I've been doing a ton of reading lately.
I'm a bit behind on my book Club books:
June: The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomon
July: The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
I read almost all of my books on the iPad Kindle app. With the Kindle app, it starts you on page 1. Consequently, I rarely see the cover of book club books and I was started to find a few pages in that this was a war book. Seeing the cover, this is fairly obvious, but without that hint and with only the previous book club books as a guide, I was caught off guard. The writing style is a bit hard to adjust to, but I think it's a great book. The author writes about the experiences (and imagined experiences) of soldiers in Vietnam. As you can imagine, it is not a light book. It gave me a perspective of Vietnam veterans that is nothing like my previous views. It's not an easy to read book, but I was glad I read it. Coincidentally, Gavin is taking a college class on the history of the Vietnam war and I'm interested to hear his thoughts on some of the things I read.
August: The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I enjoyed reading the book. The story moved along well for a book that is primarily about a castaway alone with a tiger on a boat. (I had a very hard time with the movie Castaway (boring!) so I was a little nervous when I realized we were adrift on the open ocean for the foreseeable future...) I did not enjoy the ending. Still, there is a movie scheduled for this fall and I'd like to see how they adapted the story for theater.
Outside of book club I've also been reading! I recently discovered that our library has an app to allow content to be downloaded directly to my iPad and phone. I've used the electronic library before, but this is so easy, I can't wait to catch up on all the new releases since I stopped making the solo trek to Palm Springs to the company of audio books! I've already made a dent:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Super Mario by Jeff Ryan
I'm a product of the 80's and you can't really think of the 80's without picturing that little pixel guy in red overalls. The book was relatively short, so while I'm no real gamer, I decided to download the audio book. It was actually really fascinating. It was fun to listen to descriptions of games I remember playing as a child (and not as a child! The book even covered the wii!). Almost every (nintendo) system mentioned, I'd played. Video games have existed pretty much as long as I have, so I had no idea that they are actually about the same age as I am. My only complain about the book is that I disagree with Ryan's conclusion. For one, I don't know that the book really needed a conclusion. But also, the author concluded that someone had to bridge the gap between 'casual' game players (those who tend towards the Wii/Move intuitive gaming system and simple action based games and the 'hard core' gamers who like involved complex games and d pad control systems. I think the camps will always be separate, although ironically, I straddle the middle. I don't play many video games anymore, but I enjoy everything from Wii sports and Mario Party to the Elder Scrolls and Fable. But the experiences are different and not everyone will enjoy both.
If you remember playing the original Super Mario Bros, or even better Super Mario Bros III, you'll probably get a kick out of the book.
Cheap by Ellen Shell
My most recent book, I finished it just minutes before starting this blog post, is Cheap. I can't really explain what lead me to read this book. The only thing I can guess is that it's my propensity towards books with single word titles like those by Mary Roach or Malcom Gladwell. I can't imagine many other reasons for picking up a book about economics for a light summer read. I also liked the cover art (not the cover art shown above, my copy had a map of the US made out of dimes and nickles). The book is basically the history of 'discount stores.' Everything from Walmart and Ikea to the outlet malls and discount racks at department stores. I thought it was incredibly interesting to look at the retail market 'from the other side.' I almost always hate shopping. One of the stores that I love and hate the most is Kohls. While Shell doesn't specifically address Kohls, she does address their business model. If you've ever been to Kohls, you'll recognize that it's almost impossible to pay full retail at the store. Everything is almost always marked down either by a sale of some sort of a discount. I once paid full price for a shirt I needed for a date only to return literally three days later and buy the same shirt (in another color) for half the price. It was frustrating. The author does a good job of detailing some of the implications of modern consumerism and disposable culture. Ironically, I listened to most of the last chapters of the book while wandering around my local Target. Sorry Shell, I guess I didn't get your full message!
Not sure what's next on my book list, but I'm always looking for suggestions!