Saturday, March 16, 2013

Reading List Update

This is another reading list update. I start this months ago and am determined to catch it up tonight. I've read some good books and some not-so-good.

I wanted another Farley Mowat book and something a little outside my usual reading. I glanced at two books for about ten seconds and bought them. Lost in the Barrens turned out to be a surprise. When I got home I started flipping through it and discovered it was written for ages twelve and up -- a book for young teenaged boys! I was hesitant but decided to give it a chance and read it quickly. It was enjoyable easy reading which brought back memories of books I read over 50 years ago. But I think I'll be more cautious about future purchases. The second book was The Boat Who Wouldn't Float. Pure pleasure to read.

An impulse buy was a Zane Grey book copyrighted 1917. Mr. Grey used to travel the area around Flagstaff. An historical hotel in town in which the author stayed when in Flagstaff has an upper room named the Zane Grey room. In my early teens I went through a western period and read several novels but can't remember the titles and authors. Grey may have been among those I read. Anyway, I picked up The Man of the Forest. I expected bad guys, cattle, horses, battles and campfires. What I got was a romance novel! I read fast and resorted to my high school technique when forced to read something uninteresting. I read the middle paragraph on each page. Basically, good guy meets pretty girl who is about to lose the ranch to bad guy, good guy intervenes, saves ranch and gets girl. No more Zane Grey for me. Never.

The German Navy in World War Two by Edward P. Von der Porten was a dry history book. The writing wasn't great but the perspective was interesting.

Last spring in a used book store in La Jolla, California I found Reflections From the North Country by Sigurd F. Olson. A series of soothing peaceful images in words with nostaligc drawings.

Oliver Sacks is always a good bet for a good book. Fascinating describes Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf. Neurology, language and a different perspective of the world combined in one small book.  Parts of the book are academic but reading about the experience of being deaf and concepts of language make it an excellent choice. After reading this book I thought the impossible -- If I were a young person about to become a father I'd be researching sign language to teach to my infant.

Julie and I read four excellent books while driving. The first was The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. A co-worker recommened the book and I would recommend it also. Good writing style, interesting subject, well researched, attention holding. This book went into the keep stack.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina was fascinating. I heard Medina speak at a conference in Nashville last March which led to the purchase. The book was so interesting it led us to buy Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five. There are no children or grandchildren in my future but Medina's style and knowledge are too good to resist. Both books are worth the cost and the time. Unfortunately we didn't get to finish Brain Rules for Baby. Julie gave it to her daughter.

A conversation with a physical therapist led to a casual mention of The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer by Gretchen Reynolds. This is another book I recommend. There were some sections where the focus is on serious competitive athletes but most of the book was easily applicable to a guy in the last half of his seventh decade -- or a younger lady who reads to him.

Paul Fussells book Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War wasn't about WWII but was about social, civilian, political and literary issues influenced by the war. When I start to think I've read almost every perspective I find a good book like this and my interest is increased.

History was a bore in high school but that changed by the time I was thirty-five. The Human Story: Our History from the Stone Age to Today by James C. Davis discussed major events in world history without an unwarranted focus on western civilization. Before I finished I was considering looking for a book on Chinese history. A good book though I disagree with some of his opinions in the last chapter.

Vintage Sacks, another Oliver Sacks book, is a group of articles a few of which I had read years ago. The articles new to me were enjoyable.

I found This Land of Strangers: The Relationship Crisis That Imperils Home, Work, Politics, and Faith by Robert E. Hall  in a bookstore in Amarillo last November. Good subject, lots of supporting evidence, a little too wordy.

Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle by Daniel L. Everett is a mix of biography and linguistics. Enjoyable but not memorable other then the biographical part.

Social Intelligence: The Revolutionary New Science of Human Relationships by Daniel Goldman. Julie and I read this book while commuting. When we finished I loaned it to a co-worker.
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. This wasn't my first Haidt book and hopefully won't be my last. Get the book. Read it.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea... - A Compendium of Great Historical Fiascoes
by William R. Forstchen and Bill Fawcett. This history book was light, entertaining bedtime reading. It left me wanting more stories.

Voices of D-Day - The Store of the Allied Invasion Told by Those Who Were There by Ronald J. Drez. Oral histories always have a quality that seems real. I wish the book has been longer, much longer.
Letters on an Elk Hunt: By a Woman Homesteader
was the second book authored by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. This book written in 1914 is somewhat outside my normal range of materials. It was enjoyable especially in light of the author's biography.

Lords of Sipan - A True Story of Pre-Inca Tombs, Archaeology, and Crime by Sidney D. Kirkpatrick. I was looking for another archaeology boook and this didn't seem like a good candidate. I began browsing it with a cup of coffee. By the time the coffee was finished I was intrigued and bought it.

Currently for my personal reading I have the following four books in progress.

The Medic - Life and Death in the Last Days of World War II by Leo Litwak. This is a short bare bones book that cuts out the non-essential parts that are included in so many accounts of WWII experiences.

The Ominvore's Delimma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan. For the last few years I had intended to read this book. I saw a used copy and grabbed it. Glad I did.

Soil Science Simplified - Fourth Edition by Helmut Kohnke and D. P. Franzmeier. I've browsed this book but haven't started reading it yet. I ordered it and once I received it I realized it wasn't quite which I anticipated but appears to be well worth reading.

Teaming with Microbes - The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis. This is another book I ordered. I've started it and it appears more than I expected.

Somehow I heard about Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss and went in search of it. Julie and I are driving to Texas tomorrow. This is the book we'll read aloud on the trip.

I think that completes my reading list. I need to add these to the sidebar but that will wait for another time.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Oddly enough, I was just thinking last night that you hadn't written in a long time. Have a nice trip.

3/17/2013 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

We were pleased to come across 'Letters on an Elk Hunt: By a Woman Homesteader'. Thank you!

1/07/2015 03:25:00 AM  

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