Ex Libris Kirkland

Ex Libris Kirkland is my self-centered way to keep track of what I read, what I like, and what I want to remember.


Recently Quoted

  • The last time Russia was Russia was 1917. The Soviet identity was in many ways an artificial construct, but it existed for a long while, and by the time it collapsed, who knew what Russia was or what being Russian meant?

    an excerpt from Putin Country, written by Anne Garrels in 2016

  • Journalism is at best a complicated beast, but in Russia it is unquestionably a sleazy business, intimidated, co-opted, corrupted, and bought.

    an excerpt from Putin Country, written by Anne Garrels in 2016

  • Chelyabinsk is a typical Russian city where everyone knows one another's business. Restrictions on freedom of speech are more severe than in Moscow, where the sheer size of the population provides some with anonymity and the attention of the West provides others with a measure of protection.

    an excerpt from Putin Country, written by Anne Garrels in 2016

Recently Noted

  • You know how they say sci-fi books are always about the time they were actually written? I have never read a book so obviously about the United States.

    Maybe this is true about all ethnography. It's certainly true about all travel writing, right?

    an note about Putin Country, written by Anne Garrels in 2016

  • This is an amazing book; an ethnographic survey / slice of life story set in Chelyabinsk, written by former NPR correspondent. It describes a place that's maybe a little backwards compared to Moscow or Peter, but a representative sampling of the 'real' Russia of today.

    What's really striking: if you just squint a little bit, the first half of this book could look like a portrait of Wichita, written by a Swede. There's the exact same 'traditional values' talk, the same just-on-the-edge of jingoistic national pride, the same unblinking acceptance of oppressive economic oligarchs, the same fears over immigration that just read as racist to lefties, the same blustery swapping of liberty for security under the (spurious) threat of terrorism. It's alarming.

    The second half of the book dives into problems that seem really Russian - rampant corruption at every level of government, a total breakdown of the rule of law, environmental and nuclear devastation. They don't feel as immediately applicable to the US.

    an note about Putin Country, written by Anne Garrels in 2016

  • In addition to the life story of Snorri Sturlason (Iceland's most famous poet & writer, from the 1200s), this includes a few really great, short retellings of Norse myth. The history is great, and Snorri's story is fascinating. Recommended!

    an note about Song of the Vikings, written by Nancy Marie Brown in 2012

Looking for more recent books? Check out the Personal Timeline.



Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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