AMERICAblog iRecommend


To the many other AMERICAblog features, we’re happy to add this new one:

AMERICAblog iRecommend

As the title suggests, AMERICAblog iRecommend is for your recommendations of exceptional books, movies, music, a good food recipe, a super vacation spot, a wonderful wine, a funny or endearing YouTube video, or even just a great park you’ve recently discovered. Maybe you have incorporated innovative ways to live well at less cost. Whatever you are into and have found to be particularly pleasurable or informative or entertaining or useful and would like to share with others, that’s why we have created iRecommend.

Think of Billy Elliot’s leap into the air in the movie’s final frame, that Ohhhhh moment of experiencing something especially wonderful.

To make the thread easily searchable for people looking for interesting stuff, please make your comment a brief description of what you are recommending and if you can, add a link to more details. Additional recommends can be made in a new comment.

You will find a link to this post and its thread at the top of the middle column.

Thanks for your contributions.


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  1. PeteWa says:

    I loved the book, thanks a ton for the recommendation.

  2. devlzadvocate says:

    Let me know what you think. Rebecca Skloot was on with Tavis Smiley while I was reading it, which was an added bonus.

  3. PeteWa says:

    wow, just read a few summaries about this, and ordering the book now.

  4. PeteWa says:

    from what you say here, I think you will get a lot out of the book.
    “writing itself has caused me to see the physical and emotional world in a much broader and more beautiful way.”
    that alone is fairly central to the point Ueland makes throughout the book.

    “I find it very difficult to stay in the active and all-consuming writer zone”
    Ueland makes quite a few good suggestions on how to maintain that zone.
    Ingmar Bergman spoke of making writing part of his daily routine, he would wake up, go for a walk, and then write for four (or more) hours.

  5. mirth says:

    “If You Want To Write”…YES! I want to write! This one sounds like a good addition to the many how-to-write books on my shelves.

    By far the prize one is The Weekend Writer, which describes in simple and straightforward instruction how to develop plot, setting, characters, tension, resolution, etc., writing only a couple of days per week to completion in one year. The link is to the original (1994, now out of print but Amazon still has a few copies) version, which I have. There is an updated version, which is reviewed as not being as helpful, here.

    A published writer friend of mine tells me If you want to be a writer, then write! Which is what I do, periodically producing piles and piles of pages, which are interesting and satisfying only to me. I find it very difficult to stay in the active and all-consuming writer zone, but writing itself has caused me to see the physical and emotional world in a much broader and more beautiful way.

    A professor once told me that I would make a good writer if I would just knock off the flowery shit. LOL

  6. devlzadvocate says:

    Of the approximate 25 books I’ve read in the past 12 months, it was the best.

  7. mirth says:

    Thanks, devlzadvocate.

    You are the 2nd person on this thread to recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, so it’s now on my “get” list.

  8. PeteWa says:

    about halfway done with
    If You Want To Write
    by Brenda Ueland

    a friend recently gave it to me after a conversation we were having about art, and I’m really enjoying Ueland’s perspective.
    The title might be misleading, it is focused on writing, but that’s just scratching the surface… it’s about the creative process in general. Anyone being timid about creating or stuck in ‘writer’s block’ would benefit from this read.

  9. devlzadvocate says:

    Two good recent reads: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and God Don’t Like Ugly by Mary Monroe. Both give insight into a world that white people may not consider, even if they think of themselves as fair-minded.

  10. Balisue says:

    Hi Mirth, back in LA recovering from over-inspiration at NN in Vegas – were you there? I have not yet read “..Racing” but have just ordered it for my Kindle so it will arrive in a second or so…. Not sure if we are really twins, but there is a great potential….!

  11. Change1mood says:

    I’ll add the wonderful musical “Title of Show” by Hunter Bell and Jeff Rosen. It’s a down the rabbit hole meta musical that gets to me each and every listen.

    For fiction, try the Jasper Fforde “Thursday Next” detective series. Well, there’s a detective story, but what it conjures is a trip through the classic novels in English with a warped sense of humor. I particularly like the audience participation Shakespeare. :-)

  12. JamesR says:

    Traditional British boarding school conflict resolution, nixed alas. ROFL indeed, thanks.

    Reminiscent of my favorite “Star Trek + Nine Inch Nails = Closer” [fan fiction to a favorite song, with original NSFW lyrics so don’t blast it in mixed company, sotospeak.]

  13. JamesR says:

    This could be a great thread-category-whatever, I have enjoyed the previous posts.Hope it catches on. I will begin by posting randomly two things I like and recommend:

    A blog, one of my favorites “Things You Would Not Know If We Didn’t Blog Incessantly.” Eclectic, referenced, civilized, interesting: [It’s not mine, I just found it and like it.]

    A movie “Hirsute” – an excellent short sci-fi film 14 minutes long. Time travelly, geeky, a bit gay, different and unique. Google it for more teasers I am simply recommending it w/o spoilage.


  14. janinsanfran says:

    These days, I’m recommending The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, a book that carries us inside the dysfunctional relationship between our unequal society and its scientific achievements. Very complex.

    Jan, on this thread, personal blog posts are not appropriate; however, here is a link to the book you are recommending and thanks for it:

  15. mirth says:

    I’m glad you like this Ab addition, Balisue, and I’ve very much enjoyed your contributions. I’m envious of your interaction with Mr. Hamid. I have his Moth Smoke on order.To know if we are twins, have you read The Art of Racing in the Rain, and if so did you think it exceptionally endearing and REALLY LOL? True it’s a tad cliched, but only just and of no disturbance to the marvelous-told story.

  16. Balisue says:

    well, dang, mirth… this book is one of my favorites, too. It throws our prejudices and our assumptions in our faces… I am living in Bali, (a Hindu island in a muslim country) and author Hamid came to our Ubud Writers Festival a couple years ago….

    love the irecommends…. thanks for doing this..

  17. mirth says:

    Just today I finished reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist, by Mohsin Hamid.”At a café table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter…a riveting, brilliantly unsettling exploration of the shadowy, unexpected connections between the political and the personal.” “…an intelligent and absorbing 9/11 novel.”Reviewers use these words: elegant, brilliantly written, taut, enormous tension, subversive.I will say it’s the most chilling story that I have read in a very long time. In its slim 184 pages it defines the genre Thriller.Also: America, get ready for some truths.One more: gawdalmighty I love the English language as expressed by non-Americans!

  18. naschkatze says:

    mirth, there is a whole world of good Scandinavian mystery writing. I can’t name them all here, but some of my favorites are Hakan Nesser, Jo Nesbo, and the Norwegian K. O. Dahl. Henning Mankell is the writer who started the recent trend, but you have to go back to the sixties and seventies to Mai Sjowall and Per Wahloo. They were very influential in developing the police procedural, early commentators on Swedish society, still in print and still very readable.

  19. SINGING_TROLL says:


    BREAKING NEWS – The administrator of the most popular political and social blog in Greece, “Troktiko” – the Rodent – was assassinated after being shot with 20 bullets.

  20. mirth says:

    Tell Them Anything You Want

    This film is available by mail from Netflix.

  21. mirth says:

    Thanks so much for recommending Ballet Russes, rightly and often described as a “treasure.” I’ve watched it a couple of times and loved every minute. It’s available at Netflix, but not as Instant View.

  22. Balisue says:

    Even though they are long, they are very fast reads – you won’t want to put them down…. so forget about sleep for a while!

  23. Balisue says:

    Speaking of Billy Elliott let me recommend the informative, heartwarming Ballets Russes:

    Part history, part love letter, Ballets Russes may be the most purely delightful documentary in years. The movie follows the birth of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the early 1930s, an event that eventually led–after years of exhilarating experiments, bitter artistic battles, and exhausting tours–to the establishment of modern ballet around the world. Ballet Russes combines astonishing film footage of fantastical ballets (featuring extravagant sets designed by Salvador Dali and costumes by Henri Matisse) and interviews with surviving dancers in their 70s, 80s, and 90s (ranging from Dame Alicia Markova, who was a prima ballerina with the original Ballet Russe under impresario Sergei Diaghilev, to Yvonne Craig, who went on to become Batgirl in the ’60s tv show Batman); the result is a breathtaking range of scholarship and depth of feeling. The heart of the film is the dancers themselves, who are sly, thoughtful, gossipy, and amazingly youthful in spirit–even the most difficult times are discussed with humor and honesty. Ballet fans will find this an essential document, while anyone who’s never even thought of going to ballet will be completely caught up in these dancers’ passion and wonder. A beautiful, entrancing movie. –Bret Fetzer

  24. debbietee says:

    OK, I’ll be candid. I like anything with Thomas Lennon–especially when he is blond and wearing short shorts–Reno 911.

  25. debbietee says:

    m–This the kind of stuff I like. Especially the real zinger of all time: You make me wanna smoke–huh? Thanks much.

  26. Caliban says:

    Tell Them Anything You Want is Spike Jonze’s documentary on Maurice Sendak. As an instructor at a southern, urban university, I frequently teach Children’s Literature, and I have long been a fan of Sendak and his work. When I first saw the documentary in March, I was moved to tears, and my fascination with Sendak kicked up a few notches into the “ok, this is getting a little pathological” range. I showed the film to my students this summer, expecting most of them to be bored out of their minds, but they were hooked, too. My only criticism: at 40-ish minutes, it’s much too brief!

  27. MG1 says:

    Chris Hedges’ new book is titled “Empire of Illusion.” Here is a link to a talk he gave at The New School on his new book. One hour of talk and about 20 minutes of questions. Absolutely worth your time.

  28. mirth says:

    You will miss the full character development (especially of the AWESOME Salander) with only 1 or 2 of the trilogy, so read them all in order. A must.The storylines are complex with many BadBadBad characters, and about 600 pages per book, so it takes a bit to get to the fast-read stage. From then on…well, don’t have too many other demands on your time.

  29. I’ve been hearing a lot about him lately, and am going to Sweden right before the election (for work), so if I find the time I really should buy one (or all) the books. Are they fast reads, or are YOU a fast reader?

  30. SCLiberal says:

    The Road by Cormac McCarthy. A post-apocalyptic story of a father’s love for his child.

    Link for The Road.

  31. monopole says:

    Another unexpected find is “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality” a better than Rowling fan fiction. The premise is that Harry’s Aunt Petunia is married to an Oxford Don in Biochemistry instead of Vernon. As a result Harry is a “Young Richard Feynman” by the time he receives his letter from Hogwarts. Blindingly funny and well written.

    In the same vein “Odd Ideas” is a nearly Pythonesque take on the Potterverse. Literally ROTFL funny:

    A handy tip if you use ebooks, you can dump the stories to common ebook formats via:

  32. monopole says:

    Plowed through Charlie Stross’ “The Fuller Memorandum” in one sitting, excellent! Like the rest of his “Laundry” series (“The Atrocity Archives” and “The Jennifer Morgue”) the protagonist is a geek in service to the branch of British Intelligence charged with the Computational Defense of the Realm against Lovecraftian horrors. Of course this is as much Dilbert as 007, as when he advises his manager about the tendency of class 3 nameless horrors to propagate along COTS Cat5e cables and devour the clerical staff.

    A few freebie shorts from the same series

  33. tyree says:

    while it may or not be appropriate is debateable , i forgot to mention i just repurchased both books and just reread them after many years of being out of print! and ive reread both in the last two months , and to many war book buffs they are best sellers now ! but no matter as i said to each his own !

  34. kathleen says:

    Really good book looking at the human side of the “war on terror.” Starts off slowly, but really addictive. Called “Every Man in this Village is a Liar: an education in war” by Megan K. Stack.

    Thanks, kathleen. Here’s a link to your recommendation:

  35. mirth says:

    I admit up front to having a warped sense of humor, but maybe you will find this Christian Bale & Mel Gibson Phone Fight as hilarious as I did.

  36. MG1 says:

    I highly recommend Winter’s Bone. It is simply an amazing movie. Won both best picture and best screenplay at Sundance this year.

  37. mirth says:

    Just to be clear…This news article would be great on a Thatcher or Streep post or Open Thread or here after you have seen this particular movie and liked it enough to recommend to others.

  38. Pfuidear says:

    Guess it is a little early for this….

    Although the prospect of Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher may have pleased some admirers of the Conservative former prime minister, her children have been horrified to discover more about the film. Mandrake hears that the screenplay of The Iron Lady depicts Baroness Thatcher as an elderly dementia-sufferer looking back on her career with sadness. She is shown talking to herself and unaware that her husband, Sir Denis Thatcher, has died.

    “Sir Mark and Carol are appalled at what they have learnt about the film,” says a friend of the family. “They think it sounds like some Left-wing fantasy. They feel strongly about it, but will not speak publicly for fear of giving it more publicity.”

  39. PeteWa says:


    been reading this author lately, incredible short story writer:
    Mavis Gallant – Varieties of Exile

  40. mirth says:

    As a writer and journalist and social activist, Stieg larsson (1954-2004) had a few things, to me surprising things, to say about Swedish society and he did it, Zowie!-fiction style, in his trilogy (1) The Girl With The Dragon tattoo, (2) The Girl Who Played With Fire, (3) The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. I read all three lightening-fast; they are that good. I usually buy books from Powell’s, but Amazon now has the three books on sale, and Netflix has the very good Swedish movie adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on instant play.

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