Sunday, December 28, 2014
What I've Been Reading
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I swear I didn't jump on the Gone Girl bandwagon once it was optioned as a Ben Affleck movie, but it did get me hooked on Gillian Flynn . . . sort of. Sharp Objects was the author's first book, and it seems like a little bit of an amateur effort. I appreciate Flynn's wit, but I thought this was a little Chuck Palahniuk Lite. The protagonist, Camille Preaker, is a newspaper writer outside of Chicago when she hears of a serial killer in her Missouri hometown. She's dispatched to Wind Gap, MO (which is not a real place) to follow the story. While there she deals with her hateful, cruel, rich mother (a woman of the type that probably does not exist), her promiscuous 13-year-old half-sister, and the gossip-fueled women of Wind Gap. In what's seemingly supposed to be a believable murder mystery, the story is thrown off by the ridiculous mother, the ridiculous sister, and the ridiculous protagonist herself. I had a hard time getting entranced by the story involving self-mutilators, 13-year-olds getting gangbanged, and a 30-year-old professional reporter dropping acid with her 13-year-old sister.
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. I've been on a Malcom Gladwell kick for the last several months, and the only book of his I have yet to read is David and Goliath. Blink talks about humans' abilities to "thin slice," which is taking small amounts of information and making quick decisions. Some of the chapters talk about Pepsi vs. Coke taste tests, police interactions with suspects (which I find relevant to the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson situation in Ferguson, MO), judging the authenticity of works of art, etc. One portion I found relevant was where Gladwell talks to a tennis coach who has an uncanny ability to judge whether a tennis player is about to double-fault. Even the coach himself couldn't explain what body movements during a serve would help him judge the player's serve accuracy, but he's almost always correct. I found that somewhat applicable to my job as a coach and, to a lesser extent, my "job" here as a fan, blogger, and recruiting fanatic. Of course, I wouldn't claim to be right the vast majority of the time, but sometimes there just appear to be body movements that are or are not conducive to being successful in sports.
The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman. I have previously touted the books The Magicians and The Magician King by Grossman on this here blog, and The Magician's Land is the third installment, which was released late this summer. I am such a fan that I pre-ordered the book. I have never done that for a book before. The trilogy started off with a kid named Quentin Coldwater, who was recruited to a Hogwart's-like school. Quentin isn't The Chosen One like Harry Potter, but he's a pretty good magician who finds himself in some hairy situations, including traveling to a Narnia-like universe. I can't really put my finger on what I like about this series so much, but each of the books has been a page-turner to me. This third part of the trilogy concentrates on Quentin trying to bring the love his life back from the dead, as well as the possible extinction of Fillory (a.k.a. Narnia). If you like fantasy stuff at all, I highly recommend this series.
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Complete Collection Volume 1 by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Unlike with Gillian Flynn and Gone Girl, I totally was not interested in these comics until I saw the movie this summer. The movie was so fun and interesting to me that I wanted to get some of the background. While the comics aren't quite as interesting to me - let's just say Chris Pratt is more entertaining on screen than Star-Lord is on the page - I still found them enjoyable. Also, I can deal with Rocket Raccoon as a main character, but Cosmo the telepathic Russian space dog is too over the top for me. Maybe that's why they didn't include him in the movie. It's just too much to handle at once. You mean there's a dog that talks? And not only does it talk, but it has supernatural powers? And not only does it talk and have supernatural powers, but it inserts a "k" sound whenever there should be a "g" sound? Okay, that's too much. I'm going to need some time to process this. Let's just start off with the raccoon who seems to be a candidate for NRA president.
You can check out my past "What I've Been Reading" posts here (LINK).