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Books We Love May 2013

Hey there gang…

welcome to Books We Love May 2013. As we have been doing since January, we have assembled some of the truly great books we love and the up and coming books to keep your eye out for. We even try to predict books that you might even love if you’ve tried and enjoyed some of these other assembled works in this or other issues of Books We Love we have a great list here for you as well. This month we are running late. Our apologies to the three people reading this monthly list. To each of you we beg for your forgiveness!

This list has a bit of an international flavor going for it as some of these were literally tripped over in bookstores in Amsterdam, Heathrow, and Frankfurt as that is where our travels took us this month. We might have even found one of these in Dallas. Which isn’t nearly as cosmopolitan as Frankfurt, but it might be as different. Regardless –

Books We Love

Further Away by Jonathan Franzen – A number of years ago Franzen lobbed a hand grenade into the literary world with his ferocious and unapologetic work ‘How to be Alone’, that basically posited how difficult was for authors to survive in a world where readers had so many other easy distractions. It was a call to arms. Further Away tackles similar themes. He also struggles with his good friend DFW’s suicide: “when his hope for fiction died, after years of struggle with the new novel, there was no other way out but death”. While a good compilation of short stories, it isn’t the call to war that How to be Alone was. Still a very worth while read.

Here I Am by Alan Huffman – First things first, in order to really appreciate this book you need to know something of its subject, Tim Hetherington who died covering the Arab Spring in Libya. And in order to do so you really must watch the documentary Restrepo. Then the final prerequisite is the book War. Alan Huffman and Tim Hetherington went into some of the darkest and most harrowing war environs to bring us some of the most amazing coverage imaginable. Here I am is Huffman’s tribute to his friend and war colleague. We have been amazed at these two men and their brilliant – Huffman’s tribute to Hetheringon is an absolutely wonderful elegy.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra – we were absolutely blown away by this slow boil of a book and its disjointed timelines et al. Think Orphan Master’s Son for Chechnya but written by Jonathan Safran Foer. Yeah, we know what we did right there. We think we just heard someone yell, BINGO! It does have a quiet intensity and disjointedness that may baffle some.  But stick it out.  Be warned though – it gets grizzly as fingers and testicles are indiscriminately severed from their owners. Yeah, we did mention Orphan Master intentionally. Amazing read though. Everything we look for in a new book is found right here. This is the real deal.

Why Does The World Exist? by Jim Holt – We were recently on a plane back from Amsterdam when the woman sitting next to me gesticulated towards all the people on the plane and asked, “Sometimes, I look at all these people, doing all these things… and I wonder what its all about, what is the purpose?” Over the course of that ensuing eight hour conversation we covered large swaths of Jim Holt’s book as we continued to ask the stewardess for another round. Jim Holt here discusses and address many questions that Hawking never could. If you ever wondered why the universe went through all the trouble of existing, you may enjoy this read very much.

Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss – Saw this at Heathrow we do believe and boy do we love a good conspiracy theory. This particular theory is basically the book version of the documentary Super Size Me, which is high praise from our perspective. Moss makes it plain that the food giant’s goals are simply to addict and enslave consumers to their products. They are well aware that Fat, Sugar and Salt have the addictive equivalence of cocaine and they are using this to their advantage day after day. We don’t believe Salt, Sugar or Fat are bad… but we do think we should know when we are being manipulated or not – that is for sure.

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely – We were first made aware of Dan Ariely from this really fantastic Ted Talk. His book similarly deconstructs the myth that free market economies are the most optimal systems for humans to interact with one another. Ariely conducts some wild social experiments to deftly prove his point. Selling pain reduction pills to test subjects being shocked? Asking set questions then applying pornography and asking again. He made a test that was easy to cheat on and then reminded them of various moral codes to see what impact that would have on the cheating. An older title, but the research hasn’t aged a bit.

Books We Will Love

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (Sept 24) – When we found out that Stephen King was making a sequel to The Shining, we were skeptical. After all, the Shining is – in our humble opinion – the scariest book of all time. Nothing even comes close. (Recommendations?) But in September King will give scaring us out our our ever-loving minds a try again. Basically we find Danny grown up 30 years later and needing to protect a young girl with the shining from a group of wandering weirdos that prey on children who have this gift. Seems like a clever enough follow on. But maybe it lacks the brilliant environs that the Estes Park Stanley provided? We’ll see!

N0S4A2 by Joe Hill – April 30th saw the release of a new and intense thriller about an young woman who is able to find things thought unfindable. As a child she had a run in with Charles Talent Manx, a man that picks up children in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the license plate NOS4A2 (get it? Nosferatu?). It’s with this car that he picks up children and takes them to the terrifying world of “Christmasland”. Vic managed to get away from Manx, which prompted him to obsess over her. And now Manx has set his sights on her son.

 
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy – We just now, moments ago downloaded this – and are fairly excited about the prospect. We highlighted this book last month – and it was just released today. Recap: When government agents kick down Claire Forrester’s front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is. Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero. Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy. So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge…and the battle for humanity will begin.

Hopefully something in this list whets your appetite. And feel free to toss your big books of the month out for others to consume as well.

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