Book Reviews and Recommendations

I figured that I would start writing brief summaries/reviews on some of the books that I read in order that other people may find literature that interests them. I am not that well read, but I have been reading significant amounts as of late. Try and spare me criticism, especially since taste is obviously a personal matter. I will try and contribute reviews of books as I read them and go back to books I have already read, but it is all dependent upon time. Some will likely be longer than others. Feel free to contribute any thoughts on books or recommendations of books for me to read.

Here is an incomplete list of books that I can remember having read over the past two years. If you have any questions about any of them or want recommendations based upon your personal taste, let me know.

The Quiet American by Graham Greene
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thomspon
The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thomspon
Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter S. Thomspon
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thomspon
The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thomspon
Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen
A Primate’s Memoirs by Robert M. Sapolsky
Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Island by Aldous Huxley
Naked Lunch by William S. Borroughs
Cien Anos de Soledad by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway
The Dangerous Summer by Ernest Hemmingway
Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemmingway
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
Who Shall Live? By Victor Robert Fuchs
The Social Transformation of American Medicine by Paul Starr
Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart
Liars Poker by Michael Lewis
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky
Money by Martin Amis
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene
One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey
Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Riding Freight Trains in America by Duffy Littlejohn
Down and Out in London and Paris by George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
1984 by George Orwell
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon
Riding High by Ted Simon
The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Analects by Confuscius
War and Peace by Tolstoy
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
Everest to Arabia by Jaime Clark
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
Desolation Angels by Jack Kerouac
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
Gandhi: An Autobiography by Mohandas Gandhi
The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui Neng translated by Shambhala
Valuing the Earth edited by Herman E. Daly and Kenneth N. Townsend
Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo by Oscar Zeta Acosta
Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
Pages: 345
Genre: Fiction
Year: 1904
Summary/Review: A fictional account of a South American nation during imperialist times. Costaguana is a republic rich in resources that attracts many foreign opportunists looking to make their fortune. The story centers around Nostromo, an Italian dock worker beloved by all of the towns people, and the Gould Family that controls the San Tome mine in the town of Saluco. Conrad deeply hones in on the variety of relationships and motives that exist in this diverse boom town. Exploitation and violence, but also love color the underlying reality of the almost everybody’s existence here.

The writing of Conrad is very vivid to the point that it borders on verbose at points, but ultimately it builds the fictional setting with a depth that I haven’t seen from another author. The intertwined web of characters, ranging from foreign capitalists to lowly dockworkers to pugnacious dictators, are beautiful caricatures of power hungry expatriates driven by avarice that recognize no sovereign power.

The book has a rich and unique plot that kept me decently engaged and made the book really enjoyable. It is such an interesting account with a lucidity that gives it a historical feel where the names, places, and dates could have been substituted with many of the turbulent South American republics during this era.

I would recommend it to almost anyone unless the plot sounds particularly uninteresting to them. Linguistically it may be challenging and is therefore not for some. For those interested in knocking off important pieces from literary history, I believe this would fall into that category.

Other Similar Books:
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Cien Anos de Soledad by Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
You have a good memory. I would have a hard time naming the last 10 books I read! LOL.

But, most of the books you have read I have either read recently or are on my list.

I actually just finished Cat’s Cradle yesterday. The book was strange because I didnt think it was great but I couldnt seem to put it down. Now that I have finished it, I appreciate it much more. It was the first Kurt Vonnegut book I have read and definately plan on reading more. I just purchased Slaughterhouse Five the other day.

You have a good memory. I would have a hard time naming the last 10 books I read! LOL.

But, most of the books you have read I have either read recently or are on my list.

I actually just finished Cat’s Cradle yesterday. The book was strange because I didnt think it was great but I couldnt seem to put it down. Now that I have finished it, I appreciate it much more. It was the first Kurt Vonnegut book I have read and definately plan on reading more. I just purchased Slaughterhouse Five the other day.

That’s how most Vonnegut is, I think. Slaughterhouse Five was my first book by him, and I felt the exact same way you feel about Cat’s Cradle.
Gandhi: An Autobiography by Mohandas Gandhi
Pages: 505
Genre: Non-Fiction – Autobiography
Year: 1957 – Translation
Summary/Review: A personal account of Gandhi’s life beginning from childhood, covering his time in South Africa, and ending by detailing some of his political battles in India upon his return. It is instrumental in giving a background to how Gandhi developed his theory of Satyagraha and many of his other world changing ideals. A large portion of the book is spent on Gandhi’s examination of every aspect of his life, primarily his diet, sexual habits, and search for religious truth. These are all instrumental pieces in the development of Gandhi and his practices.

It can seem frustrating as you read about Gandhi grappling with aspects of his life to a point that most would find superfluous or pedantic. He is one of the most important figures in world history, so I think that it would behoove anyone to have at least some knowledge of his life, but maybe not to this degree.

Therefore I am not sure I would recommend this book to anyone unless they are interested in Gandhi, his political methods, Eastern Religions, or India’s history. There is much wisdom to be had if you are looking for it, but if you have a fixed set of ideals or view from religion or elsewhere, it is probably not a good book for you.

Other Similar Books:
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What’s your opinion on Gatsby? I have a strange feelings about it. I feel like the ignorance of that time has made a comeback nowadays. Kind of like foreshadowing.

I thought that it was a good book and captured that era beautifully. It was not that great of a seller as far as I am aware until we saw the consequences fully manifested from that time and the preceding decades. These included: WWI, Great Depression, WWII. The most important developments in all of the affected nations were the creation of the welfare state and the ceding of a certain degree of power for the greater good. We seemed to have forgotten many of the lessons from this time and are thus bound to repeat the same mistakes.

There are a multitude of similarities between that era and today. I graduated with a degree in economics, so I am quick to note the wealth disparity, conspicuous consumption, heedless exuberance, high degree of technological change, tremendous demand for natural resources, and rapidly increasing globalization of both capital, commodities and product markets that occurred then and now, so the atavism that you feel is well founded.

These all create much strain on our economic and political systems. It is likely there will be severe consequences as institutions are unable to adjust to the rapidly changing external environment. I have written a paper arguing that we will see similar, but not as severe, consequences as a result. One main difference between then and now is the environmental variable that is a new constraint on our economies and nations. We will just have to see how this plays out.

Here is a good article on The New Gilded Age:

Ha I was going to say that a comparison of that age and the present would be a great paper, but it seems you have beaten me to it. I am unoriginal. Thanks for the insight and article.