What I Have Been Reading Lately

Sorry I haven’t been so great at updating my reading list from the last few months.  Here is everything I have read, and I will add them to the book review section.  As always, comments or suggestions are welcome.

Non-Fiction

(+)My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall.  Though I generally shy away from comedy writers biographies, this one was insightful and funny and worth a read.

(+)Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden.  An eye opening book about North Korea, their work camps and a look into the minds of its citizens.  The main character is one of the few people to have ever escaped from their work camps.

(-)Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg. I read this book because it was so highly touted and I was appalled by its lack of insight from someone who is trying to lead a movement. The book says nothing and is poorly written and is probably one of the worst books to have made it onto the bestseller list.

(-)No Angel by Jay Dobyns.  Dobyns went undercover with Hell’s Angels, but did a poor job in writing and describing his work, making the book very difficult to read.

(+)Argo by Antonio Mendez.  The book gave good insight into the decision making process for rescuing the 6 Americans trapped in Iran and was much more descriptive than the movie.

(-)Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.  As with many books of this genre, there were some funny anecdotes, but a lot of dead space too.

(-)In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.  It was supposed to be an historic novel, but it read more like a history textbook.  It was not nearly as good as his other books, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

(=)Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone.  This book is about the authors experiences with magic and his adventures in the upper echelons of the magic world.  It was interesting to me(since I used to do a bit of magic) but probably not interesting to most readers.

(+)The Presidents Club by Nancy Gibbs.  A look at the complex relationships between the Presidents.  It was a good walk through the history of the US, using the relationships between the Presidents as a guide and many of the stories were probably not mainstream knowledge until this book was published.

Fiction

(+)The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura.  I loved this book about a thief who gets caught up in the criminal world. The writing and storytelling were excellent, especially given that it was a Japanese translation.

(+)A Thousand Spendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.  I was reluctant to read this book because I thought Kite Runner was overhyped and not worthy of its praise.  However, I thought this book was written much better and much more engaging than his previous work and is a must read.

(=)Wool: Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey: Volumes 1-7.  This science fiction series set in the future started out great and was very well done.  Unfortunately the last few in the series have trailed off and have been less interesting.

(+)A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers.  I loved this book and it was a fast read.  The writing was great and I look forward to reading his other works.

(+)The Racketeer by John Grisham.  I enjoyed it thoroughly and am glad the author went back to writing legal fiction.  His storytelling is great and I especially enjoy books that leave you guessing about the ending.

(-)Tenth of December by George Saunders.  I did not think the stories were engaging and I was bored about halfway through the book.

(+)The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The book is a classic and was as good as I remembered it.  I understand why it is an American classic and was a great accompaniment to the movie.

(+)The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  Told from a dogs’ point of view, this book was funny, insightful and full of emotion.  Probably the best book I read this year.

(=)Dare Me by Megan Abbott.  I thought this was great “beach reading.”  It was entertaining, a quick read, but written a bit like a teen novel.

(+)Every Day by David Levithan.  The narrator wakes up in a different person’s body each day and the author gives excellent description his thoughts and feelings.  Another excellent book that should go to the top of your reading list.

(+)Defending Jacob by William Landay.  An excellent thriller that was well written and kept me on the edge of my seat.

(+)Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  The idea for the book was excellent and it was fun to read.  Though it was a bit boring in the middle, it is written like the first in a series, and I look forward to reading the rest.

(+)What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander.  This book of short, Jewish oriented stories, was well written with many surprise endings.  It made me want to read his other works.

(=)The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters.  A mystery about a policeman trying to catch a killer before the world ends.  It was decent, but fell flat in the end.

(=)The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. The book is about an Alaskan family who finds a “snow child.”  I was a bit torn about this book since I enjoyed the author’s writing, but did not enjoy the story as much as I had hoped.

Poker

(+)Secrets of Professional Tournaments: Volume 1 by Jonathan Little.  His discussion of what to do with different stack sizes is excellent but his play with deep stacks is flawed.  However, his reasoning is very good and thorough and this book is definitely a great read for someone looking to help their tournament play.

(+)The Mental Game of Poker 2 by Jared Tendler.  This book is excellent for poker players working on their mental game.  It teaches you how to better get into the zone and stay there and is as good as his previous book.

(+)Reading Poker Tells by Zachary Elwood.  I am not a big believer in the applicability of tells, but this book is excellent with respect to how to read them and what to look for.  It definitely helped me when playing in person.

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