Which books are worth the read and which should you skip? Find out what books my husband has been reading lately in the first-ever Book Mark Report.
As you all know, I love to read. Like obsessively reading everything I can get my hands on. Just look at my March reading list or at that pile of my classic books pictured above and you’ll know that I’m a little out of control. Good thing it’s my job.
But I’m not the only reader in the family. Yes, I’ve strived to build a love of reading in my children. My house is spilling over with children’s books scattered every which way. But that’s not what I mean.
My husband Mark is also a reader. Not exactly an insane one like me, but he still gets through a couple of books a month.
His tastes are so different than mine, though. He’s an audiobook devotee while I prefer physical books. His reading tends toward biographies, memoirs, history books, and science fiction & fantasy.
This year, I finally conned him … I mean convinced him to do a quarterly write-up of his reading list. So enjoy your first ever Book Mark Report and fingers crossed there will be plenty more to come.
The Book Mark Report
Former United States President Barack Obama’s recent memoir describes his political journey, recounting the grassroots movement that helped him rise to the presidency and details the politics and diplomacy from his term in office.
Unfortunately, A Promised Land falls victim to the same thing that plagues most political memoirs: revisionist history, sugarcoating, praise for his colleagues, and petty digs at his opponents. I was hoping for more substance than the events I read in the news at the time, but such details are few and far between. Normally, I would have given it three stars, but its unnecessary length downgraded it to two.
Although some diehard Obama fans will love it no matter what, many Obama fans will still come away feeling disappointed. On the other hand, the politically neutrally will feel like they lost 30 hours of their life, and those who don’t like Obama will be so irritated they won’t finish it.
David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography takes an in-depth look at the life of the second President of the United States. Drawn mostly from Adams’ letters, McCullough’s book places Adams in a much different light than Hamilton by Ron Chernow or Adams vs Jefferson by John Ferling. Although the beginning and end are both slow, the parts covering his public career are excellent. In my opinion, judging someone by what they wrote is probably more accurate than by what their enemies wrote about them.
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin takes a deeper look at Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, focusing on his political skills and maneuvering during his political career. Although there are other Lincoln books out there, Team of Rivals is a little different since it doesn’t bother to spend much time on the Civil War or his personal life. Instead, Goodwin’s solid biography focuses on politics, especially the interplay between his Cabinet.
After covering the US memory championships, journalist Joshua Foer decided to embark on a quest to see if he could also become a memory specialist. Drawing on cutting-edge research and expert knowledge, Foer learned all the memory tips and tricks to become the US Memory Championship. An enjoyable read cover to cover, Foer’s book successfully bounces between his training, the history of memory, the science of how our brains work, and the techniques used to retain massive amounts of information quickly.
In Larry McMurtry’s classic novel, two aging Texas Rangers embark on one last adventure – a crazy cattle drive from Texas to Montana. I would describe the story more, but then you would think that the book sounds uninteresting. On the contrary, though the pace is slow, the writing is excellent, and the great characters really drive the story. In my opinion, Lonesome Dove is every bit deserving of its Pulitzer Prize.
In 1930s Chicago, when a Black teen accidentally kills a white woman, his life spirals as he attempts to hide his crime and escape from the police. I wanted to like Native Son more than I did. The writing felt so modern, I had to double-check the publication date. Wright makes some great points about the hypocrisy of white philanthropists and the lack of opportunity and racial dynamics that are systemically oppressing the Black community. Yet, the protagonist was such a terrible person that I didn’t care much about what happened to him.
Mark’s Winter Reading List
At the turn of the century as horses are becoming a thing of the past, John Grady Cole travels down to Mexico so he can keep working with horses on the Mexican ranches. From there, the plot of All the Pretty Horses just seems to wonder; the protagonist just does stuff, but I never felt like I understood his motivations. In all, the book was fine, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
In a post-apocalyptic world, a father and son set off on a journey through the devastated remains of civilization with only a pistol to protect themselves. The Road keeps its plot simple: just the man and his son traveling on the road meeting all sorts of desperate people and trying to survive. Yet, while the story is extremely depressing, it is also extremely good.
In the Star Wars universe, Grand Admiral Thrawn is the most ruthless and cunning commander the Galactic Empire has ever seen. In the first book of the Thrawn trilogy, Timothy Zahn explores Thrawn’s origin story and how he rose to his Imperial rank. Although I enjoyed it, Thrawn wasn’t a particularly great book. So unless you read and like the original Thrawn Trilogy, I’d pass on this one.
When Emperor Palpatine senses a disturbance in the force, he sends his two most loyal commanders to investigate. Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader must work together and fight side by side on a mission that will test their loyalty. Although I’m a big fan of the original Thrawn trilogy, Thrawn: Alliances didn’t do it for me. While I love the space battles, Darth Vader’s felt needlessly dumb and incompetent, and bringing in Padme is always a bad idea.
Guy Gavriel Kay
What happens when you change history and destroy any memory of a people? When a dark sorcerer curses the land to not only destroy Tigana but preventing any record of it, a group fights back to preserve the memory and restore the country. In most ways, Tigana is well-written though most of the characters ended up a little flat. With some pointless tangents and cringy sex scenes, I found some weird aspects of the story to be confusing and distracting. Although the story drags in the middle, the ending tied everything up nicely. While diehard fantasy readers are likely to enjoy this one, if you only dabble in fantasy, I would skip it.
Special thanks to Mark for sharing his reading list with us! If you have a chance, make sure to check out my March reading list, too.
Does your significant other like to read? What kind of books do they like?