Book Log #9: Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid [Kindle, $13.99]

I made a note of this book after seeing an interview with Kiley Reid by Trevor Noah. Trevor endorsed her book, and I figure he knows good books.

Interestingly, it’s centers around a black babysitter taking care of a white child in a supermarket, where she is accosted by store security on suspician of kidnapping.

i started reading it before the most recent momentum from the Black Lives Matter movement kicked in; it turned out to be serendipitious reading material.

And interesting, and entertaining. Trevor didn’t let me down.

Book Log #6: The Glass Hotel

The Glass Hotel By Emily St. John Mandel

By the author of Station 11, which was fantastic.

This was a fine read. It had a story, but felt more like a collection of character sketches. I don’t mean that in necessarily a bad way, I stayed engaged throughout. The ending got a bit supernatural for my taste, in what was otherwise a very grounded novel.

The plot involves a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme and an isolated hotel, and the characters that inhabit both.

Worth a read, but try Station 11 first.

I liked it well enough to try some of her other works.

Book Log #3: The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia: A Novel

The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia: A Novel by Mary Helen Stefaniak [Kindle, $9.99]

Loved this novel.

I came across it because I was taking an SAT practice test with my son, and one of the questions had an excerpt from this novel. The excerpt was probably the most amusing bit of writing I’ve ever seen in a standardized test so I needed to get the rest of it.

There’s some fun literary fugues going on in this book… a person tells a story about someone who then tells a story about someone who then tells a story and so on about 7 layers down. And then, when you’ve finished the book, you can visit the Baghdad, Georgia website, and go one level up from the novel. There are layers, people.

All in all, this is a rollicking, amusing, touching and well-written novel, probably my favorite this year.

I picked up the other couple works by Stefanick, and they did not disappoint either.

Book Log #2: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers Book 1)

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers Book 1) by Becky Chambers [Kindle, $6.99]

This was an alternative family sci-fi story, like Firefly. Put a bunch of different personalities in a small ship and watch them bond. There’s some decent world building going on here, but not enough that I needed to look for Book 2.

There is a decent message here about accepting different cultures, sexualities, etc.

Book Log #4 : Fuzzy Mud

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar [Kindle, Amazon]

I finished reading Holes to my daughter, and the ads on the last page of the Kindle version mentioned Fuzzy Mud, which piqued her interest. So, using the insidious evil of instant gratification through ebook purchase, we dove into that.

It’s a fine story, though not quote Holes. The ending has a nice pragmatic, grey-area ending to it that’s refreshing.

It’s difficult to discuss the story without spoilers, so… it’s recommended for young readers.

Book Log #3: Holes

Holes by Louis Sachar [Amazon, Kindle, in library]

This was in our Kindle library from when my kids read it.

This book is great kid lit. The story of a wrongly accused kid sent to a “rehabilitation” camp where inmates dig 5 foot by 5 foot holes every day in a desert, purportedly to build character. But there is something more to Camp Green Lake…

Engaging, extremely well written, amusing, and entertaining. I’d heard good things about it, from my kids and others, and it lived up to the hype.

Book Log #1: A More Perfect Constitution

A More Perfect Constitution by Larry J. Sabato [Amazon, Kindle]

It may seem a reaction to the recent election, but my first couple of books for 2017 are government related. Both of these came as recommendations from the older sister of one of my daughter’s robotics teammates. She is a 12-13 year old Supreme Court groupie who had recently visited Washington D.C., and had picked up these two books there.

This first one was a fascinating set of proposals for a new Constitutional Convention. The argument being that the framers had always envisioned that the Constitution would be adjusted occasionally as the country gained experience, and it was well overdue after 220 years.

The author lays out twenty-something adjustments to the constitution, none of which are hot-button issues (abortion, gay marriage, etc) as he firmly believes those divining rods should be off the table for a successful Constitutional Convention.

I thought all of the suggestions were reasonable, though I thought his arguments in favor on a few were not particularly strong and would need to be fleshed out a bit.

As part of his research for the book, he did polling to see how his suggestions would currently be received by the populace, and I was surprised at the low support for a few of the better ideas (IMHO).

Particularly, he suggested a 2 year National Service requirement for all citizens. In short, each citizen would be required to work in a service capacity, either military or civilian, preferably between the ages of 18-26. In return for minimum wage, the measure would garner a sense of civic duty and volunteerism, provide a good way to develop experience, and apply manpower to the nations challenges.

It’s something I wish I had done, and with a well organized system of doing so, I think I would have enjoyed it. There’s a nice social engineering aspect, in that all citizens, regardless of wealth or class, would have a shared common experience.

At any rate, the thought of organizing a second Constitutional Convetion seems so overwhelming as to be impossible, but the author recommends slow and deliberate progress is the way to go.

I’m for it.