Wednesday, March 23, 2011

P. G. Wodehouse

Roger Ebert posted on Twitter that you could get P. G. Wodehouse books for free or 99 cents through Kindle. The Bertie and Jeeves stories have been on my to-read list for ages, so when I found out that I could get them for pennies, I decided to splurge.

The stories focus on wealthy gad-about Bertie and his butler Jeeves, who is the brains of the operation. The stories were made into TV shows in England, staring Hugh Laurie as Bertie and Stephen Fry as Jeeves - pretty much a perfect pairing if you ask me. The shows are on my Netflix list now to watch.

Anyway, the short stories are charming and funny - the language alone makes them worth reading, especially for free through Kindle.

The Lincoln Lawyer

I rarely read fiction, but after wading through several biographies and Mary Roach's books, I decided it was time for some easy reading. I read several reviews of the movie "The Lincoln Lawyer," and they were all complimentary of the book, so I decided to give it a try.

Turns out, I couldn't put it down. I saw some of the plot twists from a mile away, but it still sucked me in. Connelly has a good blend of John Grisham's legal expertise and Elmore Leonard's style. It's a perfect easy, fun read. I've already started a second book in the Mickey Haller series. I can't really stand Matthew McConaghey, so I doubt I'll see the movie, though.

The Mary Roach Cannon

There are times when the universe seems to be telling me that I need to read a particular book or author. This past winter, the universe told me to start ready Mary Roach, so I dove right in.

First up was Packing for Mars, which is about the hazards of space travel and how NASA prepares for it - especially the things they can't prepare for, like the "unknown unknowns." Given that my oldest daughter is a self-described "space explorer," I loved this book, and I'm envious of the access Roach had to NASA while researching it. I'd love to go up in the Vomit Comet to experience zero gravity. I'm not so sure I'd want to test out the space toilet though.

After the space book, I read Spook, which chronicles experiments people have done through the ages on what happens to our souls, if we have them, after we die. Real, respected scientists have done research on whether there is life after death and whether there are such things as near-death experiences like those described by people who have died and then been brought back to life. So far nothing conclusive has been discovered, but I like that people are looking.

Last week I finished off Stiff, which tackles what happens to our bodies after we die, specifically those cadavers that are donated to science. Turns out not every body donated goes on to take part in ground-breaking scientific or medical research. Most go on to teaching hospitals for medical students to practice on. Others go on to conferences where surgeons can hone their skills. Still others are used as crash-test dummies for car companies. Roach also chronicles different methods of disposing of cadavers - the technical term for a dead body - from cremation to freezing to burial to composting. After reading this book, I'm sticking to my plan of donating whatever organs will be of use to someone else and then cremating the rest and scattering the ashes. Silly as it seems, I don't want to turn into a crash-test dummy or practice cadaver.