May Book Log

June 4, 2019

As I write this, it isn’t summer vacation yet, but it very nearly is and I need it. The last several summers have been absurdly busy with life happening and finally, I have a summer with nothing hugely stressful looming aside from a week of training for a new class I’ll be teaching. Correspondingly, I’m really, really, really hoping to read in a relaxed manner over the next couple of months. So I’m bringing back something I did a long time ago: A book queue. It’s just a lit of books I plan to read over the next 2-3 months, but I like having the list.

Anyway, here’s what I read last month:

  1. The Radetzsky March by Joseph Roth (5/5) – I didn’t know what to expect from this, really. I just knew Chekov had praised Roth and that was enough for me. It’s a novel about pre-WWI Europe that’s not like anything else I’d read before. It tracks one family over three generations as they rise to prominence as the result of a mostly accidental association with the monarch. So much goes on in this novel so quickly, it’s hard to explain, but it’s very worth the read.
  2. Ripples in Spacetime by Govert Schilling (3/5) – This is a good book, but I’ve also read a lot of pop-physics books now, and that makes a lot of them also pretty redundant. I’d wager this would get a 4 or 5 if I’d never read anything like it before. As is, it’s a good discussion about the discovery of gravitational waves.
  3. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (4/5) – I hadn’t read any Hemingway in a long time and after a lot of fairly dense/ornate prose the last few months, it felt called for. This is an interesting memoir. Not his best, but fascinating to read because of all the characters who appear in it. Related: Fitzgerald was a mess.
  4. We and Me by Saskia de Coster (4/5) – The last third of the book is easily the strongest. Before that it reads as a fairly standard bourgeois angst novel. Entertaining enough, but nothing to get that excited about. A genuine urgency comes through in the latter part, though, which some pretty convincing epiphanies that make it a worthwhile read, especially if you’re in the mood for something of its kind. The┬áPrivileges by Jonathan Dee was similar and highly lauded book several years ago and this is much stronger than that one.

Book Queue (things I shall endeavor to read):

  • At least the first book of the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake
  • Herzog by Saul Bellow
  • Relativity by Albert Einstein
  • The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
  • Mikhail and Margarita by Julie Lekstrom Heines
  • Little Reunions by Eileen Chang
  • McSweeney’s 55
  • Sing to It by Amy Hempel
  • How to Tame a Fox by Dugatkin and Trut
  • Love and Death by Ivan Turgenev
  • Paris in the Middle Ages by Simone Roux
  • The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
  • Her Mouth as a Souvenir by Heather June Gibbons
  • The Storyteller by Pierre Jarawan