Book of the Month for July

*NOTE: These Book of the Month Entries were my first regular foray into reviewing. So the books summarzied here unfortunately do not have any independent, self-contained reviews.

2 1/2 weeks of business travel and vacation have put the books read in July far from my mind, but reflecting on the pile sitting atop my computer desk the answer for July's BOTM is obvious.

Into the Wild by John Krakauer is a touching piece of both investigative journalism and a meditation on the way we can choose to live our lives - according to our principles or according to the rigid structure placed upon us by society. Short, precise, and dreamlike in its narrative, the book narrates what we know of the life of young Chris McCandless who, as the front cover of the book explains, donated his savings to charity, abandoned his belongings and invented a new life for himself upon the roads of America, eventually finding his end in mysterious circumstances in the wilds of Alaska. The book drilled its way into my thinking and stayed there long after it was finished. Highly recommended, and I hear that the feature adaptation by Sean Penn is look rather good as well.

Elsewhere in the reading universe:

  • Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser - This came very close to being the BOTM. A look into not only what they put into the food in places like McDonald's and Burger King, but also about the workings of the industry. Terrifying stuff - although as much that is made of the food and ingredients, the pieces I found the worst were the descriptions of how the companies are run and, hand in hand with the federal government, look to circumvent teh system at every turn, whether it's hiring unskilled workers so they don't have t worry about benefits or funding school inner city school programs (as long as they consume enough cola, that is). Schlosser makes the read both informative and fun along the way, as long as you don't mind seriously having your brain turned around the next time you pass a Wendy's or a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

  • The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte - My friend Jason will never see a movie adaptation of a book he's interested in without first reading said book. Seeing THE NINTH GATE was not a problem for me, since at the time I had no idea it was based on a book that I would ever get the chance the read. The film left me feeling somewhat flat but, now having read the wonderful Club Dumas, I want to go back and give it a chance. The Three Musketeers was a favorite of mine growing up, and the insertion of some of its key plot points along with a great mystery in the vein of Eco's The Name of the Rose turn this into a great, fast read.

  • Schrödinger's Ball by Adam Felber - Felber takes equal doses of Hitch hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Monty Python, and the works of Robert Anton Wilson to tell a shaggy-dog story about what happens when someone accidentally kills himself, but no one's around to observe it.This is a book that seems to be tailored-made to my tastes - wacky, smart, and absorbing for the time it takes to read it (one plane ride to Phoenix). You may not be able to completely understand Erwin Schrödinger's famous theorem, but by the end of this book you'll understand why it makes for fun, sexy escapades.