Friday, November 28, 2014

Summer to autumn reading

I like to listen to books on CD while I knit. At my older brother's urging, I recently selected Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. I thought The Passage of Power was long - AH has it beat by two disks. But I did it. I listened to the whole thing, although I had to renew it twice. Fortunately, it was very interesting and educational. I didn't realize just how critical Hamilton's role was in the establishment and preservation of a federal government, as well as the economic framework that is basically still in place today. Aaron Burr was the prototype for the modern day politician (and an asshole). John Adams was a nut case. It's amazing that the nation survived its fragile beginning, and yet many of our modern day issues have their roots in the post-revolutionary period. When it comes to politics, some things never change.

Other recent reads:

  • Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King. Not one of his better novels. The first of a trilogy - don't think I'll read the others.
  • Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail, by Louise Shivers. I'd never heard of this author until she passed away this past summer. The story in this novella rings true.
  • The Divorce Papers, by Susan Rieger. Told indirectly through correspondence, emails, memos, legal briefs, etc. Very effective. Quotes Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing.
  • The Real Thing, by Tom Stoppard. It's a play, so a lot is lost in the reading of it. One of my frustrations from living in the hinterlands is limited access to live performances of plays.
  • Starting Over, short stories by Elizabeth Spencer who is 93. She's still got it.
  • New Life, No Instructions, by Gail Caldwell. Not what I expected and a bit disappointing.
  • Dept of Speculation, by Jenny Offill (pronounced "awful"?). I think I would like to try being an art monster.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's, by Truman Capote. Too bad Tru spent more time resting on his laurels than writing.
  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt. My daughter liked this one, but I didn't despite the provocative title. In fact, I abandoned it after a couple of chapters.
  • No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy (on CD). Did not see the movie, but liked listening to the book.
  • All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy (on CD). Read by Brad Pitt, the economy of language is stunning, makes Hemingway sound verbose. I didn't realize this is the first book in a trilogy, will have to read the others.
  • Mathilda, by Roald Dahl (on CD). A little disconcerting - I can see why some parents object to this book - but fun.
  • Tibetan Peach Pie, by Tom Robbins (on CD). He is so full of himself I didn't make it to the end
  • After I'm Gone, Laura Lippman. Classic Lippman.
  • Mr. Tall, short stories by Tony Earley. I particularly liked "Jack the Giant Killer".
  • Daring: My Passages, by Gail Sheehy. Having lived through the same time period (but while leading a much less exciting life), I enjoyed this survey of recent history. And yes, Sheehy was *very* daring.
  • The Third Plate, by Dan Barber. I'm enjoying it, but not making much headway due to Nook issues.
  • Misdiagnosed, by Jody Berger. This one will cause you to run screaming from any kind of health care professional, conventional or otherwise.
  • Silences, or a Woman's Life, by Marie Chaix. A bit confusing, and just as scary as Misdiagnosed. Don't get sick, don't get old.
  • Top Secret 21, by Janet Evanovich. One of the better Stephanie Plum novels.
  • Not My Father's Son, by Alan Cumming. I don't usually read celebrity authors, but I'm a fan of "The Good Wife" so I gave this a try. 
  • Stone Mattress, short stories by Margaret Atwood. Loved some of the stories, hated others.
  • One Simple Change, by Winnie Abramson. I already do almost all these things, and contrary to the subtitle, my life is not transformed.
  • Slow Dancing with a Stranger, by Meryl Comer. I heard one or two interviews with the author and was intrigued, but the book was a bit disappointing. Maybe I've read too many books on Alzheimers.
  • Rooms, by Lauren Oliver. When I realized this was about ghosts, I almost quit it, but the story is so well crafted, it sucked me in after two chapters.
  • Sex Is Forbidden, by Tim Parks. I really, really, really enjoyed this book. Most Buddhist nonfiction is a snooze fest, but Buddhist fiction tells it like it is. This is no exception. And such a provocative title!
  • If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, by Heather Lende. Should be titled, If You Died Here.... Lende writes obituaries for the local paper in her tiny Alaskan village, so the main topic is death. BUT! This collection of essays is very entertaining and uplifting if a bit christiany.
Wow. I've been reading a lot, which is a good thing and one of my goals in retirement. And I read more fiction than I used to. Initially, I had a little bit of trouble giving myself permission to read more - shouldn't I be *doing* something? - but reading *is* doing something.

What are you reading these days?

1 comment:

Jason said...

I loved Passage to Power and all the LBJ books by Caro. Haven't read AH, but interesting to hear the perspective that John Adams was a nut. I read the bio of Adams that made him sound downright heroic.