6 votes

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

This is actually the title of a novel I read recently.

I got an offline request to make sure that the bookshelf isn't filling up only with non-fiction, and to make sure that fiction is represented as well. So here it is.

http://www.amazon.com/How-Filthy-Rich-Rising-Asia/dp/1594632...

Anyone else read any good novels lately?



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jrd3820's picture

June 2014

At the end of June I was up to 54. I am aiming for 6 in July and that will bring me to 60, then I can coast through the rest of the year and easily make 84 by December.

No One Belongs Here More Than You, By Miranda July
New Read.
Amazon Rating: 4/5
GoodReads Rating:4/5
My Rating: 4/5

“These delightful stories do that essential-but-rare story thing: they surprise. They skip past the quotidian, the merely real, to the essential, and do so with a spirit of tenderness and wonder that is wholly unique. They are (let me coin a phrase) July-esque, which is to say: infused with wonder at the things of the world.” —George Saunders, author of Tenth of December

Award-winning filmmaker and performing artist Miranda July brings her extraordinary talents to the page in a startling, sexy, and tender collection. In these stories, July gives the most seemingly insignificant moments a sly potency. A benign encounter, a misunderstanding, a shy revelation can reconfigure the world. Her characters engage awkwardly—they are sometimes too remote, sometimes too intimate. With great compassion and generosity, July reveals their idiosyncrasies and the odd logic and longing that govern their lives. No One Belongs Here More Than You is a stunning debut, the work of a writer with a spectacularly original and compelling voice.

I love these stories, they are so awkward and human anyone can relate. That being said, there is a small audience for them here as this is probably more for a female crowd.

Lucy, By Jamaica Kincaid
New Read.
Amazon Rating: 3.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.5/5
My Rating 3/5

The coming-of-age story of one of Jamaica Kincaid's most admired creations--newly available in paperback. Lucy, a teenage girl from the West Indies, comes to North America to work as an au pair for Lewis and Mariah and their four children. Lewis and Mariah are a thrice-blessed couple--handsome, rich, and seemingly happy. Yet, almost at once, Lucy begins to notice cracks in their beautiful facade. With mingled anger and compassion, Lucy scrutinizes the assumptions and verities of her employers' world and compares them with the vivid realities of her native place. Lucy has no illusions about her own past, but neither is she prepared to be deceived about where she presently is.

The character Lucy is surprising because she is quite cold and nonchalant about other people. She wants to be left alone and not have anyone expect anything of her. She was a memorable character for her eccentricities, but overall the book is mediocre. It is a really quick read though.

Ready Player One, By Ernest Cline
New Read.
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating 4.5/5
My Rating 4/5

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

This was so much fun! All the cultural references were fun, and it became quite intense trying to figure out who was going to win. It is also good to read alongside the book Feed that I posted in my May post about my book list.

Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking, By Christopher Hansard.
New Read
Amazon Rating: 4/5
GoodReads Rating:4/5
My Rating:4/5

Tibetan Bön medicine is one of the world's oldest and most sophisticated systems of healing -- and the only one endorsed by the Dalai Lama. In The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking, Christopher Hansard draws upon the practices and principles of Bön, along with his own knowledge of Tibetan teachings, to offer a series of simple, soulful meditations and exercises that can help you achieve spiritual, emotional, interpersonal, and professional success.

I know this isn’t fiction, but it was part of my June reading. It was helpful and thoughtful and I am grateful that someone would send me such a meaningful book. As far as nonfiction goes, this is a really helpful one.

House on Mango Street, By Sandra Cisneros
Re-Read
Amazon Rating: 3.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3..5/5
My Rating: 4/5

Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers.

This is so sweet. I’m surprised it has a 3.5 from both goodreads and amazon. It was crafted with care. It is also a really quick read as it is not long at all and as the descriptions says, it is told in a series of vignettes. There are a lot of emotions captured in these stories.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Bernerdt
New Read
Amazon Rating: 4/5
GoodReads Rating: 4/5
My Rating: 4/5

Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.

It is fun and quirky and makes me want to drink mint juleps and speak in a slow southern drawl. The descriptions are thick and vivid. The characters are well created and memorable.

Song of Solomon, By Toni Morrison
Re-Read
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 4.5/5
My Rating: 5/5

Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel García Márquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family’s origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.

This is one of my favorite books ever. These characters are unforgettable. This is one of my most read books along with The Sun Also Rises. It is also heavy with biblical references and analogies. Some of the best writing has come drawing parallels to biblical stories, much like East of Eden.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

jrd3820's picture

May 2014

I committed to read 84 books by the end of the yr. Why 84? Because I tried to do 100 last year and only got to 70, so I wanted to go above that, but try to aim more reasonably and after all the equations were put in place, 84 is what I came up with. I read 10 in January, 7 in February, 8 in March, 6 in April and 8 in May. I started keeping an excel spreadsheet and here are my May reviews. And I’m working on my June ones now. I have to keep up, I’m a little behind schedule if I want to accomplish the goal.

May
Spaceship Zombie Wasteland, by Patton Oswalt
New Read
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating:4/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

Oswalt combines memoir with uproarious humor, from snow forts to Dungeons & Dragons to gifts from Grandma that had to be explained. He remem¬bers his teen summers spent working in a movie Cineplex and his early years doing stand-up. Readers are also treated to several graphic elements, includ¬ing a vampire tale for the rest of us and some greeting cards with a special touch. Then there’s the book’s centerpiece, which posits that before all young creative minds have anything to write about, they will home in on one of three story lines: zom¬bies, spaceships, or wastelands.

Oswalt chose wastelands, and ever since he has been mining our society’s wasteland for perversion and excess, pop culture and fatty foods, indie rock and single-malt scotch. Zombie Spaceship Wasteland is an inventive account of the evolution of Patton Oswalt’s wildly insightful worldview, sure to indulge his legion of fans and lure many new admirers to his very entertaining “wasteland.”

I think Patton Oswalt is quite funny, however it only translated mildly to his writing. Not everyone is a writer. He is not horrible at it, but it is not as funny and or in depth as I was hoping based on his stand up. It is however a very quick read, and does have a few moments of laugh out loudness, but I probably won’t read it again, and it will be an easy book to put in a “donate for credit at used bookstore” pile.

*******************************************************************
Bastard Out Of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
New Read.
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating:4.5/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

Greenville County, South Carolina, a wild, lush place, is home to the Boatwright family—rough-hewn men who drink hard and shoot up each other's trucks, and indomitable women who marry young and age all too quickly. At the heart of this astonishing novel is Ruth Anne Boatwright, known simply as Bone, a South Carolina bastard with an annotated birth certificate to tell the tale. Observing everything with the mercilessly keen eye of a child, Bone finds herself caught in a family triangle that will test the loyalty of her mother, Anney. Her stepfather, Daddy Glen, calls Bone "cold as death, mean as a snake, and twice as twisty," yet Anney needs Glen. At first gentle with Bone, Daddy Glen becomes steadily colder and more furious—until their final, harrowing encounter, from which there can be no turning back.

The 4.5 ratings are a bit too generous if you ask me. It is well written, and it did keep me interested until the end. All emotions are represented at some point or another. It’s a coming of age/loss of innocence story. It is cute. However, it didn’t leave a lasting impression, it didn’t rock my world, blow my mind, or change my life or anything.

********************************************************************
The Rose That Grew From Concrete, by Tupac Shakur
New Read.
Amazon Rating: 5/5
GoodReads Rating:4.5/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

This collection of more than 100 poems that honestly and artfully confront topics ranging from poverty and motherhood to Van Gogh and Mandela is presented in Tupac Shakur's own handwriting on one side of the page, with a typed version on the opposite side.

These poems are not poems that can be found in his music so it was interesting to read them, almost like finding a side of Tupac I never knew existed despite my knowledge of his music. The topics are interesting and he talks about love in a way he fails to do in his music. Glad I read them, however I do think he saved his best poetry for his music because some of it was subpar.

********************************************************************
Oral History, by Lee Smith
Re-Read
Amazon Rating: 4/5
GoodReads Rating:4.5/5
My Rating: 5/5

To complete an assignment for a college class, Jennifer takes her notebook and tape recorder to the tiny mountain town in Virginia where her Mother grew up. She meets family members and learns of a mysterious curse that has followed them for generations. Her grandfather and her great-aunt actually left their mountain cabin because of ghostly screams and noctural visitations. Jennifer learns about herself as she chronicles the lives of her ancestors.
This is a beautifully written, absorbing story. Characters are fully developed and Smith captures the character and the hard life of the Appalachian mountaineer with sensitivity and empathy, not without sending a chill or two up the reader's spine.
Here's a world you may not know but if it's a familiar one, you may see it with new insight after reading ORAL HISTORY.

I funking love this story. The characters are endearing, even the antagonists. The descriptions are vivid. The story is enchanting. I have read this 3 times now. I fall in love with characters again every time. It is hard not to think about them during the day when you are reading this one. There is a lot of love in this book.

****************************************************************

Ernest and Celestine: The Picnic, by Gabrielle Vincent
New Read
Amazon Rating: 5/5
GoodReads Rating:4.5/5
My Rating:5/5

This is a children’s book I stumbled upon after someone referred me to the movie a few times. I couldn’t find the movie on Netflix, so I started looking around on Amazon and found there are books! Ernest and Celestine are adorable. Ernest is so sweet and caring and kind when it comes to Celestine. And Celestine means well. She really does. I almost wouldn’t count this on my 84 book list because it is a kid’s book, but Suttree should be two books if ya ask me, so I’m counting it, and will probably read some more in this series. This was found at the end of May, I think I may have read it early June though. Idk why I have it marked as May on my spreadsheet, but here it is.

*******************************************************************
Suttree, by Cormac McCarthy
Amazon Rating: 4/5
GoodReads Rating:4.5/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

By the author of Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses, Suttree is the story of Cornelius Suttree, who has forsaken a life of privilege with his prominent family to live in a dilapidated houseboat on the Tennessee River near Knoxville. Remaining on the margins of the outcast community there--a brilliantly imagined collection of eccentrics, criminals, and squatters--he rises above the physical and human squalor with detachment, humor, and dignity.

Sigh on this book. It was a tough read, it took me much longer than normal to get through. McCormac packs a ton into each sentence. Descriptions could go on for a few sentences, in one or two cases I remember, they would go on for paragraphs. This was a fun story with memorable characters and interesting situations. This touches on the bizarre, grotesque and almost feels like an old time circus at points, but Hemingway is write about cutting out excessive adjectives and words altogether. There is not need for some of the rambling in this book. He could cut out about 100 pages of words and still have told the same story.

This was my first McCormac read, and because of the obvious talent in his story telling I plan on giving another one of his books a try soon, in the very near future, but for the love of God there is no need for some of his diatribes.

*****************************************************************
War Dances, by Sherman Alexia

New Read
Amazon Rating: 4/5
GoodReads Rating:4/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

Fresh off his National Book Award win, Alexie delivers a heartbreaking, hilarious collection of stories that explores the precarious balance between self-preservation and external responsibility in art, family, and the world at large. With unparalleled insight into the minds of artists, laborers, fathers, husbands, and sons, Alexie populates his stories with ordinary men on the brink of exceptional change. In a bicoastal journey through the consequences of both simple and monumental life choices, Alexie introduces us to personal worlds as they transform beyond return. In the title story, a famous writer must decide how to care for his distant father who is slowly dying a “natural Indian death” from alcohol and diabetes, just as he learns that he himself may have a brain tumor. Alexie dissects a vintage-clothing store owner’s failing marriage and his courtship of a married photographer in various airports across the country; what happens when a politician’s son commits a hate crime; and how a young boy discovers his self-worth while writing obituaries for his local newspaper. Brazen and wise, War Dances takes us to the heart of what it means to be human. This provocative new work is Alexie at the height of his powers

This was interesting enough I suppose. It switches between poetry, prose, short stories, and stream of consciousness. I was hoping for a novel when I picked it up, but that is not what this is. This was my first Alexie read, and I would consider reading more from him after this, but I’m in no rush. It is a very quick read though.

*******************************************************
Feed by M.T. Anderson
New Read.
Amazon Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating:
My Rating: 3/5

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires. Following in the footsteps of George Orwell, Anthony Burgess, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., M. T. Anderson has created a not-so-brave new world — and a smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.

This presents some interesting situations concerning future use of technology, some of which are already on their way to coming true. The language becomes grating after a while though because the characters speak in futuristic broken technological English. It is a very quick read, not amazing, not horrible, great set up for Ready Player One though.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

jrd3820's picture

Ahhhh, the fiction faction.

What a great thread. Your friend's concern over the bookshelf here is understandable. Fiction should have it's fair share of representation here because fiction is how history is remembered. Well, I read this book a few nights ago. It is young adult, I think it would be for late elementary or early middle school, I read it in 5th grade I think, I could be wrong though. But I remembered loving it and I thought I'd read it again.
http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Monkeys-Bantam-Starfire-Books/d...

And I'm currently re reading my favorite King Arthur story. Really the only King Arthur book adaptation that matters to me.
I've been doing a lot of re-reading lately.
http://www.amazon.com/Once-Future-King-T-White/dp/B004HSS102...

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

Le Morte d'Arthur

Have you read any Arthur stuff by Sir Thomas Malory? I'm way curious how it compares for someone who's read various Arthur works. I have not read it by the way.

jrd3820's picture

I took an Arthurian Lit class....

It was bittersweet. I was SO excited to take that class. But it started out really dry. It got better towards the end, but too much of the class was dry. We did get to watch Monty Python for kicks and Sword in the Stone. We read a lot of Arthurian inspired poetry, we read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Once and Future King....and Le Morte d'Arthur which was part of the bitter aspect of the equation if ya ask me. Boring, boring, boring, boring, oh....and boring. In my humble opinion. However, that one is probably the most historically accurate. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone per se, however if you are searching for historical relevance and possibly more historical accuracy, that is probably your better choice. Or you could read The Once and Future King, watch Monty Python and let your imagination do the rest like I did.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

I'm multitasking, sorry if this makes no sense.

That does sound exciting [at least registering for it :D]. Arthurian literature is so historically old, as fiction. What existed between Ovid and Carroll, really? Okay, so there was probably a lot of stuff, and good stuff at that, but the writing of Arthurian romance as a genre goes back a thousand years. I'm glad to know Malory is boring. I'll cross it off my list. Well, I don't really have a list, but.

Did you bother in that class to tie any of the literature to potentially historical account of a real Arthur? Did you wade through various beliefs of legendary origin? Among the many beliefs is also the notion that he specifically did not exist as a real person but was a literary [or political] device from the get-go. Did your class break free from any notions of belief and just say, "None of that matters here."?

I mentioned Malory because I saw the movie "Excalibur" a while back and it was quite different from other interpretations. That movie was largely an interpretation of Malory's account. As you mentioned, perhaps it was actually more historical in some ways. I later became fascinated with theories of historical origin. All interesting stuff until I hit on one that places most of the events in late 6th century Scotland, with Arthur as the eldest son to King Aedan of Dalriada and Merlin as a fellow named Emrys of Powys. This historical account happened to match the Malory story quite uncannily. Arthur was certainly not portrayed as a "bad guy" in Excalibur, but that was sorta left up to interpretation in many ways. The historical account portrays Arthur as becoming quite unpopular among his earlier peers and somewhat of a black sheep of his family. He led an army against his popular and well-loved father. Arthurian literature eventually became commissioned as political propaganda as the Catholic and then Saxon influence grew, to transform Arthur solidly onto the protagonist side of things in people's minds.

jrd3820's picture

Dear John Robb

is you know that Bob Dylan and I have similar tastes in literature? I know that now because I have read this book.

It's true. Great minds must think alike.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

jrd3820's picture

Oh yeah...

We talked about that a lot. It was an intense class and covered tons of reading material. To be completely honest, I don't even remember all of the reading material. We did read about Queen Guenevere and also The Lady of the Lake. We went really far back into poems and myths. And yes, we spent a decent amount of time discussing the potential of him being a fictional character. Actually the focus on him potentially being fictional was that of the legends more likely being a political device. I used a lot of spark notes as study material in that class. I did the readings, but I needed aid along the way. A lot of the earlier stuff we studied was in old English still and a couple hundred pages of that can become daunting.

I love the legend though.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
― Dr. Seuss

Michael Nystrom's picture

Every time you re-read something

It is new again, because you're new.

Have you ever noticed that?

Arthur was here this 4th of July. He made Boston move the fireworks, from the 4th, to the night of the 3rd. And just after the fireworks finished, Arthur put on his own show! A big downpour with thunder and lightning to boot.

It was awesome.

Arthur can be pretty powerful when he wants to be.

He's the man.
Michael Nystrom's picture

In honor of the holiday - another novel

Independence Day, by Richard Ford. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize:

http://www.amazon.com/Independence-Day-Bascombe-Trilogy-2/dp...

A wonderful book from one of my favorite writers. I got to shake his hand a couple of years ago and tell him how many hours of pleasure he has brought be over the years while he autographed a copy of his new book (at the time) Canada at the Boston book fest. (It is a way better book than the 3-1/2 stars Amazon gives it. Probably my favorite by him.)

Over and out from the butler of the Daily Paul, just trying to keep the bookshelf stocked with fiction titles.

I'm part of the fiction faction.

He's the man.

recently read...novel

The Economic Laws of Scientific Research by Terence Kealey?

oops...

Let me try again...

Gardening When it Counts by Steve Solomon?

no?

Wait, wait, I've got it...

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Uhhh, did he say "good" or just recently read?

Michael Nystrom's picture

Uh, I don't know what I said...

But I meant "good." Currently working on this one: On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee

On Such a Full Sea takes Chang-rae Lee’s elegance of prose, his masterly storytelling, and his long-standing interests in identity, culture, work, and love, and lifts them to a new plane. Stepping from the realistic and historical territories of his previous work, Lee brings us into a world created from scratch. Against a vividly imagined future America, Lee tells a stunning, surprising, and riveting story that will change the way readers think about the world they live in.

In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as highwalled, self-contained labor colonies. And the members of the labor class—descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined provincial China—find purpose and identity in their work to provide pristine produce and fish to the small, elite, satellite charter villages that ring the labor settlement.

In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears. Fan’s journey to find him takes her out of the safety of B-Mor, through the anarchic Open Counties, where crime is rampant with scant governmental oversight, and to a faraway charter village, in a quest that will soon become legend to those she left behind.

He's the man.