Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What I did Without a Summer Vacation

Still laughing about Lilly the dog (see yesterday's post) and I'm glad some of you are, too.

This summer, in addition to much travel and way too many conferences, I have had the joy of some summer reading. I always appreciate when others give me a thumbnail of the books they've read. Maybe you do, too? Maybe you agree, maybe not, but here's my take on some of the more recent books I've read.

Good to Great, Jim Collins - Non-fiction, business leadership. Believe the hype. Very thoughtful book, incredibly well-researched and mostly well-written. How his team comes to their conclusions is as interesting as the companies they profile.

Fish!, Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen - Non-fiction, business leadership. Skip it. Nice idea, but I'd rather read interviews with the Seattle fish guys. This felt like an infomercial.

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard - Non-fiction, business. Better than I thought it would be. Borrow a copy just so you can be in on the jokes.

March by Geraldine Brooks- Fiction, civil war. I think I may be done with the "fill in the blanks on a minor character" books. (See The Red Tent, Ahab's Wife, etc.) But I loved Little Women as a child so this was a must. Brooks is a writer with a gentle and subtle touch.

Diary by Chuck Palahniuk- Fiction, pseudo-mystery. Chuck Palahniuk is a real cool guy in a creepy, cross to the other side of the street sort of way. Reading his uneven stuff is still better than other ways I could spend my time. My favorites on this one were the leitmotifs of what they don't teach you in art school and the weather reports. It's Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind, but using your eyes instead of your nose. And it's way funnier.

Rant by Chuck Palahniuk - Fiction, oral history form. I was sick and in bed anyway so I went for a Palahniuk two-fer. I really think that this is his best work since Fight Club and Choke. Different feel for him because of the oral history format. Some weasel book reviewer ruined one of the best surprises for me, though. When I find you, evil reviewer, I will give you my ear infection.

Snow by Orhan Pamuk - Fiction, Nobel prize winner for literature. This is a re-read for me. I'm a big Kafka fan and had heard there were similarities. There are. One of which is that if you put the book down for more than a day, even if you are on page 347, you gotta' go back and start again from page 1. I make myself read a Nobel Prize winner a year to keep my literature degree feeling meaningful. This is certainly doing the trick.

I've read a couple of others, but they didn't make lasting enough impressions. I spent 20 bucks on one of those Harvard Business Review books only to find that it's written on a fourth grader's reading level. Grumble, grumble. And I've been reading things for sermons and Vespers but I don't usually count those because I read differently when I need things for work. Perhaps in a later blog I'll do a thumbnail of the half dozen religious book I've read this summer.

But I would like to share one more.

Possession by Susan Williams - Poetry. Susan is a member of my congregation and a delightful poet. I was looking forward to this coming out, but little did I know. I laid down to browse it on a hotel bed in Virginia Beach. 1 hour later I had devoured every poem like they were my beloved peanut M&M's. But Susan's poems are better because they never run out. I got to the end and just started reading some again. Congratulations, Susan! There was one of these on Amazon when I checked. Go for it or order from Finishing Line Press directly.


kari said...

Have you read The Known World (Edward Jones)? Amazing, amazing book. I have a copy if you want to borrow. I read it for my AfAm Lit class and L-O-V-E-D it.

I read exactly 1/2 of On Beauty (Zadie Smith) which won some award and sounded like something I would like. It's on my nightstand, but I haven't found a reason to pick it up and read the rest.

I have March on CD and it's going on my iPod for the long drive to my summer vacation knitting class in northwestern New Jersey at the end of the month.

Jim said...

You described what you did because you had no vacation. Wasn't SUUSI a vacation?

Of the books you describe, I only read one - "Who Moved my Cheese?", whose moral to me is "The Cheese is always Changing". Sorry to hear about your disappointment with the Harvard book. Why not write a book about business entitled "Grumble, Grumble"?

Every 7th Day said...

I have read The Known World and agree with the "Amazing Amazing" verdict.

Vacation knitting class. That sounds heavenly.

As for Jim's question about SUUSI being vacation, I only hope he was kidding. I led two worship services a day, served as minister of the day, and had to do some on call work. SUUSI is a labor of love, but it is not a vacation.

debra said...

a friend just "zapped" me with goodreads.com - looks like an interesting way to share your book reviews with others and get some new ideas...i enjoyed these!

Every 7th Day said...

Well, if that isn't cool as a cucumber! Thanks for letting me know. I'll pass the word on.