Jul 15, 2016

Books read Q2 2016

Books I finished (or mostly finished) in the second quarter of 2016:

  1. The Human Factor by Graham Greene
    Fun British espionage thriller.

  2. Tenth of December by George Saunders
    Short stories set in present-day America with a sci-fi twist. Very good, easy to gobble up. I particularly liked Escape from Spiderhead, Victory Lap, and Exhortation.

  3. Grendel by John Gardner
    The Beowulf myth from Grendel's perspective. I was charmed by the premise and underwhelmed by the execution.

  4. The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes (audiobook)
    Play-by-play history of the development of atomic weapons, starting with quantum physics in the early 1900s, following through to the Manhattan Project, and closing with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Rhodes' description of the aftermath at Hiroshima is very good – vivid, visceral, and overwhelmingly tragic.

  5. The Night in Question by Tobias Wolff
    Short story collection of dark Americana. I enjoyed all of them, Bullet in the Brain is particularly fun.

  6. The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov (audiobook)
    Asimov sci-fi. 'Eternals' are bureaucrats who monitor the timeline of humanity from outside of time. Enjoyable, though heavy on premise and light on character development. The main character, Andrew Harlan, is actually sort of an asshole. And all the time travel paradox business might not make sense if you were to lay it out clearly, though it works well enough for the plot. Warning: contains a fair amount of 1950s gender dynamics.

  7. Command and Control by Eric Schlosser (audiobook)
    More play-by-play nuclear history, telling the story of the Damascus incident, in which a Titan-II ICBM develops a fuel leak and explodes in its silo.

  8. Bear by Marian Engel
    Woman takes over stewardship of a remote Canadian estate. Woman befriends domesticated bear who resides on the estate. Woman and bear develop a sexual relationship. Woman 'finds herself' through this relationship.

  9. My Struggle – Book 5 by Karl Ove Knausgaard
    Knausgaard continues being Knausgaardy. Begins during his time at the Bergen Writing Academy, then follows his young adult life in Bergen trying to make it as a writer. I liked this one better than Books 3 and 4.

  10. On the Move by Oliver Sacks
    I bought this at a hipster bookstore in Bend, Oregon, on the return leg of a West Coast motorcycle trip. Oliver Sacks was big into motorcycling and his autobiography has a bike on the cover, so it seemed an appropriate purchase. A good read, though a bit rambling. Sacks had a remarkable life.

  11. On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers
    I read about half of this before it became too repetitive to continue. Rogers has (what seems to me) commonsense ideas about how psychology should work. It's a bit crazy to me that these ideas were considered radical when he was putting them forward.

  12. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
    Story of a prominent Nigerian man during a time of colonial transition. I really liked Achebe's writing style, which made many traditional Nigerian practices and products seem commonplace and obvious, while not going out of the way to explain what these things are.

[rereads: 1, edits, 0]