06/2012

These are the books and links  I read in June 2012:

16 total –  non-fiction – 7,  crime – 8,  contemp lit – 1,  sci-fi – 1,  classic lit  (some cross genre)

The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing
by Tarquin Hall  (crime)
read by Sam Dastor 8h 25m
Rating – 6.5

Visha Puri is a highly respected detective who one day gets called to investigate the death of  a Dr. Jha  who died while participating in the activities of the laughing club – a health practice.   It seems that during the laughing session  a Hindu goddess appeared from the heavenly….

***

Open City
by Teju Cole  (contemp lit)
2011/ 272 pages
rating – ?

Teju Cole is an amazing author and this is his first full length novel.   It’s generally about an almost unnamed 1st person narrator,  a single, 30-something year-old immigrant from Nigeria, who works as a psychiatrist in Manhattan.   As he walks around the city’s neighborhoods, in and out of parks and museums we are privy to his thoughts about immigration,  ”brothers,”  history, art, music,  and a whole host of other things.  He travels to Belgium to see if he can’t locate his old Oma and meets…

***
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
by Shirley Jackson
1962 / 160 pages  (crime/classic lit)
read by Bernadette Dunne 5h 32m
rating 9

Reread – I do enjoy this book – I read it for a holiday challenge several years ago – this time for another reading group.  I wonder why I didn’t come across Jackson’s books in high school …

***

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth
of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
by Deborah Blum  (non-fiction / history/crime )
2011/ 334 pages (Kindle)
Rating:

I didn’t know if I’d be interested in this book or not – it seemed rather gruesome or sensationalist or perhaps a combination. But it turned out to be mostly historical (a great thing) with some light but interesting chemistry and forensics thrown in….
***

Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson
2010 / 627 pages (non-fiction / bio)
Rating 10

This is really an amazing book!  I accidentally bought it months ago when it was still a new release and rather than return it,  I kept it even though I’m not even fond of hard cover books anymore.   It sat on my tbr shelf – and sat – and sat.  I  just wasn’t …

***

A Stitch in Time
by Monica Ferris   (crime)
2000 / 256 pages
Read by Susan Boyce 8h
Rating – 7 (top for cozies)

Last December I read  Monica Ferris’ Crewel Yule as part of a holiday reading challenge.  Oddly enough,  I really enjoyed it and knew I’d be back for more.  This is my fourth in the Needlework series in which there …
***

Doctor Zhivago: A Critical Companion
by Edith W. Clowes
Northwestern Critical Companions to Russian Literature
1995 – 169 pages (non-fiction/ lit crit)
Rating 8.5

An examination of several issues which come into play for the post-Soviet Western reader of Doctor Zhivago. Included are essays on literary reception within the novel, characterization (Lara and Tonya), the nature of physical love, temporal counterpoint and structure, and lyrical and narrative plot. …
***

Framed In Lace
by Monica Ferris   (crime)
1999 /  256 pages
narrated by Susan Boyce 7:20
Needlecraft Mysteries, Book 2

My guilty pleasure –  cozy mysteries.  Ferris is pretty good at creating a small town atmosphere with plenty of characters.  It’s relaxing to listen to Boyle read but choosing an avocado and laughing out loud will get looks at the grocery story.   There are funny parts.  Definitely of the “who-dun-it” …

***

Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey
by Lillian Schlissel  (non-fiction / history)
1988/288 pages
Rating –  8

Many years ago it was hypothesized that women may have had a different perspective of the westward journey across the great plains to Oregon and California than did the men.  Schlissel examines this idea by examining the diaries of dozens of women who made that journey between 1841 and 1867….

***

The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars
by Paul Collins  (non-fiction / history/crime )
2011/336 pages
narrated by William Dufris / 9:43
Rating: 7.5

I think this book is no less sensationalist than the murder investigation and trial it reports about – either that or the narrator,  Dufris,  presents it that way.   But it was a grisly murder – the victim’s head was chopped off and only…

***

Pigeon English
by Stephen Kelman  (contemp lit)
2011/263 p. / Kindle
Rating –  ?

I am sooo glad that the author and protagonist of this fine debut novel are both male.  When Harrison, the main  character, age 11,  talks about urinating on the cleaning bubbles I had to check.  Had this NOT been a male author,  I was thinking how the heck would she know?   A male author…

***

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
By Manning Maribol   (non-fiction / bio)
2011/608 pages
Read by G. Valmont Thomas – 22h 7m
Rating – 9

I remember when Malcolm X lived and how he died and although he was never a hero of mine,  I saw his point of view.   I was kind of fascinated by his family and his death.  And I read The Autobiography of Malcolm X  as told to Alex Haley years and years ago and it was pretty interesting, well …

***

The Secret Agent
by Joseph Conrad   (crime/ classic )
1907/ 172 – Kindle
Rating –  9

I had no idea what this novel was going to be about when I first started.  It was chosen by a group and the only Conrad book I’ve ever had any use for was Heart of  Darkness so I didn’t approach the…

***

Tortilla Flat
by John Steinbeck (classic lit)
1935/ 207 pages
Rating – 10

How does one review a book like Tortilla Flat? A book so full of life and love and joy that it almost makes you weep?  And yet the book is about a group of winos who band together for protection and…
***

The Windup Girl
by Paolo Bacigalupi  (sci-fi – crime)
read by Jonathan Davis
2009/361 pages / 29h 34m Rating – 8.5

It takes quite a writer to come out with debut novel which  is then ”named as the ninth best fiction book of…
***
A New Light on Tiffany
by Martin Eidelberg, Nina Gray and Margaret K. Hofer
2007 / 200 pages  (non-fiction / art history)
Rating – 7

I read this entirely because I was curious about the book Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland.   I really did NOT enjoy Vreeland’s book but I was curious how much was true…

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