"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Monday, January 09, 2012

Whatcha reading?

As mentioned previously, I've embarked on a little project this year to read 50 books. Partly because I found I had started to cut down on my off-line reading late last year and partly just for the hell of it. As with hard-boiled eggs, I figured 50 was a good round number for books. Nothing too arduous, just plug along at a book a week, right? Should work fine as long I don't decide to read anything more ambitious than your average airport news-stand pot-boiler, right? We will see how the system works when I tackle some meatier stuff later in the year. But for this week, a pair of quick engaging reads that the ripped through in not time.

#3 The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler
Noir before there was Noir. Chandler is one of those writers of genre fiction who is so good that he rises above simple genre writing and moves on the plane of "Literature." Of course it helps that he practically invented the hard-boiled detective genre.
This is one of his later, less-known novels, and one I've had sitting on the self for a couple of years where I've saving it like a vintage wine. They aren't making any more 1990 Chateau Latour Paulliac and Chandler isn't writing any more novels, so to get to read one for the first time is always a treat.

#4 Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I read this year's  big contribution to Geek Lit in a single afternoon with only a short break to fetch the daughter from school and to cook my ought-to-be-world-famous eggplant parmesan (baked, not fried, so as not to be too greasy). Great read for any and all geeks, nerds, gamers, or anyone who grew up in the 80s  or  watches Big Bang Theory and says "Pfft, those aren't real nerds,  I'll show you real nerds - come and meet my friends from the games club." The first novel from the screenwriter of the movie Fanboys. If you liked the movie or have ever spent time in Second Life or a comic store or been to an SF convention or John Hughes movie marathon, you'll like this book.
Apparently, I am not the only one to read and enjoy this recently.

Currently in the on-deck circle: more Chandler, The Sister Brothers and some early Vonnegut and some Gabriel Garcia Marquez, if I can find my copy of Love in the Time of Cholera. Please, if you have suggestions, leave them in the comments.



karen said...

This may not be your cup of tea at all, but I recommend "A General Theory of Love" by Thomas Lewis, M.D., Fari Amini, M.D., and Richard Lannon, M.D.. It is about the psychobiology of love, which maybe sounds boring and dry, but the science of it is fascinating and it speaks beautifully of the importance of the emotional connections in our lives. The language is as lyrical and evocative as poetry. I read this book at least once a year and it has sent me to college in my middle years, hoping to study this very subject.

Dfra said...

50 books? Where to start...
English detective: Reginald Hill's series with Dalziel and Pascoe are well written and fun, as are Colin Dexter's Morse series.
Non-fiction: Jonathan Raban [recommend Badland, Hunting Mr Heartbreak, or Old Glory, although almost anything he has written is worth reading]; Ryszard Kapuscinski [a Polish journalist mostly writing about Africa]; Rory Stewart [The Prince of the Marshes, an account of his time as a minor functionary in post-invasion Iraq]; Gore Vidal's political essays; almost anything by Oliver Sacks [mostly oriented to medical/psychiatric deficits]; Mary Kingsley [Travels in West Africa, an account of her travels in Africa in Victorian times]; Carl Crow [various books relating his experiences and impressions as an advertising man in China circa 1920's]; and the list goes on..
Fiction: Wayne Johnson [a NFLD writer well known for The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, but I prefer his much earlier The Divine Ryans, which I found hilarious]; Michael Frayn [try Sweet Dreams, funny, sad, and sarcastic all at once]; anything by Kingsley Amis [but Lucky Jim remains my favorite]; Russell Hoban [who with his wife Lillian wrote a popular series of children's books {Bread and Jam for Frances, etc} but then went on to write much darker adult fiction, the novel Riddley Walker being my hands-down favorite, a somewhat difficult read but worth the trouble]; anything by Robertson Davies of course [although I highly recommend the early Salterton trilogy, especially Leaven of Malice, and the Deptford Trilogy, a classic; Dashiell Hammett [The Maltese Falcon]; Peter Beinhart [American Hero, The Librarian]; anything by Evelyn Waugh [and I mean anything]; anything by Anthony Burgess [ditto, but highy recommend his Enderby 'trilogy']; Martin Cruz Smith [short series featuring Arcady Renko, a Moscow detective]....and I must stop now, but barely begun.

Enjoy your reading...hope to find some new gems from you.

Sharktooth said...

I'd recommend "The Pickwick Papers" by Dickens, if you haven't read it before.

It's what made him famous in the first place. It wasn't actually a book, but a series of weekly stories that were published in a newspaper. People became addicted, and there was a huge following for each installment.

This book is really fun, and full of humour. It's not preachy or sappy, like some of his other works.

Rev.Paperboy said...

Karen, that sounds like an interesting course of study.
Dfra, I've read everything by Hammett twice at least, also love Burgess, Amis and Cruz Smith. Rory Stewart has been my hero since I read his book about walking across Afghanistan and Prince of the Marshes is pretty damn good too.
Sharktooth, I haven't read Pickwick Papers but I read some Dickens last year - David Copperfield and Great Expectations - still wondering whether I should delve into Tale of Two Cities this year or not. Pickwick might be a better choice.

Sharktooth said...

I read A Tail of Two Cities in highschool. I found it a little too smarmy for my taste, but that was many many moons ago.

Definitely go with Pickwick instead.