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« August, 2018 »
Record of a Spaceborn Few

This book wraps up the Wayfarer trilogy (I think?) and was a good look at “What about the humans in this galaxy anyhow?” question I’d had since the beginning. Other than killing off of one character (unexpected!) and that “every chapter written by a different character and then repeat” thing (never my favorite) I really enjoyed this. More human stories. A lot of people with complicated but mostly-good motivations trying to figure out what to do. I liked all the characters. After a stream of good but difficult books, it was nice to relax with a familiar comfortable world.

Sing, Unburied Sing

I did not know, when I pulled this book out of the Little Free Library by the beach, that it was almost unendingly violent and upsetting in some of the most disturbing ways (child abuse, sadistic rapes, prison violence, a mom’s long painful death from cancer). I am sure it’s a great book but I could not get around that and was completely upset the entire time I was reading it just hoping there was some redemption or peace for the characters. There was, a little.

When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge

This was a departure from my usual reading because I have a pretty firm “No Holocaust memoirs” guideline. That said, this is a different sort of holocaust, the invasion/takeover of Cambodia by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge and the subsequent Cambodian genocide. It’s a thoroughly chilling and unpleasant book as far as the subject matter, but it’s well-told by Him and she has a remarkable memory for the things that happened during what must of been the worst part of her entire life. I learned a lot about the political climate inside of Cambodia in and around this time and even though this was a really tough read, I’m glad I read this book.

Jericho’s Fall

This was a little more thriller and a little less story than the last one. A lot of Carter’s novels seem to hinge on there being some unbearable awfulness that other people will do anything to keep secret. Usually I like that but this was a little too creepy, too many people isolated alone in a house without cell phones, it wasn’t as fun a read.

Inside The Kingdom: My Life In Saudi Arabia

Got this at a library booksale and it was simultaneously an interesting frog-boiling story of a woman from Switzerland who wound up living as a veiled woman in Saudi Arabia and a wife to a very wealthy man who happened to be one of Osama Bin Ladin’s 20-someodd brothers. It’s more her story of what the world is like in Saudi Arabia for women and very little political stuff except as those two things overlap. It’s a weird book to read because she is simultaneously incredibly privileged but also incredibly oppressed. She eventually leaves and she talks about what was involved in that as well. Very interesting read.

The Incal

This is one of the very few graphic novels at my local academic library. I really wanted to like it, and enjoyed the first third of it, but then it got a little too magical for me and I lost the thread of what was happening. It felt, to me, less and less grounded in an actual plot thread and more a complex allegory for... something. At any rate, I put it down at one point and did not pick it up again.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece

Random book from a library book sale and it was SO GOOD. This was all about figuring out which of many extant copies of an old painting may have been by the master Caravaggio. Lots of neat research and some great stories of the work behind the work. Harr turns it all into a fun to read story that has had more developments since this book was published.

The Other Woman

The newest one in the series. The enemy is Russia, it’s all about a double agent, very little Chiara or the kids and no art restoration. I am not enjoying the Russia arc as much as some of the other ones from the past.

New England White

Someone handed me Carter’s first book and I really loved it. Got this one at a flea market and felt the same. They are Grishamlike mysteries but a little bit more complex and actually address racial issues while they also deal with the whodunitaspect of whatever has happened. Carter is smart with his writing and his plots are complex. His characters and by and large well to do black people who are often not that well represented in mainstream mysteries. I am excited to read more of Carter’s books.

Surviving the Extremes: What Happens to the Body and Mind at the Limits of Human Endurance

A book by a doctor who has gone to some extreme places doing medicine (mostly for Americans who venture places they maybe shouldn’t go) talking about how your body does, or does not, deal with extreme conditions. These conditions include on top of Everest, in space, up the Amazon, in a desert, lost at sea, you get the idea. He usually tries to mix firsthand impressions, his own and others', with a medical description of just what is going on inside your body. I enjoyed it. It’s not for everyone. There are some pretty grievous injuries and bad things happen to people and some of them die. But if you’re curious to look into how this stuff works, he’s got a good explanation.

No Place To Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs

I got an ARC of this from the publisher. It opened on a scenario I wasn’t sure I could empathize with, a mom with two kids trying to find a public bathroom. Not that I didn’t sympathize, but it didn’t grab me. But the rest of the book got better. Lowe is a woman who is interested in public accommodations and how we get them and why we don’t and the actual complex nature of putting bathrooms in public, for the public. As someone who is pretty heavy into libraries, I have been interested in this topic and was a little bummed Lowe didn’t talk more about libraries (she barely touches on them) but this is more about literally “out in public” and looking at issues involved in public toilet provisions and why it’s more difficult than you would think. Lowe is an advocate, speaks with other advocates and has a great style and amusing voice throughout. Everyone should enjoy this book.

Slightly Chipped: Footnotes in Booklore

Sort of a goofy book by two rare book lovers and collectors with a bunch of anecdotes about the book scene that are fun. It’s a little precious and it’s written in the first person plural which is super weird but I could get over it. I learned some fun trivia and anecdotes and got a little wistful since this is clearly talking about a booksale era that is much changed since people started going online both for purchasing as well as selling and pricing books.