Recent Reads

Foxcatcher

It seems like a lot of my recent posts have involved books. I’m not sure what this fact reveals about the current state of my social life, but hey, it’s summer, right? One of my recent finds was Foxcatcher, which details the wrestling careers of two brothers. I remember seeing the movie trailer a while ago, but I never saw the movie. I think the book was displayed at my local library at the time because of these brothers’ Olympic achievements coinciding with the ongoing Olympic trials.

The first part of the book is okay. The first chapters mainly detail the Schultz brother’s wrestling careers through school, college, and then the Olympics. They both had quite a bit of success at all levels, but were eventually forced to seek sponsorship and financial support from outside sources. John DuPont then enters the story. An heir to the DuPont chemical company, this man has great wealth and is able to start his own wrestling team called Foxcatcher, named after part of his Pennsylvania estate. Mark joins this team for a period of time and enjoys some success; however, Dave Schultz becomes a victim of John DuPont’s eccentric and dangerous behavior when he is shot and killed. Definitely not the happy ending one would wish, but the book does give a glimpse into the world of wrestling and elite-level athletics.

The Rosie Project

Another of my recent book readings was the result of my attendance at a local book club. Now I have never been a member of a book club, but since I read quite a bit, I figured it was a natural fit. By a majority vote of 2-1, it was decided The Rosie Project would be the next book to read and discussed. I was unfamiliar with this book or its sequel, but it involves a geeky genetics professor and associated characters. It begins with this professor designing a questionnaire in an attempt to find a suitable spouse. Eventually he is introduced to Rosie who answers nearly every question incorrectly according to Dr. Tillman’s preferences, but she piques his interest because she does not know the identity of her real father. Because of this information, the Rosie Project begins. Don and Rosie must collect DNA from most of the male members of her mother’s medical school class in order to narrow the field.

This project creates the need for a medical school class reunion, a trip to New York City, and other eventful happenings. The nerdy insight of Don is one of the highlights, as he regularly commits social errors as only a braniac can. Fortunately, this book does have a happy ending with events falling into place for the Rosie Project.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

So I stumbled upon The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo movie a few weeks ago and thought it was pretty interesting. I’m not sure if it was the storyline or European backdrops, but this combination was intriguing. Anyway, The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a continuation of this series with main characters Mikael Blomquist and Lisbeth Selena. Blomquist is a well-known journalist whose magazine has been acquired by a large media corporation, and Selena is a prodigy computer hacker with a complicated history. Their paths are intertwined when technology secrets are stolen and swapped via hackers.

Blomquist is considering a change of employment as his magazine, Millenium, is undergoing changes, and the new owners are looking to make changes as well. However, a huge story develops when Frans Balder is murdered. Balder invented technology which was secretly stolen and sold for a lot of money. It’s discovered that large organizations are involved with this murder plot to include the NSA and Sophie, an international technology group. The sole witness to the murder is August Balder, Frans’ son. August is autistic with limited social interaction, but he is a savant who can draw really well and has an amazing mathematical ability. His drawing skills make him a target for those that murdered Frans as they do not want their identity known.

Selena has very good computer hacking skills and is able to look at the secret NSA intranet. She discovers quite a bit of information; however, she is unable to crack one particular code. Her paths cross with August Balder who is able to perform advanced mathematical calculation and actually provided the answer to allow Selena to crack the NSA code. Between an NSA employee’s confession and this secret information, Mikael Blomquist is able to write the story of the century revealing the motivation and people behind the murder of Balder.

I thought this book was good, but I have trouble remembering more than a few characters. I probably lost some of the storyline, but I think I hit the main points. The math and computer science topics are interesting as some of them relate to the reach of the NSA and their activities.

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