This is a nice thread. Let's have a book edition.
I just read my first book by Haruki Murakami, "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle". Murakami gets a lot of praise in these parts, and after reading this book, I can confirm that it isn't unfounded. The book to me felt a bit weaker towards the end, but I really liked hearing the stories of Nomonhan, Siberia, and such.
The Russia House by John le Carré
Imagine James Bond told from the perspective of his accountants. It's kind of like that. Except imagine that the James Bond in question fell into spying after his career in banking fell through. Not sure why this was forced on me, but hey, it offers some highly fictionalized accounts of the everyday early Perestroika-era Soviet lifestyle and I dig that for some reason. An entirely bureaucratic spy novel.
The Vast Unknown by Broughton Coburn
It's about the first American expedition to the summit of Mount Everest. After having been beaten in the race to #1 in nearly everyone else by 1963, Americans seek to play catch up in mountaineering too. Notable for a few technical firsts, the expedition was otherwise routine, including the death of one member. As far as these books go, it's OK. The best part is mention of the Camel cigarettes tie-in promotion. Oh, 1963, you so silly.
The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley
Difficult to read if only because everyone has a difficult name. Gives a highly-fictionalized account of the many trials of the Norse Greenlanders in a style sort-of reminiscent of the sagas. Greenlanders were the hardest of Viking remnants, who managed to eke out an existence through primitive pastoralism in the worst theoretically-habitable place on earth. They did this for close to five hundred (miserable) years. They died out due to isolation, climate change, and invasion on two fronts. Take note, Western World! Or read about Rapa Nui, I guess.
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Taken from a series of magazine articles, it sure has that feel to it. Interesting stuff, most of which is plastic is bad, m'kay. If you deny the human influence on climate change, then buy six copies, have them delivered overnight air, burn them, read it on your good iPad and have a good laugh. Otherwise, it might make you a little nervous about the future.
Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune. by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
Las Vegas is in Clark County, Nevada. This story is about Hugette Clark. The woman inherited something like $300M, when that kind of money was a lot more than a Powerball prize. She used her fortune to live as a recluse in a New York apartment for thirty years and thirty+ more in a hospital room. All this while she owned sizable estates on the Santa Barbara and Delaware coasts that she hadn't visited in sixty years. Purely from an accounting perspective, this is a lot of fun!
Man I need to start reading again
I think the thanking is a good idea. For whatever reason, people get unduly attached or committed to their items. I guess it's the sunk cost fallacy. Making that commitment explicit by "thanking" it, makes it easy to get over and realize it was just a tool that had a purpose which is no longer needed without feeling guilty.
<i>Constellation Games</i> by Leonard Richardson
A disenchanted antihero game developer quickly becomes a pivotal player in a first-contact scenario by reviewing alien video games. I loved this book and I plan to read it again soon. Highly recommended for science fiction fans who also happen to be programmers.