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Books Read 2007

the natural.jpg

Here’s my annual review of Books read this past year. Mostly non-fiction because that’s what I like!

Gettysburg Gospel – Gabor Boritt
Although only 2 plus minutes long, the Gettysburg Address is arguably the most famous speech ever given. Not well received or understood when it was spoken at the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery, it grew in esteem over the decades. Abraham Lincoln is easily our most fascinating president.

Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice – Griel Marcus
Another dense and oblique treatise from Griel Marcus on the meaning of America: From its glorious founding as the bright City on the Hill, America was constructed on a promise that that was so vast it could only be betrayed by its citizens. However through that betrayal American gained its voice. Griel uses popular culture to show us the connections between this ideal and the betrayal. Like I said it’s dense and complicated. Think of Bruce Springsteen’s album Nebraska and that’s what Griel is trying to describe only he takes 350 plus pages to say it.

In the Trees – Richard Preston
A fun and compelling story of a bunch of scientists who actually climb into 350 foot redwood trees to study them, creating a new science as they go. Absolutely fascinating and amazing. Highly recommended to all.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
The 7th and final book of the Potter series and Rowling actually pulls it off. As usual, a gripping page turner except for a slow “camping trip? in the middle. A fun end to a great series.

Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light – Patrick McGilligan
Biography of the great director. Great insight into the movie making process, Hitch’s life and the golden age of Hollywood. Covers a lot of the same ground as the Spoto book but if you like Hitchcock, you want to read this book.

Worst Hard Times – Timothy Egan
Fascinating book about the families that stayed in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas during the dust bowl years. One of the greatest man-made disasters ever created and we hardly know anything about it. A must read if you like recent American History

A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles – Mark Hertsgaard
Focusing on the creation of the music that we all love, this book provided a great insight into the Beatles and their songbook. If you want to learn about the songs, their inspiration and their creation, this book is a must.

The Replacements: All Over But The Shouting – Jim Walsh
Oral History of the Replacements that I reviewed here. I find myself going back and re-reading passages. The oral history style can be limiting at times but still a great read.

The Natural – Bernard Malamud
Baseball as great literature. Although an effete, urban intellectual, Malamud perfectly describes the sights, sounds, smells, and characters of pre-WWII baseball. If you’ve only seen the movie, you also need to read this book, but be careful, the story isn’t wrapped up in mom and apple pie at the end. Third time I read this book.

Cool of the Evening: The 1965 Twins – Jim Theilman
Story of the 1965 American League Champion Minnesota Twins. Now over 40 years since their historic run, it was fun to read how much of an interesting team this really was. Only a Herculean effort by Sandy Koufax stood in the way of the Twins first World Series Championship.

Chimes of Freedom – The Art of Bob Dylan’s Art – Mike Marqusee
Second time I read this book. If you want to discover how Bob Dylan’s early work reflected and shaped the politics of the early 1960’s this book is for you. A great companion to A Day in the Life reviewed above.

Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
I read this book when it first came out and re-read it after I saw the movie. The movie is great, the book is better. Fascinating tale of Chris McCandless and his journey to find himself. The book and movie may be sympathetic to Chris but both don’t shy away from describing the emotional damage he left behind to those who loved him.

Never Mind the Pollacks – Neal Pollack
About the third or fourth time I read this book. Side-splitting funny, vile, disgusting, and oh so right on. The adventures of Neal Pollack -- world ‘s greatest rock critic who, in Zelig-like fashion, finds himself discovering all of the rock’s greats. Neal’s father was killed by Elvis Presley, cried “Judas? when Dylan played his second acoustic set at Freeport, gave Lou Reed his first blow job and shot of heroin, turned Iggy Pop into what he is now, was an amnesiac roady for Bruce Springsteen, and discovered Kurt Cobain under a bridge and introduced him to “she who shall not be named.? If you like Rock and Roll you must read this book.

What did you read this year?

Comments

I will definitely be checking out The Natural. Since they dug that first shovel full of dirt for the new Twins ballpark I now feel comfortable reading about baseball again.

Shape of Things sounds pretty good too. Thanks for all of these suggestions! I'm glad you liked A Day in the Life.

Howdy.

Stumbled upon the page, browsing redwood stuff.

Found the Betty Page post interesting though.

Anyhow, in the books, had I ever posted here before, about this page:

http://www.mdvaden.com/grove_of_titans.shtml

It provides photos and information pertaining to trees that Preston wrote about in the book.

My only real dissatisfaction with the book was the omission of photos. But it was fine reading.

Cheers,

MDV of OR

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