End of Summer Reading

Summer has come and gone, but it didn’t leave without a few good reads. I’d just like to share some books; you might find them a worthy consolation for the departed sun.

  • Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. Picked up this South African sci-fi/crime noir thanks to a BoingBoing recommendation. It takes place in a corrupt, near-future Johannesburg whose downcast residents are punished with animal familiars and magical tendencies. It’s all darkly gripping as the heroine Zinzi December and her sloth try to solve a case and escape the dark Undertow.
  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This beautiful “sextet with overlapping soloists” spans six nested stories, told from different points of view. It spans a voyage across the Pacific, a journalist on the verge of a volatile scoop, a troubling totalitarian corpocracy in future Korea and beyond. Mitchell certainly has a way with words, and the film adaptation will hit theaters this fall.
  • Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I was a bit hesitant when starting on McDougall’s breathless, sports-magazine-style account of an ancient Mexican running tribe. But I was hooked after being introduced to a cast of characters including Barefoot Ted the ballsy pioneer of barefoot running in the US, Caballo Blanco a lone Gringo living in Mexico desert canyons, and of course the Tarahumara tribe, a peaceful people known for racing over 100km wearing little more than huarache sandals. An epic race pits the Tarahumara against the fastest (read: craziest) ultrarunners from the US, and the book not only relates who crosses the finish line first, but throws in some interesting theories on humans’ capacity to run extreme distances by design. I confess, after reading this book, I was so amped up about running that I started doing 20km routes on the weekend.
  • I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron. I hadn’t heard about Ephron, the writer of ”When Harry Met Sally”, until listening to a heartfelt obituary for her. It prompted me to try out her collection of essays. She’s a witty New Yorker who “tells it like it is” about aging and womanhood. It’s a light enough bundle of urban anecdotes, if you’re in to it.
  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. In this novella, Barnes uses exactly the right amount of words. The narrator, Tony Webster, recounts his youth and then, as an old man, soliloquizes about time, memory, and the subjectivity of history. You’re taken on a wonderful meander through the mind, and it’ll only take you one sitting to read.

Have you read anything good lately?

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