November 2022 books read

  • Job: A Comedy of Justice – Robert Heinlein, 1984. Multiple re-read, one that I shared with my father (both fascinated by eschatology). I keep forgetting that this is much better than most late Heinlein. It combines the angst and love of a couple trying not to be separated from The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag with the mutiple universes of The Mark of the Beast, and includes a depiction of Heaven as a colossal bureaucracy directly inspired from:
  • An Extract from Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven – Mark Twain, 1909. Re-read because of Job – always delightful. “As many as sixty thousand people arrive here every single day, that want to run straight to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and hug them and weep on them.  Now mind you, sixty thousand a day is a pretty heavy contract for those old people.  If they were a mind to allow it, they wouldn’t ever have anything to do, year in and year out, but stand up and be hugged and wept on thirty-two hours in the twenty-four.  They would be tired out and as wet as muskrats all the time.”
  • Die with Zero: Getting All You Can from Your Money and Your Life – Bill Perkins, 2020. I have very mixed feelings about this book – on the one hand, it’s a thought-provoking look at the timeline considerations of paying for experiences (you have to be young enough to enjoy them), and it’s good for ants to get a taste of the grasshopper virtues. But it’s a terrible book for grasshoppers because he discounts the uncertainties of both investing and aging, stating that you can plot a smooth curve of how to spend and give away everything before you die.
  • Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith, 2015. When I read #5 last month I though I was caught up with the series, but I subsequently realized I had missed this one, #3. It’s very dark… and quite tedious. So I went back to re-read:
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith, 2013. … and this one, which I remember very much enjoying the first time around, has shrunk on me significantly. It’s not because my opinion of JK Rowling as a person has plunged (which it has), since typically the author’s character doesn’t much affect my liking for their work – but I do think the thoughtful critical assessments of her work itself I’ve read have sunk in and cumulatively taken most of the shine off.
  • The Novel of the Century: The Extraordinary Adventure of Les Misérables – David Bellos, 2017. A wonderful companion to Les Mis, recommended by the leader of our slow read book group. During the months we spent reading the novel, we speculated about how Hugo could have kept all the threads straight – that’s one question this book didn’t answer, but it shed light on many other challenges of writing and publication.
  • Winter – Ali Smith, 2017.
  • A Natural History of the Future: What the Laws of Biology Tell Us about the Destiny of the Human Species – Rob Dunn, 2021. Quotes pulled, TBD.
  • The Great Impersonation – E. Phillips Oppenheim, 1920. This is one of the classics referenced in Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads. It’s quite strange; I enjoyed it but kept expecting it to go in a different direction, so I didn’t predict the big twist which I easily could have seen coming. A lot of suspension of disbelief required!
  • Everything I’m Cracked Up to Be: A Rock and Roll Fairy Tale – Jennifer Trynin, 2006. Our friend who reads all the rock bios recommended this, and another mutual friend has a cameo. Trynin writes well. I had never heard of her and didn’t become a fan of her music, although she’s one of the most rock-star-looking people I’ve ever seen! Her journey from unknown, to a bidding war between every big label in the early ’90s, back to unknown, was interesting, but the book didn’t grab me. I can’t quite put my finger on why. Reading this great review (which I found searching for an example rock-star-look photo) makes me want to try it again someday, but realistically my TBR list will always be too long.
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens, 1843. My annual re-read, but the Amherst College group is discussing it in December, so I might go again!
  • The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann, 1924.
  • The Grey King – Susan Cooper, 1975. Read for Annabookbel’s #TDiRS22.
  • Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s – Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein, 2014. This is my prime teen/young adult listening and still stuff I love, so I really enjoyed this book. Lots of variation in how the artists today think about their early work! My favorite bit was the “Mixtape” sidebar in each chapter, focusing on similar songs to the chapter’s topic, like “5 More Melodramatic Songs About Heartbreak” for “Poison Arrow,” “5 More End-of-the-Seventies Songs That Pointed the Way to the Eighties” for “Being Boiled.” Some of the mixtape songs are quite obscure, so I’ll listen my way through at some point!
  • Citizen of the Galaxy – Robert Heinlein, 1957. Comfort re-read of one of my very favorite Heinleins. It starts as an homage to Kipling’s Kim, continues with a character based on Margaret Mead, and culminates in a board meeting proxy fight. And it all works… for me at least.
  • The Mummy Market – Nancy Brelis, 1966. One of the many books I loved and re-read at my public library as a kid, only registering where it was in the shelf layout, rather than the author or other such minor details. Luckily this title stuck with me so I was able to find a used copy as an adult. Three siblings get sick of their strict housekeeper/guardian, “The Gloom” and go looking for a parent at the market of mothers, run by volunteer children for children. I see that it’s still out of print but has garnered a lot of love on GoodReads and was eventually turned into a 1994 movie called Trading Mom. The trailer literally opens with “In a perfect world“!
  • Some Christmas Stories – Charles Dickens, 1911 (Chapman and Hall edition, cobbled together from earlier publications). I thought this was going to include the other Dickens Christmas classics like The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth, but it’s just a grab-bag of inferior pieces. The opener, “A Christmas Tree” (1850), is an evocative description at least.

2 thoughts on “November 2022 books read

  1. Found you!
    I really should re-read some Heinlein – but I’ve never kept them (apart from my Folio Stranger…, and my all-time fave – The Moon is a Harsh Mistress).
    I’ve not read Les Mis in its entireity, but have read enough about it to enjoy the Bellos book hugely, especially as I have visited Hugo’s rather wonderful house in Guernsey.
    I’ve not been drawn to reading the Galbraith books – I’ve watched the TV adaptations instead.

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