Tony Hiller­man writes a pre­dictably sol­id mys­tery. With a world that lives and breathes and is very dif­fer­ent from the green, moist Pacif­ic North­west that I con­sid­er home. A month or so ago I start­ed at the begin­ning of the Nava­jo series with The Bless­ing Way and am now up to Coy­ote Waits a lit­tle more than half way through. These are my choco­late chip cook­ies of the moment. I read an hour or so in the evening. (Sad­ly these are not avail­able as audiobooks.) 

Speak­ing of audio­books. Neal Stephen­son’s Dia­mond Age is accom­pa­ny­ing me and the dog on our morn­ing walks. Not my favorite Stephen­son. It moves too slow­ly. Which is an odd thing to say about a Stephen­son, con­sid­er­ing that he is the mas­ter of the extend­ed expos­i­to­ry aside. But here we’re not talk­ing about asides we’re talk­ing about pieces of the nar­ra­tive that bog along with­out much hap­pen­ing. I don’t feel much for the lit­tle girl Nell which isn’t help­ing the sto­ry hold my atten­tion. I find Miran­da and the oth­er adults much more inter­est­ing. Nonethe­less a fine bit of a sto­ry to accom­pa­ny me on the dai­ly ram­ble as the weath­er grows increas­ing­ly crisp (or late­ly foggy.)

Speak­ing of dogs. I’ve just fin­ished Cat War­ren’s What the Dog Knows. All of the scent train­ing and nose­work peo­ple I know are read­ing this right now.
This is a clear-eyed look into the world of work­ing dogs. Not sugar-coated or fil­tered through a need to make the dog, Solo, a hero. War­ren is hon­est about the some­times dif­fi­cult nature of the high­ly dri­ven work­ing dogs and about the pos­si­bil­i­ties, lim­i­ta­tions and unknowns of the use of scent detec­tion dogs. Her account of their ear­ly train­ing ses­sions will make any­one who is hon­est enough to remem­ber their first cou­ple of ses­sions with any sort of scent­ing dog wince in empa­thy. (I still strug­gle to keep my damned hands from fidgeting.)
There are sto­ries of both their suc­cess­es and fail­ures. Solid­ly aca­d­e­m­ic — which may make you a lit­tle crazy as she fact checks some of the most cher­ished myths about dogs’ noses and their abil­i­ty to dis­crim­i­nate scents. But you’ll also learn about dogs’ roles in the death rites of ancient civ­i­liza­tions, an attempt to train vul­tures to search for cadav­ers, and some odd moments from the his­to­ry of mil­i­tary dogs. There are exten­sive notes at the end of the book if you want to dig into the back ground infor­ma­tion for yourself. 

Ordi­nary Genius Kim Addonizio who is best known per­haps for her poem What do Women Want. This book is a guide to mak­ing poet­ry. So what? There are dozens of books about mak­ing poet­ry, why should you read this book rather than one of the oth­er poet­ry books out there?
Because there are lots of sharp edges in this par­tic­u­lar knife draw­er. And not many lace doilies. Lots of exer­cis­es that explore words, phras­es, and mean­ings that are reveal­ing not just for poets but for any­one who works with words. The exer­cis­es that prompt you to dis­sect and repur­pose clichés are worth the price of entry.