Category: books

State of Wonder

This is the book that set my wife and myself on a 8 month Ann Patchett spree. We started reading it aloud in the evenings, and it kept us on the edge of the couch, listening intently, until it was finished.

Looking for freedom along the railway lines

Freedom, by Sebastian Junger I bought this on a whim, thinking I wanted to catch up with Sebastian Junger. I have not read War, or Tribe. Maybe I should—it might give me some context on where he’s coming from. Freedom does not disappoint, although I did find it frustrating. The writing is utterly fascinating. Short anecdotes from colonial history, railroad engineering, anthropology, etc, all seem to add up to a meditative discourse—between Junger and himself—on the nature of freedom.…

All the Light We Cannot See

Another European war novel, by Anthony Doerr It has fascinating plot certainly. I need to be careful not to give any spoilers. Let’s just say it is set in World War II, and half the book is set in Germany and half in France. It’s a coming-of-age tale for a girl in France and a boy in Germany, both of whom have lives utterly transformed by the horror of war.…

A first rate tale, second rate prose

I love the ambition of this book, and it seems that Follett achieved his goal: the grand tale of the political upheavals of the early 20th Century Europe, and then the unfathomable horror that was the Great War.

Steve Mumford’s Baghdad Journal

This is my brother Steve’s book, published in 2005. I still think its a stunning achievement. Why my brother felt a need to go to Iraq during wartime and draw pictures I can’t understand, but nevertheless he was called to this project, studied Arabic, grew a mustache, and went off armed with pen and paper and watercolors. That’s commitment. Of course I’m biased but I think these drawings are very strong.…

Number 9 Dream

Number 9 Dream

By David Mitchell I’m not sure what the title refers to—maybe I need to read it again?  But this is an exquisite coming of age novel, set in contemporary Tokyo. The protagonist is a very lost and confused teenage boy who habitually retreats into fantasy.  The narration drifts seamlessly into and out of his fantasy world, until he finds it possible to deal with the reality around him.…

The Wreck of the Mary Deare

The Wreck of the Mary Deare

This is the most well known of Hammond Innes' 30 odd adventure novels. It was published in 1956, and worth a good price for the cover art alone.

Cloud Atlas

by David Mitchell David Mitchell is by far my favorite author these days. I’ve read all his books and every one is awesome, but the very best is Cloud Atlas. Mitchell has a very intense way of writing. He can create a character in a particular time and place, seemingly any time and place, from the 18th Century to the 1970s California, to contemporary Japan to science fiction far into the future.…

Trek

by Mary Hunt Jentsch Trek is the memoir of world war II written by my grandmother, Mary Hunt.  She was american, and a Radcliffe college girl when she fell in love with my grandfather, a German man studying at Harvard. After they graduated they married and went to live in Switzerland, and then Germany. They had two children: my mother, Erika, and my uncle Jerry.  Trek recounts the story of the nearly idyllic pastoral life of my grandfather’s family In rural Eastern Germany.…

Master and Commander

by Patrick O’Brien For any reader who has a soft spot for 18th Century historical fiction, the Aubrey-Maturin series, by Patrick O’Brien, are essential. These are written with vivid detail combined with a curiously modern sense of plot: the plots seem to meander in a realistically random way.…