Thursday, February 06, 2014

Books Read: January 2014

Below is a listing of the books I read in the month of January.  My wife and I were talking about what we were reading and I had mentioned that I really don’t remember having read an actual novel in a while that I thought was extra fantastic. She said, “what about…oh, the one that starts with a W…you know the one, you kept talking about it.”  Eventually we figured out that she meant Wolf Hall, but after looking it up, it turns out that I finished the book in November, so that didn’t really argue against my point. 

1. Tiassa, by Steven Brust
2. Great Whiskeys, by Charles MacLean
3. Humans of New York, by Brandon Stanton
4. Command Authority, by Tom Clancy and Mark Greaney
5. Mercy Kill, by Aaron Allston
6. The Dark Man, by Stephen King
7. Insurgent, by Veronica Roth
8. While the Clock Ticked, by Franklin W. Dixon
9. Sisterland, by Curtis Sittenfeld
10. When Did You See Her Last, by Lemony Snicket
11. Wheels of Rage, by Kurt Saxon
12. Life Ater Life, by Kate Atkinson
13. The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith
14. Beautiful Lego, by Mike Doyle

Best Book of the Month: Humans of New York is a photography book and is easily the most compelling, fascinating, funny, and heartbreaking thing I read last month.  Easily.  Stanton’s photography and ability to find such a variety of individuals and really get across something about them in a picture and occasionally with just a line or two of text of description is just perfect.  The stories contained in the images are outstanding and makes you wonder what else is going on in their lives.  There is a mystique about New York City, but really, I think it is just because the city is large enough and densely populated with enough ethnic groups that Stanton was able to find such a cross section of people.  I’m sure most other major cities could have something similar, but as much as I love where I live, I don’t think that Humans of Minneapolis would have quite the same scope or impact.  Maybe, but I doubt it.  

Worth Noting: The Dark Man is not a new Stephen King novel, rather it is a poem he wrote some forty years ago, but now illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne.  Completists will want to read this volume anyway, and many readers will be interested to get a first glimpse into a character that later became Randall Flagg (from The Stand, if the name is only ringing a vague bell). But it is Chadbourne’s art that makes this slim volume special.  The art makes the work yet more haunting and dirty than King did with those few words. 

Disappointment of the Month: Wheels of Rage. Having finally caught up on Sons of Anarchy and having read Under and Alone, I want to read more about motorcycle clubs / gangs. It’s a fascinating subculture, though a nasty one (and as such, one I would stay as far away from as possible).  Wheels of Rage is a fictionalized account of stories told to the author which ended up leading to the arrest of gang members.  So, even though it isn’t investigative reporting or a well researched account or the story of an undercover operative, it seemed like it could be a solid glimpse into what was going on in the 70’s.  Unfortunately, the writing is atrocious. It is unclear from the book as to whether Saxon was riding along with the Iron Cross club, if he invented a character that did so, or exactly what the perspective was – but it was such an over the top reveling in being a part of something “fun” that even without the horrible writing, the book was off-putting.  Add in the writing and I’d recommend ever picking up a copy of this book (even though you can find it feely distributed online, don’t).

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