Summer Reading 2012

Summer this year is approximately June 20 to September 21st which is approximately 13 weeks. During these thirteen weeks I read 11 books, which is less than usual. Actually, I’m not sure why the slowdown except that Ashley and I visited the Carolinas in late August, early September. Maybe I read stuff that wasn’t books and maybe I’ve been busy doing research and so not reading whole books. Or maybe I’ve been forgetting to record books in GoodReads which is my place of record for books-read. Who knows? Anyway, here are the books:

Sixth Column (au) by Robert A. Heinlein
For a book with a similar plot to Philip K. Dick’s superior Man in the High Castle, Sixth Column reads like a pseudo pulp adventure novel complete with a preposterous plot and knee-jerk offensive characters. Recommended only to Heinlein aficionados.

The Door Into Summer (au) by Robert A. Heinlein
Time travel, cryogenic sleep, a charming cat named Pete, and an inventor protagonist all serve to recommend Robert Heinlein’s 1957 sci-fi tale. The Door Into Summer is entertaining on the whole, but lacks some of the appeals of Heinlein’s later books.

The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro
A few strong family/immigrant/pioneer/coming-of-age stories mixed with dry local history. Maybe more of the latter than I would have liked. Munro probably has better books.

The Good Earth (au) by Pearl S. Buck
Some books are classics because they tell a great tale, Pearl S. Buck’s tale about the family of a Chinese farmer who makes good is one of those books.

Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel
A classic Jewish folktale told well by Eric Kimmel and illustrated in the recognizable style of Trina Schart Hyman.

Starclimber (au) by Kenneth Oppel
The last of the wonderful Matt Cruse series does not disappoint. This time Matt, his love interest Kate, and a few others are headed to space. Plot twists ensue. The Full-Cast Audio production rocks.

The Martian Chronicles (au) by Ray Bradbury
A classic of science fiction and a short story cycle inspired by the beloved Winesburg, Ohio. Sometimes, The Martian Chronicles is hard to read; the stories are raw, covering typical Bradbury subjects. In my Goodreads review, I wrote: “…Bradbury’s stories give the impression of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fiction: They can be difficult to get through, but thinking back, they feel like an accomplishment.”

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
Salinger’s book is made for teenagers, but worthwhile for adults. The protagonist’s voice is well-done in that while capturing teenage angst, it does not glorify it. Instead, it exhibits, allowing each person to judge for himself. I found young Holden to be a bit of a liar and a believable character, if only for that reason.

Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind by Alex Stone
Fooling Houdini reads like an occupational/hobby memoir, but includes enough history and background about magic to make it more than that. While the author’s journey seemed forced into a traditional man-overcomes narrative, the background and history were well-placed. The book’s worth reading just for them.

Rendezvous With Rama (au) by Arthur C. Clarke
The characters themselves were less notable here than the just-so suspenseful plot and literary questions that could be raised from the storyline. It’s just too bad the second and third of the trilogy aren’t easy to get on audio.

Fraud by David Rakoff
I still remember details from Rakoff’s Don’t Get Too Comfortable, which I read a few years ago. Rakoff’s fabulous take on the situations encountered in Fraud are also sure to bounce around in my head (and maybe yours too) for years to come.

Fall 2012 has already started and I’ve finished a couple of books already, but it’s not too late to think about what I’ll be reading till winter rolls around on December 21st. Finishing Kim Townsend’s excellent Sherwood Anderson biography (called, surprisingly, Sherwood Anderson) has put me in a Andersonian mood so I suspect I’ll be reading Irving Howe’s biography of Anderson (which Ashley gave me for my birthday along with the 2-volume Walter Rideout biography), and/or his autobiographical novel Tar: A Midwest Childhood which I have (meaning I can read it without having to scrounge around for it). It’s likely I’ll also be diving into my “American Authors(early/mid 20th Century)” list and pulling some books from there. Possibilities include: Nathanael West, James Dickey, Thornton Wilder, and maybe others. I’m currently in the middle of Water for Elephants and enjoying it with some reservations, and Kevin Mitnick’s Ghost in the Wires which uses all the thriller tropes to tell a hacker’s rip-roaring story without making it feel like the tale of a guy constantly in front of a computer and on the phone (which Mitnick was). Not sure what else I’ll get into, undoubtedly it’ll be something good. Fall’s an excellent time for reading.

p.s. – This is my third summer reading list! Can you believe I’ve been posting reading lists since 2010? Here are the other two: Summer 2010, Summer 2011.

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  1. Pingback: Fall Reading 2012 | Life in Oleg

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