I won’t apologize (again) for once again not publishing one of these blurb collections in over a year and a half because, one, who cares? and two, who cares? I read these to think of birthday and Christmas presents during the year.
Iain Banks – The Wasp Factory (1984)
I picked this up to see how Banks’s “straight” fiction compared to his sci-fi. I didn’t like it much, it’s ultra-dark and sick and I wasn’t in the mood for it. I guess I could have stopped reading it.
Ernest Cline – Ready Player One (2011)
A dystopian vision of a not-to-distant future of hellish wealth disparity where people escape their crappy lives by plugging into a massive virtual community that’s somewhere in between World of Warcraft and Facebook. The plot is the Bourne Identity meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was very entertaining.
Barbara Tuchman – The Guns of August (1962)
I know this book is a famous and popular history of the beginnings of World War I through its first month. Therefore I’m not likely to say much about it that you don’t already know. I overheard a coworker talking about it so gave it a shot, and liked it quite a lot. Depressing though.
Eric Schlosser – Command and Control (2013)
Speaking of depressing, Command and Control is good if you don’t want to feel secure about how the world’s nuclear arsenals are designed, stored, and handled. The book is written around a central narrative regarding the accidental explosion of a Titan II missile in Arkansas in the 80s, with the history of atomic weapons, their safety mechanisms, deployment around the world, strategies of use, and the stories of various other “near miss” incidents weaved in. You get the impression that the odds of a “full yield” accident taking place, possibly triggering a war, are very high, and that it’s strange that one or the other hasn’t happened yet.
Nicholson Baker – House of Holes: A Book of Raunch (2011)
If you’re sexually repressed or overly religious you might not like this. Or maybe you would? House of Holes is a series of bizarre wet dream vignettes that ultimately sort of tie together but really showcase Baker’s amazing facility with language and his weirdo imagination. Very fun and also uncomfortable to read in public.
Hector Tobar – Deep Down Dark (2014)
Remember the Chilean miners who were trapped in that mine for a while? This publicist-approved retelling of that event fills in all the details of the human drama you forgot you cared about. It’s well-written and engaging, but ultimately feels like a last attempt to cash in on what’s kind of a boring story (no pun intended!).
Peter Mehlman – It Won’t Always Be This Great (2014)
Peter Mehlman used to write for Seinfeld and this is his first novel. It was alright.
Jonathan Waldman – Rust: The Longest War (2015)
For a history of human attempts to prevent rust (and other forms of corrosion) that reads a bit like someone’s master’s thesis, look no further. It’s pretty interesting and for a bit of controversy, touches on why companies that use BPA in their products (like can manufacturers) think it’s just great and you should stop worrying about it.
Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936)
As the title implies, this famous book gives you advice on how to not come across as a jerk so that you can be more successful. It sounds exhausting.
James Bowen – A Street Cat Named Bob (2012)
James Bowen was a recovering drug addict and street musician/newspaper salesman when he found a cat that helped him stay straight and sell more papers. Kind of a sweet story, nothing wrong with it.