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October 5, 2009

A Comfortable Chair and a Good Book

Michael Kurtianyk

The most responses I’ve received to my contributions to have come from two recent posts: my summer reading list and my take on the city aldermanic race (I love that word: “aldermanic”; so many connotations). I may post something on the mayoral race prior to the General Election, but until then, here’s my Fall Reading List:


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson. A friend asked me at dinner what I was reading these days, and I replied: “Swedish mysteries.” This novel, people, is about as good as it gets. It deals with Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist convicted of libel, who is hired by the patriarch of a wealthy family to find out what happened to his niece, who disappeared over 40 years ago. With the help of Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker (and she with the dragon tattoo), Blomkvist has too little time to solve the mystery before other forces come into play. Tragically the author died shortly after delivering three manuscripts, of which this book is the first. His second book is the next one that I will read: The Girl Who Played With Fire.


Scarpetta, by Patricia Cornwell. This book got off to a slow start, but once Inspector Kay Scarpetta got into the forensics of the case and her journey through the world of cyber-space, the narrative moved along quickly. The author has done well with her books, this being her 16th Scarpetta novel. No one comes close to her when it comes to state-of-the-art forensics crime-solving. I look forward to her next novel, The Scarpetta Factor, coming out later this month.


How Life Imitates Chess by Garry Kasparov. As an amateur (and I mean very amateur!) chess player, I have had occasion through the years to study the games of Garry Kasparov. His famous dictum that “Chess is War” is evidenced by his attacking style in the chess matches he’s played. He is considered to be the greatest chess player of all time, high praise considering the famous ones who’ve played the game: Anatoly Karpov, Bobby Fischer, Emanuel Lasker, etc. In this book, the author compares one’s approach to chess with one’s approach to business and politics: knowing your opponents, examining the chess board, preparation, and more. One of the things I learned was how each move that is made, be it on the chess board or in life, will have a consequence, and thus a ripple effect on future decisions. Also: every task has an opening, a middle game, and an endgame. Through preparation and a trust of one’s own intuition, anyone can achieve success.


The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett. This one is an oldie, but a goodie. Many have seen the Humphrey Bogart film, an excellent rendering of the novel. The novel is Hammett at his crime noir best: the righteous detective (Sam Spade), the femme fatale (Miss Wonderly), and a whodunit that withstands the test of time. Worth reading.


As for future reading, besides the ones mentioned earlier, the rest of the year will be taken up with the following books:


Nine Dragons, by Michael Connelly

The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown

Nocturnes, by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Wild Things, by Dave Eggers

The Humbling, by Philip Roth

Raymond Carver: A Writer’s Life, by Carol Skelnicka

The Audacity to Win, by David Plouffe

Last Night in Twisted River, by John Irving

What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell


Let me know what you’re reading these days:


Yellow Cab
The Morning News Express with Bob Miller
The Covert Letter

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