Spring Reading 2011

This update is coming way later then I initially planned to write it, but life intervened and my blog has stayed dark for almost two months. I knew I would eventually return and so here is my reading for Spring 2011 which ranges approximately from March 21th – June 20th (~14 weeks). During this period I read 18 books, which comes out to 1.3 books a week – lower then my usual. I don’t remember now why exactly but it seems that my book reading suffered this season, but I certainly drove a lot, at least if we judge my the amount of audiobooks I’ve enjoyed. Looking through the list, there are several strains: I’ve continued my filling-in-the-classics-the-I-haven’t-read American author list with books like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Ethan Frome, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Moviegoer, and a few more. There were also a few disappointments this season (read below to find out about those), and finally there are more children’s books on this list. This is likely because I was gearing up for my move into children’s services at the library (which I’m doing right now, though I can’t say how long it’ll continue). Otherwise, just things I picked up here and there.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (au) by Carson McCullers
Really powerful, complex, characters each with his/her own depressing social context made this one difficult to read at times. The essence of strong literary fiction.

The Moviegoer by Percy Walker
Not as much about movie-going as I thought it would be. Instead, about breaking with the past. Excellent sense of culture&place – New Orleans.

The Dharma Bums (au) by Jack Kerouac
Rollicking times with characters that you want to hang out with. A bit of pseudo-zen thrown in for good measure.

A Bell for Adano (au) by John Hersey
After Hiroshima I was expecting much better. Instead Hersey wasted my time with cookie-cutter characters and predictable plot.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (au) by Ken Kesey
Counterculture classic with tremendous character arcs. I like the book better than the movie.

A Lesson Before Dying (au) by Edward J. Gaines
Good sense of place and time, but slow story.

Ethan Frome (au) by Edith Wharton
If I wanted to make futurepeople suffer, I would put this book in a time capsule. They’d think: “Wow, was everyone in the past a dolt like Ethan Frome and the other characters in this book?”

The Penguin Book of Zen Poetry, Edited by Lucien Stryk
A survey of zen poetry from long ago to contemporary times mixes excellent poems with a few awkward translations. Many of the poems require some knowledge of zen stories, Japanese culture and language to truly appreciate.

The Chocolate War (au) by Robert Cormier
Classic teen lit full of angst and derision. A private-school version Lord of the Flies. Almost.

Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend (au) by Robert James Waller
Quasi-literary romance. Waltz should have been faster.

How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom (au) by Garry Kasparov
I liked the chess stories but not the comparing-chess-to-life parts. Some of those were too much of a stretch.

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
After some back-and-forth, I decided to like McGonigal’s manifesto despite having read much of the material online from her presentations. Also had trouble with the fact that McGonigal’s half-full glass seemed always to be overflowing; critical chops would have been nice.

Fight Club (au) by Chuck Palanhiuk
The hardcore anti-consumerist version of Dharma Bums. Both book and movie are recommended.

A House of Tailors (au) by Patricia Reilly Giff
Coming-of-age immigrant story. I liked reading about tailors in old New York.

Night (au) by Elie Wiesel
Everything positive that people have said about Night is true. A must-read.

Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that Affect Our Freedom by Ron Paul
Conclusion: All problems are caused by a large central government and its meddling with the economy.

Mary Poppins (au) by E.L. Travers
Booooooooooo! Disjointed story and mean Poppins. Movie Poppins better!

The Practice and the Presence of God, and As a Man Thinketh (au) by Brother Lawrence
An inspiring little tome for those with a mind towards higher things.

Looking forward is almost pointless here since we’re already well into summer. Still, I should mention that I’ve started Grapes of Wrath, but have put it down temporarily in lieu of a few other things, including some classics of the graphic novel genre. Look out for a slew of those in the next reading list, in addition to some other excellent books. Thus far summer’s been a full reading season, especially since now I have more time to balance listening and reading, what with not having to drive to Lancaster daily.

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