Books Read – January 2018

When you decide to roll back on casual drinking, there are more days at home just going through all of the books that have been stacking up around the house over the past year.

Writing improves with reading. Reading improves with variety.

I wrapped up A Man Calle Ove by Fredrik Backman. A charming story about a grumpy old man who just wants to be left alone so he can die already. It’s already got a film adaptation from a Swedish studio. It will also have a remake starring Tom Hanks sometime in the next few years. Because why not?

Tribe of Mentors – the latest brick by Tim Ferris – isn’t a book I “finished reading” this month. It’s one of the numerous books on my shelf that I will never quite finish reading as it is one of those beasts you take down, flip a few pages over, and go “huh, ok.” Worth perusing, not buying, because it’s a real dedication of space on the shelf.

True Vine was a disaster to read. Of course, this is entirely the point. A tale of albino brothers that had been kidnapped into a traveling circus in the not-too-distant era of the Jim Crow south. As the author goes deeper into trying to find out what happened to the pair through the decades by digging into not-so-reputable newspapers and interviews with elderly residents who might still be around.

(Not pictured, because I can’t find it…) Donna Tartt’s, The Little Friend. Another tale of the south, fictional this time, to pursue and get justice a cold case murder that happened a decade ago. Now, the sister of the deceased – Harriet – goes on as much of a gumshoe journey as any 14 year old could be to discover her brother’s death was at the hands of a meth dealer. It’s typical Donna Tartt stuff – big, sprawling pages of literary landscapes, kids getting into trouble that is way older than them, and a resolution that is always about half as interesting as the incident that set everything off to begin with.

Speaking of sprawling and huge: Garth Halberg’s City On Fire. 70s, New York. Everything is dirty and punk. Everyone is mad and strung out. On New Year’s Eve a girl is shot in the head in Central Park. Over the next 850 pages a whodunnit rolls across generations, billions of dollars, and zines and records bootlegged from nightclubs you might not even want to take a piss in. It was one of those books with prose that was just relaxing enough to draw you in for a few hours at a time without trying to complicate things with excessive storylines. Worth a read.

Last, Ignore Everybody. I’ve been following Hugh MacLeod’s stuff for a while. Curious cartoons with existential perspectives of our modern times. Ignore everyone is usually sitting right under my monitor. When I get stuck or burnt out I’ll flip open to a page and just wander across one of his anecdotes. Good book, better gift.

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