Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Five: My Reading List

After deciding to tackle the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, I was hit with a huge list of novels, narratives, and poetry to read. I really had no idea were to start. If you follow my on twitter or my personal Facebook page, you may have seen my call for book suggestions the last few weeks. I figured I would use it as a cross reference to my list.

It didn't quite work out that well. But just from looking at the first few comments, I was left with a wide and varied list. The next step was to check the library and see what they had on hand and what I could put on hold. After doing a little leg work here is what I am planning on reading next.

1. The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder, and the Agony of Engine 57 by John N. Maclean
When a jury returns to a packed courtroom to announce its verdict in a capital murder case every noise, even a scraped chair or an opening door, resonates like a high-tension cable snap. Spectators stop rustling in their seats; prosecution and defense lawyers and the accused stiffen into attitudes of wariness; and the judge looks on owlishly. In that atmosphere of heightened expectation the jury entered a Riverside County Superior Court room in southern California to render a decision in the trial of Raymond Oyler, charged with murder for setting the Esperanza Fire of 2006, which killed a five man Forest Service engine crew sent to fight the blaze.  
Today, wildland fire is everybody’s business, from the White House to the fireground. Wildfires have grown bigger, more intense, more destructive—and more expensive. Federal taxpayers, for example, footed most of the $16 million bill for fighting the Esperanza Fire. But the highest cost was the lives of the five-man crew of Engine 57, the first wildland engine crew ever to be wiped out by flames.
This title is not on the reading list and I was not planning on reading it yet considering the content. Berkeley ended up picking this up when we were at the library right before he left for Prescott. He left it and I picked it up.

2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by Hunter S. Thompson
The 1971 Hunter S. Thompson classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey into the Heart of the American Dream, about stoned sportswriter Raoul Duke, Thompson's alter ego, on a wild drug-crazed road trip, a paranoid plummet into the belly of the beast, with his pal, lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta. Originally serialized in Rolling Stone November 1971, the book catapulted Thompson headfirst toward the Kerouac-Mailer-Capote pantheon and jump-started the entire movement of "gonzo journalism." It is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken.
When I realized I have never read this book I was in shock. Complete and utter shock. I have only ever seen the movie. In fact, it was one of the first movies Berkeley and I had ever watched together.  I am pretty excited to get this one done!

3. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil? Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to be the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.
When I saw this on the challenge list I was confused. At first I thought maybe it meant the play since there have been a few errors on the list that had documentaries listed into of works of literature. I had no clue there was a book before the play.

4. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons. Told in Dinah's voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood--the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers--Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah--the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.
This title was one of only a few Facebook suggestions that matched up with my list. I love the description of this book. It reminds me of two Meissner titles I read and loved. It was also suggested by an awesome and totally smart person. I am anxiously awaiting its return to the library!

5. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
They say if you remember the '60s, you weren't there. But, fortunately, Tom Wolfe was there, notebook in hand, politely declining LSD while Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters fomented revolution, turning America on to a dangerously playful way of thinking as their Day-Glo conveyance, Further, made the most influential bus ride since Rosa Parks's. By taking On the Road's hero Neal Cassady as his driver on the cross-country revival tour and drawing on his own training as a magician, Kesey made Further into a bully pulpit, and linked the beat epoch with hippiedom. Kesey temporarily renounced his literary magic for the cause of "tootling the multitudes"--making a spectacle of himself--and Prankster Robert Stone had to flee Kesey's wild party to get his life's work done. But in those years, Kesey's life was his work, and Wolfe infinitely multiplied the multitudes who got tootled by writing this major literary-journalistic monument to a resonant pop-culture moment. Kesey's theatrical metamorphosis from the distinguished author to the abominable shaman of the "Acid Test" soirees required Wolfe's Day-Glo prose account to endure. Even now, Wolfe's book gives what Wolfe clearly got from Kesey: a contact high.
I grabbed this on Berkeley's recommendation. We rarely have the same taste in reading material so I am a little apprehensive but will hit this one soon. Since Fear and Loathing and this novel are heavily centered on the crazy drug filled lives of the antagonist, I figured I would break them up with some more mellow stuff.

So that is my list of books I am hoping to tackle in the new 6 to 8 weeks. Do you have a summer reading list going? If not, what are some of the favorite book you have read?

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