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11:41 am: Dude! Has it really been 10 weeks? (Books)
Chris Cleave’s Little Bee shook my world in many ways. Deeply disturbing. I know there’s all kinds of nasty crap happening in the world, and I deliberately shelter myself from it most of the time. There’s just too much to take in, all of it horrific. Little Bee sucked me right in and spat me out again. I hope to crawl back into my little cave, cover my eyes, and enjoy my state of denial again. That said, I do recommend it, highly even. It’s very powerful, well written, and makes y’think ‘n’ stuff.

I like Catherine Coulter’s FBI series. They’re lightweight mixes of mystery/adventure and romance. Some of Coulter’s straight romances are quite good, which is how I made the segue into the FBI books. That said, Whiplash is not the best of the series. The protagonist couple is boring and Savich and Sherlock’s story is too much sub and not enough plot.

Scarlet Nights is the latest in Jude Deveraux’ Edilean series and it’s pretty good. Deveraux is one of my favorite romance writers, and I do tend to like the series best (though Knight in Shining Armor is my absolute favorite, and it’s a stand-alone book). I particularly like the male protagonist in Scarlet Nights, who’s introduced as a short, balding metrosexual. Not exactly your traditional romantic stud! (Of course, he does turn out to be a scary martial artist with an amazingly hot body, but you takes what you gets.)

Janet Evanovich’s Sizzling Sixteen is her latest and it’s fine. Quick, easy, not challenging, not riveting. But pretty good. I prefer the numbers with more Ranger, or even Morelli. Or, y’know, sex.

Tana French’s Faithful Place is not as good, IMHO, as her first two books, but it’s still better than most other mysteries I come across. It’s had excellent reviews, many claiming it’s the best of her books, but I (stubbornly, perhaps) disagree. I thought her protagonists were more interesting in the first two, despite my having more in common with the last. :shrug:

I’m long overdue in reading Philip K. Howard’s The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America (it came out 15 years ago), and it is quite dated. OTOH, there’s always some law-bashing to be had. The subject that never dies! I’d sure like to know what the current status is on the various regulations and agencies he cites. But I’m not curious enough to do any research or anything. Scroot.

I finally got around to reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (won’t buy The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest until it’s out in paperback), which I quite enjoyed. I often don’t care for mysteries that are huge mainstream hits, but these are pretty compelling. They’re also long, which is a definite asset.

I haven’t read much chick lit. Bridget Jones is the only one I recall, now that I’m thinking about it. I ordered Maria Murnane’s Perfect on Paper online, so I probably read a recommendation somewhere (wish I could remember where). Anyway, I liked it. I really liked it. ¡Quelle surprise! It took me a while to warm up to it – the first few chapters seemed slow and silly – but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it. I think it’s like a significantly better written, considerably longer, more complex Harlequin.

We picked up Nathan Sawaya’s The Art of the Brick at the exhibit at the Springfield Museums. It’s the paperback edition of what I probably should have bought as a coffee table art book (though I don’t remember if it SM even sold it in hardbound, never mind large scale). Nice pictures, little text, fascinating art, but probably not all that durable. Oops.

Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody captured the social media zeitgeist really well.* I don’t think Cognitive Surplus is as timely (nor as well written), but it is still interesting. In it, he quantifies the free time we have and how technology changes and enhances what we can do with it. It is interesting, but not life-changing. I’d love to see Malcolm Gladwell’s take on the same subject, which I suspect would be fascinating.

I think Robert Sutton’s The No Asshole Rule is one of the best business books I’ve read. He wrote Weird Ideas That Work before Assholes, and it’s pretty good too. The weird ideas aren’t really that weird, just a bit unconventional – and deliberately written to maximize the weirditude ("hire slow learners," "avoid, distract, and bore customers," etc.). Solid advice here that mostly boils down to "complacency stifles innovation."

Kristin’s Swenson’s Bible Babel is an academic look at the Bible, written in clear, accessible prose. Terrific book. Terrific. In addition to 40 gabillion biblical and critical references, it’s littered with pop culture references (Cyndi Lauper’s 12 Deadly Cyns, The Band’s The Weight, many many movies, TV shows, etc.). It starts on a terrific note, comparing the Bible to Wikipedia rather than “a Hemingway short story composed in one mojito-fueled evening.”

Swenson describes Herod Antipas as having a reputation similar to his father, Herod the Great, which earned him “a flamboyant wardrobe and a manic showgirl dance in the movie Jesus Christ Superstar.” She jokes about da Vinci’s The Last Supper (“Jesus said ‘Everyone who wants to be in the picture, get on this side of the table’”), refers to Noah as taking “sample critters” on the ark, describes David as Saul’s music therapist, says Jezebel had Ahab by the balls, taught me that the Leviathan number is (10666)!, and on and on and on. It’s definitely one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read. (It seems academically solid, and has been reviewed as such, but I haven't read any of the biblical criticism she cites – just the Bible itself, and that was :mumble, mumble: years ago, in college, where we were given two weeks, I think, to read the old and new testaments.)

I’ve read quite a few Harlequins recently, all but one of which are in the stack destined for the Swap Shop at the Longmeadow dump. The exception is Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Ambushed!, which will be the first Harlequin I’ve kept in several years. To clarify: I keep them occasionally, but usually throw even those out after the second read. We’ll see if this one sticks around longer. I don’t remember why I kept it, but I suspect the sex scenes were good.

I’m still struggling with Howard Gardner’s 5 Minds for the Future. His books are important, I think, but boring. I’d really like to read the 10-page New Yorker summary. Or the 2-page Rolling Stone summary. Whatever.

I’m returning to Lise Eliot’s What’s Going on in There? (How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life) intermittently. Brazelton’s review, cited on the cover, says “easily understandable and easily readable,” but I’m finding it less easy to stay awake while reading it.


* His views on women in the workplace are more problematic, as I ranted mentioned here.

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