My friend Molly (here’s her lemur blog) recently posted the books she’s read over the summer. Thanks to her I’ve added another dollop of titles to my to-read list. Summer is approximately June 22 – September 22 (~14 weeks) and in total I have read and listened (as denoted by the little ‘au’) to 23 books which means that I got through almost two books a week. Of course, I drive for two hours a day several days a week so my listening time generally exceeds my reading time. I used to consider this cheating, but I don’t anymore. Anyhow, here’s the illustrious list, with comments, etc.:
The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy by Joe McGinniss
Lots of local color in this story of a small-time soccer team making it big. Too bad I found myself disliking the author’s character by the end.
Ender’s Game (au) by Orson Scott Card
A classic of coming-of-age sci-fi. Decent recording too.
The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion by John Hagel III
Mostly a regurgitation of ideas said better elsewhere.
The Glass Castle: A Memoir (au) by Jeannette Walls
Angela’s Ashes with a different attitude.
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman (au) by Richard P. Feynman
Surprisingly, I wasn’t as struck by Feynman’s words as I thought I would be. I blame the editor.
Milkweed (au) by Jerry Spinelli
While my goodreads review said that this was “one of my favorite books of the year…” I can’t now remember why. Is that telling? I don’t know. I do enjoy books about the Warsaw Ghetto…Maybe that was it.
Chaplains with Marines in Vietnam 1962-1971 by Herbert L. Bergsma
Started dry, grew better as the war got bloodier, ended dry.
Haiku: One Breath Poetry by Naomi Beth Wakan
Excellent for an introductory text. I inhaled it in one sitting.
Fathers and Sons (au) by Ivan Turgenov
A classic of Russian Literature about a nihilist (Bazarov) who I mostly found annoying. Doesn’t help that the period of time, mid-19th century, is not one which I find especially fetching.
Pay It Forward by Catherine Hyde
Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace by Margaret Thaler Singer
A standard work on the subject of cults for good reason. I learned a lot from this book.
One Bird, One Stone: 108 American Zen Stories (au – abridged) by Sean Murphy
Good concept ruined by an awful abridgment. This is an example of why I usually stay far away from abridged audiobooks.
Shelter | Street by Tenzing Karma Wangchuk
Haiku about experiences living on the street. The review from Issa’s Untidy Hut sums it up well.
Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages by Carlota Perez
Some interesting ideas on the economics of technologies, mostly so-so. Felt a bit out of my depth here with my lack of economics background.
Feed (au) by M.T. Anderson
Convincing dystopic vision. Brilliant audio version. Lackluster protagonist.
Citizen of the Galaxy (au) by Robert A. Heinlein
Maybe Heinlein wrote this book for teens, I don’t care. The anthropological imagination Heinlein displays in his creation of various cultures was one of the qualities that drew me into this book.
‘Tis: A Memoir (au) by Frank McCourt
The second in McCourt’s series of three and the one I liked the least. McCourt’s a bit of a schlub in it.
Men and Cartoons: Stories (au) by Jonathan Lethem
As I wrote in my goodreads review, “these screwy stories…” ‘Nuff said.
The Greatest Salesmen in the World (au) by Og Mandino
This book was awful. Especially the contrived ending. For all the title is worth, it refused to sell itself.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Auto Repair by Vyvyan Lynn
Everyone who drives should read this book, or a book like this.
Teacher Man: A Memoir (au) by Frank McCourt
Frank McCourt’s second best book behind Angela’s Ashes. If you’re going to enjoy Frank McCourt, do it right be listening to the fantastic audiobooks.
A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity by John Henry Clippinger
This book taught me a few words in a new language (meaning, a new field of study). A fascinating look at identity formation and trust in the digital environment.
Haiku Wars by David G. Lanoue
A quick, humorous, and thinly-veiled (read: the characters are real people who would recognize themselves) window into the haiku community. Also, the main character is a ferret named Oscar.
It’s hard to predict what my Fall reading will be, but here are a few books I expect to read soon:
The Fighting Rabbis: Jewish Military Chaplains and American History by Albert I. Slomovitz
Taking the Path of Zen by Robert Aitken (who just died August of this year)
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang
No Place for a Puritan, an anthology of desert literature edited by Ruth Nolan
I’ll probably also delve into some children’s and teen audiobooks, particularly Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, a few Roald Dahl books, and a spatter of Newbery Medal winners.