Friends joked that “Jack’s Books” is the most boring title imaginable for this reading blog. In my defense, all the other titles I’ve thought of are already used for a blog: “Between the Covers”, “Under the Covers”, “Under the Covers”, “Bookmarks”, “Broken Spine”, etc. . read blogs by other people. âPaper Cutsâ sounded smart, but it’s already a craft blog. So, open to suggestions, if they haven’t already been taken. I thought of “literally”, but “literature” is too important. Don’t even get me started on the Latin possibilities.
Otherwise, Jack’s Books is literally the subject of this blog.
Here’s what I was reading during and shortly after Thanksgiving week (which was a lot of reading while traveling):
“The Way of All Flesh” by Samuel Butler (1903) For many years of his adult life, Samuel Butler wrote and agonized over what would posthumously become his most famous novel. Semi-autobiographical, this is a hateful article about Victorian England. More than that, it follows four generations of a family, and no less a writer George Orwell considered him to be the best literary treatment of a father-son relationship he has ever read.
Paul Lieberman’s âGangster Squadâ (2012) Written in an airy and anecdotal manner that reminds me of James Ellroy’s novels on the same subject, this is a review of the most colorful characters and antics of organized crime in and around Los Angeles, from the beginning of the 20th century, when it was mainly imported from the rear east until the 1950s. At that time, the City of Angels was growing its own crop of slicksters. You have to like real crime stories, and I do.
“Hundred Dollar Baby “by Robert Parker (2006) Spenser is hired by a woman from his past when someone threatens his high-end prostitution business. As with all Spenser novel series, you get the repartee, characters, and vividly drawn subplots, but this one is still a bit more curvy and twisty than most. Fun and quick read.
Adam Hall’s “Beijing Target” (1978) Hall is the author of spy thrillers you’ve never heard of and whose books are now almost impossible to find. But if you find them, take them and read them. Its hero, Quiller, is unique and human. Here he is thrown into an assassination plot in China, and it results in car chases, hand-to-hand combat and impossible escapes that James Bond could only hope for.
“Bound in Tinsel” by Ngaio Marsh (1972) Dame Marsh has worked in a narrow range of characters and locations in her Inspector Alleyn series, but each book is fresh and different. As with Adam Hall mentioned above, which is overlooked, Marsh wrote in the shadow of the more well-known Agatha Christie. My favorite storyline in “Tied Up in Tinsel” is a Christmas spectacle, with a murder of course, committed in an area where all the assistants hired are convicted felons.
Larry Bond’s âExit Planâ (2012) I’m a Larry Bond fan anyway, but it’s the best novel I’ve read of him. Part of his “Jerry Mitchell” series, Mitchell is XO aboard the USS Michigan submarine that goes into action off the Iranian coast to extract husband and wife defectors with the elusive “truth” about the dreaded nuclear program. this nation. I’m not going to spoil it here, but Bond’s plot twist really makes you wonder if that’s not the case. actually what’s going on there. Tense and suspenseful action spills over every page.
âThe Gods of Guiltâ by Michael Connelly (2013) Part of the “Lincoln Lawyer” series, and the best, I think. Mickey Haller always ends up standing up for not just his client, but himself and the people he cares about most. Again, I’m not going to spoil anything, but stick with this one until the end for a courtroom development that Perry Mason himself has never seen.
“America on trial: a defense of the foundation” by Robert Reilly (2021) You are not so much read this book like you study it. Get yourself a notepad or notepad, get ready to take notes and google lots of people and concepts. There’s a lot to unbox here, but Reilly introduces the idea that the founding of this country grew out of two millennia of ideas about philosophy, natural rights, consent of the governed, etc. The “defense” part is its very effective refutation of the modern idea that we were founded on wrong principles, thus making our corruption of slavery and racism inevitable. Reilly doesn’t put it that way, but I will: the founders didn’t disappoint us, but we are betraying them and their ideals. I recommend it if you are ready to get down to business. Not a light read.
As always, please share your thoughts on any one of them and let me know what you read. Or smart book blog titles?