My Summer Reading List

With 90 degree temperatures baking Chicago, and the Memorial Day behind us, Summer has already started unofficially. That means I only got one more season left for fooling around before I go back to school. So, I’m going to make the most of this Summer. I’ll squeeze every fun I could get out of it.

Like last year, with school expenses and all, I’ll be too poor to travel. So, I’ll just stay local, go see concerts and hang out with friends. I’ll also bury myself in books, before I bury myself in textbooks when the semester starts this Fall. I know I gave up books to minimize my hobbies. But, during Summer, my room gets too hot from around 2 PM until the sun sets. So, I can’t play video games in there. With nothing else left do, I’d rather read.

I’m not going to challenge myself this time, however, like I did last summer. I’m just going to read as much as I can.

I’d start re-reading some of those old favorites that I haven’t read in a while:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
1984 by George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Once and the Future King by T.H. White
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

Then, I’d read my backlogs:

Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Everything Matters by Ron Currie Jr.
Great House: A Novel by Nicole Krauss

And, if time and money allows, I’d finish the Summer by reading some new books:

Behind The Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
The End of Money by David Wolman
The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura
Quiet by Susan Cain
Trapeze by Simon Mawer

So, these are the list of books for my summer reading. I probably won’t read them all. But I hope that I, at least, knock the first 10 books.

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[Book Review] Half-Blood Blues

Unlike my father, I’m not a huge listener of jazz music. So, I only know a few artists from that genre, and mainly just guitarists. Weirdly enough, I’m much more interested in jazz’s history than the music itself. Jazz had a dark past, one that was tied to racism, and that has always fascinated me. So, when I learned about Half-Blood Blues, a novel about Nazis and Jazz, I just have to read it.

Half-Blood Blues tells that story of three black musicians. Two of the men, the bassist and the drummer, are African-Americans who fled the US to try and make it in Berlin. Together with “Hiero”, a half German, half Senegalese, who is a virtuoso trumpet player, they try to record a song, a jazz parody of a popular Nazi anthem, while eluding capture in Nazi-occupied Berlin and, later, Paris.

One of the things I love about this book is that music flows from it. The characters’ speakeasy slang gave this book life and color that I’ve not seen in other books. The way they talk, you could almost hear jazz music on the background as well. Its setting, which I was really after, also didn’t disappoint. It really showed the hardships of being an outcast playing “degenerate” music under a totalitarian rule.

I really enjoyed reading Half-Blood Blues. I’ve never read a novel such as this before, which is about history, music, race, love, betrayal and brotherhood. It’s a great, great book. One that I’d recommend to all, especially to lovers of music.

Score: A-

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Thin Air

I love metal. But no matter how much I try, I could never get into doom metal. Hence, for years, I’ve avoided Anathema’s work.

Recently, however, their latest album, Weather Systems, have been getting a lot of good reviews. One reviewer also mentioned that they’re a different band now. So, I checked them out and saw this video of them, which is a stripped-down live performance of the band, playing their song “Thin Air”. It’s really beautiful.

This was not the Anathema that I knew from back in the 90’s, not anymore. They’re a completely different band now, playing what’s sounds to me like Pink Floyd-ish progressive rock instead of doom metal, and I really like it. I guess I’ll have to get their new album and then follow their work after they shifted from doom metal.

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