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Summer Reading List Progress Report

by David Sturtz

Wondering how I was doing with my summer reading list? I knew it.

First off, I finished Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, kind of a downer, but a really great book. I ran across, Keith Windschuttle’s essay Steinbeck’s Myth of the Okies, which pretty much rips it apart as an unrepresentative story, and clarifies how Steinbeck’s political leanings influenced his portrayal. Also, check out Dorthea Lange’s photos from the Library of Congress FSA-OWI collection. (In fact the whole collection is really interesting.)

The Pleasure of My Company (Steve Martin) was a quick read. It had a lot in common with The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night Time. If I had to choose between the two I think I would lean towards Curious Incident. I found its narrator, Christopher, to be a more engaging character than Pleasure of My Company’s Daniel, and the central mystery drives the plot a little faster.

A co-worker lent me The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It was okay, but everything falls too neatly into place. If it weren’t set in Afghanistan, I doubt it would be getting much attention (or be made into a movie).

I read Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down two weekends ago while on flights to and from Iowa. It was enjoyable. The rotation of narration among the four main characters kept it moving, although it occasionally felt like someone was unexpectedly changing the television channel. I wished I had a dictionary of British slang on the plane to find out the origins of some of the crude (I assume) language.

Another late addition to the list, is Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code which I read last weekend. A decent light read, not worth the hype.

Also, I’ve been periodically plugging away at The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It’s very interesting and very dense. I’ve nearly finished the section on sidewalks. Yes, sidewalks. I’ll probably post a full report on this one when I finish.

Comments on any of the above? Any more suggestions for the ever-expanding list?

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