Sunday, May 5, 2013

What I've Been Reading

Await Your Reply  by Dan Chaon.  This had the feel of a book of short stories, because three separate characters follow three seemingly separate story arcs for the majority of the book.  It's not until near the end when you start to figure out how the three characters are connected to each other.  One is a girl who ran away with her high school teacher; another is a guy who's searching for his criminal twin brother; and the third is a Northwestern student who leaves school and gets involved in some shady business.

Gone Girl  by Gillian Flynn.  I read this book on the recommendation posted in the comments section from my last "What I've Been Reading" post, and it was a great read.  The perspective is unique, because chapters alternate between a wife's diary entries (prior to her murder) and the discovery by the husband and subsequent investigation, dealings with the police, media, etc.  I'm generally not a murder mystery type of reader, but this was a good one.  If I could only recommend one book out of this collection, this one would be it.

The Art of Fielding  by Chad Harbach.  This is by far the most literary sports-themed book I've ever read. The story revolves around a scrawny, slick-fielding shortstop who soars to college stardom, his gay teammate/roommate, his manly man of a catcher, and the university president.  It's a pretty funny read, but you may find yourself frequently having to stop and consult with a dictionary.  Even if you don't like to do that sort of thing, you should still read it, though.  It's that good.

Into the Wild  by Jon Krakauer.  I had been hearing about this book for a long time but never got around to reading it until recently.  Krakauer's books aren't the most entertaining reads, but I thoroughly enjoy the subject matter.  This one (in case you don't know already) tells the story of Christopher McCandless, a kid who grew up just outside of D.C., went to college in Atlanta, and then traveled the west coast as a vagabond until braving the Alaskan wilderness.  The Alaskan wilderness won.  I identified with McCandless because I, too, have occasionally had the desire to just disappear into the wilderness for a time.  I would grow tired of it soon and would likely die from getting eaten by a deer or something, but it would be very fulfilling to just get rid of the phone, the computers, the responsibilities, and just experience Earth in a completely foreign way.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter  by Jeff Lindsay.  I have been a fan of the television show Dexter  for years but just recently got into reading the books.  I generally don't like to read books after I already know the outcome, but the story lines from the television show vary greatly from the books.  Some of the characters are the same, but beyond that, it's like a whole new season.

Dearly Devoted Dexter  by Jeff Lindsay.  See above.

Inside Seal Team Six  by Don Mann.  With numerous family members, past and present, in the military, I saw this on the shelf and it piqued my interest.  It's a little bit sensationalistic.  As a former Seal Team Six member, Mann apparently included lots of material that was too sensitive to be released to the public.  Rather than excising that information, the publishers decided to black out the info, so there are entire paragraphs and essentially full pages that are blotted out.  Overall, the military stories are interesting, but the writer is full of himself and spends too much time talking about his troubled youth, as if people read this book to learn about him.  He probably could have divulged the same amount of pertinent information in about two-thirds of the space.

Feel free to leave reading suggestions in the comments section.  Thanks!


  1. Magnus, This a book that has made me laugh in public, which no book has ever done before. Also tear up, (as in cry) which I seldom do, also. It really should be 2 books, as it does a "shift"about midway. For a person as I see you to be, it will be your favorite sports book.
    The Brothers K by David James Duncan,
    I went to Powell's Books and got this comment.
    "This is a story about baseball for those who don't care for sports; a story about faith for those who might not be religious; a story about a family for all who think their own is peculiar -- and that's most of us. It's also one of the best American novels of the past half century, filled with vivid language and unforgettable scenes."

  2. For those who have personal or family ties to the automotive industry, Ben Hamper's Rivethead should be a good read. Hamper is an alcoholic factory line worker who manages to make his boring job seem entertaining with hilarious insights and outrageous stories. Hamper is a smart guy and a truly gifted writer and it's fascinating to hear his perspective on factory life and the cultural impact of General Motors on Genesee County. The book uses plenty of four letter words, but check it out if you feel like a fairly quick read by a naturally gifted writer who chronicles the final glory days of Flint's automotive industry.

  3. Magnus,

    I wanted to comment on the Dexter books. I totally love the series, which got me in to the books. The first book was excellent. the dark humor and just Dexter's inner monologue are hysterical/rivetting. However, as the books went on, I found myself becoming more and more disappointed. I've read them all. The second one is more of a sci-fi kind of story, which was unexpected, but not unwelcome. The problem is that in books 3 and on, the plot twists become totally predictable and Dexter becomes more and more stupid. It is a rule of mine when reading that given the same information, I shouldn't be able to figure things out way ahead of the main character. Unfortunately, this keeps happening. And in face-palm kind of ways where I'm like duh! How could you not see that! Dexter is a rare case where I actually like the TV series better than the books. I can't think of that happening with any other TV series/movie I've read in book form.

  4. Thunder,

    Try The Might Have Been by Schuster. It is about the trials and tribulations of a baseball player trying to come up through the farm system... Really great read and turns in the book. Fast read as well.

    Also, a solution to your NSFW pictures of women, just put a new Lady's name everyday and then your readers and Google or Bing her to see what she looks like. I noticed you have a penchant for muscular women, not me but that will be the surprise of Googling on our phones or non-work computers. Curiosity.