Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Year of Good Books: June

Since I was a bit of a slacker (or unimaginative -- I didn't think of using the Year of Good Books as a topic until July), so I'm covering the first 6 months of the Year of Good Books in reverse order.

June should have a been a month of lots of reading, with a 2 week vacation, but I read very little. I blame Dan, April and Ultimate DeLux for being so much fun to hang out with. I need to get some losers to travel with so I can read more.

A VOYAGE LONG AND STRANGE: Rediscovering the New World - Tony Horwitz's intertwining of the historical stories of European explorers between Columbus and the Pilgrims with his own trips to unearth the information leaves a bit to be desired. He's clearly going for humorous travel stories that Mary Roach or Sarah Vowell (who covers similar ground in "The Wordy Shipmates", at least for Pilgrims) might tell, but he's just not that funny. I wanted him to spend more time on these unbelievable stories (would you believe someone that walked from Florida to Mexico along the Gulf Coast while fighting to escape slavery and becoming the center of a cult?) and less on his own whining. If his bit had been better, I'd have been happier.

McCarthy's Bar - Pete McCarthy's 8th Rule of Travel: Never pass a bar with your name on it. Being a McCarthy and traveling through Ireland either makes this rule a burden or a blessing, but either way McCarthy makes it enjoyable. Lots of good anecdotes, though the final few chapters (a pilgrimage to an Irish saint's shrine) are a bit of a departure from the rest.

A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin - As a nerd, I love epic fantasy. The problem is that this book has two moments of "fantasy" -- and they're in the first and last chapters (ok, fine, there's a third one stuck 2/3rds of the way through). This means the rest is entirely political maneuvering. It's gripping maneuvering, but maneuvering nonetheless. However, I'm intrigued enough that I bought book two, so I guess it was a successful introduction.

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