Friday, July 31, 2015

Books Read in July

It was another busy month of reading.  Vacationing at the cabin really helped that along.  (My ideal vacation includes time spent reading next to a beach or a pool but a cabin with some pine trees works well too.)  What did I get to?

Bel Canto, Ann Patchett - This was the first book in a book club that I started on Facebook and it was good, but not great.  It's the story of a botched kidnapping in an unnamed South American country that turns into a lengthy hostage situation.  We learn about the hostages and the soldiers who are holding them.  They form relationships.  No one feels any urgency or has much agency.  But interesting people and many fine turns of phrase.
A Great Idea at the Time, Alex Beam - I reviewed this at length here, so I won't say much now.  Short review, I liked it at lot.
Wild, Cheryl Strayed - This is an autobiographical book about a young woman whose life fell apart.  Her mother died quickly of cancer.  She tore her marriage apart and dabbled in drugs.  Almost on a whim, she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and faces many, many hardships.  She also spends some serious alone time which allows her to grieve.  It also gives her some confidence for the future.  An interesting book.
Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut - A new one for me and one very highly regarded.  I...didn't care for it.  It came off as a too smart-ass for my taste.  The book deals with war and death and marks each death with the phrase 'and so it goes'.  Sometimes this is profound but it soon became a 'bit' and lost any serious effect.
A Literary Education, Joseph Epstein - This is a series of essays and highly enjoyable.  These included writings about his time with great literature and his thoughts on art in the modern world.  My favorite though, was an essay on Jewish jokes.  Some very good stuff.
Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson - A reread for me.  I read this mostly for the first third which is historical fiction regarding Newton's time when he was young.  That whole time period was fascinating for the scientific efforts that were unleashed.

I'm right on track with the short stories.
Penal Colony - Kafka, very good
Kola Street - Asch, good
The Things They Carried - O'Brien, excellent
Spring in Fialta - Nabakov, very good
To the New World - Metzker, ok

The O'Brien story is haunting me and I'll probably need to read the book that came out of it soon.

A good month.

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