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09:00 am: Books
I re-read Jude DeverauxForever and Always series because I needed some fluff*. I’ve only read them twice before because they’re really not her best. I like the Darcie character – less because of her psychic abilities or her innocence or her goodness and more because she’s sarcastic and eats like a pig and stays teeny tiny. In any case, these will remain on a very slow rotation.

Gene Doucette’s Hellenic Immortal is a worthy sequel to his excellent Immortal, though I’m not convinced the Silenus-Dionysos dialogues were necessary (I’m quite certain the all-caps font wasn’t). I wrote, very briefly about Immortal here. Both books are excellent, different from anything else I’ve read, and generally ripping good yarns.

(An aside: Doucette’s publisher is marketing Hellenic Immortal to piggy-back the enormous success of 50 Shades of Gray. I have no interest in that book, as the writing is supposedly wretched, though I may succumb to curiosity at the library. Everything I’ve read and that Doucette has said indicates they’re completely different. Most important, the Immortal books are well written.)

Jeffrey EugenidesThe Marriage Plot has received somewhat mixed reviews, but I liked it very much. It has 3 protagonists, all students at Brown, all very bright and interesting, all screwed up in various ways. It’s deftly woven together, well paced, and altogether quite good. I’ll have to go back and read his other books now.

Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto is his best book since Complications (which just leaves Better, which I didn’t like as much). I don’t mean to damn with faint praise. I loved Complications and I loved The Checklist Manifesto (I merely liked Better very much – pfft). It includes lots of good stories of where checklists have or could have helped in all kinds of situations (flight safety, surgery, construction projects, etc.). It shifted my thinking on some work stuff in a checklist direction, which I think will prove extremely effective.

Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a fascinating account (of an anthropological sort) of the care surrounding a Hmong refugee with severe epilepsy. Family and medical personnel all tried to do their best for the child, and ended up clashing in horrible, enormously unproductive ways. It’s not entirely clear how much healthier the child might have been if one side or the other had “won,” though the mix was definitely awful.

Stephen Fry's Moab Is My Washpot is the first installment of his memoirs, with the focus on how dirty and bad he was (thus the title). He’s less scattered in this one than the Fry Chronicles, though perhaps I’d’ve enjoyed the latter more if I’d read the books in proper order (although I did like them both, very much). Fry’s led a fascinating life, he writes well, and his books are definitely worth a read.

Faye Kellerman’s Gun Games has more Gabriel Donatti, whom I like very much. With the other Lazarus-Decker children leaving the nest, Donatti extends the interesting parental bits in Kellerman’s narrative (which I’ve often found as interesting as the mysteries themselves). Cindy has given birth, so the next generation may fill the gaps in later books.

Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) is quite wonderful. It’s the best of the blogs-turned-books I’ve read, probably because it was started before the blog and because Jenny deliberately kept some stories back specifically for the book. As a long-time lurker on her site, I’m (unjustifiably) proud of its NYT Bestseller status. It’s often heart-warming and almost always very, very funny. Definitely recommend.

I’m a sucker for holiday romances, so was delighted to discover that Linda Lael Miller wrote A Creed Country Christmas. This trifle will probably not stay in my annual rotation. I also read the Garrett and Austin editions in the McKettricks of Texas set, both of which were fine. Sadly, it turns out that Miller is NOT Kathleen Gilles Seidel, author of Again (which I finally found, re-read, still like), with whom I’d confused her. Miller is the far more prolific of the two writers, but is not as good as Seidel. More on Seidel below.

Glyn Moody’s Rebel Code was fascinating at first, but I found I had diminishing interest; I haven’t yet finished it and may never. It’s a very detailed account of how Linux was (and is) written, much of which is of course important to other open-source projects and a precursor in some ways to read-write web. But there’s apparently only so much detail of coding history that I can tolerate, unless it's classic or newer humor on the subject.

Nora RobertsThe Last Boyfriend is the next in the Inn Boonsboro trilogy. Light, quick, fun.

I just got John Sanford's Stolen Prey yesterday and stayed awake a wee bit late so that I could finish it. Crisp, fast-paced storytelling, some interesting characters, and no mystery at all, which is fine by me. The best part is seeing the various narratives pull together. Good stuff.

Having finally correctly identified Kathleen Gilles Seidel, I got her After All These Years, which is a Harlequin written almost 30 years ago. It’s certainly better than most Harlequins I’ve read, with reasonably complex characters and something of a plot. It’s also about twice as long as current Harlequins (without undue padding), which is a bonus.

Anne Tyler’s The Beginner’s Goodbye is a lovely story about a man whose dead wife continues to make appearances in his life. Well, that’s what the blurb says, but the wife’s reappearances are a tiny part of a quiet, compelling story about relationships. I highly recommend this gentle and charming book.

Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek and Dancing Barefoot are both excellent. I don’t really know Wheaton’s acting. I haven’t seen Stand by Me or ST:NG or any of the more recent things he’s been in. I have seen Tabletop, his web-based series about gaming; despite never having played the games he features, I have really enjoyed the show. And I love his blog. Most of all, he seems like a genuinely nice person (not least because of his good sportsmanship in collating papers for Jenny Lawson). My absolute favorite thing about Wheaton is the Wheaton Rule: Don’t Be a Dick. And he’s a good and entertaining writer, too.

* It may not be obvious from the alphabetical listing (or to people who only read books that are good for them), but I’ve read a lot of really good books recently. Good books tire me more, so I tend to intersperse trashy magazines and other light fare.

Current Location: Longmeadow
Current Mood: goodgood
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