One of the best things about summer break for me is that I finally get a chance to read a lot of the books gathering dust on my bookshelf. Last summer I also read a number of very good books, including Aquariums of Pyongyang and Freakonomics. For this summer I'm open to recommendations, and I've already got a short list going.
Having finished final exams last week, I jumped into Thomas Friedman's first book from back in 1989, From Beirut to Jerusalem, the only one of his books I haven't yet read. I'm a third of the way through it, but thus far it is very good. It describes his experiences as a Middle East correspondent, where he became stationed at the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war, and is considerably more action-packed than any of the future books he would write as a more high-profile journalist. Reading about Friedman's close calls with car bombs, kidnapping attempts, and rifle-toting guerrilas may lead you to have more respect for the mustachioed proponent of globalization.
There's lots more on the agenda. Presumably next up is Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, which is supposed to be a comprehensive and non-ideological review of the Iraq war. Also today I received an Amazon.com shipment of three books: One Billion Customers and Mr. China, on the recommendation of Dr. Howard Frank, Dean of the Smith School of Business, and Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore, which looks like an interesting treatment of recent history.
Visiting Google's homepage today and seeing their stylized logo, I realize that today also happens to be the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The complete volume of his Sherlock Holmes stories are the most entertaining, enthralling mysteries ever written. One of the highlights of my trip to England back in 2000 was seeing the actual 221B Baker Street apartment.
Many people are familiar with the well-known short stories in Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the novel Hound of the Baskervilles, but there are many others that will draw you in. Among my favorites are A Study in Scarlet, about a gang of murderous avenging Mormons, and the underrated Valley of Fear, a dark tale about the infiltration of a secret society. If you ever have a really long plane ride and can only take one book, make it The Complete Sherlock Holmes.Hopefully, I'll do a lot of good reading in the next few months. Hit me up if you have any suggestions!