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David Gerstle has commented on (4) products.

The Good Housekeeping Step-By-Step Cookbook by Good Housekeeping
The Good Housekeeping Step-By-Step Cookbook

David Gerstle, August 7, 2009

I strongly recommend this book to anyone wanting to make their kitchen time more efficient, consistent, and delicious. It offers excellent recipes with clear instructions and photos - easily referenced by people who get confused or frustrated when they cook (like me). In its glossaries and appendixes, there are thorough explanations of ingredients (herbs, spices, oils, etc), measurements, complementing flavors, and useful suggestions for buying the best produce, meat, and cheeses. These instructive sections have actually become favorite reading of mine while I'm not cooking. However, this seems to be the authors' intention - this book is both a catalogue of great recipes and a tool to make yourself into a better cook. Though our copy features many spills, tears, and the occasional burnt page, my cooking gets better every time I open it.
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In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders
In Persuasion Nation

David Gerstle, August 2, 2009

These stories are politically and creatively fascinating. Not only does Saunders consistently ask me to rethink the pleasures and fears in my daily life, but also the ways that these pleasures and fears are delivered to me. His characters speak to one another within terrifying but hilarious contexts: Digitized masks for infants allow new parents to hold adult conversations with their babies. Characters trapped within surrealistically violence TV commercials debate the nature of their existence. Confounded by a single test animal who refuses to die, technicians philosophize about morality and mortality in their lab notes. Saunder's collection offers troubling and eerily familiar scenarios of capitalism out of control, the human cost of technological consumption and obsessions, as well as the occasional pockets of joy and hope that can still be found in times of public insanity.

I highly recommend this book to those who love Vonnegut’s style of science fiction, as well as anyone searching for beautifully crafted short stories. Saunders has hit his stride with this collection of weird and illuminating ideas, and we are lucky to witness his rapid evolution as a writer.
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(7 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)

The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics) by Shirley Jackson
The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)

David Gerstle, July 31, 2009

Though seemingly an innocuous 'haunted house tale,' Jackson's novel has left an imprint unlike any other horror story. If I can say nothing else, after multiple reads, sometimes even on warm and sunny summer days, this book still gives me the creeps.

Her novel succeeds so well because Jackson locates its horrors in places most of us could agree that they can (and would) be found - in our loneliness, self-doubt, awkwardness, and regret. In this sense, 'The Haunting of Hill House' is a ghost story taking place inside the heart and mind of its main character, Eleanor, who we find ourselves alternately pitying, loathing, loving, and praying for as things fall apart around (and inside) her. The result is a horror novel that engages its readers' emotions and intellects, even as Jackson works to scare us stupid.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)

The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt
The Human Condition

David Gerstle, July 12, 2009

What a lovely gift that Hannah Arendt gave the world in this book. The fact that her work is often unused in the social sciences is baffling to me, although I also hold the knowledge I have gained from this work in particular as a private, driving motivation for my own research.

Arendt's argument in 'The Human Condition' focuses upon human labors and the production of the 'human artifice' through our tools, technology, and know-how. The mediating layer of technology and ideology between ourselves and nature is - to Arendt's thinking - the sphere of human political action, which should be the primary concern of any intellectual concerned with the sanity and safety of the world. Her positions return frequently to a central theme: that the place of our philosophical labors should not proceed from some (imaginary) exterior point of observation, but approach human problems as situations in which we are fully imbedded and invested. In this sense, I feel, Arendt makes the arguments of Marxism without the dogmatic thrust of most of its proponents, and she does so through prose that is a joy to read and consider again and again.

I truly cannot recommend this book enough to anyone (that is, everyone) who worries of the crises of our times, the brutality of our conflicts, the uses of our scientific knowledge, or the places and persons from which we might draw hope. However this book might be approached, I have never left its pages without feeling changed, challenged, and inspired.
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