Thursday, January 4, 2018

First Lines: July and August 2017 edition

More for my own sake that anything else, here are the first lines of the books I finished during July and August of last year.

Reading in summertime (2012)

Book 1
I’m surrounded by thousands of words.  Maybe millions.

Book 2
Chapter One: Archery and the Race Issue
My Family
My life has been shaped inevitably by the experiences and decisions of my forefathers, and I have learned a lot about my family history.  My mother was Bessie Lillian Gordy, and I knew all her intimate relatives and many of her distant cousins. 

Book 3
 “Education is an admirable thing,” wrote Oscar Wilde, “but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”  In dark moments while writing this book, I sometimes feared that Wilde might be right.

Book 4
“Take one hundred people,” said Isabel.
Jamie nodded.  “One hundred.”
“Now, out of those one hundred,” Isabel continued, “how many will mean well?”

Book 5
In the eight years since I came to Washington, probably the question I’ve been asked more than any other is some version of this: “Is being a United States senator as much fun as working on Saturday Night Live?” The answer has always been NO!!! Why would it be?

Book 6
The Hearth and the Salamander
It was a pleasure to burn.

Book 7
It had begun to seem to Graham, in this, the twelfth year of his second marriage, that he and his wife lived in parallel universes. And worse, it seemed his universe was lonely and arid, and hers was densely populated with armies of friends and acquaintances and other people he did not know.

Book 8
The Science Unit of Destiny
There’s this totally false map of the human tongue.  It’s supposed to show where we taste different things, like salty on the side of the tongue, sweet in the front, bitter in the back. Some guy drew it a hundred years ago, and people have been forcing kids to memorize it ever since.
            But it’s wrong – all wrong.

The titles and authors

Book 1
Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper
The main character is Melody Brooks, a girl with cerebral palsy, confined to wheelchair and unable to speak, but quite able to hear and understand.   This was a good read, a YA book for our summer mother-daughter book club. 

Book 2
A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety, by Jimmy Carter.  This book was a disappointment.  The writing was flat.  It left me wanting to know more details about everything described.  Perhaps the details are in a previous work by President Carter.  He’s only written about 32 books.

Book 3
The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Steven Pinker.  I really liked this book.  I am a word nerd.

Book 4
The Careful Use of Compliments, by Alexander McCall Smith (Isabel Dalhousie #4).  It’s always a good and philosophical time, reading the Isabel Dalhousie books.

Book 5
Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken, giant of the Senate.  I read it for our other book club, back in simpler times.  I guess he is not such a giant after all.

Book 6
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.  This was also for our mother-daughter summer book club.  Why do The Youth like dystopian fiction?  The prose is poetic and often biblical, the topic disturbing and prescient.

Here's a good analysis of the book: Thug Notes . 

Technology and culture that Bradbury portrays:
- Books are illegal; firemen start fires to burn books, rather than putting fires out.
- Houses are fireproof
- Cars must drive very fast
- 200-foot long billboards
- All four walls of a room covered with video screens.  Constant video entertainment.  Three dimensional TV.
- Pumping drugs out of people’s blood (attempted suicide) is routine.
- The Mechanical Hound – can chase people down and paralyze them with an injection.
- Distrust of intellectuals
- Constant advertisements  (“Denham’s Dentifrice”)
- Jesus has become commercialized.
- Bombers constantly flying overhead
- Nuclear war
- No more newspapers
- Constant mindless entertainment
- Earpiece listening device.

How many of these have come true or look quite possible?

Book 7
Standard Deviation, A novel by Katherine Heiny.  I found it quite funny, with some tragic moments.  Includes origami, adulting, autism, tense holidays, infidelity, statistical concepts, and fooooood.

Book 8
Liar and Spy, by Rebecca Stead (children’s fiction)
Main character’s name is Georges (with an “s”).  He is named after Georges Seurat, the French painter.  Georges’ Dad loses his job and the family has to move from their house to an apartment.  In the apartment building he meets a boy who gets him to join his “spy club”.  I recall that it had some unexpected twists.

That carries me through my reading for last summer.  It’s great to think about summer right now.  Outside it’s a frigid 6°, and even inside, it’s cold.   It seems like a good time to crawl into bed with a good book.  I hope everyone has one of each.


Jenny Hart Boren said...

I've read and adored every one of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency (received #18 and #19) for Christmas!) so I thought I'd love the Isabel Dalhousie series, too. I appreciate Smith's style will be different in another protagonist's voice, but I only got through the first three before I gave up; I just don't enjoy them.

I'm amazed and envious at the number of books you read. I know everyone is busy, but I can never get myself organized enough to allow for all the reading I'd love to do. I aim for half an hour before I go to sleep--maybe more on the weekends--but I'd be happier if I could read for hours. My to-be-read pile toppled long ago!

Patience_Crabstick said...

I read Farenheit 451 a long time ago and found it deeply disturbing. I added Al Franken's book to my list, back before the revelations about him. Now I'm conflicted about whether I should read it or not. I certainly won't buy it, if I do decide to read.

Common Household Mom said...

@Patience_Crabstick I can't figure out now if reading Franken's book following the allegations would make the reading of it unpleasant or unproductive. Chances are I would not read it now, mainly because I have so many other things I want to read and the allegations would bump it lower in my reading list. In the book Franken is relatively generous to his political rivals, except Ted Cruz.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...'re in a mother/daughter summer book club? That is the MOST MARVELOUS THING IN THE WHOLE HEMISPHERE!
Love it.
And I'm a fan of Thug Notes. I use the one for The Crucible with my seniors and it never fails to delight.