The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘John Dos Passos’

2014 in Books

This was a good year of reading for me. I read a few books I really liked, and I am pleased with the amount I read. Here we go – a few sentences on each book to let you know what I think (for whatever that is worth).

2014 Books

I am a bit nutty, and I like trophies, so all the books for one year go on the same shelf.


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – A good book if you like running. The author shares his thoughts on life in terms of his passion for running. Here is an old post with quotes from it.

Pudd’nhead Wilson – An enjoyable Mark Twain book with the usual dose of ‘woah he said THAT?’ Here’s an old post with some quotes from it.

Diary – Huh. Okaaaay. (That was my reaction upon finishing the book – a Chuck Palahniuk, aka a nutty book with a love of anarchy.)

Catalina – Pretty language (as most Somerset Maugham books are) but the plot didn’t do much for me.

Lord of the Flies – That age old classic of boys being boys. Oh them kids.

Under the Black Ensign – It was entertaining pulp fiction … What brought me to it was the fact that L. Ron Hubbard wrote about it. (Which I wrote about here.)

I, Robot – Classic Isaac Asimov. It was interesting and even though the robots were all programmed with the 3 laws which keep them from hurting humans I read the book waiting for them to kill. I’m stable, I swear.

WeWe – This book is the probable inspiration for George Orwell’s 1984. Either my first or second favorite book of the year. You should read it!

Rome, Inc. – This book talks about the Roman Empire as though it was a business with each leader/ruler as the CEO. An interesting take on history but a lot of dull parts.

Tour of Duty – A collection of war correspondence pieces from John Dos Passos. I think I would’ve appreciated it much more if I was a World War II buff, but it had some interesting nuggets. (And what do you know, I have a post about an example!)

Of Human Bondage – Somerset Maugham’s best known book and … kind of an ‘eh’ for me. I really enjoy how he writes, the language he uses, but the main character drove me nuts with his decisions.

The Fault in Our Stars – I enjoyed it, but I can see how people would see the plot of this book and think cancer is being used as a plot device.Wodehouse

The Inimitable Jeeves – Oh. So. British. I picked this up (and other Wodehouse books) because I heard Stephen Fry really liked him but … boy it took me a while to read this.

Killing Pablo – In preparation for my trip to Colombia, why not read this historical account of Pablo Escobar, the famous drug lord from Colombia? It was well written and left me mildly more afraid of Colombia! (Have no fear, the trip was delightful.)

Murder is Cheap – An old murder mystery with a brash, sexist fella as the PI. The book was enjoyable, but more interesting was my surprise when I came to find out the book was written by a woman! (It had a number of lines I thought were sexist, and let me tell you … Oh wait, here, just read this post about it.)

Damned – Somebody just couldn’t get enough Palahniuk, huh? Well, this one was so-so and it is a part one of two. Gah! To read the second or not? Hmmm.

Wild – This one is now in theaters. To be honest, I figured I’d not enjoy this … A woman decides to run away from her problems in the form of a very long, therapeutic hike which she is ill-prepared for? Blech. But you know, I actually enjoyed reading about her physical struggles on the hike while emotionally working some shtuff out. (See, told you it comes across as lame sounding.)

The Immoralist – I got this because the author won a Nobel literature prize way back in 1947 (the book was published in 1902) … And … eh.

This is How You Lose Her – This is one of those books that I finished and thought, ‘ugh! What is that? Come on!’ because I was annoyed with how it ended. But time went on and a few days later I was happy I’d read the book.

Good Omens – A collaboration between Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. This doesn’t say much for the book, but I enjoyed reading more about their collaboration process than the book itself.

A Fine Balance – The other top two book of the year. It is a beautiful story that is incredibly well told. Oh hey look, some quotes from it!

PippinBoom – This is by the same author who wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (Mark Haddon). It’s a decently fun kids book.

The Ten Thousand Things – This was raved about in Wild so I had to try it. Personally, I don’t get it.

The Short Reign of Pippin IV – A different kind of Steinbeck, but I really enjoyed it. It was a good book to end 2014 on!

Misery Loves Company

I don’t know what your politics are, but it’s a safe bet these days that you, dear random reader, are a little disenchanted with politicians. Sometimes my mom and I have conversations about people from my generation vs hers, and also people from my grandparents generation as well. After all, my grandparent’s generation, the “greatest generation,” are the standard bearers.

Reading Tour of Duty, which is a collection of war correspondent stories from John Dos Passos during World War II, led me to delight in this line. Because, after all, misery loves company.

You’re a citizen, brother, before you’re a naval officer,” drawled the destroyer skipper. He was from Georgia and spoke in a deep drowsy voice. “As a citizen it’s your bounden duty to take a proper interest in public affairs instead of sittin’ here an’ bellyachin’ about strikes an’ the bunch of stupids we’ve got in Congress. We’re gettin’ the government we deserve because none of us won’t do nothin’ about it.

There you have it, even the greatest generation had it’s problems. What am I going to do about it? Well, step one is to describe politicians I don’t like as a bunch of stupids. From there, well, we’ll see what happens.

Unrelated: This is the first book I’m reading by Dos Passos (or do you just say Passos?) and I like his style. The way he describes some things is very beautiful. And they are thoughts I would never have. He stands in line and takes in the clouds, the trees, the atmosphere of the room, the architecture of the buildings within sight, the clothing of the people around him … I would be trying to guess how much time I have left in the line.

Unrelated two: A ‘deep drowsy voice.’ What a beautiful way of saying ‘this slow-talking dude.’

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