May 2023 books read

  • LIFTOFF: Couch to Barbell – Casey Johnston, 2021. Motivating, but I haven’t embarked on the program yet. Johnston is a delightful writer.
  • Light in August – William Faulkner, 1932. Quotes marked, TBD.
  • Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard – Douglas Tallamy, 2019. Quotes marked, TBD.
  • The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B. Du Bois, 1903. Quotes marked, TBD.
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – Becky Chambers, 2014. I loved this and I’m glad it’s the first in a series I can continue! It’s feel-good, character-driven SF with realistic alien species working together as an oddball found-family crew on a small ship – reminiscent of the feel of Firefly but without the Whedon violence-driven tension. But it does have some deep themes about societal guilt and responsibility.
  • Dragonsinger – Anne McCaffrey, 1977. Comfort re-read, this time sparked by recommending it to some younger friends while discussing Tamora Pierce.
  • A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute, 1950. According to my previous records I last read this in 2016, but I wonder if I missed a comfort re-read in there, because this is one of my favorites. The saga of Jean Paget leading a troop of other captive women and children on a forced march through Japanese-occupied Malaya is the part most people remember (the movie focuses on it, not sure about the miniseries – I haven’t seen either), but it’s the section where Jean starts a shoe factory, ice-cream shop(!), and grocery in rural Australia that I come back to. I love books about small businesses and wish there were more of them. Maeve Binchy often has a subplot about a dress shop or catering business; I might go back to those…
  • La Fugitive – Marcel Proust, 1925. Quotes marked, TBD.
  • The Word for World Is Forest – Ursula K. Le Guin, 1972. Re-read for Calmgrove’s #LoveHain.
  • How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind – Dana K. White, 2016. I read her decluttering book and enjoyed this too.
  • Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus, 2022. So many people I know loved it that I finally picked it up. And yes, an enjoyable read, but on the lite side. I was trying to describe to a friend why I found it, and a number of other recent novels, “fluffy.” I had trouble putting my finger on it. They (this, along with The Midnight Library, All the Light We Cannot See, at least one other that’s not surfacing) have a kind of vividness that feels shallow to me; they are well-crafted and all the gears mesh seamlessly, but the narrative doesn’t seem organic and the character arcs feel predictable.
  • No Highway – Nevil Shute, 1948. Comfort re-read – my records last show 2006, but I’m sure that’s wrong (and I labeled it as “closest to Shute’s real life” when I must have meant Kindling; did Shute work on metal fatigue?). It’s got great suspense, and raises interesting questions about whether to trust someone in one domain when they have bizarre ideas in others.
  • On the Origin of Time: Stephen Hawking’s Final Theory – Thomas Hertog, 2023. Read for the Massachusetts Center for the Book May challenge, “a book on nonfiction on a subject new to you.” I wrote: “Mind-melting book about the ‘no boundary’ big bang, quantum/string/M theories, imaginary time, the holographic universe, and other fascinating concepts; surprisingly accessible despite the inherent challenge of ‘understanding’ anything in it.” Makes me want to take more advanced physics classes!

Articles, short stories, etc.

  • J.R. Moehringer’s “The Ghostwriter” (New Yorker, 5/15/2023) reminded me of loving both his own memoir, The Tender Bar, and Andre Agassi’s Open which he ghost-wrote. Now I want to read Shoe Dog as well as Spare.