Archive for the 'Books I Am Reading' Category

My Summer Reading List

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

I’ve just this hour finished a book that I think everyone should read. It’s called The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time and it was written by economist and visionary thinker Dr. Jeffrey Sachs. This book is easily the most important book I’ve read in ten years and I will certainly pick it up and read it again at some point. Next up I’m going to read Dr. Sach’s follow up book, called Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet.

This summer I also made my way through two long novels, both over 900 pages. The first was a reread of Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I read this book first when it came out, more than ten years ago, but it’s the kind of book you want to read over again, it’s dense and nerdy like all good books should be.

Next I read Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet. This book was hard to put down, it’s a real page-turner. But I have to say that sometimes I found myself yelling at the characters for the daft choices they were making. Sometimes it seemed that a character was having things done to them by the author in order to set things up so that later other things could happen. I guess what I’m saying is that the construction of the story was pretty obvious, and sometimes frustrating. But I did enjoy the book enough that I plan to read the sequel which is called World Without End.

I’ve just started reading A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. I’m excited to read this because I loved Haddon’s previous book, called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Haddon’s writing is dry and witty and I’m sure I will giggle all the way through this book.

So what books have YOU been reading this summer? Got any I should add to my reading list?

Hanging Out in Playa

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

That’s Playa del Carmen, to the initiated. One of my web design clients owns a couple of nice condos here that he rents out. One is in Playa and the other is in Cancun. This weekend he was kind enough to let me have use of his Playa condo. So I’m here hanging out with my daughter.

Thus far we’ve done not much of anything. And that’s the point. I’m terrible about taking weekends off, in fact I basically never take two days in a row off unless I’m away from home. I guess it’s a sign that I like my work that I can’t leave it alone for two days in a row. Either that or I’m just pathetic and have poor boundaries.

This condo is located just a couple of blocks from the ocean, so this morning I rose early and took a jog down the beach. The beach here is big and wide and lovely, and at 8 a.m. it’s also mostly empty. I saw just a few other joggers, a couple of families and a couple of die-hard, tan-all-day, leather-looking-skin types.

After my run I came back and read a chapter of Barack Obama’s book Audacity of Hope (which is really GOOD, by the way) and then fell asleep in the hammock under the palapa for a little while. Life is tough in paradise.

Next To The Bed

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

A few times I’ve engaged in those getting to know you email quizzes. Often they are stupid but sometimes I like the questions. Once I got one that asked the reader to list the items sitting next to their bed and I thought that was a pretty good way to learn something real about someone.

So here you go…items currently sitting on my bedside table:

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers. I’m half way through it and it’s a lovely book. This is my current “fun read”.

God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. Everyone should read this, I’m going to have withdrawal symptoms when I finish it. This is my current “hard read”, except it’s not hard to read at all.

Getting The Love You Want by Harville Hendricks. Hey, it’s cheaper than therapy. This book has been recommended to me so many times that I feel like a moron for not having finished it sooner.

Compact History of Mexico by various authors. I never seem to finish this one even though I like it. I start it and read 50 pages and then don’t come back to it for another year, hopefully this time I’ll finish it.

The Secret Gratitude Book. It was a gift and I’m grateful for it. And I’m finding that the meditation of being grateful makes it much easier to be happy.

The American Heritage English Dictionary. I can’t live without a dictionary next to the bed. This is the best dictionary I have right now, but it’s not good enough. I’m going to buy a better one, one with more words in it, next time I have the chance.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible. I’m reading the Bible because the Hitchens’ book keeps referencing it. I always find the Bible fascinating, especially because so much of it seems so removed from modern day life, I mean I don’t exactly need advice on how much to pay if my ox gores your ox, or how much to pay if I sleep with your slave…

– A notebook with lined paper so I can write down ideas when they pop into my head in the middle of the night. I usually end up waking up at least once per night and writing some inane thing in there.

– A pencil so I can write in the notebook while lying on my back and not have to fight gravity with an ink pen.

– An Ultra Jewels alarm clock, given to me when I taught one of their employees how to use a complex piece of software. They gave me a bunch of other stuff too, including some lovely perfume and expensive make-up, but none of that is on my bedside table.

– A 3 inch piece of copper wire with 6 beads on it, don’t ask why I have it because I have no idea. I think it was part of a gift-wrap job that my artist-sister did once, either that or my kid made it. Regardless, the cats like it so it won’t be on the bedside table for long.

– A telephone with the ringer switched off. If someone calls while I’m in bed I always wish I could kill them, and I hate talking on the phone in bed, it makes me feel like I’m giving a speech naked. I actually have no idea why I have a phone in the bedroom, it probably has something do to with the idea that there could be an emergency that would make it worth talking on the phone while in bed.

– A small pad of skinny post-it notes. I use these to mark passages in the books I read so I can find them later and read them out loud to my husband who sometimes pretends to listen.

– A ceramic lamp that I painted myself about 15 years ago at one of those paint your own ceramics places. Cancun needs one of those places.

– And finally, my cell phone is sitting there charging.

Great Reading: No Country For Old Men

Monday, November 12th, 2007

I just started reading Cormack McCarthy’s “No Country For Old Men”. Now this book has been around a little while. All my American pals have already read it I think. But here in Mexico, where we live on mañana-mañana-time I feel justified writing about a book that’s already been read by my American brethren.

I love this book. Each page that turns signals the coming of the end. The settings and descriptions remind me of Tony Hillerman, who’s work I love. And the depth of the characters and some of their particular speech patterns, and their tragedy remind me of William Faulkner.

William Faulkner raised me without knowing it. My father was a writer and was pretty widely published in his genre, and HE loved, lived, breathed Faulkner and would-have-smoked-him if he could. I didn’t realize this when I was young. But as an adult my mom handed me some Faulkner and told me how my father couldn’t get enough of him. And when I read Faulkner I understood the rest about my father, he just made sense after that. The rural southern upbringing, the need to escape to a cultured place and the failure to adapt to it, the poverty of the soul and the depth of spirit, the misery.

So I’m racing through this book, loving every page that flies by. And knowing that the Coen brothers have made this book into a movie gives the whole thing another edge. I’ve seen every Coen brothers movie made (I think) and many of them I’ve seen something between several and many times. The Coen brothers went to the same college I attended, so seeing their movies was pretty much a social requirement during college. Fortunately they are so good that continuing to see their films has not been any work at all.

The opening pages of the book read like a Coen brothers’ film. There are plenty of intelligent characters who feel real and tangible and whose dramas and insights make me think. And there are a lot of guns, all kinds of guns. And there’s so much action that it’s hard, very hard, to decide where to stick in the book mark and end that reading session.

This morning the one and only reason I put the book down was because someone, who owes me money, called and wanted to meet within an hour. Not much short of that or a family emergency would have convinced me to put that book down this morning. In fact, forget blogging, I’m going to go read it right now.

And I won’t tell you how it ends because you gotta go see the movie, which for some asinine reason doesn’t come out in Mexico until February (!). I may just have to fly to the States to see it before that.

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