January Reading

K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude, Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist, Peter Carlson (audio)
While there is certainly a lot of insight into the political jockeying of the Cold War, this is also an interesting look at the beginnings of the media circus: there are some great stories about strategic PR and reporters doing almost anything to get the perfect quote or picture. Three stars.

More Information Than You Require (audio), Hodgman
Why listen to the audio after I’ve read the book? Because it’s full of super neat extra features and fabulous guest stars. I think it also helps to get this re-read when I’m healthy, I enjoyed it that much more. Five stars.

The Wordy Shipmates (audio), Vowell
Also star studded audio production, but more serious content this time: the influence of the religious shifts among the pilgrims on the nascent United States. I always learn a lot from Vowell’s books, and imagine that her guest readers are all madly in love with her powerful intellect. Four stars.

Cat Burglar Black, Sala (Y, free review copy)
I love Sala’s artwork (and lettering, though it seems to be a personal font) and the premise of the book: girls at a boarding school used to commit daring heists. I do not love that the plot took precedence over developing any of the characters and that the book set itself up for a sequel to the extent that the book ends with only one of several mysteries resolved and many characters still in peril. What ever happened to the stand-alone book? Two stars.

Moyasimon. 1 : tales of agriculture / Masayuki Ishikawa
Premise: New student at an agriculture college in Tokyo can see microbes with his bare eyes. Awesome execution: the microbes are utterly adorable and he meets many people who discuss the importance of microbes and fermented food in Japanese life. So interesting! Did you know that the lactobacillus used for yogurt in Japan is different than the ones used in Europe? Me neither! I do hope that the future volumes are published in the US. Four stars.

Lost on planet China : the strange and true story of one man’s attempt to understand the world’s most mystifying nation, or how he became comfortable eating live squid / J. Maarten Troost. (audio)
A travelogue of China by a man who is quite well traveled, looking for the essence of the country to see why it seems to be poised to dominate the world. Answer unclear, however, but I liked that he was willing to try strange foods and visit out of the way places despite not speaking or reading Chinese. Three stars.

Crime beat : a decade of covering cops and killers / Michael Connelly (audio)
A selection of Connelly’s newspaper articles on law enforcement and crime. Not only some interesting cases, but his writing is quite engaging and the narrator did a very good job. Three stars.