Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Books Read: July, August and September 2014

I am so behind on these that I will do three at a time, just briefly.

July 3rd: The Thirteen-Gun Salute, Patrick O'Brian. Historical fiction about sailors in the Napoleonic Wars: excellent like all his other books. Grade: A.
July 9th: March, Geraldine Brooks. Historical fiction about the Civil War, from the perspective of the girls of Little Women's father. Grade: A-. 
July 10th: Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, Tom Mueller. Interesting expose of the olive oil industry, where fraud and doctoring run rampant. Grade: B+.
July 13th: Untouchable, Mulk Raj Anand. Fascinating topic, about the life of an untouchable in 1930s India, but the execution wasn't the best. Grade: B-.
July 23rd: Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia, Thant Myint-U. Burma's place in the world, between Asia's two superpowers, may lead this remote region to become at the center of geopolitical change. Fascinating. Grade: A.
July 27th: The Nutmeg of Consolation, Patrick O'Brian. Shipwrecks, pirates, bird's nest collectors, penal colonies and platypuses: a highly entertaining entry. Grade: A+.
July 29th: The Truelove, Patrick O'Brian. Female convict stowaway causes troubles aboard ship for Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. Grade: A.

August 3rd: Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals, Hal Herzog. Interesting book about human-animal relations, by an academic psychologist. Grade: A-.
August 23rd: Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do About It, Gabor Mate. Really excellent book about the origins of ADD (the author argues for a psychologically based cause, rather than a genetic one) and how to cope with/heal from it. Eloquent, personal (the author has ADD, as do two of his children) and awesome. Grade: A+.
August 27th: The Absolutist, John Boyne. Tormented gay guy in the WW1 trenches: it was just OK. Grade: C.
August 31st: The Indians: Portrait of a People, Sudhir Kakar. Book about what makes a person Indian, ie especially Indian characteristics. Recommended to me by an Indian friend, it was interesting but not especially well written and seemed a bit slight. Grade: B-.

September 5th: The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting, Alice Miller. Very similar to Alice Miller's other book, this one is about how bad parenting can literally kill you years later, by causing illness via suppressed feelings of rage and grief. My rating is the same too. Grade: B-.
September 6th: Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk. Really enjoyed this one, a quick and fascinating read. Violent/disturbing though, so if this bothers you, avoid it. Grade: A.
September 8th: The Gift of Rain, Twan Eng Tan. Eurasian teenager finds acceptance and meaning through martial arts training with much-older Japanese guy (the Karate Kid!): but the Japanese man turns out to have a hidden, disturbing agenda (NOT the Karate Kid, some highly disturbing scenes). Grade: A.
September 10th: Lieutenant Hornblower, C.S. Forester. Highly entertaining historical fiction with a very dimensional hero. Grade: A-.
September 17th: Hornblower and the Hotspur, C.S. Forester. Next in the Hornblower series, just as good. Grade: A-.
September 18th: Tales of the South Pacific, James A. Michener. Not-bad book about WW2 in the Pacific. I found it slow going though. Grade: B.
September 24th: Raising a Self-Reliant Child: A Back-to-Basics Parenting Plan from Birth to Age 6, Alanna Levine. Had such a promising title, but actually there was little content of interest. I think I will avoid parenting books by pediatricians from now on: their training does not actually qualify them to dispense such advice. Grade: C-.
September 27th: Hornblower and the Atropos, C.S. Forester. Humorous beginning but drags in the middle a bit. Grade: B.
September 28th: All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, Jennifer Senior. Interesting premise, easy to read writing style, but the book is all anecdotes and needs a little bit more rigor. Grade: C.

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