After a crappy month of reading in June, I got back into a groove for July. Yeah, there are still two days left in July but I need to start a new book tonight and there’s no way I’m reading anything in two days so here goes this month’s list.
Hamlet, by William Shakespeare I haven’t read Hamlet in ages so thought I would give it another run through. I had forgotten how wishy washy Hamlet was in the first 2/3rds of the book. Still one of my favorite of Billy’s plays though. I should reread Macbeth next.
Art Through the Ages, by Helen Gardner, picked this up at the library just to go through some art history. It’s a monster of a book though (in terms of actual weight.
Diary of a Genius, by Salvadore Dali, this is a very short read, maybe 200 pages, but 200 pages in the mind of Dali is more than enough. It covers a few diary entries and is well worth it to hear his musings on random topics like why he loves accidental coffee spills and how artwork by children is just annoying when adults act like it’s amazing.
The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, by Machado de Assis, I need to read more Brazilian authors (Not Paulo Coelho though. UGH). A look at 19th century Brazilian society through the eyes of a recently deceased narrator who reflects on his life. Very witty and sharply written. I need to read more books by Machado de Assis.
Fall, or Dodge in Hell, by Neal Stephenson, Oh, Neal…. I have such a love/hate relationship with him. This book is extremely long, (well, all of his books are) and I just couldn’t get a good handle on it. There are certain sections in the beginning I enjoyed, and just as I got a handle of that arc, the section would end putting us in a completely different narrative. I gave up halfway through this one sadly.
The Library Book, by Susan Orlean, A look at libraries through the prism of a library fire in California a while back. This book gets very high ratings on GoodReads. I thought it was ok but just got a bit bored about the fire.
The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism, by Ross King, One of my favorite books from the month. A nonfiction account of the art world in the 19th century which focuses mainly on two artists. Manet and one of the most famous artists of that period who is practically unknown nowadays, Ernest Meissonier. Manet’s painting, Le déjeuner sur l’herbe, caused a stir when it was displayed in the Salon des Refuses (It was rejected from the Paris Salon), where it was openly mocked, derided, and then went on to be considered one of the first paintings of the Impressionists.
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak, by Jean Hatzfeld Oh, a book about the Rwandan genocide as told by men who participated in the killing of their Tutsi neighbors. My god. This is a hard book to read. They talk about killing and raping like it was a menial chore like taking out the garbage. I gave up about 3/4ths the way through.
Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan, There is surfing in this book. A lot of surfing. I probably should have realized this by the title, but I thought there would be some surfing and then something else. I was wrong. Ok, it also passes for a travelogue, with surfing. It’s very well written, if you like surfing. Did I mention that it’s about surfing?
Level 7, by Mordecai Roshwald, Whoa, I had never heard of this one before. Written in the late 50s when nuclear war with the Soviets was not a question of if, but of when, this is told through the eyes of one of the people whose job is to push “the button” and has been basically imprisoned in an underground bunker for the rest of his life (along with other members of the military).