Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Books Read August

After a very thin reading month in July, August proved much more fruitful, at least in quantity. (Just the list and covers today - comments to follow.)


The Scarecrow (2009) - Michael Connelly

Connelly is one of the few popular writers whose books I will read sight unseen. This is not a Harry Bosch tale, but a Jack McEvoy (The Poet) novel. Connelly never fails to satisfy and The Scarecrow is one of his recent best, definitely worth your time.

Strange Telescopes: Following the Apocalypse from Moscow to Siberia (NF 2009) - Daniel Kalder

Discussed here.

Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple) (NF 2008) - Jeffrey Kluger

Sort of a Malcolm Gladwell knockoff. A good read, some very interesting stuff, but I felt that the premise wasn’t always driving the book.

The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006/2009) - Stieg Larsson

Even better than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

The Thin Book of Naming Elephants: How to surface Undiscussables for Greater Organizational Success (NF 2004) - Sue Annis Hammond and Andrea B. Mayfield

A very short book, but packed with useful information and ideas on how to deal with the things in a company/organization that everyone is aware of, but no one wants to talk about. (The section on NASA shows you the devastating consequences of such "elephant in the room" practices.)

Same Kind of Different As Me (NF 2006) - Ron Hall & Denver Moore w/Lynn Vincent

This book was recommended to me by several people in my church. I was initially put off by the chapters narrated by high-end art dealer Hall, but fascinated by the ones written by the homeless Moore. Some very powerful scenes showing how God works in what seem like highly unlikely situations.

Illyria (2007) - Elizabeth Hand

Elizabeth Hand is simply a wonderful writer. Everything I've read by her is an opportunity for readers to get lost in her world, which is a good thing. Illyria is no exception. This work is actually a novella which will be expanded into an upcoming novel.

White Sands, Red Menace (J-Fic 2008) - Ellen Klages

It's a shame that more people don't know how wonderful Ellen Klages is. At the library I often place The Green Glass Sea in the hands of kids looking for a great read. White Sands, Red Menace is a sequel of sorts, a somewhat quieter (although I hate to use that term) book, but with great emotional depth. Klages's characters are so real and believable she makes other J-Fiction/YA writers look amateurish in comparison. This is good stuff.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations...One School at a Time (NF 2006) - Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin

Don't get me wrong: I greatly admire what Greg Mortenson has done (and is continuing to do) in building schools for children in Pakistan and other war-torn sections of the Middle East. What I do not admire is all the self-glorification of Mortenson on almost every page and not allowing the reader to figure out things for him/herself.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

(Audiobook of the debates in their entirety featuring outstanding performances by Richard Dreyfuss as Douglas and David Strathairn as Lincoln.) Fascinating look at how debates once worked. (These debates were actually senatorial debates, not presidential ones.) In some ways things were very different in 1858, in others, not much has changed. A few dull, repetitive sections, but some real fireworks here. You'll cringe at some of Douglas's racist remarks, but this is an interesting look at the political landscape of 150 years ago.

GRAPHIC NOVELS (Which I don't count in the monthly total, but include anyway.)

The Avengers: Kree/Skrull War (1971, 1972) - Roy Thomas, Sal Buscema, John Buscema, Neal Adams

Not as great as I remembered, but still fun and nostalgic.

Essex County, Vol. I: Tales from the Farm (2007) - Jeff Lemire

Interesting tale of a boy on a Canadian farm living with his uncle. The boy's dreams of being a superhero and an unusual friendship with a former pro hockey player make this worth a look.

Now get out there and read something.

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