Look, a Book!: Summer Reading List

>> 29 July 2011

One nice thing about quitting law school (by the way, I quit law school) is that instead of reading about strict liability, contract consideration and the rule against perpetuities, I have been reading good books! Here are a few of the good ones that I have read since my law school liberation:

  • Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer -- An American writer (named Jonathan Safran Foer) travels to the Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. His translator, a self-described "premium dancer" who taught himself English from a thesaurus, devises fanciful schemes for starting a new life in the States. The tour guide and driver, an old man with a personal stake in Jonathan's journey, claims to be blind and requires the help of his "seeing eye bitch", Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. Funny, insightful, tragic, and ultimately hopeful. Almost as good as "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," one of my favorite books ever.
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell -- Why do some ideas become full-blown trends, while others disappear from our collective memory? In this book, Gladwell tries to explain how the attributes of the message, messenger, and audience combine to make an idea 'tip' and gain widespread acceptance. Take it with a grain of salt, as the conclusions appear to be supported by only a few carefully chosen examples; nevertheless, this book is well worth your time.
  • >Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- The story of Fermina Daza, her husband, Dr. Juvenal Urbino and Florentino Ariza, her first love, who has never been able to replace her in his heart for nearly half a century. I've heard people say that the book was boring; I enjoyed it, although the pace is admittedly slow. It is equally a story and a meditation on all of the distinct emotions that we group together under the name love. 

  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond -- Why did Europeans conquer the Americas and not the other way around? In this book, Jared Diamond examines how environmental factors shaped the modern world. Factors from hundreds of thousands of years ago like the suitability of local plants for domestication or climate conditions that were favorable for growing imported crops led to food surplus, government, literacy, military technology, and religions to garner popular support for wars of conquest and so on. In this fascinating work, the history and environmental factors of each of the inhabited continents is analyzed with a view towards understanding the past, present, and future of the modern world.
  • The Magicians by Lev Grossman -- Take a dash of Harry Potter, a sprinkle of Narnia, and a pinch of hard-bitten New York City cynicism, mix well and serve chilled. If you always suspected that Hermione was relying on amphetamines to maintain her grueling study schedule, or if you yourself are experiencing a difficult withdrawal from the hardest of literary drugs--Harry Potter--then this might be one worth checking out.
Chime in with your thoughts on any of these books. And as always, I'm looking for book recommendations, so leave them in the comments section!


    This Week's Success & Failure

    >> 02 July 2011

    Held my breath under water for two minutes at the pool this afternoon. Should come in handy if I ever need to...hold my breath under water for two minutes or less, I guess.

    Failure: Accidentally set off the fire alarm at work (with steam from lab equipment; no fire was involved), forcing everyone in the building to stand outside in the sweltering heat. At least it wasn't raining!


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