Books Read in June

The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien (read via Overdrive’s free lending program). Vietnam essays for a former vet. War stories. Graphic, but not gratuitous. Horrible. Beautiful. Sickening. Poignant. Dark. Glittering prose.

The Ship Who Sang– ironically found at a secondhand bookstore in Davao City Philippines. Ironic, because I read this book in my high school Spanish class in Yuma, Arizona 40 years ago. We had a regular little reading club in that class, illicit, underground, behind the teacher’s back. We sat in the back of the room, four or five of us, and passed around a paperback book we read together. Sometimes it was just a good story one of us was enjoying and wanted to share with the others- like this one. It haunted me, and I wanted to read it again later, but couldn’t find it for ages, and I had never paid attention to the author. I read all the Dragons of Pern books (In Japan, 25 years ago when I had two kids and we were stationed there), but it was another five years later before I discovered the internet and the search possibilities and learned that The Ship Who Sang was written by the same author, Anne McCaffrey. I’m glad to have satisfied the itch. It was mostly as I remembered it, although not so new, shiny, ground-breaking, and amazing. Still, fun.

In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, by Jean Shepherd, who wrote the short story that was made into the Christmas movie about the boy who wants a b.b. gun for Christmas more than anything else but everybody just tells him he’ll shoot his eye out. It’s a collection of those short stories, reminiscences about living in an Indiana steel mill town during the Cold War. I didn’t care for the little gimmick used to connect the stories- he’s at home visiting an old friend who is a bartender and they spend a few minutes ‘remembering when,’ and then he picks one of those stories to tell in the next chapter. It felt forced. But the stories- well, they feel real. The language is, at times, er, highly colourful. Americana, pretty funny stuff, with a bit of a bite to it. The fictional town of Hohman is Hammond as it was. Hammond as it is today is a town you should avoid at all costs as an outsider. It’s dangerous. Knowing that, the book is rather sad.


Once Upon a Crime, by Michael Buckley (juvenile, part of a series called The Sisters Grim)

Death in High Heels by Christiana Brand

Null ABC by John Joseph McGuire

Dead Men’s Hearts, (a Gideon Oliver book), by Aaron Elkins

Heads You Lose, by Christiana Brand

Green for Danger by Christiana Brand


The Secret Zoo

Mr Monk in Outer Space (these last two I quit reading before I had finished 3 pages. Awful writing. The Mr. Monk reads like journeman level fan fiction, but I am sure it is gratifying to those who read it.


1493 for Young People by Charles Mann

Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson


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One Comment

  1. Amy
    Posted June 23, 2017 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the reviews! I was just wondering if the Jean Shepherd book was good. We stopped at a visitor’s center in Hammond on our way to Michigan last weekend because we needed a place to eat our picnic lunch. (It wasn’t a Common Room-approved road trip rest area with a lot of space to run and stretch your legs, but there’s nothing like that so close to Chicago in an area with all those ports. It was an inconvenient time to be hungry.) The flag pole out front had a statue of Ralphie with his tongue stuck to it. My children have never seen the movie, but the youngest ones all had to have their pictures taken pretending they had their tongues on the flag pole. Actually, I’m afraid the 2 year old probably did lick the flag pole, but I’m trying not to think about it. Apparently Hohmon is the name of a busy street in downtown Hammond.

    I read The Things They Carried in high school or college and remember being moved by it.

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