Last week I went to the Skaneateles Library book sale and wound up with about a dozen near-new to gently-used books for under $20. Reading has been an absolutely wonderful activity I’ve taken up again since I’ve stopped drinking and have been on my anti-depressants. While I was drinking I stopped reading because it was hard for me to hold my interest (and doubly hard to remember what I had read the night before) and so I started to read less and less. I maybe finished two or three books per year over the past few years, but since March I’ve reengaged with it and it’s absolutely wonderful. So here’s a run-down of what I’ve read since March, if you’re interested. Let me know if there’s something out there I should be reading:
“Want Not” by Jonathan Miles – A very interesting read tying three different stories together with themes of waste, consumption and need. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt – This was a book I read because it won the Pulitzer and I had heard good things. I enjoyed it, and in many ways it’s like a Dickensian tale for the 21st Century. It made me think a lot about Great Expectations. “In the Light of What We Know” by Zia Haider Rahman– This book will stay with me for a long time. First of all, Rahman does a masterful job weaving in anecdotes and lessons of history, math, philosophy and economics into the plot that makes the book genuinely interesting. His primary character is richly drawn and is at once magnetic, entertaining and repulsing. I really did not expect the story to unfold as it did, and for a few days afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking about it. “My Man, Jeeves” and “Right Ho, Jeeves” by PG Wodehouse- I’m not sure any other writer has elicited as much chuckling from me as Wodehouse has. These short stories of the social misadventures of an idly rich English gentleman and his uber-competent valet employ such colorful language and turns of phrase that I find myself reading and rereading them again and again.
“Isaac’s Storm” by Erik Larson– A very good account of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 from the author of the fantastic “Devil in the White City.” Larson does a good job explaining the meteorology, history and political lessons from the storm, but it’s also a good page-turner when it comes to the narrative of what happened as the storm was hitting. “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” by Reza Aslan– This was the book that caused some controversy when Aslan appeared on Fox News to promote it last year. While I didn’t get much in the way of groundbreaking information (a lot of what he writes about the historical Jesus I’d already learned from books by Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan, etc.) but it’s a solid work of popular biblical history that should be of interest to anyone curious about the early history of Christianity, Christian theology, etc. “Double Down: Game Change 2012” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin– The not-nearly-as-compelling “sequel” to their book on the 2008 election, “Double Down” suffers from the fact that the 2012 election wasn’t as dramatic or historical as 2008. Still, some interesting anecdotes about the campaign, but you can probably find the best ones online.
Still in my Kindle/On my shelf
There are still some books I’ve downloaded/bought that I haven’t gotten to yet, but I feel like I’ve got time now. Right now I’m halfway through “Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity” by James Tabor. It’s actually a recommendation I received from Reza Aslan on Twitter (it was kind of cool to exchange messages with him!) and I see it as a “next step” in my journey to learn more about the roots and history of Christianity. I have a few novels to get to, including “And Sons” by David Gilbert and “A Beautiful Truth” by Colin McAdam I have a bunch of books on science from Dawkins, Sagan and Hawking from the book sale. I’m always looking for recommendations, so please let me know what you’re reading!