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books, 1st quarter 2008 - The inexplicable charisma of the rival [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Just me.

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books, 1st quarter 2008 [Apr. 8th, 2008|07:29 pm]
Just me.
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Fiction:
1) The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks
Just what it says. didn't know whether to file in Fiction or non fic, since it's a how to, but...Anyway, a humor guide as to when to choose the chainsaw (almost never) and your best transport out of an afflicted area (usually a motorcycle). Fun.

2) The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel by Michael Chabon
Didn't like it as much as Kavalier and Clay, but still good. alternate history where post-war Jews settle alaska, with police story/mystery set against that premise.

Non-Fiction:

1) The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs (audio)
Esquire writer decides to read the entire Encyclopaedia Britanica in order to get smarter. good trivia tidbits throughout, as well as interesting detour into famous Mensans (like Geena Davis). Recommend.

2) Bait and Switch : The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich (audio)
Meh. follow-up to Nickel and Dimed, but this time, about middle-class office workers, marketers, PR flacks, etc. that can't find comparable work when they get laid off. Babs attempts to join their ranks with dusty skills and a somewhat bogus resume (since she can't admit to being a Famous Writer, she has to fudge her work history and uses her maiden name), and never gets hired. boo-hoo. Pass.

3) Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin ( audio)
Old (1961) but still worth reading. white journalist + sun lamp+ medication +shaved head = passing for a "Negro" in the Deep South. Never gets beaten up, but can't find a motel, restaurant, or public restroom most of the time.Heartwrenching without being overly maudlin. Recommend.

4)The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
basically Fast Food Nation, Part 2, but still good. The parts about factory farming and why corn is in all processed foods are interesting, the parts where the author waxes ecstatic about foraging for wild mushrooms, less so. still worth reading.

5) In Cold Blood: A True Account of Multiple Murder and Its Consequences by Truman Capote (audio)
A little overwritten, but still okay. You can tell Truman kinda had a crush on one of the killers. Doesn't adequately explain the killers motivation/lack of remorse, and the "Perry gave these letters to a journalist" constructions to avoid writing about the experience in the first person are kinda annoying.

6) Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (audio)
About Marconi, wireless telegraphy, and the first criminal ever caught because of wireless. Not as interesting as "Devil in the White City" which also contrasted a historic period of invention with murder(s). Not bad, but read Devil in the White City instead if you haven't already.

7) The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost
Author's wife gets NGO job in Kiribati, brings author along, hilarious memoir ensues. Kiribati is far from an island paradise, featuring droughts, lack of agriculture other than coconuts, intermitent electricity, no internet or snail mail delivery to speak of, and packs of wild dogs that begin to look tasty after eating a diet mostly of fish. Very funny. Recommend.

8) Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (audio)
Young man from upper-middle class background goes to Alaskan bush on survival quest, fails. the kid wasn't as foolhardy as you might think, and his death, while preventable, wasn't the kind of Darwin Awards type of thing I'd thought. Good book, though. Haven't seen the movie yet to compare. Recommend.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: tawnyarocks
2008-04-09 03:57 am (UTC)
The Sex Lives Of Cannibals is great! Getting Stoned With Savages is entertaining, though not quite as good. I now have the twisted desire to go torture myself by living in Kiribati for a year or so. I suspect I'd learn to deal with my hatred of coconuts and fish, along with my fear of the ocean.
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[User Picture]From: lara7
2008-04-09 04:30 pm (UTC)

I'm in the middle of "stoned" right now...

I'm actually liking it better, maybe because Vanuatu sounds less bleak than Kiribati.I'm at the part with the venomous centipedes.
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[User Picture]From: tawnyarocks
2008-04-09 11:37 pm (UTC)

Re: I'm in the middle of "stoned" right now...

I think all the kid business ruined it for me. Also, You'll probably enjoy World War Z after reading the Zombie Survival Guide. I found it to be perfectly broken up to read a little section on those sleepy-tired nights when regular sized chapters seemed too much to handle without passing out.
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From: ex_agentcoo
2008-04-09 04:48 am (UTC)
Thanks; two new books in my Amazon cart (Cannibals and Wild).
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[User Picture]From: shoutingboy
2008-04-09 07:04 am (UTC)
Have you read World War Z? It's a sequel, of sorts, to The Zombie Survival Guide. It's an account, compiled from oral histories, of the Zombie War--the war in which the disease described in TZSG breaks out on a massive scale, and humanity is almost destroyed.

Good fun, kinda creepy.
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[User Picture]From: lara7
2008-04-09 04:28 pm (UTC)

yep, read that first...

2nd quarter of 2007, as a matter of fact (I knew this "books" tag would come in handy!). World war Z is better than the handbook, but figured I'd read it anyway to be a Max Brooks completist.
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[User Picture]From: herbaliser
2008-04-09 04:32 pm (UTC)

into the wild

The book is of course more comprehensive than the movie, which only focuses on the kid and his family, but the old man who wanted to adopt him puts in a touching performance.
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