Saturday, February 4, 2012

2012 Books Read-January

The Best of Me by Nicolas Sparks is another best-selling “chick lit” bestseller. Twenty-five years after their passionate first love, Amanda and Dawson are summoned home for the funeral of the mentor who encouraged their high school romance. Carrying out his instruction, “they discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made.” An overabundance of coincidences lead to a dramatic, but sappy, ending that only the most romantic will enjoy.

*The Price of Civilization:Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity by Jeffrey Sachs offers a “a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, (offering)… a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills with an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity.” Comprehensive (almost overwhelming) data, excellent analysis and skillful writing make this a timely and important book for anyone interested in the global and U.S. economies.

The Litigators by John Gresham is a book that members of the liberal elite (and those of us who aspire to it) will enjoy. Gresham employs his standard David and Goliath plot and superb story-telling skills to expose the foibles and dark side of big pharma, tort attorneys and lawyers in general. Finley & Figg is “a boutique law firm” specializing in quickie divorces and DUIs. Change stumbles in when David Zinc, walks away from his fast-track career at a fancy downtown firm and lands on the doorstep of F&F. Finley & Figg now think they are ready to take on Goliath in the form of Varrick Labs who is under fire because several of their customers have suffered heart attacks.

*11/22/63 by Stephen King is a nostalgic novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination—“a thousand page tour de force”. Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine who is shown a portal to 1958 and challenged to prevent the Kennedy assassination. Jake enters a world some of us remember with Elvis and JFK, of cheap gas, big cars and sock hops. Torn between his ‘commitments’ to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian, Jake’s story is a tribute to a simpler era and a “gripping exercise in escalating suspense.”

39 Steps is Patrick Barlow's award winning stage adaptation, based on John Buchan's gripping whodunit--filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935. The play is the next production of Santa Barbara’s ETC and will be much more fun to see than it was to read. In print, the play sounds overly slapstick, but four actors can play one hundred and thirty-nine roles with panache. When we saw it in NY, it kept the cast breathless and us on the edge of our seats.

**The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar is the “great panoramic social novel that Los Angeles deserves.” Araceli is the live-in maid in the Torres-Thompson household. She is the last of three Mexicans employed and financial pressure is also causing disturbing domestic arguments. After a particularly dramatic fight, Araceli wakes to an empty house—except for the two sons she’s never had to interact with before. Their parents are unreachable, so she does the only thing she can think of and heads to the bus stop to seek out their grandfather. None of the family and much of Southern California will ever forget the adventure that follows. With shades of The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tortilla Curtain and Babel, this empathetic insightful novel was named as the Boston Globe’s Best Fiction Book of 2011

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recommendations of Nicolas Sparks and John Gresham. These are among my favorites. First I have to get through Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. This has not been a fast read for me. 39 Steps might be a welcome diversion!