Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Yeah I'm still alive

Sorry it's been so long since I've updated last. Moved back home at the end of May after finishing up my Peace Corps service so I've been pretty busy with all that. Problem is it's been so long that I've updated that I'm certain I've forgotten a few of the books I've read in the past 2 months or so. Oh well, serves me right.

We The Living by Ayn Rand
I never really set out to read all of Ayn Rand's books, it just sort of worked out that way. We The Living was the last major work by Rand that I hadn't read, which is somewhat ironic considering this was her first novel written in English. Rand is pretty polarizing, some absolutely despise her and some absolutely idolize her. I found both camps pretty annoying, frankly. She's hardly a perfect writer and her philosophy isn't as mindbogglingly brilliant (or mind-numbingly foolish) as so many seem to think. She falls somewhere in the middle. In my case, I like her books for the most part, but I don't love them. That said, We The Living is probably my second favorite Rand novel (after Atlas Shrugged) because I enjoyed the characters, the Soviet Russia setting, and found that Rand's philosophy came through much more clearly than I'd seen in her other efforts. I always understood that Rand thought Communism was wrong in practice, but could never grasp why she was against it in concept until We The Living.

Killing Pablo
by Mark Bowden
I've been on a non-fiction kick for the past few months and Killing Pablo was right in my wheelhouse. It's a well-written account of the hunt for one of history's most notorious outlaws, Pablo Escobar. Not much to say about this one, besides that I enjoyed it. My favorite sections were in the beginning discussing Pablo's exploits and eccentricities. Did you know Pablo Escobar had a gynecologist's chair in his mansion? Look out for the film adaptation coming out starring Christian Bale.

American Sphinx
by Joseph J. Ellis
Thomas Jefferson was one of history's most important Americans for a number of reasons. He penned the Declaration of Independence, served as a foreign ambassador during tumultuous times, was one of the architects of the United States Constitution, and expanded our national borders on a grand scale. However, he's a hard character to get a grasp on due to his remarkable ability to house two completely contradictory mindsets in that noble Virginia brow of his. Ellis (also author of The Founding Brothers which I loved) does an excellent job of tackling one of America's most enigmatic Presidents.

The Firm
by John Grisham
I had no idea that Grisham was popcorn literature. I suppose because he writes about the legal field and such that I expected his stuff to be a little more dense. I was happy to find out he writes the type of book you can read on the beach in an afternoon. I'm going to law school in the fall so I thought I'd give Grisham a try and I wasn't disappointed. He's a little formulaic from what I hear, but I enjoyed The Firm and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, quick read. Also: did anyone else who's read this find it hilarious that there was no retribution whatsoever for the whole adultery thing?

Can I Keep My Jersey?
by Paul Shirley
Paul Shirley became an NBA free agent after graduating from Iowa State. This began a short, journeyman career that saw Shirley playing in Los Angeles, Chicago, Spain, Russia, Atlanta, Kansas City, Japan and a few other places. Shirley is obviously a really funny, intelligent guy and it comes through in his writing. If you like sports, definitely check this out. It's sort of like a Ball Four for basketball.

by Christopher Moore
I've enjoyed a lot of Moore's books (Bloodsucking Fiends, Practical Demon Keeping, and Lamb specifically is one of my all-time favorite novels). Fool was not really up to snuff, as far as I'm concerned. Good, but not up to Moore's calibur. Long story short, Fool is Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear told from the perspective of the fool. It has some good moments and I enjoyed it. But I was a little disappointed because I had high hopes. If you're a Shakespeare fan (Chris) then check this out. You can read it in a couple of days.

by Paul Auster
Chris recommended The New York Trilogy to me a few years ago. I read it but didn't really get into it. For whatever reason I just wasn't really into it. When I came across Leviathan I recognized the author but it wasn't until after I finished it that I realized they were by the same author. I enjoyed Leviathan much more. It's a novel about a writer whose friend has just killed himself and is telling the story of how that came to pass. It's got interesting characters and is well-written overall. I definitely recommend Leviathan to anyone looking for a quick read.


Christopher said...

Interesting that you liked Leviathan. I read another one of his books (The Brooklyn Follies) and it was so bad that I decided I wouldn't read him again. And, for the record, I'm almost certain you picked up the New York Trilogy before I did.

billy said...

so should we who are both shakespeare and christopher moore devotees (cough, cough, this guy, cough cough) read fool? or will it be disappointing (like coyote blue)?

Brent Waggoner said...

Anthem is one of the worst books I've ever read. Did you like that one?

Brent Waggoner said...

Fun fact: the beach scene in The Firm is probably the most risque thing in Grisham's entire bibliography. That said, he's my 2nd favorite popular author, after King.

Jim said...

Anthem is Rand for junior high students, so you can't expect more from it. When I read it in 8th grade I found it interesting because you don't read a lot of objectivist philosophy at that age, but I can't really attest to the quality of the writing because I haven't read it in like 10 years.

and yeah Billy I'll bring Fool with me