|December 9-15||1776||David McCullough|
|December 7||Ask The Parrot|| |
|December 1-6||The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime||Jasper Fforde|
|November 22-29||Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!||Bob Harris|
|November 18-22||The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor--and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!||Tim Harford|
|November 12-13||Hundred-Dollar Baby||Robert B Parker|
|I'm about to commit heresy: I wonder if new Spenser books are worth it anymore. I read them and enjoy them because, well, I'm conditioned to read and enjoy them. They're always well-written, and the dialogue is always really crisp, and they always move along at a pretty good clip, and they're always an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. And "Spenser and Susan: The Romance" is finally getting less and less face time. But is there ever really anything new? I'm still enjoying the Jesse Stone books, and I always like his stand-alones, and I'll pick up Sunny Randall any month now. I'm writing this 2 weeks after I actually read the book, and I can't remember much about it besides the major plot point at the end, which I won't reveal here. Yeah, of course I'll keep reading them as they come out. And I'll probably shell out the $25 to read them in hardcover. But I'm not going to like myself as much for it as I used to.|
|October 29 - November 11, November 13-15||Underworld||Don DeLillo||no rating|
|I only got about 100 pages into the book. To be clear, it's not because it was bad. I was impressed by what I read. But pretty much as soon as I started it, I suddenly found myself with much, much less free time in which to read. And it's big, really big, even in trade paper, which makes it harder to read on the train. I took it out from the library, and it was due, so I returned it. Stupid CPL makes it harder than it's worth to renew a book. I'm sure I'll pick it up again.|
|October 25-28||The Killing Club: Based on a Story by Josh Griffith||Marcie Walsh with Michael Malone|
Well, I learned some interesting things when I took this out of the library. The conceit of this book is such that it made me a little embarrassed to be reading it. Supposedly, it was "written" by Marcie Walsh, who is apparently a character on the soap opera "One Life to Live". Also, I learned that one of my favorite writers (Michael Malone) was the head writer of that soap opera for a time in the 1990s. Which fact I'm trying hard and failing not to look down my nose at. I mean, who the hell am I to judge? But I still seem to do so. Oh, well.
Now, Mr. Malone, about the fact that I don't think you've put out anything new since 2002. WTF? It was 1992 when someone handed me a copy of Handling Sin and I swept right through it. I picked up Uncivil Seasons right after it, and I liked it, but not as much. Looking back, I think that's the Coke-vs-Pepsi phenomenon. Pepsi's supposedly sweeter, so more people initially respond to it (thus the Pepsi Challenge), but a lot of people prefer Coke long-term. (Me, I think they taste the same. But I digress...) Upon re-reading both books, I definitely prefer Uncivil Seasons. You're one of the people whose names I always look up when I go to the bookstore, and there just hasn't been anything new for too many years. I realize that anyone could look at this list, or my bookshelves, or talk to me, and just chalk all this up to the fact that you've written some "mystery/crime" books. But it's not that - I read Handling Sin first, and I read Foolscap pretty early and loved both of them. Yeah, I like the Justin/Cuddy books best, but I swear it's because they're the deepest, most richly-developed. I read Dingley Falls last year or so, and I didn't even like it. I was annoyed at first, but then I read the publication date, and it's just another data point for my theory that you're still getting better and better as a writer. So, how about it - when am I going to see something new?
Oh, yeah, the actual book. It was kind of what I expected, but a little better. It's a mystery as one could have been written by a soap opera character. Better than you'd expect based on that, because Malone is a great writer. But not really up to the standards of Michael Malone.
|October 13 - 15, 23 - 24||Anansi Boys||Neil Gaiman|
Ok. I am now definitely a fan. Before this year, I'd never read anything by Gaiman except some of the Sandman comics (which were very good, but I'm just not that much of a comic book guy.) Anyway, while this is still about the son of a god, it's the most human story of his I've read so far.|
The break in reading dates isn't because I wanted to stop reading; I lost the book, and had to wait until it worked its way back to me.
|October 18 - 20||The Hot Kid||Elmore Leonard|
Elmore Leonard is one of the most enjoyable writers around. I still remember the time, what, ten years ago, that I finally got around to reading him. And realized that there were about a zillion books of his that I was going to have to read in rapid succession. That always feels like a jackpot, doesn't it? I don't think anybody has as good a handle on how really dumb criminals think. (Well, I guess I don't know that, but it sure feels right.) I kinda knew this was out there, but I didn't want to get it in hardcover and then I kinda forgot about it. It's set in the 20s and 30s, and I know (or, I think I know) that Leonard got his start writing westerns, and the book kind of feels like one. But every time you expect something to be a cliche, it changes direction just enough that it feels fresh. |
I am pretty sure I read the beginning of this book as a short story in some collection or other a couple of years ago. Maybe it was a McSweeney's collection or something.
One thing I'm not looking forward to is that Leonard is one of the three of my favorite living writers where, with each new book they put out, I worry that it might be the last. Donald E. Westlake and Vonnegut are the others. Let's hope my worries are groundless and that they all have another 20 productive years!
|October 10 - 12||Appaloosa||Robert B. Parker|
This is the second western of Parker's that I've read, and (I think) the second one he's written. I've been going back and forth on it. I definitely liked it, but I'm preconditioned to like Parker's books, so that might not say anything in and of itself. It's got that vigilante theme that runs through a lot of his (non-Jesse Stone, anway, but even some of that) stuff. Which I realize is pervasive in most of the detective and western genres, but I do think it'd be smarter if they caught the bad guy and he actually face, you know, legal justice, more often. |
I have to think that the point of this story is the internal moral conflict that Virgil faces. And I bought into it at the time, but looking back, I wonder if it wasn't a little fill-in-the-blanks. (But maybe I'm just looking for holes. I haven't exactly read a whole lot of westerns, and I suspect this is a lot better than most.) Even if it was, though, very few people write dialogue better than Parker does, and it really sucked me in.
|October 10 - 12||Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs||Ken Jennings|
I liked it. Obviously, I've got something in common with Mr. Jennings (not Mormon beliefs). The Jeopardy! thing. Clearly, it wasn't the exact same experience - he won a lot more money and a lot more games, I'm a lot better looking. You know.
I've always liked the phenomenon of Ken Jennings. He seemed like he knew a lot of stuff, and he was obviously better at the buzzer than anyone ever not named Rutter. Tell the truth, after a couple of weeks of his inital run, I was rooting against him. But it was never personal. Part of it was probably jealousy, and part of it was certainly my tendency to root for the underdog. (Well, duh, I'm a Cubs fan). I rooted against him in Jeopardy!'s Ultimate Tournament of Champions. That wasn't personal, either. That was more about wanting to be right. I told everyone who asked me (which wasn't that many people, but still) that, no, I didn't think he was the best player of all time; it'd be an awfully big coincidence if the first year you could play until you lost, the first guy to really light it up was the best of all-time. More likely there were at least a few others who could have done the same thing. That was my story and I was sticking to it. So of course I wanted someone to beat him. But, through it all, Ken Jennings always seemed like a Nice Guy. He seemed genuinely surprised that he was doing as well as he was, and a little embarrassed. Sure, as the winning streak went on, he got more and more confident, but it never felt like arrogance to me. I'm not surprised at hearing about a lot of people saying they were sick of seeing him on their TV every night - c'mon, what non-professional would you NOT be sick of after 75 nights?
So I was expecting it to be an interesting story, and I was expecting it to be a good read. And it was. I like the tack he took with it, the story of the phenomenon of trivia itself interwoven with a self-deprecating story of his Jeopardy! run.
I don't get why there was nothing at all about the UToC, though. Does it really take THAT long to publish a book?
|October 6 - 8||Wide Open||Nicola Barker|
This is the other book Margy picked up for me. I really liked it - it was, well, kind of sweet. A lot of it takes place on the island of Sheppey.
Here is the first thing I found when I Googled Sheppey. Go figure.
|October 2 - 4||Kings of Infinite Space||James Hynes|
Margy bought me a couple books at the local used bookstore. She picked this one because the cover said it was supposed to be funny. And it had pencils on it. The other one because the cover said it won an award. She did pretty well, considering.
Having a hard time deciding what I think here. I enjoyed reading this; I thought it was a good story and well-written. So why do I feel ambivalent? I'm not sure. Wish I could tell you more.
|September 29 - 30||Dead Watch||John Sandford|
John Sandford's Prey series is one of the best ever in the genre. I've read some of his other stuff, and I've never enjoyed it as much. He's averaged about one Prey book a year for quite some time now, and it's been more than that, so I'm getting antsy.|
In the meanwhile, we've got this. And it must have been pretty good; it didn't take me much more than 24 hours from start to finish, and I worked a full day in that time.
|July 28 - September 27||Until I Find You||John Irving|
This was the first John Irving book since Owen Meany that I didn't buy in hardcover pretty much as soon as it came out. Why? Well, I wasn't too impressed by The Fourth Hand, so I looked at the reviews, and the reviews were pretty grim. A year later, I ended up getting the audiobook out of the library. A 36-hour audiobook is a scary prospect. But I put it in and listened to it. Finally read the last 200-or-so pages on paper because I busted my headphones.
So I've just gone back and re-read the reviews, and, yeah, I can see their point. But I totally bought it.
|August 26 - September 25||The Ground Beneath Her Feet||Salman Rushdie|
Ok. I have to admit, I was dreading reading this a little bit. I started reading Rushdie relatively recently. The Satanic Verses about five years ago. Midnight's Children maybe a year later. Haroun and the Sea of Stories a couple years after that. From all the hype, I always had the wrong idea about him. Judging by all the to-do, I thought TSV must be some kind of polemic, some kind of deep, dense, serious thing. So of course I resisted reading it forever. Turns out it was light, fun, and funny. After the first 50 pages, anyway. I absolutely loved it. For a while I thought it might have been the most enjoyable book I'd ever read. (Not that it wasn't every bit as blasphemous as the hype had led me to expect - it was.)|
On the other hand, of the many people to whom I've recommended The Satanic Verses, I think only one has even managed to finish it.
Then I read Midnight's Children. Yes, I now know all about all they accolades this book has received. First Booker Prize winner. Later named "Booker of Bookers". But, embarrassingly, before I read TSV, I literally had never heard of Midnight's Children. I loved it. Not, initially, as much as TSV, but looking back, I think I liked it more. I definitely remember it better, and think about it more often.
And Haroun is a children's book. I really enjoyed it, but I wasn't looking for the same thing.
So, anyway, I've been intending to read more Rushdie for a long time, but I never got around to it. I think a large part of that is a combination of really high expectations and fear of disappointment. I bought The Ground Beneath Her Feet because, er, it was the least expensive Rushdie novel at the bookstore that day. When I learned it was a retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, I grew even more trepidatious. Anyway, it was kind of what I expected. A good, fun read, very well-written, and yet nowhere near as good as I'd hoped.
This reminds me a little of the kid in "The Squid and the Whale" who decides not to bother reading some assigned book because it was "Minor" (um, Dickens? Hemingway? I can't remember. Anyway, you know what I mean.) I guess, in that sense, this was "minor Rushdie", but it was still good
|July 26 - August 25||A People's History of the United States||Howard Zinn|
Yeah, it's borderline indefensible that I've never read this. (Speaking of which, there seems to be a lot of things that it's indefensible that I haven't read. I don't get it. I've been reading at this rate since I was about 12 or so. That's a lot of books. And, yeah, I do read a lot of trash. Mostly good trash, I'd argue. But it's amazing to me how much stuff I haven't read that I really need to!) And, yeah, I guess it's all the things they tell you it will be. Fascinating, horrifying. Just made me mad. But it's hard to read, too. Sometimes you just feel like you're being beaten down again and again and again.
Well, anyway, I usually read a lot more fiction than nonfiction. That hasn't been true lately - 4 of the last 6 books, 6 of the last 10, all nonfiction. And when you factor in the amount of TIME I spend on each, wow. So expect a whole bunch of escapist, entertainment reading coming up!
|July 1 - July 5||Assassination Vacation||Sarah Vowell|
This was my first audiobook. Ever. I feel a little guilty even listing it here when I didn't actually read the thing. But it was great. We bought the book, and headed to Margy's Dad's place in Michigan. When we got there we found that he had just gotten the audiobook out of the library. So we listened to it in the car, and I listened to the rest of it on the train to and from work. It's pretty short (maybe 8 hours?). I'm now a convert to audiobooks - great idea to listen to them on long drives.|
The book itself, you ask? Oh, it was wonderful. Funny, informative, and I could totally understand her obsession. I learned a lot. And here's the thing. She reads it herself, and Sarah Vowell has one of those voices that are just great to listen to. Makes it so much better!
By the way, I watched the premiere of "Six Degrees" last night. That was Sarah Vowell, right? I couldn't find her anywhere in the credits...
|June 21 - July 26||The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century||Thomas L. Friedman|
|I'm really glad I read this. It reaffirmed a lot of things I'd kind of thought about, and it mentioned some things that were in the back of my mind, and brought up some things that I'd never really thought about. But I felt that the overall tone was just a little too self-congratulatory. And I didn't like how he waited until the end to talk about all the ways the world ISN'T flat. They're pretty obvious ways, and I kept thinking, "What about this?" "What about that?" I guess I felt like they're not trivial things, and waiting until the end to bring them up makes them feel trivial.|
|June 6 - 21||Operation Shylock: A Confession||Philip Roth|
|It's weird. I heard an interview with Roth on NPR a few years back. Must have been right after this book came out, because this is the plot he described. I remember wanting to read it, and I remember finding it funny in the interview how he was insisting it was a true story and saying how no one would believe that Portnoy's Complaint WASN'T autobiographical, and how now no one would believe that this one WAS. I didn't enjoy it as much as The Human Stain, but there are very few books I've EVER enjoyed as much.|
|May 30 - 31||The Free Lunch||Spider Robinson|
|A complete guilty pleasure. I started reading Spider when I was a teenager. I guess I'm not proud of how much I enjoy his stuff, but I do.|
|May 25 - 27||Blink||Malcolm Gladwell|
|I enjoyed reading Blink, though I'm not sure if there are any real lessons to take away.|
|May 22 - 24||The Da Vinci Code||Dan Brown|
What a piece of crap. I wrote a rant about this somewhere else while I was still halfway through it. It's edited a little, but here it is:
So a little background about me which you can skip if you want: if I get into a big pop culture phenomenon, it's usually long after everyone else does. I've never watched "Lost" or "Desperate Housewives". I didn't watch "Survivor" or "American Idol" early, saw one episode of each, concluded I was right, and haven't bothered again. I didn't start watching "E.R." until the episode where Dr. Green died. I didn't read the first Harry Potter book until 2001. I didn't start listening to the White Stripes or the Shins until last year. So, yeah, I think it takes a lot to get me to give something a chance. But when I do give it a chance, I give it a real chance - I waited on line for two hours to buy HBP at midnight.
Which brings me to The Da Vinci Code. I'd never read it because it seemed, well, too popular to be any good. I figured it'd be like Tom Clancy or John Grisham; kind of silly, almost competently written and entertaining if I shut my brain off. I figured there would come a day when I finished a book sooner than I thought, and didn't have anything lying around I really felt like reading, and there'd be a copy of TDVC lying around, and i'd read it, and maybe it'd be really good, more likely it'd be at least entertaining and compelling. That's what happened - Margy borrowed a copy so she could read it before seeing the movie. The Hard Way, which I slotted a couple of days for, only took a few hours, and it was just sitting there, so now i'm about halfway through it. But it's such a piece of shit that i'm ready to scream.
It appears to be getting more and more blasphemous. Reading blasphemy doesn't bother me. The Satanic Verses is one of the most blasphemous things I've ever read, and one of my favorite things I've ever read.
I don't know that much about the, um, "historical assertions" (I'm being clumsy here, but I mean the parts of the book that the author wants you to believe aren't fiction, but actually the basis of reality in which the fiction is set), but friends whom I trust tell me it's a big ol' pile of crap. (Despite my name, in case you're wondering), I grew up Catholic and know enough about the Church's early history to know that Brown's depiction of that is silly.
I don't especially like conspiracy theories. I once saw an episode of "Quantum Leap" based on the premise that Oswald really did act alone. I liked it a lot better than the movie "JFK". But i'm willing to go along for the ride, because sometimes conspiracy theory stories can be fun.
And it seems like a genuinely fun story. I'm still reading (and, sure, that's partly because I take pride in finishing what I start, but also) because I want to know what happens next.
But for God's sake, couldn't he have hired a ghostwriter or something? Or at least an editor? On almost every page I have to stop and re-read something because it's so poorly written I can't believe he actually tried to put those words on the page in that order.
Again, i'm only halfway through the book, so I don't know if there's a romance here or not. But if there is, here is one of the first hints. I read the following, from page 220, on the train this morning and almost lost it:
Langdon shifted his position, leaning out across sophie to press the intercom button. As he did, an alluring whiff of sophie's perfume filled his nostrils, and he realized how close they were. He waited there, awkwardly prone, while a telephone began ringing over the small speaker.
And the flashbacks - ugh. Sure, I don't think this story could be told without flashbacks, but come on! It's like in his little how-to-be-a-writer manual someone told him that good suspense stories have flashbacks, and so he dutifully put them in. In all the wrong places, and as clumsily as possible.
I mean, really. Grisham or Clancy could have written this better. Hell, Stephen Freaking King could have written this better. I read Irving Wallace's The Word as a teenager and enjoyed it more, though who knows if I still would. If you want a better fictional treatment of these same issues, I'd recommend Theodore Sturgeon's Godbody.
This reminds me nothing so much as reading Anne Rice - you want to know what happens next, but the writing's so bad it makes you cringe.
|May 20||The Hard Way||Lee Child|
|I'm kind of embarrassed that I like the Jack Reacher books so much. They're not even remotely realistic. They're really violent in silly ways. You always know what's going to happen in the end. And yet I read all of them long before they hit paperback.|
|May 15 - 18||Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong||Baseball Prospectus|
|Look. I'm a geek. Deal with it. I love this kind of stuff if it can defend its arguments and if it's not too far over my head. This satisfies both criteria and also it's well-written.|
|April 26 - May 15||Collapse||Jared Diamond|
|Not a huge reader of nonfiction. This was fascinating and scary.|
|April 22 - April 26||A Certain Chemistry||Mil Millington|
|After Love and Other Near-Death Experiences, expectations were sky high. I was disappointed immediately after reading it, but upon a few months' reflection, I really liked it. I originally rated it three stars and bumped it up later.|
|April 17 - April 21||Strip Tease||Carl Hiaasen|
|Hiassen is so much fun to read. I'd never seen the movie, but I kept imagining the main character as Demi Moore, which, well, I tend to automatically not go see movies if she's in them. I particularly enjoyed not having the main really weird baddie get killed by some force of nature, and not having Skink make an appearance. Yes, I realize that's because this was written EARLIER rather than later, but I'll take it.|
|Apr 2 - April 14||The Human Stain||Philip Roth|
|OK. I was pretty excited to read this - I'd decided on the experience of one book that I really liked Philip Roth and this was the book that seemed most-hyped. And it's fantastic. I still think back to it all the time. Rented the movie shortly after I finished it; it wasn't that great, but Nicole Kidman (and I'm not really a fan) was.|
|Mar 27-31||The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul||Douglas Adams|
|When I was in high school I thought Douglas Adams was the funniest person I'd ever read. I read Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency when I was in my 20s and loved it. I don't know if it's a product of my changing tastes, or if it's just not up to snuff, but I didn't have really any fun reading this at all.|
|Mar 20-22||The Two-Minute Rule||Robert Crais|
Ever see a book advertised on a billboard and/or a subway car? You KNOW it can't be that good - they're advertising it on a goddamn subway car. Jesus. But I had to buy this one, because it's Robert Crais. I love Robert Crais - his Elvis Cole books are one of the best detective series I've ever read. Though they're getting a little too violent and, um, Reacher-like. And when I watched the first two seasons of "Hill Street Blues" on DVD recently I discovered he was one of the head writers of that, too. So this book had two strikes against it. One is that it's a standalone book by someone who writes a series that I love. Those are always a little tough, because it's impossible to build the kind of affinity you have for the characters in a series in just one book. And two is well, the subway car thing. Ugh. And I READ on the subway, so at least once I was going to be the guy sitting on the train that who's reading the book all the billboards are talking about. Just shoot me now.
This was worth it.
|Mar 16-19||Love and Other Near-Death Experiences||Mil Millington|
|Now, THIS is great. It doesn't share the name with the website, and so I wasn't thrown off by the presence of a plot, different characters, etc. And it's SO funny. Really. I hurt from how much I laughed at it, and how much I laughed out loud again as I was reading to Margy. (No, she's not illiterate, and she reads plenty by herself, but sometimes I read to her while she does something I really should help with but don't want to, like cleaning the floors. Especially when I've got something funny to read to her.) Somewhere Mr. Millington says that he finds that this is the book that his readers love or hate, nothing in between. You'll love it. Unless you're my brother Michael. Sorry, Michael, I really thought you'd love it.|
|Mar 13-16||Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About||Mil Millington|
|Ok. I'm actually sitting around waiting for Mil Millington to write something else. I don't remember how I found his website. And it's the kind of thing you see all the time on the web. It's just literally a list of things that, well, he and his girlfriend have argued about. You know all those email forwards you get from friends that were funny the first time you ever saw anything like it, but it's not the first time anymore, and so really it's more tedious than funny? Well, his website ought to be like that. But it's not. It's hilarious! If you haven't read through it already, you should stop reading my dumbass book blurbs right now and go check it out. So he's got a book out by the same name. And it's a little weird. Clearly it's the same family, but his name and his girlfriend's name are different (I think the kids' names are the same?), and it's got a plot. Which I guess I wasn't expecting - I was expecting more essays and rants. So I was a little disappointed, but not too disappointed to read another of his novels (especially since I bought them both at the same time)...|
|Mar 6-13||Kill Two Birds and Get Stoned||Kinky Friedman|
|I really wanted to love this book. I don't know too much about Kinky, but I really like the idea of him. I like the song, "Asshole from El Paso". And it's always great to read something new by an author who's got a whole bunch of other books that you can read if you like the first one. But this wasn't like that.|
|Feb 27 - Mar 2||The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams||Lawrence Block|
|I like Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr books. I haven't been reading them for that long, but I always enjoy them. I don't enjoy them THAT much. They're the kind of thing I read when I don't have anything ELSE lying around that I feel compelled to read. You can always get them cheap at garage sales and used bookstores, and they're always good enough. I feel some guilt that I'm reading them out of order (OCD, anyone?), but that's what happens. I find one somewhere, I buy it, and then I leave it sitting around until I need a reliably enjoyable book. It's like saving something to read for a rainy day.|
|Feb 21-26||Good Omens||Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett|
|Funny. Entertaining. A little bit too clever for its own good.|
|Feb 19||Sea Change||Robert B Parker|
|And, actually, I guess I didn't wait to finish it to read something else. I've been reading Robert Parker for way too long to have any kind of assessment if he's any good or not. I think he is, but it could also just be that his books are something I grew up with and that they're a part of my life for better or worse. I really like Jesse Stone, especially now as I haven't been too impressed with the last several Spenser books. I walked into a bookstore to see if the new Robert Crais book was out, and it wasn't, but this was, and my relationship with Parker is such that I was compelled to buy it on the spot and read the whole thing that day, etc. Six months later, I couldn't tell you what happened in the book. Actually, now that I think about it, I guess I can. But that's not what matters - what matters is that I know what's up with the characters. Reading Parker for me is like chatting with an old friend.|
|Feb 15-18, Feb 20||Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters () and Seymour (An Introduction) ()||J.D. Salinger|
|Ok. I admit it. I've never read The Catcher In the Rye. I have read Nine Stories and liked it a lot. And Salinger-the-person, from what little I know about him, is the kind of guy you have to root for. Someday I'll read TCITR, but I guess I'll have to read it at home. In today's atmosphere, you don't want to be searched and found carrying it. This was lying around, and so I figured I'd give it a shot. "Raise High the Roof Beam" was good, though not earthshaking. "Seymour" bored me to tears. I couldn't WAIT to finish it so I could read something else.|
|Feb 13||Stardust||Neil Gaiman|
|Absolutely the right book for what I bought it for. Train from DC to Baltimore, then plane from Baltimore to Chicago. By the time bus ride home from the airport was over, I was done. Fun to read, I didn't have to think too hard, and by now, having read three of his books in a short time, I was familiar enough with the tropes that it was perfect entertainment for what I was doing. Don't get me wrong. I like to think too hard. Sometimes. But not on a moving public transportation conveyances.|
|Jan 19 - Feb 10||One Hundred Years of Solitude||Gabriel Garcia Marquez|
|I don't know how I got to this point in my life without having read this. Well, actually I do know, but it's embarrassing. I'd started to read Love in the Time of Cholera 10-15 years ago, didn't especially like the first ten pages, found something more interesting, never came back to it, and so never read anything by Marquez again. I still had LITTOC, too - the front cover had fallen off so it was like one of those books that the inside of some paperbacks warn you you shouldn't buy. Maybe I should go back and read it, because One Hundred Years was amazing. What wonder! What sadness! A few people, Margy included, tell me that it reads better in English than Spanish, which seems odd to me. Maybe just Margy. But being Margy, she's probably right.|
|Jan 11 - Jan 18||White Teeth||Zadie Smith|
|Meh. Another book that many people had recommended very highly to me. I had no idea what it was about before I started it. I must have enjoyed it some, since I gave it three stars, but I just can't remember ever being really INTO it. I did learn some stuff, especially about Jehovah's Witnesses.|
|Jan 8 - Jan 11||Neverwhere||Neil Gaiman|
|Writing about it seven months later, I don't really remember it that well. I think it was enjoyable, but nowhere near as good as American Gods|
|Jan 6 - Jan 8||The Plot Against America|| Philip Roth|
|Wow. Wow. I'd read Portnoy's Complaint 20-odd years ago, mainly because it was supposed to be really racy and I was at the age when that was as good an excuse to read a book as any. I think I read it immediately before or immediately after Fear of Flying. I wasn't very impressed with it, it was long, whiny and not as racy as I'd hoped. So I never bothered to read anything else by Philip Roth again. A couple of people recently had recommended him to me recently, and I figured he's probably matured in the decades since PC, and hopefully so had I. So I took a chance on this, and I must say, I'm more than impressed. The story is compelling, the characters are really interesting, and the way he writes is wonderful. As you can see below, it led to me reading a lot more of his work.|
|Jan 1 - Jan 5||American Gods||Neil Gaiman|
|I'd never read anything by Neil Gaiman before, though several people who knew me had recommended him to me. Well, I'd never read his prose before. I'd read some Sandman, but it was a long time ago, and I know I liked it, but I really don't remember anything else about it. I'm not really a comic book guy. In some ways this was a good book to start with, because, now that I've read several, it's my favorite so far. I'm not a huge fan of the genre, but I though this was extremely well done.|