August Reading, Part II: 20? Books of Summer
Did I do it? Did I hit my goal of 20 books by September 1st? I did, and also I've been very busy and unable to finish this post. So here we go...
The Way to the Sea, by Caroline Crampton: Crampton does a podcast I listen to (Shedunnit), so when she wrote this book I wanted to find a copy, but it was only published in the UK. It's all about the Thames estuary - the bit between London and the sea -- which is where Crampton grew up, on a boat half the time. She actually starts at the source of the Thames, but covers from there to Tower Bridge in the first chapter. After that she gets down to business and covers history, the state of the river, ecology, and throws in bits of her own memory. People have tended to ignore the estuary or use it as a place to dump things they don't want to look at, from actual garbage to sewage treatment and power stations. These days the shipping is there too; an absolutely massive port that takes in shipping containers instead of the docks that once crowded into London.
The most surprising thing I learned was about the sewage treatment systems that were set in place after the famous Great Stink finally spurred London to develop a real solution. For over a century, the stuff was simply packed down and transported out to the edge of the open sea, where a particularly deep trench served as a dumping ground. This system, astonishingly, remained in use until 1998. Which is simply incredible.
Summerbook #18: John Dies at the End, by David Wong: Wow, this was a strange one. This novel was made into a movie that I have not seen. I haven't decided yet if I'll watch it. It's a strange, surreal story involving another (quite hellish) dimension trying to break through into our world. David Wong and his buddy John (these are both pseudonyms) were dosed with 'soy sauce,' a drug that makes you see things from this other dimension. Also the drug is probably alive, and appears when it wants you to take it. There is a lot of preoccupation with really gross humor. It was interesting, if way more full of language and the aforesaid humor than is my taste. I will probably read the sequel, not least because the title is "This Book is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It."
David Wong really is a pseudonym and the guy is now writing under his actual name, Jason Pargin. My librarian brain wonders what this has done to the cataloguing.
Codependent Discipleship: Not a How-To Guide, by Nick Galieti and Jennifer Roach: Here's another one I wanted to get because of the author. Jennifer Roach is a really neat person and I sort of know her online. This book is really written in Galieti's voice, and she only surfaces sometimes; it's a short book that introduces the concept of codependence to LDS people and points out ways that we are liable to fall into codependent habits. Pretty interesting stuff.
Summerbook #20: Arresting God in Kathmandu, by Samrat Upadhyay: These short stories, all set in Kathmandu, explore ordinary lives. An accountant loses his job and his purpose. A gossip-conscious mother is horrified when her daughter comes home from college pregnant. A renowned poet gains a protege, and loses his inspiration.
They're okay as stories, but they didn't really grab me, which is unusual for South Asian literature. So I was a little bummed about that. But it did tick Nepal off my Reading Around the World list.