May 2021 books read

  • Math with Bad Drawings – Ben Olin, 2018. Loved it and want to re-read! Re-learning and going further in math (straight As in Calc I, II, and III in my 50s after failing I in college) has been one of my great joys of the past decade, and this is a wonderful, approachable overview no matter what level you’re at.
  • Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds – Bernd Heinrich, 1994/1999 [2nd edition] – quotes pulled, TBD
  • The Mormon Murders: A True Story of Greed, Forgery, Deceit, and Death – Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, 1988. I first read this soon after it came out. I’m fascinated by LDS stuff anyway (part of a general interest in religions and cults), and the overlap with the rare book trade and forgery made it irresistible. I very much enjoyed it then but didn’t expect to learn a life lesson about toxic positivity (the first victim’s company was failing but he thought if everyone just had faith and worked harder it would succeed). It stuck with me over the years, and after watching Murder Among the Mormons I went back to it for more background – it’s amazing that the documentary interviews all the major players. What a crazy story.
  • Autumn – Ali Smith, 2016 – quotes pulled, TBD
  • Beyond This Horizon – Robert Heinlein, 1948. I thought I had read every Heinlein, but somehow this one slipped into my “yeah, I remember that one” list when actually it was new to me. But it’s quite terrible – worse-than-even-RH-usual social stuff, and also doesn’t hang together well or make much sense.
  • If It Bleeds – Stephen King, 2020 – Four new stories which I enjoyed quite a bit. One of them, “Rat,” stuck out because it’s about an author (King often writes what he knows) writing a Western he thinks – and we are supposed to agree, I’m pretty sure – is going to be brilliant. But the excerpts are terrible, just one trope and cliche after another. It reminded me of how the play that is going to make Jack Torrance’s career in The Shining sounds like a piece of junk. Fiction-within-fiction is probably not that easy to pull off…
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark, 1961 – quotes pulled, TBD
  • A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing – Eimear McBride, 2014. Too experimental for me (and others in the Irish Writers book group), but I did mark two lines: “I must turn myself to the great face of girls” (about the protagonist entering the schoolyard) and “his voice tiny diamond cutting strips out of air.”
  • The Officer’s Daughter: A Memoir of Family and Forgiveness – Elle Johnson, 2021. One of my college roommates wrote a memoir! It’s good – a touching and thought-provoking story about her cousin’s murder and its ripple effects.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1967. Re-read; quotes pulled afresh, TBD.
  • The Slice Harvester: A Memoir in Pizza – Colin Atrophy Hagendorf, 2015. I enjoyed this saga of eating a plain slice at every joint in NYC, and looked up our favorite local slice from childhood (Don Filippo’s) on the actual blog. I’m a sucker for projects like this anyway, but the writing and memoir aspect were decent too.
  • Growing Old: Notes on Aging with Something Like Grace – Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, 2020. A mish-mosh, alas. I want to read her books about the San because I loved this story: “If lions appeared by night at an encampment, some of the men would take burning branches from their fires and shake them at the lions while saying politely, ‘Old lions, we respect you, but this is our place. We ask you to leave.'”

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