Saturday, January 29, 2011

You Should Read These

So I've decided this year to start making a list of books I read as I go along. I'll be totally honest, it's mostly for narcissistic purposes so I can bask in my smart-ness and productivity. But it's also just fun, and really interesting to see my shifting moods and reading tastes. Thus far this year (2011) I've read:

Mindhunter-John Douglas
A Month of Sundays-John Updike
The Cases That Haunt Us-John Douglas
Mapping Human History (currently reading)-Steve Olsen

I've got to say, Mindhunter and The Cases That Haunt Us are among the most interesting books I've ever read. They're both by John Douglas, the man who single-handedly created psychological criminal profiling. (Ever seen Silence of the Lambs? The lead investigator character, Jack Crawford, is based on him.) In Mindhunter, he describes his interviews with such killers as the Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, and Charles Manson. (But beware, because he spares no gory details in describing crime scenes.) It's a fascinating look at the inner psychology of killers. In The Cases That Haunt Us, he goes deep into history's most famous unsolved cases, such as Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer, and the Lizzy Borden case, and looks at them from a profiling standpoint. I would definitely recommend these books to anyone who's not squeamish.

A Month of Sundays? A little weird, to be honest. Extremely sexually graphic, which doesn't bother me, but for anyone who's offended by language or explicit sex, it's definitely over-the-top. Also, Updike uses words like "prestidigitoneous" in everyday language, which to me is just weird. I'm all for an extensive vocabulary, but there's a fine line between good vocabularly and being pretensious. (I KNOW I spelled that wrong. Pretensous? Pretencious? Why am I blanking on that?)

As for Mapping Human History, I personally find it fascinating. Although, I will be the first to admit I don't understand most of it. There's a lot in there about mitochondrial DNA. I got a C in 9th-grade chemistry. But it's fascinating nonetheless.

Any book recommendations for an avid pretensious (?) bibliophile?