Monday, June 2, 2008

Books of 2008 - May

1. The War Against Miss Winter. Fiction by Kathryn Miller Haines. A mystery set in 1942-43 New York City. Interesting, quick read but a bit too dependent on period slang for my taste.

2. Silent in the Grave. Fiction, series mystery by Deanna Raybourn. Excellent first effort: engaging characters, quickly moving plot with somewhat implausible ending. Repetitive use of the phrase "to his credit". Ms. Raybourn has a fun blog too, where she talks about her books and writing, among other things.

3. Daily Life in the U.S. 1920-1940. Non-fiction by David Kyvig. Read as research / background for my novel. Very helpful and informative.

4. Silent in the Sanctuary. Fiction, series mystery by Deanna Raybourn. Second effort. Most of the same strengths and weaknesses of the first (#2 above).

5. Dumbing Us Down. Non-fiction by John Taylor Gatto. Must read for anyone interested in education in the U.S.

6. Here Be Dragons. Fiction by Sharon Kay Penman. I read some of Penman's mysteries last year. This is intense historical fiction. I didn't love it but it was engrossing. I think a pronunciation guide would have been more helpful than the characters explaining how to pronounce things. Whenever that happened it took me right out of the story.

7. The Greatest Generation Grows Up. Non-fiction by Kriste Lindenmayer. Read for the same reasons as #3 above. Unfortunately this work was more about the author's politics and preconceptions. Not helpful, not insightful, not worth it.

8. Gifts: Mothers Reflect on Children With Downs Syndrome. Non-fiction edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper. A collection of heartwarming, thought provoking, challenging, honest, uplifting essays.

9. Apartment Therapy. Non-fiction by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan. Decorating book with lots of great pictures and ideas. Not all the homes were to my taste but that's to be expected.

10. The Dead Guy Interviews. Humor by Michael Stusser. Wore thin after a chapter of two. Read like an over-extended blog post. The author's politics don't match my own and his obsession with the private lives (read: intimate personal moments) of historical figures irritated me.

11. Amusing Ourselves To Death. Non-fiction by Neil Postman. First published in the early '80's. I'd love to read an update of this book - I'm sure things haven't gotten better. Still a must read for those concerned with our culture, specifically the lack of reading.

12. Chasing Harry Winston. Fiction by Lauren Weisberger. Quick chick-lit read while out of town. Very few redeeming qualities. Far too many annoyances: condescension to those of us that live in "fly-over country", obsession with promiscuity and crude language, selfish characters that remain selfish and entirely self-centered, sloppy plot and pacing. In short: avoid it.

This seems like a fiction heavy month because I've also been working on Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind and Winston Churchill's The Gathering Storm all month. Hopefully I'll finish those two in June.

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