Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Book Update October 2011

I really need to make a point to update here more often. I keep saying that but then life gets in the way. I like writing here when I do. I think I just need to come up with some regular topics I can talk about.

I've shifted into hard-core book reading mode lately. I've always been a pretty big reader but I went through a bunch of my 20s where I just wasn't reading that much. I finally discovered the Hennepin County Library reserve system and it's a winner!

I was buying a lot of books used off Amazon but they are starting to pile up again and really there are only a few books that I've read that are worth keeping in the long term. Resale value is basically zero after a while so a lot of them get donated to Goodwill, etc. I'm still not on the e-book train, I suspect I'll get more there eventually but as long as the library is available, I do prefer reading paper books. I'm old fashioned like that.

I'm trying to watch less TV and reading is a way to accomplish that. I'm kicking around cancelling cable after Daughter #2 is born, we could do without the expense, and the library is free. I'm not sure Katie is on-board but we can probably figure something out where she can get her fix.

I'm going to try and write an update every month about what I'm reading.

Without further ado:
Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yarm
About the Seattle Grunge scene of the early 90s - goes pre-historic with talking about bands like the U-Men, Green River, etc that were the precursors to the bands that everybody knows from that era. Really interesting Oral History, though I did have the problem I have with most Oral Histories - it takes me about 100 pages to get into it. But once I am, it's a page turner, I downed it in a few days after I started. He does a good job covering up the fact that he wasn't able to get much of Pearl Jam or surviving Nirvana members to participate and didn't have much material from a couple of other key players. Quite a bit on Alice in Chains though and the parts about Layne Staley at the end of his life are just heartbreaking. Nice job by Yarm. I was so young when this started and of course I caught the Nirvana bug like every 13/14 year old out there. I remember, I bought that album along with Metallica's black album.

Lucas Davenport "Prey" Series by John Sandford.
My dad tipped me off to these a long time ago, and I started reading them when I was looking for something a little lighter. I'm on Book 11 in this series after about 6 months of reading them on and off. There's 20 some odd total. They are good filler in between more serious reading and all take place in the Twin Cities. I can crank one out in a weekend if I don't have a lot going on. The last one I read was Certain Prey and that one was good - a female killer for hire was the main antagonist and she was a pretty strong character. Lucas Davenport is a great character too and the length of the series lets Sandford really develop him over the breadth. I've heard that some of the mid-teen books are the best in the series and I look forward to working my way through them. He has 2 other series I also intend to read eventually. 

Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground by Kevin Poulsen
I was tipped off to this book by a Podcast I heard on Planet Money. I usually enjoy these types of books but this one was skippable. The subject matter just wasn't terrible interesting and the author didn't do a very good job of trying to make it compelling.

Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen
Finally got around to reading this one. I've not read anything else by Franzen, I need to circle back and read The Corrections and some of his older stuff. This book was fantastic though. The narrative development was top notch and the characters just kind of popped off the page. (one of the leads was named Walter and I had a hard time not picturing Bryan Cranston for some reason - too much Breaking Bad!). Helps that it was set in Minneapolis and a couple of the characters went to my alma mater, Macalester College. A bit of length but another page turner for me once I got about 100 pages in or so. Read most of this on my week long vacation in early October and it's an excellent vacation book.

Zero Day: A Novel by Mark Russinovich.
I wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't get into it. Too hokey - a computer virus is taking over the world. Just seemed really unrealistic given what I know about modern day technology and the author's attempts at relationships in the book just fail miserably.

I'm currently reading Dauntless, the first book in the Lost Fleet Series by Jack Campbell, a millitary sci-fi series. Haven't read this type of stuff in a long time but it's usually page turners and this one's no exception. I've got Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love ready for pick up at the library but I'm considering returning it without reading it since it's about a father raising his daughter after his wife dies post-labor. Might be too much for me right now. Also have Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live by Jeff Jarvis and The Pale King, David Foster Wallace's last unfinished novel on their way to the reserve shelf. Should be a good couple of weeks of reading.