Back from travels across the northwestern coast of N.America! Three more to add:
Brainiac by Ken Jennings. Surprisingly good, as I expected it to just retrace his life up to, and after, his streak on the Jeopardy! game show. But it was more about trivia and the accumulation and recall of knowledge and information (talking to trivia "experts" and fans around the country).
The Odyssey of an Armenian Revolutionary Couple by Vahak Sarkis. I met the author on the cruise, and he recommended I read his father's and mother's history (he then gave me his copy, signed :D ) while on the trip. Very detailed, based on memoirs the two either wrote or recorded that the author compiled. Gut-wrenching in its accounts of the Armenian genocide of the early 20th century, but it has a sense of hope for the future.
Tell me Your Dreams by Sidney Sheldon. Having heard of his prolific book totals, I figured I'd get to one some summer, and with this year's library theme of "Dream Big Read," this one made sense. Easy to follow, a very fast read (for over 300 pages) with some "a-ha" surprises. About a murder trial of a Multiple Personality Disorder woman, and if she really did it or not.
The Happy Bottom Riding Club by Lauren Kessler. It's a biography of Florence "Pancho" Barnes, one of the first female aviators. She acted more like a man, in some cases worse than a man might, and held some important flight records (for either men or women). Her bad habits led to her downfall and fall from grace, but her notoriety and generosity (as wasteful spending on other people) live on. The book tries to focus on her good points; it's still interesting.
My summer totals are: 15 books, about 4K pages. So far. ;)
Freshwater Submarines: The Manitowoc Story, by Rear Admiral William T. Nelson, USN (Ret.) Manitowoc, Wi (my hometown) built 28 subs during WWII, Rear Admiral Nelson was the commander on the first built Manitowoc sub USS Peto (SS-265) and the USS Lamprey (SS-372). The book as the title says is about the 28 subs that were built by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company during the war, although for the most part the book tells the story of the Peto.
Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man. I cannot believe it took me this long to read this one. It's probably my favorite Bradbury. With those short stories all connected with the Illustrated Man concept, it tells the future of humanity. And if things don't get better, that's not a pretty future. he does have some hope and faith in people, but it's not the ones making the decisions. We miss you, Ray. :(
Ellery Queen's Ten Days' Wonder. I've read a couple EQ books, and they always make me feel weird: he is the protagonist, the characters know he's a famous detective who writes books about his cases, and he is the "author" of these very books (does anyone know much about the real human(s) who wrote the books, and why they decided not to put his/her/their name(s) somewhere?). Very long explanation of how the crime was solved, but that's the EQ style. Still shocked by the outcome.
Gilbert Pearlman's Young Frankenstein. You can see the film first, and then read this, but it's no substitute for the film. Sight gags don't work at all, but there are a few written parts that get a chuckle.
Every summer I set a goal of 30 books read (done only 2 or 3 times), but there's an unwritten baseline of 20 books (I've never read less than that, since I started keeping track about 7 or 8 years ago). I have now reached 20, with about 5500 pages total. Still about three weeks left to my "summer," which is day school ends (in May) to day school resumes (early August).
Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief. How the former mayor of LA found time to write the YA "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" series, I'll never know. :rolleyes: I heard it was good, and the library seldom had a copy available, so I'm late to the party. It was okay; if one has no knowledge of Greco/Roman mythology, then would be a wonderful primer and great suprise. As I know that stuff pretty well, parts were easy to predict or guess at. Kid is the typical I-hate-not-knowing-my-past and hate-my-crummy-family character; much too brash and arrogant for a 12 year old (or is that what's "in" now? :( ). Some funny parts. I doubt I'll continue the series, nor see the films.
Susan Elizabeth Phillip's Dream a Little Dream. As I've menitoned before, my local library's summer reading theme is "Dream Big: Read," so I just searched for "dream" in their database and got this one. It's listed as a romance novel, and I suppose it is, but it's not a "trashy" one at all. A little more dark and depressing than I'd have expected, standard bad dialogue, but a bit of a mystery aspect to it that made it different. I began hating it, and ended up being pretty decent (it even referenced my namesake, Joseph Campbell).
Crossed the 6K page level with these three books.
How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein. I read the sequel book first, which I prefer. That one was more about the people and the stories behind how the borders were set over the years. This one was about the actual north/south/east/west borders themselves (read: treaties, wars, court cases, surveys, etc.). Still interesting, but not as funny or personal.
A book by JC Oates, the worst novel I have ever read in my life. I won't even put its title here. Awful, repulsive.
When You catch an Adjective, Kill It by Ben Yagoda. The author's name sounded Jedi-esque, and a grammar or part-of-speech book, read it, I must. Not as funny as Eats Shoots and Leaves was (Yagoda even digs at her book a couple times, but not spitefully), but still pop culture-y and well-referenced.
Loren Estleman's The Branch & the Scaffold. I've read a few of his books, and I still like his style. This was a historical fictional account of real-life Isaac "The Hanging Judge" Parker, from the 19th century Arkansas and Oklahoma Territory. More about the other people related to those cases (the US marshalls, attorneys, family members, outlaws, etc.). Good details, as always.
David Feherty's A Nasty Bit of Rough. I'd heard of this book several years back, written by the golf analyist. It was crass, too much of the physical and crude humor, but still funny at times. If I were more of a golf fan, I'd probably have liked it more. It started out bad, but by the end of the crazy golf tournament, it improved. Interesting characters, but not always easy to keep track of them.
Two Tracy books.
Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman. A novel about the DC Comics character, it seems to create a new Batman origin story, mainly affecting his parents Thomas and Martha. Many of the villains and other characters make appearances, or just get mentioned, throughout. It is hard to follow (on purpose, IMHO), with switches from "Present Day" to mostly 1958. Some shocks, especially the last few chapters; it was pretty good.
Jerry Seinfeld: The Entire Domain by Kathleen Tracy. Follows the career of the TV star and comedian, up until 1998 (when the show went off the air), which was when this book came out. I loved the 50+ pages of episode summaries and cast lists at the end. But there were far too many errors and misprints for a published book for me.
These three got me to that magical 30-books level for the summer. :pleased: About 8000 pages total.
Bookmarked by Ann Camacho. Given by my department, it's a collection of student essays on various "life" topics.
The Road to Mars by Eric Idle. Yes, that Eric Idle. I expected more zaniness and stupid humor satirically presented. Not really; it turned into a decent sci-fi story. Two travelling comedians in the solar system, with their robot companion, get involved with some strange stuff. And the robot is trying to understand comedy, and writes a study of the topic. Not quite Monty Python, not quite Hitchhiker's Guide.
Ben Cooper: US Marshal by Phillip Underwood. It was a western, it was short, it was by an author starting with 'U.' That's why I chose it. Think Unforgiven meets True Grit, with a little Dances With Wolves (sort of). A marshal tracks a family of criminals throughout Utah in the 1800s; it also makes commentaries on Indian traditions, family, and societal behaviors. Very odd and unexpected ending.
For the year, I only need authors N, V, and X to complete the alphabet.
In recognition of his recent passing, :( I picked up Donald Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers. I had forgotten how much I liked these books (I think I read 15 of them in one summer as a kid, IIRC), even though they're really simplistic. But what do you expect from a 5-7 page "mystery" case. I figured out only four of the ten cases properly, and got a couple more close to right. LOL'd at the part where the dad has a bus schedule in his pocket to let the boys go downtown, so his son (not EB) can return a chess pamphlet to another teen who threatened to "kill him" if it wasn't returned to him by 4pm.
H.G. Wells' The War in the Air. The start of this was very dull, but once the action began, it became a quick read. Written in serial form starting in 1907, it sets up a "world war" fought with airships. Unlike the later World Wars, this war is on just about every continent with almost every country: America, Canada, England, Germany (they "start" the war), France, Morocco, Armenia, South America (not particular countries were named, just the region), Switzerland (yes, them too), North India (?? :confused: ), Panama, Russia, China and Japan (the main "villain" countries, called the Asiatics), etc. It turns into a commentary on societal ills: greed, selfishness, nationalism, cruelty, carelessness.