75 in 2015: November

Salt A World HistorySalt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky (2002)

I’ve been doing a lot of database work lately allowing me to listen to an audiobooks uninterrupted for several days. This particular one has been in my to-read queue for a while now, but I was a little unsure if a history of salt could command my attention for thirteen hours. I’m happy to report that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. This book is a history of the world through the eyes of salt. Fascinating from start to finish.

From Amazon.com: “In his fifth work of nonfiction, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Salt by Mark Kurlansky is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.”

Amityville HorrorThe Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (1977)

I found the first half of this one interesting and a good read (i.e. listen), but was totally bored by the middle. Maybe it is just too well-known a story?

From Amazon.com: “In December 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new home on suburban Long Island. George and Kathleen Lutz knew that, one year earlier, Ronald DeFeo had murdered his parents, brothers, and sisters in that house. But the property complete with boathouse and swimming pool and the price were too good to pass up. Twenty-eight days later, the entire Lutz family fled in terror. This is the spellbinding, best-selling true story that gripped the nation, the story of a house possessed by evil spirits, haunted by psychic phenomena almost too terrible to describe.”

Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by David Rakoff (2005)

David RakoffEnjoyable, well-written, and humorous.

From Amazon.com: “David Rakoff takes us on a bitingly funny grand tour of our culture of excess. Whether he is contrasting the elegance of one of the last flights of the supersonic Concorde with the good-times-and-chicken-wings populism of Hooters Air; working as a cabana boy at a South Beach hotel; or traveling to a private island off the coast of Belize to watch a soft-core video shoot—where he is provided with his very own personal manservant—rarely have greed, vanity, selfishness, and vapidity been so mercilessly skewered. Somewhere along the line, our healthy self-regard has exploded into obliterating narcissism; our manic getting and spending have now become celebrated as moral virtues. Simultaneously a Wildean satire and a plea for a little human decency, Don’t Get Too Comfortable shows that far from being bobos in paradise, we’re in a special circle of gilded-age hell.”

Pluto FilesThe Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2009)

I was fascinated by the whole Pluto-debacle and – even though I don’t have any mushy feelings for the icy rock – fully intend to tell my grandchildren how “back in my day we had nine planets.” It was very interesting to learn about the background from the man on the inside.

From Amazon.com: “In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted Pluto out of planethood. Far from the sun, wonder Pluto has any fans. Yet during the mounting debate over rallied behind the extraterrestrial underdog. Disney created an irresistible pup by the same name, and, as one NASA scientist put it, Pluto was “discovered by an American for America.” Pluto is entrenched in our cultural, patriotic view of the cosmos, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is on a quest to discover why. Only Tyson can tell this story: he was involved in the first exhibits to demote Pluto, and, consequently, Pluto lovers have freely shared their opinions with him, including endless hate mail from third graders. In his typically witty way, Tyson explores the history of planet recently been judged a dwarf.”

Wind Up BirdThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (1997)

I can’t even explain my love for Murakami. I’m not a good reviewer of his works because I read them in complete awe.

From Amazon.com: “Japan’s most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II. In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.”

2015 total books: 74
2015 total pages read: 14,354
2015 total pages listened to: 8,977

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