Last Ten Books Read — XV

(In Order of Completion)

1. Simon Blackburn. THINK. A handy history of philosophy to which I was tipped by my philosopher emeritus neighbor.

2. Vladimir Sorokin. DAY OF THE OPRICHNIK. The fourth novel I have read by this guy. (I had forgotten I had already done two.) Now I am – I hope – finished with him. For a scabrous, offensive novelist, I prefer Houllebecq.

3. Marcus Aurelius. MEDITATIONS. About the only book I held onto from my Soc. Sci. I course. It impressed me then and I liked it now. Surprisingly similar to some Buddhist-think.

4. R.V. Jones. MOST SECRET WAR. Recommended by a friend. He said JFK liked it. A complete waste of time for me.

5. Thich Nhat Hanh. HOW TO CONNECT. It’s always good to have a little Buddhism around. This is a shirt-pocket size volume I found of the “Free Books” shelf of the café, where pickings have been slim recently.

6. Joshua Cohen. THE NETANYAHUS. I was impressed by how he began and ended and how he delivered the historical stuff fictionally, but much of the middle was weak tea. It must have been a weak year, fiction-wise, for the Pulitzer committee.

7. William Goldman. THE PRINCESS BRIDE. (Second time.) Previously discussed in this very space.

8 & 10. Ryszard Kapusinski. ANOTHER DAY OF LIFE and SHAH OF SHAWS. Kapusinski had been about my favorite political journalist but I had forgotten about him until I spotted the first of these, about the war in Angola, in Moe’s when I was looking for a Kawabata novel. I then ordered the second, about the fall of the Shah and one more, which completes my collection of all of his books translated into English. SHAW is brilliant, concise, powerful – and I wonder what K would think about what is happening in Iran now. Optimism is not his default position.

9. James Joyce. ULYSSES. (Second time.) A friend had sent me a link to a celebration of Bloomsday in Brattleboro, VT, led by a friend of his. I only watched a few minutes but his joy encouraged me to give the book a try. With the help of two guides, I may have understood ten-to-
twenty percent but I did get a kick out of Joyce’s mastery of language and literary form.