John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

Book dump: August 2008

These are the books I read in August:

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
I picked this up because Entertainment Weekly named it as on the best books of the last 25 years. And you know, it really was really good. The first section, in which he discusses his life and how he came to be a writer, is admirably BS-free; the middle, where he discusses his philosophy of writing and dispenses helpful hints, is clearly written but not didactic; and the last part, where he discusses how writing helped him recover from the horrific injuries he suffered upon being hit by a van, is moving. But I think my favorite part was the dedication, which is a long tribute to his friend and fellow writer Amy Tan.
 
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
I had never read this, so when I found a remaindered copy further discounted, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to finally read it. Good stuff, though I must say that for a scientific genius, Frankenstein was quite the dope to think the vile insect would kill him on his wedding night and not his wife.
 
Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness: Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia by Erik Reece
I remember seeing this at the bookstore and thinking about reading it, but never got around to it. So when I found it at the library, I decided to rectify that. I didn't need to be convinced that mountaintop removal mining is an odious and destructive practice, but nevertheless it was interesting to read a first-hand account of exactly how odious and destructive it was.
 
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Another classic I'd never read that I bought because it was cheap. Absurdly cheap, actually; I paid 10 cents for it. And wow, what a bargain. A great, great book.
 
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Yet another classic I'd never read! Man, what's wrong with me? I decided to read this because, no kidding, it turns up in crossword puzzles pretty regularly. (The same reason I'm going to read Jane Eyre this month.) I was surprised by how funny it was. I mean, it's not exactly a laff riot, but it's definitely more amusing than not, especially the scenes set in the Rainbow.
 
The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids by Alexandra Robbins
Teenagers tend to over-react to things, because, well, they're teenagers and lack the kind of life experience necessary to gain some perspective. You would therefore expect many teenagers to freak out over SATs, GPAs, and college applications. But what's hard to understand is why so many parents indulge and even encourage this lack of perspective, leading their kids to believe that failing to get into the "right" college will doom them to a life in the gutter. To which I say, hogwash! Why, in this country even a University of Idaho graduate can become a Vice Presidential nominee! OK, maybe not the best example, but you know what I mean.
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