Well, I’m not exactly burning up the roads of America this year. Other than watching Washington Nationals baseball games, I am spending a lot of time reading. I read National Geographic and Adventure Cycling magazines. Otherwise I’ve been working my way through a pile of books.
- This Is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay – the diary of a doctor in the National Health Service in the UK. This is very funny, and sometimes tragic.
- Labyrinth of Ice by Buddy Levy – the incredible tale of a multi-year arctic rescue mission in the days before modern communications. If you liked books about The Endurance expedition to Antarctica, this one’s for you.
- The Body, A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson – This book lacks Bryson’s usual wit (his A Walk in the Woods is the funniest book I’ve ever read), but it will tell you a million bizarre factoids about your bag of bones.
- Lie to Me by J. T Ellison – an entertaining novel in the style of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
- Sharp Objects by Flynn – ditto.
- Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson – a Bryson travelogue showing off his wit as a fish out of water in Great Britain. As you’re about to discover I tend to work my way through books by author
- Dark Places by Flynn – Another dark Gone Girl-ish novel
- And I Do Not Forgive You by Amber Sparks. The author is the wife of a former co-worker. Well written off-beat short stories that was not well read (as Nick Hornby likes to say).
- The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. Another witty travelogue.
- Made in America by Bryson. A book about the history of the English language. I had high expectations for this one but it wasn’t my cup of joe.
- Giving Good Weight, La Place de la Concorde Suisse, Irons in the Firel Looking for a Ship, The Ransom of Russian Art, The Control of Nature all by John McPhee. I loved these on first read many years ago but reading them in sequence got a bit tedious. Still he’s a skilled researcher and writer and they hold up well to the passage of time.
- Buzz Saw by Jesse Dougherty. The tale of the improbable march to a World Series title by the 2019 Washington Nationals. I always regard the long baseball season as like an epic novel. This one proves my point.
- Table of Contents by McPhee. By this point I was pretty burnt out on McPhee. (I have only Coming into the Country left to read in my McPhee collection.
- One Day: The Extraordinary Story of One Day in America by Gene Weingarten. Dang is this book a revelation. Using a day chosen entirely at random, Weingarten reports on events that happend on that date in the recent years. I like Weingarten’s weekly humor column in the Washington Post but he’s cheating us by not writing more books like this.
- The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. A young adult novel in the style of Twilight. Weird times five.
- Circe by Madeline Miller. She’s a nymph, she’s a which, she’s a badass. I didn’t think I like this but it’s pretty great. The writing style is unusual but it works.
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. How about a Russian novel in the style of Graham Greene. Not that I know anything about Greene’s writing.
- The Hours by Michael Cunningham. Unless you’re a big fan of Virginia Wolff and Mrs. Dalloway, don’t bother. By page three I was sick of metaphors and atmospherics.
- Normal People by Sally Rooney. A rich nerd has an affair with a smart jock in high school in Sligo, Ireland. The story follows them through college in Dublin. Rooney is amazing at describing the nuances of relationships.
Still to come: this eclectic pile. Note that my wife and daughter picked up on my tastes. I read Ron Chernow’s biography of Ulysses S. Grant last year and was amazed. And since I saw Hamilton on stage last year it was a no-brainer to gift me the book where it happened. I loved Matt Damon in the movie about a botany nerd stranded on Mars. The Outsiders is a classic that I’ve never read. And two books by authors I first read earlier this year.
I am saving Hamilton for after the baseball season. I’m not throwin’ away my shot.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read so many books that float my boat.