Friday, September 9, 2016

August 2016 readings

A while ago I began listing all books I read, thinking that it might help some of you discover interesting stuff. I put that project on hold because I needed time to finish my own The Truthful Art, but now I'm resuming it. I'll try to publish a monthly post with some very brief comments. This is the first one.

Note 1: I'm just listing books and graphic novels. I don't include periodicals like newspapers or magazines.

Note 2: All links below are "affiliate" links to That means that I'm paid a small amount of money for the books you buy after clicking on them. I don't get any cash directly from Amazon, though, but gift cards that I use to buy more books.

The Making of Donald Trump. Trump is a corrupt liar with a spotty professional record who has done business with many shady characters, including mobsters. This book, written by an extremely experienced investigative reporter, provides the evidence. Just a warning: It's depressing.

The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy. A concise but thorough overview of initiatives to limit voting, and the reason they exist. Heads-up: it's the ideology of censitary suffrage coming back with a vengeance.

The Bone Labyrinth. I'm a sucker for creature flicks, and James Rollins is an author that delivers creature flicks in written format. His novels are really bad —he's the kind of author who can write “his eyes were green as emeralds” or “her hair was black as a raven's wing” without blushing,— but also consistently entertaining, if you can suspend your disbelief.

• Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. Charles Murray has always been a controversial author, and this book isn't an exception. I think that the problems he diagnoses, which ail poor whites, are real, but his analysis of their causes and possible solutions is dubious.

• The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. A high-concept, comprehensive essay by a famous physicist. If you're interested in science and epistemology, this is a decent primer. My favorite this month.

El Islam ante la democracia (Islam and Democracy.) I don't know if there's an English edition of this book. I read it in Spanish. The author, who is the director of research at France's National Center for Scientific Research, asks if Islam is compatible with liberal democracy. I won't spoil the answers.

The Fractured Republic: Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism. A conservative author blames nostalgic baby boomers on the right and on the left of the current dysfunctional political system. The logic of the book is a bit flimsy here and there, but it's still worth your time.

The Hatching. Another human-eating creature story. This one doesn't have as many lazy metaphors as Rollins's, but the writing feels rushed. It's the beginning of a trilogy, by the way.

Chaos Monkeys. A brutal takedown of San Francisco's startup culture, enjoyable albeit hyperbolic.

• Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. An illuminating portrait of Appalachian white working poor families.

March, volume 3. The last volume of a series that should be required reading in schools.

• Madwoman of the Sacred Heart. Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius, together again. If you've ever read anything by Jodorowsky, the modern prince of mad artists, you know what to expect. If you haven't, get ready for a fun ride.

Birthright volumes 1, 2, and 3. A series of fantasy graphic novels that begins with a bang but soon starts losing steam.