"The book I'm looking for,' says the blurred figure, who holds out a volume similar to yours, 'is the one that gives the sense of the world after the end of the world, the sense that the world is the end of everything that there is in the world, that the only thing there is in the world is the end of the world."
- Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Winter Morning Walks by Ted Kooser - B+

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan - C+ 
Aslan's first book is one of my favorite non-fiction works. But the organizing insight here, that the two things we know about the historical Jesus are that he was Jewish and that he was crucified (and therefore executed for political reasons), can't sustain interest for a whole book, and is probably a little stale to a lot of interested readers anyway.

One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling by Hanan Al-Shaykh - C+
Mythological / fairy-tale / oral-story type writing. Not my style.

Thirst by Mary Oliver - C
Honestly, sometimes I love Oliver to death, but this book was her at her worst, her most cloying and saccharine. Some of these poems were like bad parodies of an Oliver poem. 

Given Sugar, Given Salt by Jane Hirshfield - A

Come, Thief by Jane Hirshfield - A

Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx - B
The more famous stories in this collection (Half Skinned Steer and The Mud Below) didn't impress me too much, and I was really disappointed by Brokeback Mountain, the movie version of which is probably in my top 15. But even those three were solid enough, and some of the others--A Lonely Coast, in particular--were great.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting - B-
Super gross, but very readable.

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead - A-

Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Bachelor - B+
The content in this book is too life changing. He does an admirable job of translating the Eastern jargon and claptrap of Buddhism for a secular, Western audience, making a case for ejecting the supernatural elements of the religion and embracing the Dharma practice alone. But the practice is too real and scary and hard soooo...

The Undertaking by Thomas Lynch - A
Second time reading this. Still great! 

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