Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Reading List

I like to read. I start most days with at least a cursory reading of the New York Times (which we have delivered) and usually spend at least a few minutes reading before popping off to sleep at night. I like to think my taste in prose is pretty eclectic, but in reality, it's not. My favorite categories are:

  • news and periodicals (the NYTimes, The New Yorker, National Geographic, AMC Outdoors, sometimes The Economist)
  • science fiction (Neal Stephenson, William Gibson and Kim Stanley Robinson are exemplars of the kind of writers I favor)
  • mountaineering and orther outdoor adventure writing
  • politics and history (leftward leaning...)
  • novels, especially if they relate in some way to current life events (such as The Namesake, which I read on my way to India for the first time in April 2005)

I've decided I'm going to start blogging what I read, in part so that I can simply remember what I read. I'm often reading several books concurrently, and while I usually recall what I like and don't like, titles and authors don't necessarily stick. This has gotten worse since I've started doing much of my reading on a Kindle; I no longer see book covers very often (an interesting side effect of the Kindle...).

I'll tag these entries with "reading". I'll start by listing a few of the books I've read "recently" (for large and selective values of "recently"...).

Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie. I borrowed this from my friends Dan & Sue; it's a novel about a man born into a Muslim family at midnight on August 15, 1947 - the date of India's independence. It's nearly impossible to summarize, but because it's set in Srinagar, Bombay, Delhi, Karachi, Bangladesh and contains characters that ring very true to my experience of India, I really enjoyed it. I found it hard to start, but once I finished "Book 1" (of 3), I was into it.

Forever on the Mountain, James Tabor. My coworker Bill loaned me this tale of the summer, 1967 ascent of Denali that left 7 of the 12 climbers dead. Reading this motivated the next book:

Minus 148 Degrees, Art Davidson. This is the story of the first winter ascent (in early 1967) of Denali (aka Mt. McKinley), written by the climber who conceived of the expedition. Only fair - the story is compelling, but the writing is only so-so.

The Last War, Ana Menendez. This novel is a veiled autobiographical account of a portion of the author's life as a war correspondent and photographer in "the war on terror." The setting for most of the book is Istanbul, with forays to Afghanistan and elsewhere. Her partner, "Brando", is Dexter Filkins. I loved this book. If you read it, I encourage you to first read...

The Forever War, Dexter Filkins. Filkins is a highly-published foreign correspondent, whose articles have appeared regularly in the New York Times and elsewhere. This book is a deeply personal account of what it was like to be that correspondent.

More to come.

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