The Reading Room

I will try to keep up with what I am reading here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

#13,The Girl before, by J P Delaney

A perfectionist architect with a long set of rules for prospective tenants, a previous renter who died under mysterious circumstances, and a house that knows more about you than your mother. A nice taut story.

#12, Signals: New and Selected Stories, by Tim Gautreauz

These stories tell of simple people, small good deeds and the unexpected results, opportunities taken and opportunities missed. They explore the richness in everyday life, for good or for ill. The characters range from the bug-man to the furnace man to a group of old-timers playing bourree, mostly in southern Louisiana. Life-affirming and optimistic, these stories leave me smiling.

#11, Vicious Circle by C. J. Box

This is one of the best Joe Pickett books yet. The last few I read had gotten repetitive, with Nate Romanowski serving as a deus-ex-machina whenever Joe got in trouble. If you had grown a little bored with Joe Pickett, this should revive your interest.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

#10, The Best American Catholic Short Stories: A Sheed & Ward Collection, by Daniel McVeigh (Editor)

This book was a real treat. The stories date from the 1930's to the late 90's, and so they have a nice range of pre- and post-Vatican II. While some of the stories feature priests and explicitly religious topics,not all do, but all have a Catholic sensibility. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Monday, April 10, 2017

#9, Praying the Liturgy of the Hours, by Fr. Timothy Gallagher

This is not a beginner's guide to the nuts and bolts of praying the the Liturgy of the Hours. Rather, it would be most useful to those who have been praying the LOTH for some time and may have find the practice growing stale. Fr. Gallagher uses his own experience to demonstrate ways to pray the Hours more deeply. There were some useful ideas in the book, but it was not as good as I hoped it would be after reading his book on discernment of spirits, which I would recommend to everyone trying to grow in their spiritual life.

#8, The Dry, by Jane Harper

This book is well-plotted with a nice twist at the end. Set in rural Australia, the characters are reasonably well-drawn, the protagonist, Aaron Falk, is likeable, and the supporting cast of friends and enemies give depth to the story. The parallel mysteries, one from the present, and one twenty years old, work nicely to complicate Aaron Falk's search for the truth, both today's and yesterday's.

Monday, March 20, 2017

#7 The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, by John Baxter

Mr. Baxter lives in Paris and, among other things, gives walking tours of the city. Rather than giving detailed step-by-step routes of his walks, he dips frequently into historical anecdotes, mostly about some of Paris' famous literary and artistic denizens, as he walks around this fascinating city. He thus gives a taste of Paris and encourages the reader to discover his own "most beautiful walk in the world". Charming and enjoyable.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

#6, Lucky Bastard, by Joe Buck

I enjoyed this book for the inside look at the life of a very successful broadcaster, and, as a St. Louisan, for the very obvious affection Joe shows for his father, Jack. It's an easy read and fun in a gossippy but not at all mean-spirited way.

#5, Early Warning, by Jane Smiley

I am in awe of Jane Smiley's ability to see the world through the eyes of so many different members of this extended family, whether it be a four year old girl excited about her new shoes to an old man facing death. This, the second in the trilogy, tells the stories of the next couple of generations in this family. Some triumphs, some defeats, many self-inflicted wounds, but through it all, a sympathetic and caring look at their lives.

Monday, February 06, 2017

#4, A Killer in the Wind, by Andrew Klavan

This book started out strongly, with a sympathetic hero, fast pace, and an interesting plot. I guess I have to get used to protagonists who are almost super-hero like in their ability to outfight and out-think multiple trained killers while romancing the helpless girl of their dreams, but I can willingly suspend my disbelief for a good story. This book went off the rails for me when everything hinged on our hero's recovered memories of horrific incidents in his childhood. Too much, too pat, not willing to suspend disbelief anymore. I was really enjoying this book and would have given it a three or four rating up until the wheels came off. Quite disappointed.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

#3, Some Luck, by Jane Smiley

After having read a number of books that featured protagonists with dark pasts or bizarre situations with strange villains, I was longing for a book about normal people. This is it. Each chapter features events in one year in the life of a farm family in Iowa, starting in 1920 and ending in 1954. The sensitive depiction of family life was a welcome change from hyper-active super-hero thrillers or dark and dreary mysteries. I recommend this highly.

#2, Winter and Night, by S. J. Rozan

This is #8 in the Lydia Chin-Bill Smith series, but the first I've read. It was entertaining and fast moving, but the portrayal of the football-mad small town that excused any sin as long as the high school team won was a little over the top. The interplay between Smith and Chin makes this worth the read; I want to try some of the earlier works in the series.