1) The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific by Paul Theroux
I started this literally years ago (before we went to Fiji in 2009) and finally finished it. I liked it but it wasn't always compelling enough for me to read it instead of other stuff. Anyway, travelog about the South Pacific by famous travel writer upon the breakup of his marriage. Good, but dry at times.
2) Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (audio)
Awesome, but REALLY graphic at times. The takeaway is if you donate a loved one's body to science, you probably DON'T want to find out what it's being used for, since only a fraction go to med school dissection and others go to things like car crash tests, plastic surgery face lift practice heads, etc.
3) Free for all: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library- Don Borchert (2007)
Fast read, full of "yeah, I've been there" anecdotes from a dude who stumbles into library work via the call of a stable civil service job. Only real gripe is that the book jacket calls him a "librarian" when he is clearly a library paraprofessional and not someone who went to grad school and made a career choice to do this. Might not be very compelling for non library folk.
1) 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America by Albert Brooks
Good idea, good execution, so-so wrap-up. Plot: Cancer cured, old people live well into their 90's, bleed out social security, bankrupt the nation, young people revolt, China controls us economically, America basically doomed. I wanted the ending to wrap up more of the intriguing premises that were introduced, but I mostly liked it.
2) Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart
Another near-future dystopian story. Sorta predicts the Occupy protests, so interesting to read now. May/December romance told through electronic posts and unreliable narrator. Good, but I found all the characters unlikable.
3) The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta (audio)
Something like the Rapture that isn't the Rapture happens- atheists, Hindus and Vladimir Putin disappear as well as millions of Christians. Story picks up 3 years later and focuses on how people deal with sudden inexplicable loss. Some join crazy cults, some are mired in depression, etc. Darkly humorous, and you never find out exactly what caused the not-Rapture. Recommended.
4) The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta
Read this because I liked the Leftovers so much, plus I liked his "The Abstinence Teacher" and the movies of two of his books that I have yet to read (Election and Little Children). Story of a man in his 30's who plays in a wedding band- okay money, but no cred. Typical "coming of middle age" story. Lightweight and I liked it, but most people (other than frustrated musicians) can skip it.
5) Citizen Vince by Jess Walter (audio)
Crime/political novel set in 1980 Spokane. Witness protection program guy relocates to Spokane, muses about crime and the upcoming Reagan/Carter election, which will be his first time ever voting since his old self had a criminal record and was prohibited from voting as a felon. Kind of an interesting mix hearing a low-level con man musing about civic duty. I liked it.
6) Absurdistan: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart
I liked this less than Super Sad True Love Story. Really unpleasant wealthy Russian lead character gets trapped in unstable former Soviet republic of Absurdistan during a sectarian uprising. I finished it and laughed at a few parts but I found the characters too unlikable to really enjoy.