Book Roll

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
Audio (read by the author)
This is Vowell's quirky, consistently funny account of her pilgrimages to the historical sites involved in the assassinations of U.S. Presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. Along the way, she reflect on U.S. history, current politics, friendship and some of the strange history buffs she encounters. Vowell knows her stuff about American presidential history.

Read by the author, this audio book won an audie award for audio book excellence.

Dead Calm by Charles Williams

The movie of the same name was adapted from Williams' book. Written in the early 60s, this novel is showing its age. The sex is clumsy. The psychology, too. Great movie, though.

Old Man's War by John Scalzi

This is a space opera in the tradition of Starship Troopers by Heinlein but without the sly nostalgia for a benign fascism. It came recommended from BoingBoing I think but I'd give it only a mediocre rating for limited inventiveness and fairly flat characters.

Shop Girl by Steve Martin
Audio (read by the author)

Wow. I always knew that Martin was smart as well as funny but this work betrays a depth of insight into character that I wouldn't have put beyond him if asked, but that nonetheless amazes me at least once every five minutes while listening. He's a top-notch wordsmith, too boot. Highly recommended.

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Audio (read by one of the the authors)

Interesting but not as interesting as I'd hoped. The promise is that the book will provide a lot of outside-the-box thinking about current problems and issues. That this might be a whole new way to look at economics as a tool for understanding social behaviour. But, in the final analysis, there wasn't that much that was strikingly original.

Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
Audio (read by the authour)

This collection of essays by Vowell is witty and insightful. There's a very interesting essay about Al Gore in here and a wonderful insight to the effect that the Internet is like Israel for Nerds. I don't think it's quite up to the level of Assassination Vacation but it's worth your time, nonetheless.

Catch Me If You Can by Frank W. Abagnale

By the age of 20, Abagnale had successfully and repeatedly masqueraded as a Pan Am pilot, using the trust and credibility afforded him by his fake identity to deadhead all over the U.S. and Europe and bilk hundreds of hotels and businesses of millions of dollars through increasingly elaborate check frauds. He also managed to impersonate and work as both a district attorney and a pediatrician. Through it all he comes across in the this autobiographical account as the quintessential charming rogue who claims never to have stuck it to an individual. He did this all before being old enough to vote.

 His spree came to an end in France where he was subsequently imprisoned to a year of brutal imprisonment that makes the Devil's Island of Papillon fame


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