Rants and Raves

Altered Carbon – ****

Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, #1)Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure I’d like this book or get in to it at all, but once I started I wound up getting caught up in it. I haven’t read SciFi in quite a while- well, not like this- but I got in to it as the story in itself is more of a pulp-style mystery. Almost like a SciFi noir. The mystery itself was good so that kept me engaged and the sci-fi aspects weren’t distracting, but well thought out ideas that added to the environment. I wound up really enjoying it.

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At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails – *****

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot CocktailsAt the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An engaging read. Bakewell helps paint the picture of how the philosophers were living at the time they came up with their theories and essays and works. The how helps with the why. I wish we had gone over more of this background when I was in college. At most we had quick snapshots of what the thinkers were doing at times in their lives. Bakewell’s book helps connect the dots for me.

I’d recommend the book if you’re in to the subject matter.

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Sapiens – ****

Sapiens: A Brief History of HumankindSapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this book. Harari’s writing style makes it easy for the reader to stay engaged across topics ranging from biology, anthropology, genetics, and history.

I picked this up to read because I heard an interview with Harari speaking about his newest book and I thought I should read this one before I start the newer book (Homo Deus).

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The Last Train to Zona Verde – ****

The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African SafariThe Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I coincidentally started reading this while friends were traveling in Namibia and posting pics online. It was interesting to see their tourist posts and safari pics while at the same time reading about the area in Theroux’s book. It was like reading a behind-the-scenes account of what could be happening there.

Overall it was a sobering look at parts of Africa. The main points of interest to me were reading about Angola and the Portuguese, the effects of charitable giving, Theroux’s aging, and some anecdotes that I had forgotten about in South Africa: Amy Biehl’s death and a Bono story.

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Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever – ****

Wheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy EverWheelmen: Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, and the Greatest Sports Conspiracy Ever by Reed Albergotti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finally got around to reading Reed and Vanessa’s book after being introduced to it via a SFCC (and Fatcake club) event where Reed spoke to us about the book and answered questions a few months ago.

I actually finished the book in the evenings after I’d catch up on this year’s Tour. It’s amazing that some of the same names are still involved with the sport, but it’s their lives so it shouldn’t surprise me too much.

What did surprise me is how much of a dick Armstrong is. The level of cover ups and money shifting and other stuff is astounding. The strong-arming teammates, etc… ugh. Just read it.

If you’re not into cycling it may take a bit to get ramped up and know who the major players are, but it will be worth your effort. The authors do a good job of explaining who everyone is with their backstories with good anecdotes. It’s a real life soap opera.

There’s even overlap in today’s news with some Olympic (Russian) athletes being caught doping, some problems with the labs in Rio, some MMA athletes being caught this week in Vegas, etc…

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A Death In Brazil – *****

A Death in Brazil: A Book of OmissionsA Death in Brazil: A Book of Omissions by Peter Robb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up a copy of this book at Green Apple. The copy I picked up was misplaced in the used mysteries section and I just assumed I was grabbing a fictional mystery set in Brazil. As you can read from the other reviews, it’s a historical account of Brazil and how it’s present (up to the early 2000s) is tied to its not-so-mysterious past.

I had been reading a lot about Brazil recently and this was right up my alley. It’s odd how just picking up a book randomly at the bookstore winds up being tied to the present day woes Brazil is going through- The Rio Olympics problems, World Cup funding shenanigans, Dilma’s impeachment and Lula’s resurgence, and so on.

A Death In Brazil will catch you up on the country’s past and how it’s tied to today.
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