Monday, February 29, 2016

February 2016 Reading List

Gathering Prey - John Sandford

The latest in the Lucas Davenport series by Sandford. I've read all but the first 1-2 of this series. This is the 25th in the series. Lucas is feeling that his job is getting too routine. He feels like he's still doing good, and still likes the job but when you've seen one maniac killer you've seen them all, In this installment he gets involved in a case of a traveling band of killers, a Manson-like group with a camping trailer. He goes pretty far out of his jurisdiction but gets the job done. The ending leaves us wondering if this isn't that last of the Davenport series or if Sandford plans a massive retooling of the character.

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty by Charles Leerhsen

I did a whole blog post on this book here.

We The Living by Ayn Rand

I have a couple of lists I carry around of the "books you should read" type. This was the next book on one of them. I had read her classics "Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" in my early 20s. To me, the read like alternate history fantasy. As Noble Prize winning economist Paul Krugman once noted:

'There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession  with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.The other, of course, involves orcs'

"We the Living" was her first book and it's a pretty gripping tale of life in Communist Russia in the early 1920s. Her ideas on individualism were first expressed here. The main characters,  Kira a young woman who wants to be an engineer in a society which discourages her at every turn; Leo, a former aristocrat in a society which sees aristocrats as the ultimate enemy; and Andrei, a young member of the secret police, whose idealism is slowly worn down by his corrupt comrades are all pretty unlikable characters. The three are involved in a love triangle and use each other in quite shameful ways. Shameful to normal people, but Rand believes that people should pretty much do what they like regardless the consequences to others. But it was an interesting read. I'm not sure how realistic her portrayal is because her hatred for Communism is quite evident. 

The Interstellar Age by Jim Bell

The spacecraft Voyagers 1 and 2 are now approaching the very boundary of the solar system. Launched some 40 years ago on a "Grand Tour" of the solar system, they are still powered and being tracked. The mission was first conceived in 1968 by a grad student who figured out the math and when the planets would be in a position (roughly in 10 years) to make such a journey possible. Voyager 1 visited Jupiter and Saturn before being aimed for the stars. Voyager 2 also made it to Uranus and Neptune.  Jim Bell, now a prominent astronomer was a young college student when he got accidentally involved in the program in the early 1980s and managed to stay involved at some level for years, tells an interesting story about the people running the program and the things, many unexpected, they discovered over the long journey. 

The Essential Calvin and Hobbs Treasury by Bill Watterson

I imagine just about everyone loves Calvin and Hobbs. I came upon several Calvin and Hobbs collections when I was helping set up our local library used bookstore. Since we volunteers were allowed to take some books as a thank you I choose these. Some decidedly light reading after some heavy books this month.

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