July Books

23. The Nazi Doctors – Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide by Robert Jay Lifton – a heavy book that took me over 4 months to read. Interesting but a bit too much for someone like me who is just looking for a little history and insight.
24. Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson – This book came from this list of 18 laugh out loud books for your book club.  The write up sounded like, sure, that could be amusing. Turns out, it WAS NOT. Nothing about this story was even the slightest bit amusing. It was sad, it felt lonely, and it was not at any point humorous. And even though I guess it had a happy ending, it didn’t feel uplifting. It wasn’t bad, but going into it thinking it was going to be funny made it into a let down.

In Progress: Flush by Carl Hiaasen and Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell

June Books

20. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – it took 4 check outs from the library, and almost 6 weeks but I finished a book!
21. Skink – No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen – and then I read another in 4 days!
22. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini – another quick read about a teenage boy suffering from depression and his week on a mental ward. Very good, especially if you suffer from depression as well.

May books

19. And Then There Were Nuns – Jane Christmas – (non fiction) – The 2nd Jane Christmas book this year, a memoir about following her “calling” to a religious life. Interesting and not overbearing with religion.

I fail at reading in May. I blame vacation week, and wanting to be lazy and play phone games.

April Books

14. Where’d You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple
15. Today Will Be Different – Maria Semple – Both books were excellent, and I may have a new author to keep tabs on. I haven’t had that since Chuck Palahniuk over 15 years ago. They both take place in Seattle, with a tie in of the same school being featured in both, but they are not a series. Quirky female leads star, without being the typical bang wearing ukelele playing hipster nerdy quirky girl we’ve gotten used to (Eleanor and Park, Star Girl, Zoe whatshername Deshanel?) The storytelling style made you want to keep reading, and I finished “Today” in less than 3 days (another thing I haven’t done in years and years). They weren’t mind blowing, twist filled, stories like Palahniuk’s were, to grab my attention, they were just so well written, and entertaining. Loved.
16. Incontinent on the Continent – Jane Christmas – (non fiction) A travel memoir of a mid 50s woman taking her elderly disabled mother to Italy for 6 weeks. It was amusing, and sometimes sad, and sometimes funny. I can’t imagine what kind of insanity took over to even think that a trip like that was a good idea. In 20 years when I’m in my mid 50s, and my mom, if still alive is mid 80s, I can’t think of a worse idea than to try to go on vacation to Europe with her for a week, let alone 6 weeks.
17. Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson – (non fiction) Interesting book, with lots of history and environmental info, about hiking the Appalachian Trail.
18. The Lost City of the Monkey God – Douglas Preston – (non fiction) Enjoyed this very much. Story of the rediscovery of a jungle city in Honduras, and the trials and disease the team faced in finding and excavating it. Fascinating.

March Books

9. My Seinfeld Year by Fred Stoller – a very short Kindle published “book” about the author’s year on the Seinfeld writing staff. He wrote the “soup is not a meal” episode. It wasn’t that interesting, but it was quick…more like a long magazine article.
10. How to kill 11 million people – Andy Andrews – a short essay published as a book, asking how the public could stand by while the Nazi’s killed so many, and why standing up for truth matters. Seemed a worthwhile read for the times.
11. Station eleven – Emily St John Mandel – a post apocalyptic book following a handful of interrelated characters as they survive through a flu pandemic that killed the majority of the world’s population. With so many end of times books out, it was a refreshing interesting page turner.
12. Hidden Figures – book the movie was based on, telling the story of the black women mathematicians working for the government in aeronautics. Good stuff.
13. The All Girl Filling Station – Fannie Flagg – one of my fav books ever is her Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man. This one didn’t approach the humor level, but it kept to her style of telling a story about strong women and women discovering themselves. An easy fun read.

book: ghetto girls

I use the overdrive app on my phone to borrow ebooks from my library. It’s pretty great. Browsing new book options after finishing the last Nazi book, I decided on Ghetto Girls. As I said, I was hoping for another Merivale Mall book. It was not that.

It was written by a black man, but it reads like it was written by a white suburban girl who’s only knowledge of ghetto life is from early 90 gangsta rap lyrics and watching Friday. In other words, I could have written it. Without getting into poor editing and continuity problems, it was tough. From the slang used, to the story line, it was out of a music video. In talking about it to Carolyn she said it almost sounds racist, if it hadn’t been written by a black man. And she’s right. It’s like a caricature. 2 thugs raping young girls, gang banging a stripper, doing drugs, shooting people who “do them wrong”. 3 young girls in a singing and dance group trying to make it. Rich uncle based on Puff Daddy. Crack head informants. One of the girls killing herself after banging one of the thugs, who killed her boyfriend just before that. It was ridiculous. I finished it, but it had no real ending, because there are 5 books that follow, which I’m going to pass on. I have a long reading list to get to.

I am surely no ghetto expert, and I know these kinds of people did exist but….really? Apparently it was pushed as a must read (or something) in Essense magazine, and it did well. Ok great, it got people to read, perhaps people who don’t typically read, but it’s garbage. Surely “hip hop” literature has something more to offer their target audience than this.

Unless I completely misread it and it was meant to be a lighthearted comedy. But it was pretty dramatic for a comedy.

Books: I sense a theme

I’m stuck in a subject. Nazi books. I feel like given the current political climate, I need to know about the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. I’ve just finished my 4th, 3 non-fiction and one novel. First was “In The Garden of Beasts” about the American ambassador in Berlin as Hitler became Chancellor. Next was “Night”, which I read in school at some point, but thought I should remind myself of the horrors of the Holocaust. Followed by the novel “Mischling” which centered around twins who were used in Nazi experiments. Most recently, I finished “The Nazi Officer’s Wife”, a memoir of a Jewish woman who spent the war “underground” with a false identity, and ended up getting married to a Nazi.

It’s amazing how many things sound parallel, which I screen shot (since these were all ebooks from the library) and post to facebook. Some things sound trivial, like Hitler being concerned with his crowds, but IT’S ALL THE SAME AS NOW! ugh.

Because of Mischling, I bought one of the books it used as reference, The Nazi Doctors, the psychology of genocide. Something like that. But I needed to lighten things up a bit, so I found a book called Ghetto Girls from the library so I’m tackling that… LOL….as I said to Carolyn I was hoping it was “Merivale Mall” with black girls. It’s not quite that, but it is as badly written/edited. Even thought it’s apparently written by a black man from NYC, it reads like it was written by a white girl who’s knowledge of the ghetto is rap lyrics. It’s as if *I* wrote it purely from Death Row rappers songs from 1992. The slang, the activities…or maybe gangsta rap really did reflect the realities of ghetto life!

January/February Books

1. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
2. Dust – Hugh Howie
3. Mischling – Affinity Konar
4. Ghetto Girls – Anthony J Whyte
5. Shit My Dad Says – entertaining book by the guy who created the Shit My Dad Says twitter.
6. Night by Elie Wiesel – I’ve read it before, high school or college I can’t remember, but I thought I needed to read it again as a reminder.
7. Floodmarkers by Nic Brown – a novel about a single town during Hurricane Hugo. Not quite what I expected from the description, it was supposed to be a book about the people of the town and how they all are connected. Which I guess it was, but it wasn’t a full story – each chapter being about a single character, with only a few getting more than one chapter to flesh out their story. They don’t overlap the way I was expecting, with just passing mentions of some of the others. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I wanted. At least it was short.
8. A Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) – I’ve never described myself as a mystery reader, but I guess I do like them, and I quite enjoy JK’s detective series.

Books: Dust

A few years ago the short story/novella “Wool” by Hugh Howey was recommended to me. It was post apocalyptic, which I love, and available as an ebook (self published I think) on amazon. I loooooved it. I recommended it to everyone (with varying results). I thought the twist was fantastic, and its popularity lead to Howey writing 4 follow up stories, later published together as the Wool Omnibus. It continued the story, and added to the mystery, but nothing was as thrilling as just reading that first part on it’s own.

He then added a prequel, “Shift”, 3 more novellas combined into an omnibus, followed by “Dust”, an epilogue. I just finally got around to reading them.

“Shift” explains the world that created the silos and “Dust” continues the story at the end of “Wool”. They were both worth reading, but still not as mind blowing as “Wool 1”.

People may be tempted to read them in the chronological order of the story, but I don’t think that’s the intent. Starting with “Shift” would be really confusing, as I think it assumes you know about the world of “Wool” already, especially as you get past the “First Shift” portion. And it gives away some of the twists and surprises of “Wool” which made it so good.

It had been years since I read “Wool”, I sort of feel like I should have read it again first, as I forgot a lot of the details beyond the main plot, which would have helped. Part of me is still confused about the reasoning behind The Legacy and The Pact. Perhaps more will be coming. It’s a good series though, and I recommend it for anyone who likes apocalyptic fiction.

Books! “Born to Run”

It’s a new year, and a year since I redid this page. I don’t think I came anywhere near posting as much as I wanted to, or about the things I wanted to. But since no one reads it, I suppose it doesn’t matter. But I have a resolution! I’m going to post about every book I read this year. So let’s start now.

“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

I like memoirs, or auto-bios, non-fiction travel stories, etc, so when this book showed up on Overdrive as available from my library I “borrowed” the ebook. I appreciate Bruce Springsteen’s talent, and I enjoyed seeing him live several years ago with LeighAnne, but I really know nothing about him other than he came from Freehold NJ. The book isn’t a play by play of every year of his life, with every little detail like a bio by someone else may be, but he tells his story very well. It’s his life story, covering the important moments that created him and his career, and it is sooooo very well written. I know a lot of auto-bios are ghost written, but given how good he is at songwriting I assumed he actually wrote it himself, and it does appear to be so. There were some parts, some lines, that were like poetry. A ghost writer, no matter how good, I don’t think would have been able to tell Bruce’s story this way. It was interesting to hear about his struggles with depression, and how he works through it all. It was a memoir worth reading.