The topic of this post is pretty much one of the main reasons I briefly stopped posting on the blog – my project to go through every book in my home and sum them up in a monthly round-up. Reading is soooooo much easier than writing. And the number of books I was reading were adding up. It all just seemed too daunting. And really, the only reason I am writing this post it is I just finished listening to a really good book and I felt I could not write about it until I exorcised these figurative literary monkeys on my back. (I like to think if there was actually such a thing as a figurative literary monkey, it would look like this.)
I also realized, not long into my project, that I really need to write down my thoughts on a book immediately after reading it. I know I had much more interesting things to say about each of these books but that was weeks and weeks ago. I just don’t remember what I was going to write. That is my greatest failing as a writer. I never write things down the moment I think of them. Or when I do, I can’t remember where I left what I wrote. So, for the two of you who read my blog, here is a small and incomplete sampling of what I have read over the past couple of months.
Harry Potter and the, well, all of them, by J.K. Rowling. I read the first Potter book when it came out in paperback in the U.S. back in the 90s. I remember when I was visiting Britain with my pal Kerry and the book was everywhere but it was called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Now I am pretty sure English is spoken both in the U.S. and U.K. so I have yet to figure out why the title had to be changed. Unless of course the publisher figured Americans think sorcerers are cooler. What can I say other than I truly enjoyed the series and was sorry to see Harry’s journey come to an end. But thank you J.K. Rowling for not dragging the story out longer just because you could. I don’t think I would have cared for Harry Potter and the Prostate Exam.
My Life at Work by Thomas Moore. Eh, I need to read something else by the theologian to decide how I really felt. He just used the term alchemy way too much. And alchemy is right up there with paradigm shift and game change as terms I see no reason to ever exist outside of their respective sciences – chemical, philosophical and political.
Bel Ami by Guy Maupassant, another great read. Like his Pierre and Jean, Bel Ami is a great study of the not so great attributes of human nature including, back-stabbing, manipulation and self-absorption that border lines on psychosis. One of Maupassant’s literary heirs, W. Somerset Maugham, repeats the same themes, but in a fictionalized tale of Machiavelli, in another novel I recently read, Now and Then. The tale is also a superb literary representation of the cut throat politics and practices of many societal organizations, like Congress, the corporate board room and my condo association. But if I had to choose one over the other, I would go with Bel Ami.
Headhunters by Jo Nesbø, my imaginary Norwegian boyfriend Nesbø ventured away from his greatest creation, the incomparable Harry Hole (pronounced Hole-ay). I liked it but not as much as I loved …
The Leopard (also Redbreast, The Devil’s Star and Nemesis by Jo Nesbø.) If Jo Nesbø (pronounced Yoo Neshboo) is my imaginary Norwegian author boyfriend than his creation, Harry Hole, is my fictionalized imaginary Norwegian police detective boyfriend. And why yes, I am in therapy. Why do you ask.
Autobiography of a Fat Bride by Lauri Notaro is a fun read. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich was too. I think the 19th in that series is coming out so that will tide me over until Sue Grafton gets back on the alphabet bus. Seriously Ms. Grafton, I would really like to finish Z is for …. before menopause.
The Good American by Alex George reminded me of the The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Not in tone or style but in the thoughts it left me with on the lives of immigrants and the odd situation they find themselves in. No longer fitting in with where they came from but also not fully feeling at home in their new country. Good book club book.
The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World’s Most Perplexing Cold Cases by Mike Cappuzo was awesome. I love a well written history book and a well written true crime novel and this one about the Vidocq Society is both. Basically the society, named after the criminal-turned-detective, Frenchman Eugene Francois Vidocq, reviews cold cases and, more often than not, solves them. Members are only invited to join and they are among the best forensic scientists, forensic artists and legal experts in the world. And they solve many cases over lunch.
The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy By Ronny Moore and Sonny Grasso. The true story that inspired the film of the same name. The book takes us back to the 1970s and police investigation before the era of cell phones, email, internet, computers, GPS and all-night anything.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. I have to be honest. I am not sure if I liked it because I actually liked it or that I am supposed to recognize its greatness and of course like it. I remember liking it more the last time I read it.
Audio books I listened to included Wild by Cheryl Strayed, think Eat, Pray, Love but instead of eating, praying and loving there is eating, hiking and more hiking. Also it is yet another book that reminds me I have not done anything life altering in the last few years. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg was fascinating while Revelations: Visions. Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation by Elaine Pagels was interesting. I highly recommend the first, suggest the second.
Audio books to file under ‘not quite sure or meh’ …. Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York by Richard Zacks and The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith by Matthew Burton Bowman. Both were interesting but often, with both, I kept drifting away in thought rather than listening to them. Perhaps the actual books are a better way to go. That is the problem with audio, sometimes the narrator does not hold your attention.
That is pretty much all for now. I am sure there are a few books I have forgotten and when I remember them I will do my best to think about writing them up too.
That was cathartic.