Sunday, March 22, 2015

What I've Been Reading

America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't by Stephen Colbert. Written in the same style as I am America (And You Can Too!) as well as some Jon Stewart and Co.-written books in the past, Colbert's most recent book is another quite humorous attempt at making us look like idiots. I find that I can only really stand to read about half of each one of these books at a time before the writing style becomes a little too much for me to bear. They're well worth the read if you're looking for some entertainment to go along with your politics, but the sarcasm and double-speak are better digested in chunks.

David and Goliath  by Malcolm Gladwell. I have now exhausted the list of Malcolm Gladwell books, and I am kind of sad because of it. This one was his weakest effort, in my opinion, because the whole premise is based on underdogs taking down the kings of the hill. (Luckily, there was no mention of Appalachian State.) I did find Gladwell's story about David and Goliath interesting, because Biblical history has always piqued my curiosity. (Spoiler alert if you haven't read it: Goliath may have had a hormonal condition that caused him to be very large, but also somewhat dumb with poor vision.) However, I also got somewhat bored with his discussion of the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, because basically, the whole damn thing is stupid. Basically, the message of the book is that sometimes advantages can be disadvantages, and disadvantages can be advantages. I did make some connections to football, because part of being a coach is motivating kids and convincing them they have a chance to succeed when the guys across from them might be bigger and/or faster.

Fire in the Hole  by Elmore Leonard. For no good reason at all, this was my first foray into the writing of Elmore Leonard. One would think that being from Michigan, I would have bothered to pick up one of his novels or short story collections earlier in my life. Heck, I never even bothered to watch any of the movies based on his books, but I have been watching Justified for several years. I finally decided to pick one up, and why not start with the group of short stories that involves Raylan Givens? The Givens story "Fire in the Hole" was predictably good, and there are some other solid efforts in there, too. I had not realized that Leonard would be so preoccupied with United States Marshals in general, but they're mentioned consistently throughout his stories. One thing I like about Leonard is that he does not mess around too much with descriptors and flowery speech. I went ahead and picked up Pronto, which I'll be starting soon.

Dexter's Final Cut  by Jeff Lindsay. Speaking of being sad, I finally finished the Dexter series of books. If you have not read the books and/or watched the entire series, you may want to stop reading here. This final Dexter effort has him working as a technical advisor for a cop show filming in Miami. He overextends himself to not only being a blood spatter analyst and serial killer, but also the bodyguard of a beautiful Hollywood actress. I don't want to give away the exact ending of the book for anyone who might glance too far down in this paragraph, but I will say that the book and the television series do not end on high notes. Dexter, Breaking Bad, and some other shows feature morally ambiguous protagonists, and I always hoped that Dexter and Walter White would somehow redeem themselves. People often ask me if the series end the way I want them to, but that's not really the point. If stories end how we want them, then there would be no point in anticipating a surprise ending. I actually found this book to be the most compelling Dexter novel of the series, but mostly because my feelings toward him had shifted from ambiguity to rooting against him.

What about you? Any reading suggestions for us?


  1. The Qu'ran, M.A.S. Abdel Haleem translation. Having read the Bible, The Torah and Tanahk, I figured, "What the hell." Besides, it's probably important to have read it if you sincerely want to attempt some understanding of the world we are living in.

    I'm confessing my likely bias against the book before I even started, but having made that confession ..... so far, it's a slog.

    The Bible can be a difficult read in places, but there are also deeply rewarding moments, such as the beauty and the deep emotions of the Psalms, or the profound wisdom of Solomon. Not to mention some pretty good sex and violence, a relentless spotlight on human nature and many uplifting stories of applied faith. But so far, I'm not finding much life anywhere in The Qur'an. It strikes me as little more than a relentless screed, in between third party commentary on Old Testament Bible stories.

    I intend to finish it though.

  2. No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald. An incredible story of our government's lawlessness and ongoing violations of the fourth and ninth amendments of the U.S. Constitution via its secret domestic spying program revealed by Mr. Snowden.

  3. We have similar tastes. I just finished the Sisters Brothers, so it's on my mind. You can knock it out over a non-busy weekend. Cowboy noir, a little bit funny, violent, badassery, kind of like Justified. Very well written and I think a Booker finalist.

  4. The Century Trilogy and The Pillars of the Earth Trilogy by Ken Follett.

    Multi-generational tales of political and social strife correlating to actual world events in The Century Trilogy made it compelling. Early 20th century history is very intriguing to the victors not only go the spoils, but also the way history is written.

    And The Pillars of the Earth is also multi-generational but set in Medieval times - I am always a sucker for that.