The first few books I made it through in 2012.
A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin. The fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, continues with all the betrayal, brutal murder, ruthless politics and raunchiness that one comes to expect when reading about the Lannisters, Starks, and Tyrells. I thought Martin turned up the violence in this one a little, but otherwise it seemed to drag a little more than the previous three had. Also, I didn’t think it was possible to make a certain female character more hate-able than she already was, but wow, he sure did. In her, Martin has written (brilliantly I might add) one of the most vile and despicable characters in all of literature.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. A brief and interesting summation of the brief life of an interesting man. Krakauer writes the short biography of Chris McCandless and the adventures that led to his lonely death by starvation in the woods of Alaska, in a crisp and thoughtful way; introducing just the right amount of background information and analogy to keep the book from being bogged down. I disagree with some of his conclusions about McCandless’ motivations, but since he is drawing most of them entirely from hearsay it’s hard to fault him. A very enjoyable, fast read that gets you thinking.
The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl. This is a meticulously researched, part fiction, part non-fiction narrative, which looks deeply into the events surrounding Edgar A. Poe’s mysterious death in Baltimore in 1849. Pearl creates a number of fictional characters, whom interact with a number of true-life characters from Poe’s life. Together, through the voice of Quentin Clark (whom I actually thought was the weakest character in the book) they tell the tale of Poe’s final few days, as researched and hypothesized by Pearl himself. It’s an interesting read with some very interesting French characters. It’s not great, though, and I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone unless they are a fan of Poe.
Earth (The Book) by The Daily Show Writers. Not much to say about this book other than that it’s sharply funny and makes a great gift. Full of cynical and black humor that rips on humanity; it’s exactly what you’d expect from Jon Stewart and his writing team. Keep it around and pick it up if you’re in need of a quick chuckle.
Destined to Survive: A Dieppe Veteran’s Story by Jack A. Poolton. The retired soldier who wrote the foreword thinks that “This book should be required reading in our classrooms.” I disagree, and wonder what about this book would lead him to make such a strong statement: That it’s all hearsay? That it was written over fifty years after the events described took place? That it glorifies war? That it reads as though it was spoken? Keep in mind I’m not trying to disparage the poor man who spent three years as a POW and wanted to share that story with others, but should old war stories be “required reading” in schools? Definitely not.
The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha. A collection of posts from a blog in book form. A waste of paper? Probably. It is somewhat satisfying, though, to read that others also think the simple thing you find to be “awesome”, is “awesome”.