Friday, August 30, 2013

27. Save the Cat! Goes to the Movies

By Blake Snyder (286 pp)

Normally I don't approve of certain kinds of non-fiction writing where it seems the author grinds out a variation of the same book over and over. I own all three Save the Cat! books and I love them all. They're all screenwriting books although I'd recommend the original book, Save the Cat! to any one who writes stories and likes to think about story structure.

I'm behind on my reading goals for the year. If I can read something the size of a George R.R. Martin book tomorrow, I'll be caught up.

26. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot (345 pp)

I picked a book on my shelf but while we were in Seattle we went to Elliot Bay Books and I bought this and once I started I could barely put it down. I've heard about it a few times. I can't remember what motivated me to grab it now. It's about a woman whose cells were sampled in 1951 and the cells had unique qualities that made them invaluable for science research up until this day. The story is both about the woman and her family, and how the cells were developed. The author did a terrific job of making the science interesting and accessible and lovingly characterizing this woman, and her family who struggled for years to learn what exactly happened.  Highly recommend.

Friday, August 16, 2013

25 1/2. Abandoned Book

I just read the first 100 pages of another one of those popular dystopian YA novels with first person present tense narration that is poorly written and not terribly original. The author is not shy about throwing around big words and more than once I wanted to say: this word doesn't mean what you think it means.

After yet another ridiculous plot turn I realized the only reason I was still reading it was so I could write a bad review. Instead, I set it aside and I won't mention the title because there is no need to be mean. I'm sure it's being made into a movie right now and the author is sleeping on a bed stuffed with money.

Not sure what to read next. Going to dig around the shelf and find something good.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

25. Zeitoun

By Dave Eggers (335 pp)

Nothing like a book that stirs up your outrage. It's a non-fiction story about a Muslim man who stayed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to watch over his home. He ended up linking up with a few other people and together they helped other people and pets stranded by the storm. They were arrested for looting while in a home owned by Zeitoun and surrounded by their own stuff. Other than randomly imprisoning any brown people they found, the big takeaway is that FEMA managed to build and maintain (bathrooms, food, water) a giant temporary prison while people were stranded around the city or stuck in the Superdome with no bathrooms or food or water.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

24. Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn (465 pp ebook)

It's been a long time since I read a page turner like this. I read it on my Mom's iPad while I was visiting so that was my excuse to keep reading: I had to finish before vacation was over. It only took me two days. It's about a married couple and the woman disappears on their wedding anniversary. As the story unfolds, everything is not as it seems. It's definitely a fun book to read, but the story goes a little off the rails by the end.

Monday, August 5, 2013

23. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

By Ben Fountain (307 pp)

I had a friend coming in from out of town and even though I have a number of books on the to-read shelf, I decided I needed go to Powell's with him and buy a few more. This was recommended in something I was looking at so I grabbed it. It is terrific. It's about an American soldier who is involved in an attack in Iraq that is caught by an embedded news team. His squad becomes famous and are sent on a tour of the U.S. that culminates in a visit to a Superbowl game in Texas. Most of the events of the story take place during the game. Great writing, great characters, great social/political commentary. Recommend.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

22. Messi

by Luca Caioli (249 pp)

Years ago I read a biography of the band REM. It was a tome and I was about halfway through before I realized that it was basically an inventory of every show REM played, the set lists and what clothes the guys wore.

This book is a little like that. It's an inventory of endless matches and goals scored by Lionel Messi. (International soccer star in case anyone is actually reading this, and doesn't know who he is.) This is broken up with interviews with people from Messi's life. Every person from Messi's Mom to his UPS man says some version of what a great player he is and what a nice guy he is. There are some interesting biographical bits particularly about his move from Argentina to Spain but I don't recommend unless you're a total soccer nerd. Also this book is from 2010 and he's accomplished a ton more since then.