July 2, 2013
Book Club: Top Books
'Train Dreams' by Denis Johnson (My Review): This novella should have won the Pulitzer last year. 'Train Dreams' is a short meditation on the west before civilization arrived en masse.
'2666' by Roberto Bolano (My Review): Hard to explain this book in a short excerpt. Just read it though because you won't be disappointed.
'Absalom, Absalom!' by William Faulkner (My Review): Hard to find any white person today that could write about the south and race as well as Faulkner could. This book is about the ruthless rise of Thomas Supten and his eventual downfall.
'For Whom the Bell Tolls' by Ernest Hemingway (My Review): Hemingway's look at the Spanish Civil War is both brutal and beautiful. The way Hemingway writes this book can be goofy at time (Hemingway translates the Spanish in this book to make it look like Shakespeare wrote it. There are a lot of "Thy's' in there) but that shouldn't stop you from reading it.
'As I Lay Dying' by William Faulkner: If I ranked these books 'As I Lay Dying' would be my second pick. Faulkner takes the family drama to an extreme when a family tries to bury their wife and mother. If you think you're family can be selfish, read this book and reconsider your opinion.
'War Trash' by Ha Jin: Another beautiful and brutal look at what war does to people. This time though it's in a POW camp with Chinese soldiers who fought in the Korean War.
'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy: My personal favorite book of all-time. McCarthy's look at a gang of scalp hunters working along the USA-Mexico border for the Mexican government. The Judge character might be the best character ever written.
'The Bridge of San Luis Rey' by Thornton Wilder: Another novella on the list and another great read. Wilder's book on the before and after a bridge collapse that killed a few people is one of the best books I've read.
'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold' by John la Carre: Out of all of la Carre's spy novels, this one is my favorite. It's also the shortest of his books and it doesn't feature George Smiley as much.
'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee: It was either this book or "The Great Gatsby" from the High School selection. This was my personal favorite book I read in high school and it is still a good read today.
'The Revolution was Televised' by Alan Sepinwall (My Review): If you're interested in television and why certain shows like The Sopranos or The Wire are important or how they were created then you'll love this book. Sepinwall also interviews the creators of the shows so you get a behind the scenes look as well as their thought process for these shows.
'The Power Broker' by Robert Caro: Caro for the past thirty years is more remembered for the million biographies he's written about Lyndon Johnson. His most famous work though and the one I personally enjoyed the most though is 'The Power Broker'. Caro's massive book takes a look at Robert Moses a man with no real political power but someone who created most of New York's physical shape for better or worse.
'The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt' by Edmund Morris: Morris, like Caro, wrote a series of biographies on a former President. His president though was Theodore Roosevelt and the first book in the series is the most fascinating and best read. Theodore Roosevelt lead a life that could only be described as interesting. He did everything under the sun including taking trips to Africa, fighting with the Rough Riders, serving in the New York legislative, and serving as the Vice President and all of this happened before his interesting presidency. Teddy goes down in my book as the most fascinating President ever.
Short Stories: Short stories are fun to read and can be easily done on your kindle/tablet/whatever. I selected some New Yorker short stories a little while ago and they're all linked on that page. Save that page and you can click on the links and read those short stories while you're away from home.