setting being an area I’ve seen and could easily picture. -  And the cottage comes with one very big problem; it’s surrounded by a large sheep ranch that also belonged to the knitting guru and has been passed down to her nephew.  He’s a bit disgruntled about not getting everything, as you can imagine. 

The city-slicker knitter on a sheep farm line provides for plenty of situational humor, and the ranch setting, much like in Pieces of Sky, provides plenty of opportunity for dreamy descriptions of the rancher’s physique.

Personally, I prefer the “love making” style in Pride and Prejudice to the “his hand started drifting down, toward the center of her heat, where she throbbed” type stuff.  And that’s one of the cleaner examples from the book.  But, this is modern romantic fiction, and it is what it is.
It’s a cute book, and if you’re looking for an easy read that won’t distract you from daily life when you’re not in the book, then this book’s for you.  It also has a pattern in the back for the sweater the heroine’s knitting throughout the book.  That’s pretty neat.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The World (or at least the Museum) is Our Playground!

Long-time readers of this blog, and people who know my family a little too well, know that we love a good trip to a museum, especially the museum.  One museum tradition of ours is to visit the museum, the Milwaukee Public Museum, during the Christmas holidays. 

Why goldenrail, don’t you get board going to the same museum all happy piratesthe time; don’t you have all the exhibits memorized by now?  Never!  and, yes, sort of.  This year, Munchkinhead, her boyfriend and I visited the museum together.  There was a great traveling exhibit on Pirates.  Munchkinhead loves pirates, so we had to check that out.

When done arrrr-ing and checking out booty, we frolicked off to the rest of the museum for our usual antics.  We got to be lots of animals:


Deer! or antelope, or something like that…

me and katrina bears


sloth katrina

… a Sloth (I’m the sloth’s branch)…

sea bass

… Fish (I do a great sea bass impression)…

dinosaur gene and katrina

…even Dinosaurs…

howler monkey katrina

…and of course, the howler monkey.


We also had fun being a few inanimate objects and people.

totem pole katrina and gene

A Munchkinhead-Munchkinhead’s Boyfriend Totem Pole

pirate boy katrina

Munchkinhead makes a great 9-yr old pirate boy


And we couldn’t pass up our absolute favorite photo op exhibit in the museum!  We got this shot with a whole lot of combinations of people playing the different roles.  This year, Munchkinhead’s boyfriend got to catch Munchkinhead.

gene hunting katrina

2008 museum antics

2011 zoo antics

Monday, March 25, 2013

Purple Peasant

Sometimes, I go for a little walk over the Plaza and wander through the aisles of JoAnn’s, looking at pretty fabrics and silly socks and fun trinkets.  On one of these little excursions, I happened to find this beautiful sheer purple fabric.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make something for Alfred.

There wasn’t a lot left on the bolt, so I bought it all and added it to my stash.  As Christmas neared, I thought about what I could do with the fabric.  It was such a light and whispy fabric, it had to made into something that would allow it to flow.  I dug through my pattern boxes and found a cute peasant skirt pattern that I could alter a tad.

The purple fabric was extremely see-through, so I knew I needed a lining.  The pattern wasn’t lined, but I’ve gotten pretty good at lining un-lined patterns.  With a skirt like this, with a yoke top, it’s pretty easy to add lining layers to the bottom of the yoke facing rather than turning it under and sewing it to the yoke.

I had some gauze fabric left from pajamas I made for Mr. Trizzle a few years ago.  It wasn’t enough for the whole skirt, but it was a start.  Luckily, JoAnn’s still carried it and I was able to purchase the little bit more I needed.

I think it turned out pretty well.  I haven’t seen Alfred in it, so I don’t actually know if it fits or if she likes it, but then, it is more of a summer skirt and there’s a few more months to go until it’s summer in Ohio.


Pattern: McCalls M5108   McCalls #5108 Size 6,8,10,12

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review: How to Talk with Practically Anybody about Practically Anything

41xuA7EsoQL._AA160_[1]There’s so much I love about this book that I don’t even know where to start.  How about with the cover.  Beneath the insanely long title, of which only the first word is capitalized, the author is credited as “Barbara Walters of the ‘Today’ Show.”  Not only did I not know Barbara Walters had once been on the Today Show, I never thought of the Today Show as a serious interview program.  It’s morning fluff for housewives while they wait for the Price is Right to start.  My, how times of changed.

Oh, and of course seeing Barbara Walters 20 years younger than I remember her from 20/20 was also pretty neat.  Her cheekbones haven’t changed.

How to talk with practically anybody about practically anything is partly an etiquette book in disguise.  Little tidbits such as how to address place cards or when to offer speakers alcohol are scattered throughout the book.  Though the book doesn’t state an intended audience anywhere, one gets the distinct idea it was written for women.  However, the advice in the book, the tips and the general methods are applicable to anyone.

Breaking talks down into categories of who else is in the conversation, Walters addresses common missteps, ice breakers and preparation steps.  The 1970s publication date comes out all over.  Sometimes subtly in something like the mention of female bosses understanding a woman’s need to take time away from the office to visit a hairdresser, sometimes it’s far more over, such as in the section under the subheading “Special Circumstances” that addresses specifically talking with “a Negro celebrity.” 

This dated-ness doesn’t hurt the usefulness of the book at all.  In fact, it makes it an even more enjoyable read because it also turns it into a bit of a cultural study.  The one exception may be for younger readers who aren’t up on older famous people.  References to the likes of Aristotle Onassis and Truman Capote might go over their heads.

If you’re heading to a dinner party anytime soon, or perhaps something more common these days, like a networking event, I’d recommend reading through Barbara Walter’s short guide.  At less than 200 pages, with well-placed headings throughout, it’s easy to find the information you’d need.  Apparently, there’s also a 1983 version.  I think that’d also be interesting to see.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Football and all those Famous Folks

This past holiday season, I had the wonderful opportunity of going to visit Alfred and Nathy-Boo at their home in Cleveland.   My dearest sister put up with me let me stay for a whole week!  We had tons of fun.

Now, in case you haven’t noticed from previous posts (about skirts and socks and life), Alfred is a huge Packer fan.  And I’m pretty fond of football as well.  So I knew she’d at least think about it when I begged, “Can we go to the Football Hall of Fame? Please? Pretty please?”  And we did.

One snowy morning, we got in her car, fishtailed out the driveway and sludged down the freeway to Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  It’s a drive that, to Alfred, is a bit of a roadtrip, but in Bay Area terms is just around the corner.  We had fun counting cars spun out in the ditches on our way there.

The museum – or whatever it is – is pretty neat.  I liked the exhibit on old football gear the best.  My top favorite was the old nose guard that was supposed to prevent broken noses.  Players stopped using it when it became apparent that the guard caused more broken noses than it prevented.  Reminds me a bit of discussions around a current piece of equipment…

The busts of all the inductees was pretty neat, too, especially since there’s so many Packers.  Sadly, there’s less Packers than Bears.  The video display of Ditka is also very cool, but Ditka’s such a part of American culture now that anything with him would be cool.  I didn’t know he used to be a player, so I learned something new!

nexus 7 163Alfred didn’t take too kindly to one of the displays, which amused some of the other patrons.

The part of our visit that surprised me most was something that shouldn’t have been surprising; I’d just forgotten.  We were practically the only females in the place, and definitely the only females without male accompaniment, even though it was quite busy.  You see, where we come from, everyone’s a football fan.  There’s no such thing as football widows.  The loudest screamers and angriest yellers are always my aunts.  Mommy’s great-nieces have jerseys practically as soon as their born, same as her great-nephews.  But I guess the rest of the country isn’t quite the same.  Wisconsinites really are the luckiest people on earth.

nexus 7 165

And we got our picture taken with the Lombardi trophy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monkey Pants

Some people just don’t need much, and Mr. Trizzle is one of those people.  It’s a very noble way of life and one many of us wish we could better emulate, but it’s a pain in the butt for happy little present givers on Christmas and Birthdays.  What do you get for someone who doesn’t want anything?

PB271511Well, there’s one thing I know Mr. Trizzle loves, and that’s his lounge pants.  Now, I suppose it’s possible to have too many pairs of lounge pants, but I didn’t think Mr. Trizzle was there yet.  And when I saw this adorable monkey-covered flannel on sale at JoAnn’s, I knew exactly what Mr. Trizzle was getting for Christmas.

Lounge pants are one of my favorite things to make because they’re so quick and easy and there’s so many fun fabrics out there for them. I should start buying 1” elastic in bulk.  I have a great lounge/pj pants pattern that I’ve used before for other lounge pants and jammie shorts.  I seem to modify it a little every time in some way.  This time, I added pockets and fly flap.  Not my best fly flap, but I tried.  The pockets turned out great.   And Mr. Trizzle finds them nice and comfy, which is the most important part.Dorian's pjs (3)

Pattern: Simplicity 2317

Saturday, March 16, 2013

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, but not Good-bye

File:Martin Johnson Heade - A Vase of Corn Lilies and Heliotrope.jpgThere’s lots of fabulous things about my church, but one of my early favorites, one of things I loved even when I wasn’t sure about the church was this pair of sisters.  Older women, they reminded me of the aunts from Arsenic and Old Lace; one tall, one short, always together.  As far as I know, they didn’t serve anybody elderberry wine.

Marie and Nina.  They always sat together near the front of the church, which was quite in contrast to the older people at the churches where I grew up who hid in the back rows.  There they were, always sitting together.

For the past many weeks, it’s been Nina without Marie.  It seemed very strange the first week, and only slightly less strange in the weeks following.  Yet it also always seemed like Marie was still will us, though not physically present.  She was ill and in between hospitals and home.  Yesterday, Marie went Home-home.

I’m sad to think I won’t see her sitting in that pew again or hear her insightful comments at church small group or grasp her hand during sharing of the peace.  I actually know very little about her outside of the relatives who have come to church.  But there was one glimpse I will never forget.

At the church’s Thanksgiving potluck, we were to bring our favorite Thanksgiving dishes.  I brought sauerkraut made the way my grandma used to make it (minus the turkey drippings.)  Most of the locals were befuddled as to what to do with this “condiment” without any hot dogs, but then I heard Marie ask, “who made the sauerkraut?”  Not only did she like it, it reminded her of when she was younger.  Someone in her family used to make it, from scratch.  Here I was feeling all foreigner again and then someone else shared a piece of my culture!  I suddenly didn’t feel so out of place.  It meant the world to me at that moment.

Marie always struck me as very regal and tall, even though she needed to lean on something or someone to walk.  She was also always well dressed.  And I would often think, “when I’m older, I want to be like Marie.”  Not just for her fashion and strong presence, but also for the warmth and calm understanding that seemed to radiate from her.

I have a feeling that warmth will be back in church on Sunday, radiating from somewhere unseen.  ‘Til we meet again…



Photo: painting by Martin Johnson Heade – A Vase of Corn Lilies and Heliotrope, public domain.  Held at the St. Louis Art Museum

Friday, March 15, 2013

Snakes, Floods and Flat Notes

Review: Children of Eden at Contra Costa Civic Theater

Children of Eden program coverIt seems silly to be posting a theater review after the production’s stopped running.  But don’t worry; if you didn’t see it, you didn’t miss anything. 

I love my little community theater, but their musicals are usually pretty mediocre.  In an area with a lot of theaters and a lot of paying theaters I guess it must be hard to find good singers.  That being said, there were three performers who did a great job.

Eve, Cain and a Graceful Horse – Outstanding
Everyone Else, eh

The actress playing Eve I had last seen as a prostitute in No Sex Please, We’re British.  It took me a little while to get past that, but she did job as both Eve and Noah’s wife.  The actress, Jade Shojaee, has a beautiful voice and did some amazing riffs in the gospel-styled “Ain’t It Good.”  She proved her acting skills to me back when she played the daughter in Steel Magnolias and was just as on point here.  Too bad the gentleman with whom she had most of her duets struggled to carry a tune.

The gentleman who played Cain and Noah’s son, Japheth, was incredible.  What an amazing voice!  I sort of wished he’d been cast as Noah and Adam, but the parts he had and the angrier songs were better suited to his voice.  I hope to see more of Mr. Nikita Burshteyn at this theater.

I don’t know the name of the other actress that really impressed me.  She was one of the extras, about 14, clearly a dancer, just passing the awkward pre-teen years.  You could tell she’s going to be a beautiful young woman.  She was so graceful in everything she did, she made some of the other extras look quite clumsy.  She had a short but very nice dance solo as a horse before getting on the Ark and some short single dancing parts while controlling the dove.  I hope to see more of her in the local theater as well.

Other than those three, the show was pretty so-so, or worse.  Some of the extras were trying too hard to be sopranos and most of them were trying to be soloists.  It hurt, as did Adam’s long notes.  And several of the extras were distractingly unattractive.  But, even if the show were done by a top cast, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Odd Show on It's Own

The music is disjointed, feeling as if it’s been pulled from other shows.  The serpent sings jazz reminiscent of Chicago – and really, “the devil’s music” for the devilish snake? – There’s a solo by Japheth’s wife that sounds like it might as well be Eponine from Les Mis,  Some song in the middle was very reminiscent of The Brady Bunch, complete with quick outstretched arm flashes.  I don’t know what they were singing, but I was hearing “gonna keep on, keep on, keep on movin’…”  And the last song, which was some uplifting, everything-is-going-be-awesome message that didn’t seem to fit with the storyline, got Sesame Street’s “We are All Earthlings” stuck in my head.

Despite this show being rather unremarkable, I did have a nice time with the group from church that went, and I do enjoy my season tickets.  I’d much rather risk $20 at a theater I can walk to than $50 to $100 at something in San Francisco that I may not like.

Next up is Next to Normal, a show I saw in New York and loved.  I’m a bit nervous since it’s another musical, but at least I know I’ll like the underlying story.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

“Wait!” or, The Day I found my Bravery

I suppose we all like to believe we’re brave sometimes, though we’re scared often enough.  I’m certainly afraid plenty; afraid of the dark, afraid of my shadow, afraid of strangers, afraid of plane crashes and falls and injuries.  Afraid of the unknown.

But we must all have bravery inside us somewhere.  True bravery to plow on despite those fears.  Bravery to say “no” to our doubts.  Bravery to remember we were brave once before.  Calling back on past bravery to create current bravery – yes.  It’s something I have to do now and then.  And I think back to the moment I first found my true bravery.  I remember it so well.*

I sat in the long corridor, gripping with white knuckles the bottom of the hard, plastic seat.  White from the force of my grip, white from fear.  My stomach somersaulted.  I wanted nothing more than to get up and run.  Run as fast as I could.  Run down the corridor.  Run past security.  Run out the big glass doors.  “Wait!  Wait for me!”  “Don’t leave yet, wait for me!”

What was I doing here?  Sitting on this cold, hard seat in my daddy’s old blue and red flannel with the soft quilted lining.  “Wait!  Wait for me!”  “Wait!”

Me, here, it was absurd.  I was the home girl, the one who wouldn’t even look at a college more than half an hour away.  The one who stopped by nearly once a week for four and a half years, who never missed a Christmas or an Easter or a Mothers’ Day at Grandma and Grandpa’s, who loved game nights in the kitchen and Fourth of Julys in the park, who preferred New Year’s Eve Monopoly with the family to any party.  And yet, here I was, alone in the airport – had I even ever been on a flight by myself before? – here I was, all packed and ready and about to move to Africa.  “Wait!”

I held onto the chair as much to keep myself from running than anything.  I was terrified.  Would I make it?  Would I get sick?  Would I have to eat bugs?  Would I die?  And most terrifying to me of all, would I lose all my friends?  Would their lives go on without me and change and not have room for me when I came back?

I looked down that corridor and saw myself running.  “Wait!  I changed my mind!  Let’s go home!”  “Wait!”  But I couldn’t run.  Not from this fear.  Not this time.  Everyone was too proud.  I couldn’t let them down.  I couldn’t run.

“Come on Daddy Bunny, we’ve got a world to change.”

Ok, I’m pretty sure I didn’t say that, though I probably did say something to Daddy Bunny.  Somehow, we moved towards the gate and we got on that plane.  I can’t say we never looked back, but we never ran.  And you know what, my worst fear did come true.  Few friends remain from before I left.  But, I’d do it all again.  Sometimes, we’re afraid most of things we needn’t fear.

Now, whenever I must confront a new challenge, a new unknown, a new fear, I remember that day, the day I found my bravery.  If I could get on that plane, I can face anything. …except peeing in the bush; I’ll never do that


* Ok, I’ve probably added details with the passage of time like I do with so many other “memories” as my mother likes to point out to me, but humor me.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fun and Easy Slippers for Mommy

One of the lady’s at knitting pulled two objects from her bag.  One looked like a warm, thick and cozy tube sock with cable detailing up the front.  The other looked like a flat rectangle.  Yet they clearly belonged together, knit from the same soft grey yarn.  Sock with matching coaster?  Mitten with matching single-shoe rug?  Baguette holder with matching hotpad?  Slippers!  Very neat and very fun slippers.

The lady at knitting at found them in some stash somewhere, and curious about them, had deconstructed one.  It turned out that what appeared to be cable detailing was actually a crocheted chain lacing up the slipper.  That flat rectangle was the slipper body.  The long edges each had eyelets knit into them, knit one, yarn over, knit two together, repeat.  Lace up the rectangle, and it becomes a slipper.

“Why, how perfect,” I thought.  Mommy had sent her Christmas list only a few days before, and on that list, she had asked for slippers.  Plus, I was just finishing the shawl for Mr. Trizzle’s mom

As soon as I could, I ran to JoAnn’s and scoured the yarn aisles for the perfect yarn.  Mommy’s favorite color is red and there was one red yarn that particularly stood out to me, a nice chunky yarn.  The slippers the lady at knitting had were knit with one strand of yarn, but I wanted to give Mommy’s slippers extra thickness and firmness to keep out the cold from the floor.  So I picked out a matching white to go with the red.  Both chunky, both tweed, with little speckles of colored yarn mixed in.  As I knit, the resulting fabric reminded me of a rag rug Mommy used to have in the kitchen at the old house.  Maybe that’s why I picked the yarn…

The slippers are long, so they cover her ankles and form a cute little cuff at the top, like elf shoes.  The toes of the slippers are sewn together by threading a piece of yarn through the end of each row and pulling it tight.  I used two strands for strength and used the yarn to add a cute little bow detail.  Of course, the best part is, Mommy loved them.   And I hear that if she gets a good running start, she can turn the kitchen floor into her own playground.

Mommy trying on her new slipper


Mommy trying on her new slippers.



Yarn: Serenity Chunky Tweeds, Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Collection in Claret and Aran, 2 skeins each

Pattern: Using two strands of yarn, cast on a row about as long as you want your slipper, from the tops of the toes, around the heel and up the ankle.  

Next row, knit one, yarn over, knit two together, repeat until you reach the end of your row.  If you don’t have exactly enough stitches to end the row, knit the last few stitches; this will be the top of your slipper. 

Next rows, knit.  Keep knitting until you have a rectangle of desired width.  When placed under your foot, with the rows running parallel to your foot, the rectangle should be able to wrap around your foot to cover just under a third of the top of your foot on each side.  The rectangle will stretch when you lace it up so pull a bit as you try the size out.

Do another row of knit one, yarn over, knit two together, making sure the yarn overs line up with the other side of the slipper. 

Bind off.

Using a crochet hook and one strand of yarn, knit a crochet chain long enough to lace up your slipper and tie at the top.  I suggest threading the chain through the slipper as you go to make sure it’s long enough.

Lace up your slipper.

Thread two strands of yarn through each end stitch at the slipper’s toe.  Pull tight and tie in a knot.  Hide the ends in your stitches or tie into a decorative bow.

Enjoy your slippers.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Review: Pieces of Sky

I’m a sucker for historical fiction, and a nice little love story set in the wild west just after the Civil War seemed like a good escape for awhile.  Something to pick up and put down at leisure.  Boy, was I wrong, and right.

Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner sucked me in and wouldn’t let me go.  Little did I know upon picking it up that this random novel would strike a chord deep inside me.  I really couldn’t put the book down and finished reading it in a few days.

The heroine of the novel, Jessica, is running away from pain.  Warner’s depiction is amazingly accurate.  The fear, the panic, Jessica’s attempts to bury it, her struggles to face it, everything resonates with reality and pulls the reader directly into the story.

Plus, it’s a cute love story set on a violent frontier, complete with gun battles, stagecoach robberies and stampeding cattle.  If this book were a film, it’d be one of those chick flicks you might be able to trick a guy into watching for the action scenes.  Descriptions are vivid, conversations witty and the entire book engulfing.  Normally, I send my finished novels to Mommy to read.  I’m keeping this one, sorry Mommy.

Bonus: I just realized this is the first novel in a trilogy. Guess I have a couple books to add to my reading list.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I’m Melting, melt…ing. Cuz I’m a Snowlady!

We have this tradition in our family to make our snow people a little more special.  It’ll all began about 5 years ago when Alfred couldn’t come home for Christmas.  And then, the next year, we made Mr. Trizzle.  A few years later, we tried to make Snow Nathy-Boo, but it was raining and he didn’t turn out too well, or last very long.  This year, Alfred and I tried to make a Snow Stevie for our Uncle Stevie, but the snow wasn’t the right type; we couldn’t do anything bigger than a snowball.

Usually, we make our snow people at Christmas, to be whoever’s missing.  However, Milwaukee recently had a good snow storm and Pretty Little Munchkinhead  had enough of the right type of snow to make a snow person.  And you know who she made?  Me!

snow me 1

I love it.  Look, I’m knitting!  And, she gave me fabulous hoop earrings, which I almost always wear.  (Snow Me’s earrings are pipe cleaners Munchkinhead found in the basement.)  She has blue eyes, like me, though mine aren’t made of poker chips.  And she even has my monstrous thighs.  I don’t usually wear my hair down, so Snow Me must be getting ready for an extra special occasion.  I suppose standing in the front yard is extra special.

She’s so fabulous!  Thanks, Munchkinhead!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wrap up in a Rainbow

Christmas is long past, so I can now share all the fun knitting and sewing projects that turned into Christmas presents.

I really liked the Fiesta La Boheme Easy one-skein triangular shawl pattern that I’d used on my Shoulder Shawl and thought a  full-size shawl would be the perfect present for Mr. Trizzle’s mom.  She’s a very bright and bubbly person and I knew I needed something with lots of color for her.

I found a nice multi that was bright but not garish or overwhelming.  The tones were more along the fall spectrum.  Usually, I’m not a fan of boucle, but it worked perfectly in this pattern and laid beautifully when draped over my dummy.  This skein was much larger than the one I’d used before and the shall came out to a very nice size.

D'borrah's shawl (1)

Pattern from Blog.NobleKnits

Yarn: Sensations Multi Casual Boucle in Color # 4670 (this is a JoAnn’s brand yarn)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Book Review–Basic Economics and Applied Economics

Economics is one of those subjects I never really had in school.  My high school did this kind of goofy thing where seniors took a semester of Government and a semester Economics, unless those students were in the smart-people classes.  Then they took a year of AP Government.  Whether or not AP Government was supposed to cover economics as well, I learned very little about anything other than Monica Lewinsky in that class, and certainly nothing about economics. 

So I went onto college – no econ there – and then off to the Peace Corps, and by the time I was in law school learning about economics in the context of Posner’s legal decisions, I’d learned enough to know that economics was this evil thing relied on by people lacking compassion.

Throughout years of talking with Mr. Trizzle, I slowly learned that I had the stereotype completely right and the reality completely wrong.  He recommended Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics as a good starting point for actually learning about the subject.  I loved it.

Basic Economics is a big book, but the language is clear and it makes for a relatively quick read.  Rather than breaking economics into the macro and micro divisions common with college courses on the subject, Sowell addresses the topic as a whole.  He begins with a brief introductory chapter and then explores seven different topic areas in depth.  At the end of each topic, there’s an excellent overview chapter, offering an even quicker read for those who need to go for a skim.

Throughout the book, Sowell presents both sides of debated issues, and when he tells his own preference, he explains why.  And, something I found very important, Sowell addresses the stereotypes and the concerns I’d had about economics.  He doesn’t presume rational actors and explains how things work presuming non-rational actors.  There’s also an entire section on non-economic values that looks at the interplay of people’s concerns outside of finances.

The book focuses on the action part of economics, how it works in day-to-day life.  If you’re looking for a history of economic theories, this is not the book for you – though it does have a nice reference list.

I really enjoyed the book, and I highly recommend it.  It’s one to get you thinking.


Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One is Sowell’s sequel to Basic Economics.  It’s a much slimmer volume that looks in-depth at specific sectors of the market: medical care, housing, business, immigration, etc.

I enjoyed the chapters on the Economic Development of Nations and Free and Unfree Labor, but overall found the book less engaging than its predecessor.   Sowell provides a good introduction to each of the sectors treated in the book and includes citations to other works that give more in-depth treatment.