Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Michael David Lukas's The Last Watchman of Old Cairo


Lukas's novel tells the story of a synagogue, its documents, and the people who protect and want to preserve them, across three distinct time periods that span several hundred years.  In doing so, Lukas shows the strong links across many generations, while playing out relations between the synagogue's Jewish leaders and the family of Muslim watchmen.  Lukas develops his characters and their motivations effectively.  The novel is a delight to read, and offers a hopeful vision of humans interacting with one another as humans and not categories.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Final results: Dewey's 24-hour read-a-thon

Books completed:  1
Hadrian the Seventh

Books read:  2
Hadrian the Seventh
A Man Without Breath, Phil Kerr

Total pages read: 416

Total reading time:  12 hours, 20 minutes

Success!  

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Readathon update--9 hours down

I've completed nine hours of the readathon, and have stayed with one book, which I started today:  Hadrian the Seventh.  So far, I've avoided mainly distractions and have read 224 pages over six hours and fifty total minutes reading.  Onward!

Dewey's 24-hour Readathon

I'm jumping in again.  I've done a better job of clearing my schedule today, and the family knows that I'll be occupied with with reading all day!  I'm going to start with a new book, one on my TBR list:  Hadrian the Seventh, a novel by Fr. Rolfe.  Updates to follow!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Taylor Downing's 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink


Taylor Downing’s 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink is a thrilling, frightening, and thought-provoking account of a period in history when the world came closest to nuclear annihilation. Through his descriptions of US and Soviet leadership, and events prior to, and during, 1983, what emerges is a picture of two sides who knew almost nothing about how the other side thought, and of simple misinterpretations and miscalculations that came disturbingly close to causing catastrophic events. Throughout the book, Downing does an outstanding job of explaining complex, difficult topics in a way that makes it easy for the lay person to understand and follow.  Whether he is describing the events that led to the Soviets shooting down KAL 007, the spycraft of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, or the November 1983 war game “Able Archer” that almost led to nuclear war, Downing writes clearly, compellingly, and persuasively.  He has managed to craft a careful and convincing argument about the importance and centrality of Able Archer and its consequences, while writing in a way that keeps the reader turning pages frantically.  His discussion of the aftermath of Able Archer, and particularly of the relationship that develops between Reagan and Gorbachev, is measured and unsentimental.  He does not offer a neat, tidy resolution to the narrative.  He makes it clear that Reagan and Gorbachev missed opportunities for radical change and never agreed ultimately on the key issue of the “Star Wars” defense initiative.  What the end of the book does strongly suggest is the importance of genuine intelligence, careful and objective analysis, and diplomacy that builds out from a solid understanding of the other side.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Classics Club Spin List


1 Boswell, James The Life of Samuel Johnson
2 Dos Passos, John Manhattan Transfer
3 Dickens, Charles Great Expectations
4 Eliot, George Romola
5 Cervantes, Miguel Don Quixote
7 Gissing, George New Grub Street
8 Forster, E. M.  A Passage to India
9 Faulkner, William Absalom! Absalom!
9 Hawthorne, Nathaniel The Marble Faun
10 Heller, Joseph Catch-22
11 Musil, Robert The Man without Qualities
12 Richardson, Samuel Clarissa
13 Lessing, Doris The Golden Notebook
14 Thackeray, William Pendennis
15 Mahfouz, Naguib Palace Walk
16 Steinbeck, John The Grapes of Wrath
17 Stendhal Charterhouse of Parma
18 Stoker, Bram Dracula
19 Trollope, Anthony Barchester Towers
20 Zamiatin, Yevgeny We

Monday, July 17, 2017

High summer readathon

The two-week readathon hosted by Seasons of Reading has officially begun.  Rather than lay out a my plan for the whole time, here's a list of a few books that I plan to finish over the first couple of days:

William Boyd, Restless--I've got about 100 pages left
Polina Dashkova, Madness Treads Lightly--about 150 pages left
Neal Stephenson, Seveneves--about 150 pages left

We'll see where I go after that.