Friday, December 31, 2004

Vernon Can Read by Vernon Jordan

Interesting memoir of Vernon Jordan, who played major roles in the civil rights movement and was an advisor to several presidents.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner

Through reading his journal from the trip, an elderly couple remember a trip they took 20 years previously. Switching back and forth from the trip to the present, the book is about life, getting old, marriage, commitment, choices. It’s by Stegner – so (as always) it’s beautifully written.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

46 Pages by Scott Liell

About the remarkable impact that Thomas Paine’s Common Sense pamphlet (which was only 46 pages long) had on changing the mood of the colonies in early 1776 - leading up to the Declaration of Independence in July.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Recapitulation by Wallace Stegner

A successful diplomat returns to his home town to organize his aunt’s funeral and reflects on the people who impacted him while he was growing up, and influenced who he has become.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Absolutely American by David Lipsky

Lipsky was given unprecedented access to follow a class through West Point. Interesting book about kids who chose a very different college experience. The class he followed graduated in 2002, so Sept 11 had different implications for them than for that class at most other colleges.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

If you notice when people use “it’s” instead of “its”, you’ll enjoy this book. A witty, gentle rant on the use and misuse of punctuation. Who’da thunk a book about punctuation would ever be a best-seller!?

Friday, December 24, 2004

A Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester

At a loss for how to describe this book, I turned to Amazon’s editorial reviews, and they said it better than I could: “A gorgeous, dark, and sensuous book that is part cookbook, part novel, part eccentric philosophical treatise … Join Tarquin Winot as he embarks on a journey of the senses, regaling us with his wickedly funny, poisonously opinionated meditations on everything from the erotics of dislike to the psychology of a menu, from the perverse history of the peach to the brutalization of the palate, from cheese as "the corpse of milk" to the binding action of blood.” Keep a dictionary handy; Lanchester’s vocabulary is fantastic.
Also read Fragrant Harbor, but it was extremely disappointing; I struggled to even finish it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Moneyball by Michael Lewis

I’m not interested in baseball and I don’t read books about baseball. But this book was fantastic – about a baseball GM who uses takes a different perspective on player statistics and builds powerhouse teams on extremely small budgets. Way more interesting than either of Lewis’ previous books: Liar’s Poker (which was amusing for 5 mins) and The New, New Thing (about Jim Clark & Silicon Valley.)

Monday, December 20, 2004

Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Interesting book about being more engaged in everyday life, rather than passively floating along. (“Finding flow” is like being in “the zone”.)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Huckleberry Finn & Tom Sawyer by Twain

Re-read these classics recently, and was reminded of Twain’s genius.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

True story of the the architect who designed and oversaw construction for the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893 and a serial killer who was murdering women in that neighborhood at the same time. The serial murderer part is bizarre, but the story of the fair is interesting. Reads like fiction.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Meeting by the River by Christopher Isherwood

Two very different brothers – one a successful publisher with wife and kids in London and a gay lover in LA, the other preparing to take his vows as a Hindu monk - spend some time together after years of distance. The book flips back and forth from the perspective of one brother to that of the other. I enjoyed it and like the way Isherwood writes.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski

About the evolution of books and bookshelves, with emphasis on bookshelves. Slow in places where he delves into gory detail on how the certain shelves were constructed, etc., (the author’s an engineer) but I’d never thought about how books and bookshelves have changed over time.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

Of the same genre as The Da Vinci code, this story revolves around a 15th century coded document. Better written than Da Vinci code.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

John Dunning novels

The main character is a cop who becomes rare book dealer. The stories are mysteries related to rare books. Fun reading – and the book collecting aspect intrigued me.