June 27th, 2010

25 - 26 plus audio

25. Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel - Gary Shteyngart - 352p

Pub date: July 27 - 5/5 stars, review behind the link. Amazing book. If you are so inclined, I could use some "helpful" votes on my Amazon review.

26. Motherless Brooklyn - (6/26) - Jonathan Lethem 311p


What I learned from this book:

- I don't think I would enjoy hanging out with someone who has Tourette's
- Jonathan Lethem loves the word Echolalia

Lethem is a good writer, and I like the neuroses of his characters, but this book didn't do much for me. As a detective story, it was weak. As any kind of story it was kind of weak actually. I didn't dislike it, I didn't love it. It was just sort of "meh."

Obviously, the the main character has Tourette's, and I think perhaps that bit may have been just a tinge overdone. And as Harris overused the word "cantrip" in The Girl with No Shadow, this book had the word "tic" more than I've ever seen in any book. It was almost ticcish in its use of tic. A tic of tics. Tictacular. Tic-Tock. Hickory Dickory Dock. Hickory smoked bacon. (Yep, it was like that.)

I'm just not sure that this book would inspire me to read any Lethem in the future.


6. When You Are Engulfed in Flames - David Sedaris

3/5 stars

I have to say that I've really tried to like David Sedaris books, and they don't do much for me. Generally, I find maybe two or three of the stories funny and the rest filler. I decided to try this one on audio.

I love that he reads his own book. He doesn't have a fabulous DJ voice, but his quirky voice is perfect for his quirky stories, and as a result the inflections were in all the right places. There were some travel stories in here, which I found funniest. There were times when he was reading aloud to an audience, and those always tended to be funnier. I'm not sure if he just picked his best stories for the live recordings, or if having an audience made the telling more entertaining.

Anyway, I wouldn't have read this, but listening to it was fine.

My complete list can be found here


Books 25-28

BOOK 25 Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier

A great book based on real people. It details the contribution females have made to the discovery of fossils. A must read.

BOOK 26: The most improper proposal by Gail Whitiker
This was an ok book.

BOOK 27: A Noble Man by Anne Ashley
Properly a book that is lower than average.

BOOK 28: Killing Time by David Dow
A fantastic book about the real story of an innocent man on death row.
It really captures the reasons why the death penalty is wrong.
Dead Dog Cat

#50 and beyond!

While sitting and waiting for the laundry and for various computer issues to fix themselves, I managed to read a pile of Osprey books:

Fortress #65: The Forts of Judaea 168 BC - AD 73: From the Maccabees to the Fall of Masada. I especially liked the artist's conception of what Masada looked like in its heyday. Having visited there, it meant a lot to me.

Campaign #212: The Six Day War 1967: Sinai. Again, it gave me more of the political background, teaching me details that I'd never known before about the war. Nice piece of work.

Campaign #222: Salamis 480 BC: The Naval Campaign that Saved Greece. You know, like Thermopylae didn't, really. They have photos of a real working trireme, to boot!

Fortress #50: The Forts of Celtic Britain. It gives a picture for the mind's eye for some of Bernard Cornwell's recent books, as they deal with these very sites.

Warrior #94: Polish Winged Hussars 1576 - 1775. I admit it, I read this one just because hussars are so damn ostentacious, and these Polish ones are no different from the general run of hussars. Outrageous uniforms.
El Corazon


Treasure in the Cellar: A Tale of Gold in Depression-Era Baltimore
by Leonard Augsburger

Started: June 3, 2010
Finished: June 11, 2010

Much, much better written than your average small press local history book. This was a captivating story. Despite gearing the book primarily toward coin collectors, Augsburger managed to still make it interesting to the general reading public. 168 pages. Grade: B+
In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War
by Tobias Wolff

Started: June 6, 2010
Finished: June 14, 2010

Not as good as This Boy's Life but still worth reading. My favorite part was his description of living with his dad after he got back from Vietnam. 221 pages. Grade: B+
The Magic Journey
by John Nichols

Started: June 2, 2010
Finished: June 16, 2010

I liked this overall despite a couple of major complaints. First, there were way too many characters and that made the early pages read those endless Bible verses where Ted begat Sally who was betrothed to Bill who was begat by Lucy. Second, I didn't care for the mystical Indian crap with dead people appearing and this whole was that part just a dream or did it happen for real vibe. That's lazy storytelling. Still, there was a good story and a few great characters at the heart of this. It was nowhere near as good as The Milagro Beanfield War but few books are. 529 pages. Grade: B
Brown's Requiem
by James Ellroy

Started: June 15, 2010
Finished: June 18, 2010

By far the best Ellroy I've ever read. Most of the other books of his that I've read were good but way overly complicated with too many similar characters and way too many plot twists. This book had a strong main story and protagonist moving it forward. Absolutely loved it. 248 pages. Grade: A+
The Next Better Place
by Michael C. Keith

Started: June 16, 2010
Finished: June 22, 2010

I didn't like or hate this memoir of a kid traveling across the country in 1959 with his dysfunctional alcoholic father. Some of the little individual tidbits were OK but overall it just rang a bit false, like Keith was making false memories, like he was remembering things as he thought they happened instead of how they really happened. The author just had too clear a memory of his eleven year old memories. It didn't ring true. This was exacerbated by the author's use of the present tense when he was talking about events that clearly happened in 1959. 284 pages. Grade: C
The Taming of the Shrew

by William Shakespeare

Started: May 21, 2010
Finished: June 22, 2010

I absolutely hated this. It was a stupid misogynistic sitcom-ish piece of crap. All the men were jerks, all the women were morons. They deserved each other. 27 pages. Grade: F
The Last Town on Earth
by Thomas Mullen

Started: June 18, 2010
Finished: June 25, 2010

I didn't like this historical novel about the 1918 flu epidemic overall. The writing style was decent, the author had obviously done his homework about the time period, and the basic story idea was a good one. But the book had one basic flaw--it was BORING. Until the last thirty pages, there was no real villain. All the main characters were bland goody two shoes. Not a page turner. 387 pages. Grade: C-
Total # of Books Read in 2010: 179
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 45,462