Seriously, everything is so much better when the sun is shining. Just for example, it's barely July and here's June's post shined up and ready to go. Have a great month, eh! Let me know if there's anything I absolutely must read this summer! Also, for funsies, I am going to start including the podcasts I've particularly enjoyed each month or that I find particularly share-worthy for whatever reason. I'll add them at the end. Okay, books first!
The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I could never really buy how hard The English Patient was lauded; I mean, it was good but the praise was so over the top. But this novel was so charming and read as so genuine, I really believed I was entranced by a memoir. I am won over.
HMS Surprise: Book 3 by Patrick O’Brian. Love.
Lying by Sam Harris. I was surprised when I found out after reading this that Sam Harris has actually published quite a bit. It reads like a term paper for a bright undergrad who hero worshipped the prof and really, really paid attention in class.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. This is one of the most fascinating memoirs I’ve ever read, and dude is barely 30 years old. He’s a self-described hillbilly from a long line of hillbillies, and he’s also a Yale-educated lawyer. People who combine those attributes are thin on the ground, and this memoir is basically his deep-dive into his family history, childhood, and socio-economic background; US social norms; the broader culture; and US history to begin to explore why that is. He also asks why families like his, and people with childhoods like his, tend not to be on any kind of upward trajectory – unlike most other historically disadvantaged peoples in the United States. It’s absolutely riveting.
Carbs and Cadavers by Ellery Adams. Fun! Haven’t read a cozy for a while, so I was due. The first in a series about five small town dieters including a librarian, a wannabe cop, a postal carrier, a hippie-type pet groomer – hmmmm, what’s the cliché I’m missing, can’t think of it, probably like a gardener or something – who form a low-carb supper club and solve crimes (natch), this book is actually pretty darn delightful. I probably wouldn't say that if I was coming off a run of a bunch of light stuff, but it definitely hit the spot. (The fifth character was a teacher! Seems like a dupe, given that the librarian is a former prof. I think the author should have stretched herself a little… oh well, I forgive.)
Disorganized Crime – This book, no kidding, made me actually giggle out loud in a couple of spots. I know, weird. It was really off-the-wall and entertaining but didn’t push too far into try-hard territory. The quick plot sketch is that a woman discovers her father has been kidnapped, then finds herself very soon to be kidnapped as well. Except in her case, she’s been kidnapped by her father’s Greek family who, until now, have been kept completely unknown to her by her dad, which as she discovers has been for good reasons. The plot, characters and set-up of this novel are completely nuts. I look forward to reading the next in the series.
Repo Madness by W. Bruce Cameron. Another entertaining and rather wacky book to close out the month. I was determined not to be tardy with my book post for a nice change, so as I was nearing the end of the novel I starting thinking, “huh, how am I going to describe this?” And then in the very last paragraph, the protagonist Ruddy McCann sums himself up so nicely for me: “I was a repo man with a voice in his head. I had a dog, a fiancée, a pregnant sister, friends, and legal problems.” You pretty much learn all that within the first few pages and hijinks ensue.
On the pod:
Series: You Must Remember This, a "podcast about the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century." The podcast is written, narrated, recorded, and edited by Karina Longworth after an exhaustive amount of research. Ms. Longworth has a tremendous ability to string a tight and coherent narrative together that adheres tightly to a theme: in a Q&A I listened to she explained that's how she keeps these epic lives contained to pod sizes – while remaining fascinating and still feeling well, epic.