June 25, 2013

catching up on books i have read

despite my reading drought this winter, I did manage to finish a few books, and then plowed through a couple more while on vacation last week. here's a quick re-cap of what I have read over the past few months...

This was so good. a detailed, insightful biography on L Ron Hubbard and how Scientology even came to exist, its Hollywood influence (not as much dirt as I would've liked, but a decent amount) and crazy dysfunction/abuses (members locked away for years in what is basically indentured servant hood). it's long but well worth it. and there are photos here and there, this one was obviously my favorite:

oh yes.

next was Pulphead, by John Jeremiah Sullivan. it's a collection of various essays he's had published in magazines, on the most random and enjoyable of subjects. Axl Rose. prehistoric cave drawings in the Southeastern United States. an outsider's portrayal of Christian music festivals. securing an interview with Bunny Wailer, the last surviving member of Bob Marley's band, in Jamaica. each one stands on its own but you'll want to read them all. (even the one on the 18th/19th century naturalist)

this was one of two books i read on our cruise. There are many Dogtowns, but this one happens to be an abandoned 18th century settlement on Massachusetts' Cape Ann. the author was drawn to it by seeing paintings of the unusually boulder-y landscape, but then discovered that the history of the area was even more intriguing. it got its name from the Revolutionary War widows who got dogs as protection after their soldier husbands failed to return home. its always melancholy aura was punctuated by a random murder in the 80's that   split the town on what to do with the land whose last owners had been dead 200 years. the author injects a little too much of herself into the story, but the book is compelling enough to overlook that misstep.

wow, is this the only fiction i've read recently? i guess so. book #2 of the cruise. a quick, easy read about small town conflict and the dysfunctional characters perpetrating it. the quickly growing Fundamentalist church disapproves of the high school's sex ed teacher and seeks to oust her. one of the churches' members happens to be the teacher's daughter's soccer coach, and a post-game confrontation leads to growing conflict and attraction between the two. a decent summer read. and hopefully there will be more to come....

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