Fall Reading 2010

I’m thinking that I like having a neat summary of the books I’ve read during a certain period…So: Fall lasts approximately between September 23rd and December 21st (~13 weeks). During that time, I read 19 books which comes out to about 1.5 books a week, a bit less than over the summer. Here’s the list:

Who Moved My Blackberry? (au) by Lucy Kellaway
Composed completely of digital communiques full of corporate-speak, this spoof of the bleeding-edge business world had me laughing out loud and wanting more.

Ambient Findability by Peter Morville
A neat book that gives a general overview of information science including history of search and a bit of insight into the future. Morville’s book is entertaining, if not exactly deep (for me with my MLIS).

The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang
Fast-paced story combining software and artificial intelligence, with lots of neat philosophical possibilities, though not a whole lot of personality.

The Cat Who Walks through Walls: A Comedy of Manners (au) by Robert A. Heinlein
I guess I don’t like late Heinlein because this self-aggrandizing book had a little of what makes Heinlein’s books interesting and a lot of tedious hot air.

Hiroshima (au) by John Hersey
Powerful story of Hiroshima survivors – at times poignant and disgusting. Hersey’s direct style works perfectly in conveying the reportage-like narratives.

The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (au) by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Full of the Dalai Lama’s well-honed argumentation skills and deep knowledge of Buddhism. Science here means primarily physics.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (au) by Robert M. Pirsig
At times a road-trip memoir at times a philosophical treatise, at all times written by a guy who may be intelligent but comes across mostly as a blowhard.

No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California’s Deserts by Ruth Nolan (Ed.)
Anthologies are usually hit-and-miss, this one is hit hit hit. Ruth Nolan did a great job selecting quality work that represents many genre, time periods, and writing styles.

The Fighting Rabbis by Albert Slomovitz
A one-of-a-kind guide to Jewish chaplains from the revolutionary war to the present. Informative, but dry at times.

Noctures: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall (au) by Kazuo Ishiguro
Ishiguro’s craft is top-notch and I would hold these story in higher regard if only they weren’t such downers.

Little Brother (au) by Cory Doctorow
Not exactly realistic in depicting the bad guys, but I loved that the main characters were seen as cool because they were smart. The hacker ethic is big in this one and I’m with it.

The View from Saturday (au) by E.L. Konigsburg
Though a children’s classic, three of the four main characters annoyed me. I liked the supporting characters much better. Otherwise a charming plot – it was nice that the Jews weren’t token Jews but normal characters in the story.

Spook Country (au) by William Gibson
A few cool reference points in an otherwise lackluster thriller.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating (2nd Ed.) by Steven Kerry Brown
Told me everything I wanted to know about being a PI. The Dummies and Idiots series have created formats that are ideal for beginners at anything.

My Reading Life (au) by Pat Conroy
More about the people who influenced his reading life then the books he read. Really an affective book for writers, reading enthusiasts, and especially fans of Pat Conroy. After listening to Conroy’s performance in My Reading Life, I became one.

Island of the Blue Dolphins (au) by Scott O’Dell
A children’s classic for good reason though missing some obvious elements of a young woman’s development.

A Bit on the Side by William Trevor
Melancholy stories of solitary characters. Trevor writes with an economy of words that does not mean an economy of emotion – just the opposite. Some of the stories are still with me.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing (Vol 1: The Pox Party) (au) by M.T. Anderson
Historical fiction for teens in the capable hands of Feed-author M.T. Anderson is a fast-paced and dreadfully detailed win.

The Graveyard Book (au) by Neil Gaiman
I was expecting more from Neil Gaiman (who is currently the love of the library world), but found myself nonplussed by this lukewarm audiobook (which was fortunately read very well by Gaiman). The world he created had so much potential that, to my dismay, remained unused.

I read most of what I thought I would read in my last reading list, though not everything. Sometimes books will sit on my shelf for a few weeks until they get tired of sitting, then I’ll take pity and put them back into circulation at the library. Since it’s already into winter, I’ve obviously delved into my reading, this would be what’s trending for the rest of winter. First off, I want to finish Thomas Mann’s Oxford Guide to Library Research. I started it awhile ago, and it’s been on my desk at work since. Second, I’d like to read through a few books of poetry; Kim Addonizio’s Tell Me straddled Fall and Winter (and was finished in winter) and I’d like to follow it with a few more, but I haven’t figured out which ones yet (Weldon Kees is an option, though his Collected Poems is too long to read through leisurely). Otherwise, I have a few books waiting, but there’s no point in mentioning them here. They’ll come up on the Winter Reading 2010-11 List. For the spring, I’m thinking about doing a themed reading list. An option I’m strongly considering is putting together a list of classics that I haven’t read. I’m thinking of limiting it to English language (classics of Russian literature (an translation) may be the theme for another season, perhaps) – so for example, Catcher in the Rye, Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, Babbitt, maybe some Frank Norris, and many more. I’m about to go make a list right now. I’ll post it sometime if I decide to go ahead with the list, that way ya’ll can read along with me. :O)

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2 Responses to Fall Reading 2010

  1. Hi, Oleg. Cool list. On Zen and the Art…, yep, you’re too young. And you’re also right. The philosophical asides, some of them quite long, were hard to get through, but for the hippy generation (and I’m 53, so very close to that), this book was mind-expansive despite its slow pacing. I remember having to wait patiently through many interrupted reading sessions to see the emotional anguish that lay underneath all the intellectualizing. Still think it was an interesting layered piece of work.
    I read The Graveyard Book rather than listening to it. Gaiman has to a degree sacrificed the deep darkness in order to fit into the juvenile and even YA categories. He’s a bit more whimsical now. Some interesting twists on life and death, and attachment, but you are also right that it reads like the first in a 7-part series, which may be where it ends up going.
    And finally, it’s not wise to read late Heinlein, especially if you like his work. He really stepped over the edge of sanity later on and the books do suffer for it. My fav is still Stranger in a Strange Land. Hard to top that one.

    • Oleg K. says:

      Hi Joanne, I really dig that you read my list and actually commented in an in-depth way on my reading.

      I realize that there’s more to “Zen and the Art of…” then I got from my one listen. I realize also that the reader (whose narration I didn’t particularly like) may have influenced my perception of the book. What really got me about the book though was the author’s ego, it just rubbed me the wrong way even though like you said the book was tinged with emotional anguish. I may end up coming back to Pirsig’s book, even if just for snatches. Was it Mortimer Adler (and Co.) that he was referring to in the chapters about the school?

      I’ll surely be giving Gaiman another go. Not sure whether I’ll try an adult or kid’s book next. Coraline is readily available to me, but we’ll see.

      Re. Heinlein, I reached the same conclusion as what you wrote after having a discussion with a very literate patron about him. I’ve been meaning to read Stranger. In terms of my Heinlein consumption, it’s next on my list.

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