Before we get into the books I’m reading to start the new year, I have a little boasting to do about my 2017 reading. I actually met my goal for the year, which was to read 25 books written by women. And a couple more by the guys, getting me to 27 for the year. Woohoo!
OK, it’s a new year, and I’m off to a good start, for me. Five books in the first 83 days, this time unencumbered by any author-gender requirements. Here’s the list, starting at the beginning of the year:
Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit, by Chris Matthews.
By coincidence, my brother and I gave this book to each other for Christmas. I think I read and finished it before he did (not that we’re competitive or anything). Personally, there was a lot about Bobby Kennedy that I didn’t know; I was seven years old when he was assassinated, and it would be a few years before I really developed any interest in politics.
In general, I liked the book, but it was very much an overview. Some key parts of his life, I thought, were given too light a treatment. For instance, the half-year or so after his brother, President John Kennedy, was assassinated was given somewhat short shrift, I thought. Still, it was a good read, and I learned a lot about a pivotal time in our country’s history.
The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins.
I figured I should read this book, since everyone else had.
I liked the book; it was definitely a page-turner. It wasn’t too hard to figure out who the bad guy was, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.
I hadn’t seen the movie, of course (I’ll usually avoid a movie if there’s a chance I might want to read the book), but as I was reading it, I spent a lot of time wondering how they could make a movie from this book, with its main narrator often drunk and definitely unreliable. But I’ve seen parts of the movie on cable, and it actually seems pretty faithful to the book.
Anyway, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more books by this author.
Unbelievable, by Katy Tur.
Katy Tur is the NBC News reporter who fell into the role of covering the Donald Trump campaign in 2015. At first it seemed like it would be a quick gig and she’d be looking for something else to cover, but then he unexpectedly caught fire and, well, you know the rest. Anyway, this book is the story of that campaign, unbelievable as it was.
The subtitle is “My Front Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History” and it’s impossible to argue with that.
I really enjoyed the book. It’s told in two parallel tracks: one, from the beginning of the campaign to the end, and the other, Election Day from before dawn until it’s clear that Trump has won. I thought the structure was masterful. The whole book was a lot of fun to read, and I sped through it in just a few days.
Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline.
You’re right: I read this one because the big movie is coming out. Actually, it’s been on my to-read list for a while, but I moved it to the top of the list because of the movie. I’m not even sure I’ll see the movie—it’s not really the kind of movie I go to, but I’m more tempted to, now that I’ve read the book.
The story of Ready Player One is that, some 25 years in the future, having made a mess of real life, most humans spend most of their time in an online virtual universe called the Oasis. The creator of the Oasis died, but before he did, he created a treasure hunt in the Oasis. The prize is almost uncountable wealth, and to find it, the winner has to solve a bunch of puzzles based on 1980s pop culture. Sounds odd, but it kind of worked, at least for this Baby Boomer. I’m not sure the generations that came after mine would like it as much, because many of the references will seem extremely dated. But the book seems to have done pretty well, and I suppose the movie probably will, too.
Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell. I was looking for some light reading, and boy did I find it. The story is about a guy who works in the IT department of a newspaper in Omaha. Among his assignments is to go through employee emails that have been flagged by the system for possible improprieties. He happens on an ongoing exchange between two female employees, and becomes hooked on their “conversation,” to the point where he falls in love with one of them. Conveniently, she has seen him around the office and has developed a crush on him, without knowing that he’s reading her emails, which are increasingly about him. Sound implausible? Yeah.
I found the emails between the two women to be too conveniently conversational, considering they were electronic communications stretching over multiple days. And I wan’t too impressed with the ending. But yes, it was some light reading.
This is where I make a guess at what my NEXT five books will be. That task is about 60 percent easier this time, because I’ve already started the first three of these books. The first two are the kind of book that I can pick up at any time, read a few pages, and then set it aside and get back to whatever novel or other book I’m reading.
Writing Down The Bones: Freeing The Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg (this is actually a reread for me—in fact it’s at least the third time I’ve read it).
The Daily Show: An Oral History As Told By Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests.
Becoming Nicole: The Transformation Of An American Family, by Amy Ellis Nutt.
In The Woods, by Tara French.
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, by James Comey.