Challenge: 50 Books discussion

*Retired* 2008 Lists > Patrick's reading journal

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message 1: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Just finished two books today:

King of the World, by David Remnick (a biography of Muhammad Ali and the men he fought in the early Sixties for the heavyweight championship)

Naked Pictures of Famous People, by Jon Stewart (humorous essays)

message 2: by Danine (new)

Danine (dulcemea) Nice job. Two books in a day! And I thought I was a fast reader.

My family gave 'Naked Pictures' great reviews so now I myself must read it. Thanks for posting :)

message 3: by Patrick (last edited Jan 15, 2008 01:14PM) (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Well, the Jon Stewart book was extremely short and easy to read. i wouldn't have even counted it except I read it for a book group that I'm in here on Goodreads.

And, as is the case with many people here on Goodreads and especially those in your group, I read several books at a time. I just happened to finish these two books on the same day. I got about three or four that I might finish next week.

You want to see fast readers, wait till you see the lists from Abigail, Diana, Xysea, and Sherri (all friends of your sister Kate). They'll blow me away in quality and quantity.

message 4: by Danine (new)

Danine (dulcemea) I am just jealous. I can only aspire to read as fast as you and all of Kate's friends :)

message 5: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Finshed book #3 on Fri, 10 Jan:

Forbes Great Success Stories by Alan Farnham

My review:

message 6: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Just finished volume three of Proust's In Search Of Lost Time, entitled THE GUERMANTES WAY. I started this back in Dec 07, but I read most of it this month, so I'll count it as book #4 toward the goal.

I'm reading the Modern Library edition that is a translation of Moncrief and Kilmartin, with recent revisions by D. J. Enright, in case anybody cares.

message 7: by Patrick (last edited Jan 15, 2008 04:32PM) (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Just finished Virgina Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, which I liked, so that's book #5 on the year.

My review is OK:

but I like the reviews by Jessica and Christina better than my own....especially because Jessica declares that, having read this novel, I no longer have to consider reading Ulysses by Joyce!

Not that I was ever planning on reading Ulysses by Joyce, but several times during this book I found myself wondering if this was what Ulysses was like, except that this book was fairly short and very readable. Kudos to Jessica for helping me painlessly confirm that notion.

message 8: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Book #6: The Secret Way to War, by Mark Danner.

Danner analyzes the Downing Street Memo, which he believes is solid proof of the idea that the Bush Administration always intended to invade Iraq, no matter what happened with the UN weapons inspections.

A very touchy subject, so if you've got a thought on this, PLEASE don't comment in this group. I intend to write a lengthy review with my thoughts on this book in the next few days, so you can check that out and comment there.

I'll link to it from here, as I usually do, in case you care.

I would like Danine's pleasant group here to remain as much as possible a place where people can see each other's progress toward our goal to 50 books, and not become a political debate forum. To that end I will not respond to any comments about Danner's book here in this thread.

message 9: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Book #7: Finally finished the Historian, which is that Dracula novel that was a bestseller a couple of years ago. Interesting idea for a book, but I didn't really enjoy the book itself. It took me a long time to get through it. My review:

message 10: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Finshed two this weekend:

Book #8: HENRY FLAGLER, by David Chandler. A biography of the businessman who partnered with John D Rockefeller to creat Standard Oil between teh 1860's and 1880's, and who then used his wealth to almost singlehandedly create the modern state of Florida. A great biography of an astounding feat of capitalism. Regrettably, this book is out of print.

Book #9: The EYRE AFFAIR by Jasper Fforde. A wonderfully funny book which rated five stars from me, something I rarely give. Too hard to describe what's going on in this novel, but a delightful book that most readers will enjoy.

message 11: by Patrick (last edited Jan 26, 2008 09:46PM) (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Book #10: THE NORDSTROM WAY - a history of the Nordstrom Company, along with a lot of detail on their customer service philosophy. My review:

message 12: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Finally finished another book! Book #11: ENDURANCE - Shackleton's Incredible Journey, by Alfred Lansing. I read this as a result of a suggestion by Vanessa from my 5Q group, and I am glad I did. This was a wonderful book, very funny and very horrifying. But everyone survived!

My review:

message 13: by KrisT (new)

KrisT Patrick, I thought Endurance was a great read too. If you can you should watch the movie staring Kenneth Branaugh. He does a great job as Shackelton.

message 14: by Patrick (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:24AM) (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Thanks, KrisT. I kept thinking throughout the book about what a great film this would make. I'll check out the Shackleton movie as soon as I get a chance.

message 15: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Books #12 and #13 were very funny books, although on quite different subjects:

Book #12 - SACAGAWEA'S NICKNAME by one of my favorite authors, Larry McMurtry. A collection of funny and informative essays about the American West, and about recent books on various non-fiction subjects in this genre.

Book #13 - GOD SAVE THE FAN by Will Leitch. An insightful and humorous review of the sports experience for most fans, written by the editor of my other favorite website, Deadspin. Here's my long review:

message 16: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 25 comments Ooh, glad to see more raves for Endurance -- it's on my to read list. Which is painfully long, as it should be.

I'm impressed with your choices, P. You've got some on there I wouldn't even dream of trying.

message 17: by Kelly (new)

Kelly B (kellyb) There's also a good documentary on the Endurance, which I enjoyed. It came out around 2001.

message 18: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Book #14 - A THREAD ACROSS THE OCEAN, by John Gordon Steele. An interesting story about the efforts to lay down the transatlantic cable between North America and Europe during the 1850's and 1860's. Neat story, but the book itself was only OK. My review:

message 19: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments I had to take a break from reading and from Goodreads for a while, but during my hiatus I finished a few books:

Book #15 - HOW PROUST CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE, by Alain de Botton. A very helpful book for anyone reading Proust's book A' la recherche du temps perdu. Not recommended for anyone not already reading Proust or who isn't familiar with de Botton's books, but if you fit that category you'll really like this book.

Book #16 - GREENSLEEVES by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. A delightful recommendation from my friend Sherri. Out of print and very outdated, but a fun coming of age story that will appeal to many teenagers.

Book #17 - ST. THERESE OF LISEUX by Kathryn Harrison. One of the Penguin Lives series of short biographies. I collected them all but hadnt tried this one yet, so I read it this weekend for a change of pace. I enjoyed it, and found it thought-provoking about what it means to try and live one's life as a no-kidding Catholic consecrated, beatified, and ratified Saint. Bottom line: it's not a fun lifestyle for everyone.

message 20: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Finished two more today...

Book #18 - SODOM AND GOMORRAH, Book 4 of Marcel Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu (Remembrance of Things Past or In Search of Lost Time, take your pick). My initial review:

Book #19: one of the neatest books I've read all year, WHY THINGS BREAK: Understanding the World By The Way It Comes Apart, by Mark E. Eberhardt. A fascinating science autobiography that I found very accessible and readable, not to mention enlightening about the title topic. My review:

message 21: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Finished a couple of Larry McMurtry books this weekend:

Book #20 - PARADISE

Book #21 - DEAD MAN'S WALK. This is the first book in the chronology, but the last book written in the series that started with Lonesome Dove. This is one of McMurtry's best books of fiction, in my opinion.

message 22: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Patrick:

I'm a complete McMurtry novice, I'm ashamed to say. What book of his would you recommend as a good starting point?

Looks like you're still making good progress with ol' Marcel. Keep up the good work. :-)

message 23: by Kelly (new)

Kelly B (kellyb) I loved Lonesome Dove so much that I couldn't bear to read any of Larry McMurtry's other books. Doesn't seem to make sense, does it? I wonder if I should read Dead Man's Walk since it is the beginning of the story, and not the inevitably sad end....What do you think?

message 24: by Lori (new)

Lori (lorivanwagoner) | 2 comments I know I loved Lonesome Dove so much, too. It was such a great book. I haven't read any of the rest.

message 25: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Books finished this week:

Book #22: THE END OF DETROIT by Micheline Maynard. One of a series of books I have started reading about the history of the automobile industry. I read this first, as it brings the story up to the (relatively) present day. My review:

Book #23: JACOB'S ROOM by Virginia Woolf. I liked it, but I can see from this book what it is that American readers don't like about Virginia Woolf's novels. My review (which includes spoilers):

message 26: by Patrick (last edited Mar 09, 2008 11:20AM) (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Responding to those of you kind enough to comment recently...

David: B.L.U.F. (Bottom Line Up Front, since I'm verbose today):

Non-fiction: I started with his biography of CRAZY HORSE and I love it, but WALTER BENJAMIN AT THE DAIRY QUEEN may be a better overall introduction

Fiction: I have many reasons why DUANE'S DEPRESSED is a good book to start with, but the book that McMurtry will likely be best remembered for is his Pulitzer-winning novel LONESOME DOVE. Either would be a great choice.

Read on if you have the time...


David, my gut answer is to start with the McMurtry books that I first read...

NON-FICTION: The short biography of Crazy Horse that kicked off the Penguin Lives series, and which for me was the best that series had to offer. I actually have listened to the autdiotape version read by Scott Brick about 20 times since I first found this book, as he does a great job of narrating in a style that brings out the best of McMurty's prose. Everytime I listen to the audiotape of this book, I come across other books and fields of study that I want to explore. This has led me to many other fine books on the American West that I love deeply. But for me, McMurtry's Crazy Horse is the ground zero for my studies in this area.

FICTION: I started with a book called DUANE'S DEPRESSED, which I bought as a new paperback because I was living through a kind of mildly depressing time in a very isolated place. I found the characters very accessible if odd, but I also thought the book was a riot, and I've been a devoted McMurtry fan ever since. His humor is the best part of his stories. The constant funny parts are what get me through these insanely long novels. I've only read about 20% of his fiction so far, but I've liked DUANE'S DEPRESSED so much that I've re-read this on two other occasions, and I haven't re-read any other McMurtry novels yet. Based on that, I'd make a case for starting here.


(1) This is the book that prompted me to read all of Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. McMurtry creates a situation in which the main character, an uneducated Texas oilman, reads the entire book because his gorgeous psychiatrist tells him to. (Trust me, this subplot, and the novel, are better than how that sounds). Proust isn't mentioned too much, but the fact that McMurtry would introduce such a concept, and the way the Proust book is introduced and described, convinced me that:

a. Proust would be one of the hardest things I would ever read, but that

b. I had to read it at some point, to try and see for myself if Proust bears out the claims that McMurtry makes for it.

2. The second point is that DUANE'S DEPRESSED was the third part of a trilogy (which has since grown to include a fourth book, but ignore that one!). However, McMurtry never seems to set out to write trilogies or really just seems to happen as he gets new ideas. The series that covers the life of Duane Moore started with the book that made McMurtry somewhat famous: THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, which was published in 1968, and soon thereafter made into a movie. McMurtry next updated these charatcer's lives in the mid-1980's with TEXASVILLE, which I have started but haven't finished (though I suspect it might be his funniest book ever). DUANE'S DEPRESSED came out in the late 1990's. These are essentially three different eras for McMurtry as a writer, and as a result I think they can be read as completely separate works. There is a huge difference in quality between THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (McMurtry's second novel) and DUANE'S DEPRESSED. So, don't sweat the fact that there are earlier books in this won't make much difference for you, I'd think.

OK, that's what got me started. Here's another idea, though, for both the fiction and the non-fiction sides of McMurtry:

NON-FICTION: I intend to read everything McMurtry has written, for a possible biographical project that I am considering on this writer. In the end, I suspect that my favorite McMurtry book will be the oddly titled WALTER BENJAMIN AT THE DAIRY QUEEN. This book consists of a series of essays that pretty well lay out McMurtry's world view and what makes him such an important contributor to "American letters" (whatever that is). Throughout McMurty's reading and book collecting life, he has sought to find continuity between the highly civilized European cultures and the frontier experience of the American West, especially in his area of Texas. After all, the white settlers who took that land nearly all came from that civilization, either directly as immigrants or as emigres from the Eastern United States with roots back in those old countries. The questions he seems to be considering are: How did those ideas from the original civilization take root or adapt to the conditions found in frontier Texas, and how has that affected our cultural story today? The fun of McMurtry is that he is quick to point the absurdities and the contrasts between cultural points of view, and that he often accomplishes this with humor. But then he invariably finds ways in which they tie together as well. I think WALTER BENJAMIN AT THE DAIRY QUEEN is the best example of McMurtry's developing that theme, and it also includes some of the funniest McMurtry anecdotes I have ever read. Plus, a good chunk of the book is about his book collecting adventures, which I have much appreciation for.

On the FICTION side, I believe the book that McMurtry will be best remembered for in the end will be LONESOME DOVE. This was the one that won him the Pulitzer...I think it is his longest novel, and this is the one that most people are familiar with (more for the mini-series that starred Tommy Lee Jones than for the book, though). I suspect that the Nation of Texas considers this to be the ultimate Texas novel. Ultimately, this will McMurtry's Huckleberry Finn. I am a third of the way through it, and I think the accolades are well deserved. I think it may be a little too long in the end, but the main characters of Augustus McRae and Woodrow Call are two of the best McMurty has ever come up with, and I am already connected enough with them (and many others in the book) that I expect I may feel the same way Kelly did at the end of this book.

end of essay!

message 27: by Patrick (last edited Mar 09, 2008 11:19AM) (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Kelly and Lori, thanks for commeting! I am glad to see that there are other McMurtry fans out there in this 50 Books group!

Kelly, I totally get what you're saying, and as of right NOW, I think you're making the right decision. I have occasionally read wonderful books by authors who, having had commercial and critical success with a certain group of characters, try to keep the mojo going with either sequels or prequels. But often those other books, written later, aren't quite as good, and so that dimihishes the impact of the original book for a while.

I suspect that may have happened with Lonesome Dove, though McMurtry's was already so successful with his other lines of work (the Booked Up used bookstore in Washington D.C, his screenwriting, and his other best-selling novels) that I don't think his is a case of trying to milk Lonesome Dove for whatever he could make off of it. I really think that, as he read more and more history and biography of the west Texas frontier experience of the 19th century, he developed new stories to tell, and decided to use these familiar characters to tell those tales. But, though I liked DEAD MAN'S WALK, it's not going to be as good as LONESOME DOVE will be once I'm done...I can already tell that. COMANCHE MOON might come close, but I need to get deeper into it. Not sure on STREETS OF LAREDO, which relates events that follow LONESOME DOVE (and let's face it Kelly, since you know that one of the best characters from LONESOME DOVE won't be around for the events of any sequels, it can't really be neearly as good as LONESOME DOVE, can it? Trying to avoid a spolier here for those who haven't read LONESOME DOVE, but I'm sure you know who I'm talking about, Kelly).

However, Kelly, there are certainly other superb and very funny McMurtry books that are worth your time. I'll be reading as many as I can find over the course of this year, so keep an eye on this space. As a start, I might recommend DUANE'S DEPRESSED or TEXASVILLE.

But rest assured, I know where you're coming from, and I respect your idea not to possibly tarnish a delightful reading experience with books that might not be the equal of LONESOME DOVE. I'll be keeping your concerns in mind as I read further.

message 28: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Patrick:

Many thanks for your detailed suggestions. I've gone on a mcMurtry binge at Amazon!

How's Marcel coming along? I've made it through the first five books of "The Forsyte Saga", which was my 'classics' project for February. Maybe I should consider Proust for next February's project.

Thanks again


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Patrick,

I thought I would chime in. Your reading selections caugth my attention. I briefly looked at your books and put the railroad and flagler ones on my to read list.
I didn't notice Gangs of America by Ted Nace on your list. It's similar to the railroad one but is about the development of corporations in America. The subtitle is; The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy, so he has an opinion. It's a great overview of corporate law and how it developed.
Thanks for the new to reads.


message 30: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments David, I know you have a phenomenal reading pace, but I think Proust is best taken slow. And, quite frankly, I don't know that he's right for everybody. I just started Book 5 (The Captive) and after this I have two more books to go. The hardest part is the first book, Swann's Way...after that, it gets easier because you're familiar with the characters and used to Proust's writing style, but his numerous tangential observations are no less maddening at times. In fact, the events related in Swann's Way seemed pretty pointless to me until I got into the events of the fourth book (Guermantes Way). Proust is finally starting to tie in everything together.

I think a good pace for Proust is one book a month. I know you could go faster but I find that I want to take a break from Proust for about ten days after I finish a volume.

I would perhaps recommend to you Alain de Botton's HOW PROUST CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE as a starting point, since I recall your mentioning that you are a fan of his books but that you hadn't read that one. HPCCYL, as Diana and I have named it, is good for helping us figure what the point of all these words we we're wading through is supposed to be. And de Botton's book is actually funnier than proust's book in many ways.


On McMurtry, one good thing about this author is that his books can be easily found in many used bookstores, often in the less expensive paperbacks section. I just uncovered a pretty decent cache of McMurtry paperbacks at my local bookstore, where the standing price is buy two and get the third free for all paperbacks. So once I get paid I'm going to stock up...I'd be happy to send you some of these if you haven't already completed that order from Amazon yet. I also found a nice book club edtion hardcover copy of Lonesome Dove for 50 cents at a local library store. I can pick it up for you next week when I'm back in town (I have to go to San Jose for training this week) and send it up to you free of charge. Let me know if you're interested.

message 31: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Maureen, your book recommendation sounds right up my alley! That subtitle is exactly the type of thing I'm interested in learning about, and getting new perspectives on. I am in the middle of a similar book called RULING's now on my To Read list, but I got three chapters in and found it to be superb.

I see that your Goodreads account is set to private, so I regret that I can't skim through your books...but rest assured that I welcome any and all suggestions on books about business history! So please send me more recommendations for your favorite business books, or any non-fiction books, for that matter. My reading choices for 2008 may not reflect this, but I particularly enjoy biography and history, and will likely be interested in any books from those two areas as long as the book is well written and the book includes decent source notes and a bilbilography!

Thanks again for the recommendation!

message 32: by Xysea (new)

Xysea  (xysea) Patrick,

I love Alain de Botton! I've read the Proust book, as well as the Consolations of Philosophy!

I haven't yet attempted Proust; life's been busy and I've been wanting 'mental vacation time' when I read. But I probably should mark it for a future reading project, eh?

A bonne chance!

message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

you're welcome patrick and i'll keep your preferences in mind
i've done the private thing because i'm new at the social networking thing and was trying to discourage a lot of friend requests in the beginning
i'm finding it a more benign environment than i imagined
if you would like to swap friend links let me know
i don't have all my books listed yet but am remembering them as i see others lists

message 34: by Kelly (new)

Kelly B (kellyb) Patrick,
I think that you're right; knowing that one of the best characters won't be around for the sequels is a big deterrent from reading further in this series. But even more importantly, I really got attached to these characters, and it's too risky to read further and bear witness to more of their losses. I'm such a chicken! But my partner read the other books, and he told me what happened to the characters--I just wanted to know quickly, like ripping off a band-aid. I know that's cheating, but that's the only way I could do it.

I like that you bring up McMurtry's humor; I laughed out loud when I read Lonesome Dove; their dialogue was so funny, and made even more so because half the time Call wasn't trying to be funny at all! I will definitely keep an eye out for your recommendations the next time I'm at the used bookstore, thanks for those.

message 35: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Two enjoyable books of fiction this weekend, both of the thriller variety:

Book #24: EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE, by Lawrence Block. A neat detective story with a kick-ass title. A little bit more literary and ambitious than I had expected it to be. My review:

Book #25: REVENGE, by Stephen Fry. An modern version of the Count of Monte Cristo. My review:

message 36: by Celeste (new)

Celeste (celestelueck) | 54 comments At least you finished the Historian. I got about 300 pages in and just couldn't go anymore.


message 37: by Celeste (new)

Celeste (celestelueck) | 54 comments I do love The Eyre Affair and all the books that follow in the series. Jasper Fforde is one of my favorite writers.

message 38: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Finished three books this weekend, two of which I'd been involved in for a while:

Book #26: THE PEOPLE'S TYCOON: HENRY FORD AND THE AMERICAN CENTURY. A superb biography of this legendary American businessman. Ford was among the most influential and complex businessmen in American history, and this book does an outstanding job on capturing his numerous contradictions. I rank this biography up there with among the best I've ever read, and will likely re-read it again soon. Please note: I listened to the unabridged audio CD version all the way through, but once I realized how good this book was, and how interesting Henry Ford was, I followed along with the book in order to check the many source notes. My review:

Book #27: A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, by Larence Block. Another Matthew Scudder mystery. A fine and interesting tale...I can see myslef becoming quickly addicted to this series. Fortunately Block seems to have published quite a few of the Matthew Scudder books. My review:

Book #28: FRANKENSTEIN: A CULTURAL HISTORY, by Susan Tyler Hitchcock. A very interesting, well-researched, and well-written book about the history of this story and this character. I learned a lot of neat things about literature, science, and pop culture. The author makes wonderful use of lots of photos and illustrations to make her text more understandable. A fun if scholarly book, and a really fast read once you get through the first 100 pages or so (which devoted to the cultural development of the Frankenstein story during the 19th century). Once you get to the chapter about the famous Boris Karloff movies, the book really takes off. More in my review:

message 39: by Patrick (last edited Mar 30, 2008 09:52AM) (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Kind of vegging out this weekend, so I read two quick mysteries in the "Matthew Scudder" series by Lawrence Block that I've become interested in:



No reviews posted.

message 40: by Patrick (last edited Mar 30, 2008 08:02PM) (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Finally finished a book about GM's Alfred Sloan that I've been working on all month.

Book #31: SLOAN RULES: Alfred P. Sloan and The Triumph of General Motors

I was pretty dis-satisfied with this book. it started off strong as a biography, but never really achieved it potential or addressed what I was hoping to get out of it, which an idea as to how Sloan managed to turn GM into the most profitable corporation in the world following years of mis-management by GM's founder, Billy Durant. The first half of the book covers this but doesn't go into as much detail as I wanted. The second half of the book goes into a lot of detail about how Sloan supposedly fought the new Deal and resisted the federal government's efforts to control GM during wartime mobilization. I'm sure the suthor believes in the case he made for this, but I didn't buy it, and I thought the last half of the book was really weak. The entire book is well researched and includes some great sources for further reseach, though. In the end, however, I was disappointed by this book.

My review:

message 41: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Read another in the addictive Matthew Scudder series this afternoon, and really enjoyed it.

Book #32: ALL THE FLOWERS ARE DYING, by Lawrence Block

My review:

message 42: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Finished two more Matthew Scudder mysteries this weekend, which just happen to be the first two books published in this series:

Book #33: THE SINS OF THE FATHER, by Lawrence Block

Book #34: TIME TO MURDER AND CREATE, by Lawrence Block

message 43: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Another weekend, and so I've finished yet another two mysteries in the Matthew Scudder series:

Book #35: WHEN THE SACRED GINMILL CLOSES, by Lawrence Block

Book #36: OUT ON THE CUTTING EDGE, by Lawrence Block

message 44: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Ooops! Forgot that last Sunday I finished listening to the audio CD version of...

Book #37: IN THE HEART OF THE SEA, by Nathaniel Philbrick

Great book, probably Philbrick's best. Sort of a counterpoint to a book I read earlier this year about Ernest Shackleton and his experience in Antarctica. In this book about the episode that provided Melville with the inspiration for Moby Dick, 20 men are stranded at sea in the middle of the Pacific Ocean aboard tiny whaleboats when a whale attacks and sinks their Nantucket whaleship. Then their leaders make a series of bad choices about what to do to try and get back to the mainland, and most of thecrew ends up dying. Some are eaten by the survivors. Philbrick's book is very vivid in parts, and it was a really tough book to listen to at times. Even if you may not be into adventure or survival stories, this is a book that should hold your interest.

message 45: by Linda (new)

Linda I've read Caroline Alexander's "The Endurance", "South" (Shackleton's account) and "Shackleton's Boat Journey", by Frank Worsley. All are good, but my favorite is Frank Worsley's personal account.

message 46: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Just finished another Scudder mystery this morning...

Book #38: A TICKET TO THE BONEYARD, by Lawrence Block

message 47: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments And I just finished another Scudder mystery this afternoon...

Book #39: HOPE TO DIE, by Lawrence Block

I know I'm kind of slumming by reading all of these (especially when I have Proust's In Search of Lost Time to finish), but these books and these characters are so enjoyable I just can't put them down. I recall going through a similar reading phase when I finally committed to reading my complete edition of Sherlock Holmes stories. Mysteries are too addictive! I guess that's why I only let myself read them once a decade or so.

Anyway, from what Block describes on his website, he has written 16 of these novels featuring his Matthew Scudder character, and I think I've read eleven of them (in less than thirty days) so I've got five to go. I'll probably be done with the series by the beginning of May (or maybe by next weekend).

One thing I'm kind of proud of is that I have been able to find all of these books in my local libraries (except for the first one I read, which I bought for a dime at a library booksale, and so at least this addiction hasn't expanded my too-large book collection or dented my wallet! Rather, the only thing I've really invested here has been my time....

but I guess I'd rather be reading books I enjoy than almost anything else in the world.

message 48: by Danine (new)

Danine (dulcemea) I learn about so many new books from your posts and reviews. Thank you. And yes, I too, would rather be reading books. Isn't thrilling to find a book for a dime at a library book sale. It makes me giddy.

message 49: by Kelly (new)

Kelly B (kellyb) This book sounds great. I love to read about people doing things that I would never, ever do. I can stay safe on my couch, and they can risk their lives for my entertainment....I know, they're only characters...

message 50: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments An update from what I've finished over the past seven days:

Book #40: EVERYBODY DIES, by Lawrence Block. Perhaps the best book in the Matthew Scudder series.

Book #41: A STAB IN THE DARK, by Lawrence Block. An early Scudder novel, one of the second or third published. An OK book, but not distinctive.

Book #42: MARCEL PROUST, by Edmund White. This is a re-reading of a biography I have read several times, but what's different now is that I have completed three-fourths of Proust's great novel In Search of Lost Time/Remembrance of Things Past. Since the author of the biography compares Proust's life and friends to scenes and characters from the novel, I now have a new appreciation for both the novel and the biography. I always found the biography humorous, and but now I get the jokes better because I can relate to the references and allusions that the author Edmund White is making. In addition, though in previous readings I always thought of Proust as kind of an absurd person, I have a new measure of respect for his achievement as a writer and his commitment to his book. Had Proust been less absurd and more conventional, the novel would be nearly as good (or as funny) as it is. I'm glad that I re-read this.

Book #43: A DANCE AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE, by Lawrence Block. An OK book, but notable for a couple of reasons, which I cover in my review. Not one of Block's best written books in this series, but the ending certainly got me thinking.

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