Born Round — Frank Bruni
I’m liking this so far, as expected.
You Are Not A Gadget — Jaron Lanier
I just started reading this. I like it so far. Very interesting. Will post more later. Update: I only had this for a week and didn’t get very far.
The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee — Sarah Silverman
I liked this memoir. I have not seen her show, but I will probably try and watch it some time.
Not Becoming My Mother— Ruth Reichl
Finished reading that a few days ago. It’s short and sweet. Highly recommend.
Started Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and while looking for that at the library, I came across a book by Philip Galanes, the guy who writes the “Social Q’s” column in the New York Times. I love that column. The book is Emma’s Table. I will probably read that this weekend, it seems like a lighter read that .The Sound and The Fury and I’m still not too eager to read Generation X. Have been flipping through The Lore of Running by Tim Noakes. It’s quite interesting.
Love Begins In Winter — Simon Van Booy
This is by far the best short story collection I’ve ever read. I can’t believe I forgot about it during my last book update. I just remembered it now because it came up again on my books on hold list at the library. I can’t say enough good things about this collection of stories. I think I came across his name in the New York Times. There was either an article about him or a review of this book, and I put in on my holds list at the library last year, and again this year when I was in need of something decent to read, that I knew I would like. I remember when I was reading the first story I would stop and re-read certain sentences. They are just so pretty, or thoughtful, and just really lovely to read, slowly, which is not how I usually read. So after reading only a few pages of Love Begins In Winter, I decided that I will forevermore read anything that Simon Van Booy writes.
Not Becoming My Mother – Ruth Reichl
That was this morning’s bathroom book. I started in the middle somewhere, and it’s pretty good. I will read it from the beginning. I really liked her memoir of her time as the New York Times food critic, Garlic and Sapphires, and another one of her memoirs, I can’t remember which one.
When You Reach Me – Rebecca Stead
This is the best book I’ve read in ages. Probably the best book I’ve read in the last year. It’s actually a young adult book, recommended for ages 9 and up, but I found it on a best books of 2009 list, so many adults have enjoyed it as well. I’m not even going to say what it’s about, you should just read it. I will be reading it again at a later date. I’m trying to remember all the other books I’ve read since updating this so long ago and not too many come to mind.
Generation A – Douglas Coupland
This was good, not good enough to beat out Microserfs or Eleanor Rigby as one of my favorites, but still good. I read that when it came out in September. Don’t know that I would rush to read it again. I’m re-reading books less and less these days.
The Unnamed – Joshua Ferris
Read this last month. Was good, but not great. I didn’t like it as much as his first book.
Julie Buxbaum – After You
Another in a list of books where I didn’t like it as much as the author’s previous work. That might say more about me than the works themselves. Who knows.
Jonah Lehrer – Proust Was A Neuroscientist and How We Decide
I’m being inconsistent with author-title order, but at least I’m updating. These books sounded really interesting. I liked the premise but I didn’t enjoy reading either of them. They just got bogged down and weren’t well organized. I found myself skipping around because I didn’t want to read ‘all that’, and I just wanted to get to the point. I guess it’s kind of like the Levitin music books, I’m too impatient to appreciate them.
Nick Hornby – Juliet, Naked
I love Nick Hornby’s essays, but have not enjoyed reading his fiction. This is no exception. I really thought I’d like it though. I like the premise, but I just didn’t enjoy the writing. I flipped to the end to see what happened. I really like “An Education” though, for which he wrote the screenplay.
Currently In Progress: I have some Lorrie Moore short stories and her novel, Lolita, and some Bob Glover books on running that I’m flipping through. I can see myself abandoning everything but the running books pretty soon. The Lorrie Moore and Nabokov demand more attention than I can give them at the moment. This is not the first time that I’ve tried to read these. I might try to renew them though.
Enlightenment for Idiots – Anne Cushman
This was pretty good, not as fluffy as the cover would lead you to believe, with all of its pastel colours.
jPod – Douglas Coupland
I’m going to start reading this again. A few online reviews said that it was his best since Microserfs. One guy even dared say it was better than Microserfs, which I doubt is possible, so I have to read it now. I’ve been parceling out the Coupland so I have something decent to read every now and then, and now is one of those times when I feel like reading something decent.
Black Swan Green – David Mitchell
I read the first sentence in the library and decided it was worth a shot. Also, the reviews were very good. I’ve read the first page now, I think and it seems like I will like it. I went through a number of books at the library yesterday, looking at the titles, covers and jackets, and reading the first pages of the ones that seemed interesting or got good reviews, and many of them I immediately rejected because of tone, or feeling that this was not the sort of book that I would enjoy. And some had obvious plots and I wasn’t in the mood for a 300+ page novel where I already knew what would happen and it didn’t seem like the writer would make me enjoy getting there. Some authors you trust will tell a good story, and even though you know what will happen in the end, the journey of the story will be fun, but not everyone can tell stories that you will enjoy and so you have to be picky. There are too many books and not enough time to find or read all the good ones. It also made me want to dissect further what parts of the first page would make take a book home vs. leave it on the shelf. I think I have to like the person’s writing style, it can’t be too obtuse or wordy for the sake of being wordy, I don’t want to feel like they are trying to show off their vocabulary or sentence structure. I want the writing to be transparent I guess, but not clunky or noticeably bad. It is nice when I notice that I like the way the author has put their words together, like some lovely descriptions or poetic phrases, but the lovely words usually take me out of the story. So I guess it also depends on what I’m reading the book for. If I’m reading to experience the lovely words then I guess that’s what I would look for, but usually I just want some good story-telling, an escape from reality. I think that’s why I like Douglas Coupland so much, his characters feel like real people, but there’s also some whimsy, so things that wouldn’t happen in real life can happen in his books, and it fits. It’s acceptable. And he’s pretty funny at the same time. That always helps.
Killer Series — Sheryl J. Anderson
These were entertaining. I would recommend them. Chick-lit mystery series that’s not too fluffy. Update 05.03.09: I’ve sort of given up on reading these. I think the latest one was pretty good, but somehow I’m not too into reading the earlier ones.
Isabel Dalhousie Series — Alexander McCall Smith
I read the first one and then became impatient, so I skimmed the rest of them. They were pretty good.
Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works — Erik Spiekermann, E.M. Ginger
A nice introduction to fonts and their usage.
03.17.09: How To Have Creative Ideas — Edward de Bono
This was not as fun as I thought it would be, I did one of the exercises and read about a few more, but didn’t do any more yet. I also have his book on Lateral Thinking, which I also have not read, but sounds interesting.
03.16.09: All The Sad Young Literary Men — Keith Gessen
Didn’t like this too much, but I didn’t read it all.
03.07.09: Life After God — Douglas Coupland
Just started reading this. I like it so far, but I don’t think it’s as good as my favorites. The drawings are cute. I’m starting to re-read Microserfs too. I also have jPod again, have to get around to reading that soon.
02.22.09: Eleanor Rigby – Douglas Coupland
I started re-reading this last week. I had been starting and not finishing a number of books lately, mostly because they were not very engaging, or I didn’t feel like putting in the time to read something that I might not enjoy, so I decided I should go back and read something I knew I would like. I’m enjoying Eleanor Rigby very much this second time around. I’m thinking I should read it once a year. I’m going to read Microserfs afterwards. I will probably also finish jPod finally, which I never got around to last time.
12.15.08: Carolyn Haines
I’ve just read a bunch of the Sarah Booth Delaney series and they are great. I would highly recommend these. Very entertaining. I also got a bunch of crappy books from the library and didn’t read them. I won’t mention the names but they were terrible. One in particular spent way too much time describing outfits by name-dropping brands and fancy restaurants, I think the author also put herself on the cover of her book, or made her cover character wear the same outfit as she had on in the bio pic.
12.03.08: The Writing Class – Jincy Willet
I really liked this one. It’s a mystery. I haven’t read a good mystery in a while. I will read her other books soon, I think.
11.08.08: Sylvia Plath’s Journals
I don’t have the patience to read the entries in chronological order. I started at the beginning and then skipped around a bit, and ended up in the Appendices, which I’m finding quite interesting, especially the bits about the nosy neighbours. I am enjoying the writing style of her journals. I have not read much of her poetry. I don’t think I’m much of a poetry person, but I enjoy reading other people’s thoughts, just to see the random things they think about and how they feel and how they react to various situations, and their interpretations of themselves and others.
Skimmed and abandoned. Longer explanation in the linked post, mostly lack of interest and wanted more topic breakdown so I know where he’s going in each chapter. There also seemed to be a lot of name-dropping.
I liked it a lot. I would recommend it.
- Chasing Harry Winston: Lauren Weisberger
I started reading that on the weekend, and almost immediately decided that I was NOT going to like this book. I didn’t like the characters, but I didn’t really give them much of a chance. The next day I flipped through to the end to see how things ended up and it didn’t make me feel like I ought to go back and actually read the book. That’s too bad, because I really liked “Everyone Worth Knowing”.
- The Host: Stephanie Meyer
Another one that I didn’t even bother trying to read. I flipped through the pages and pages, it’s over 400 pages, possibly even over 500, I can’t remember at the moment, but I just had no interest in reading it. I didn’t even read a word of it. And I felt bad for keeping it since there are so many other people dying to read it, so I returned it.
- Love The One You’re With: Emily Giffen
This is still on my holds list, but I think I will cancel it. I read the last two pages of it today. It ended sort of how I expected it to. And I figure I don’t really need to know how it got there. I loved her first book “Something Borrowed” but haven’t loved anything from hers quite like that again.
So this makes me wonder if I’ve gone off chick-lit. I used to love the stuff and now I don’t like it? Or maybe I’m bored with it, but will come back to it eventually? Or maybe I’m just not that into fiction anymore, because I also stopped reading “Miss Wyoming”, which is not chick-lit, and was actually an interesting book, from the little that I had read of it, but I was in no rush to finish it. There’s a difference though, I am absolutely certain that I will read Miss Wyoming, likely later this year, but those three books listed above? I highly doubt I’ll ever read them unless I’m stuck on a beach somewhere and can’t fall asleep.
I’ve abandonned a number of books in the last few weeks:
The Eden Express– Mark Vonnegut — It’s his memoir about having schizophrenia and what it was like for him and how he got through it. It was quite interesting, but at the same time, kind of sad, and I didn’t really feel like reading the whole thing. I read the first few chapters and then flipped through bits, and then read the end. I actually read the end almost right away because I wanted to find out what happened to his dog.
Socrates In Love– Christopher Phillips — This has not officially been abandonned, but I highly doubt I will read the whole book. It is my bathroom book of the moment, as were Eden Express, and Microserfs. But I got hooked on Microserfs and then gobbled it up, and this one, I’ve already started the flipping process and it will likely go back to the library fairly soon.
There were also some other books in paperback and hardcover that looked interesting in the library but once I got them home, were not too compelling. I don’t remember their titles.
- Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend In A Coma
I just started reading that again yesterday since I couldn’t remember the bits and characters that I had already read about weeks ago. I suspect I will like this one as well. Update: I finished reading this, and I liked it, but I didn’t absolutely love it. I very much enjoyed the premise and the story, but I didn’t really enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed reading Microserfs, or Eleanor Rigby, or Hey Nostradamus!
- Douglas Coupland: All Families Are Psychotic
I finished reading that last weekend. It was good. I starting to see some recurring themes in his books, now that I’ve read a few of them. This is not one of my favorites, but it’s good. I think it will be hard for me to like anything more than Eleanor Rigby.
- Douglas Coupland: Microserfs
I just started reading it this morning and I think I’m going to love it. It’s quite amusing so far. I’ve had it for a few days now, Miss Wyoming was supposed to be the next one, if I’m going to continue in reverse chronological order, but I think I will finish reading Microserfs. It seems more interesting to me at the moment. Last week I read the first chapter of Miss Wyoming, and then wondered if perhaps I was overdosing on the Coupland a bit, so I took a little break and then I read the first chapter of Girlfriend In A Coma, which also looks good and sort of reminds me of Hey Nostradamus!. And of those three first chapters, I like Microserfs the best, so I will be reading that this weekend. *Update 07.07.08: I finished reading Microserfs yesterday. I loved it. I think it might be as good as Eleanor Rigby.
- Kurt Vonnegut: Armageddon In Retrospect
I started reading this last night. His son, Mark Vonnegut, wrote the introduction, and he’s also written a memoir, The Eden Express, which I think I will also read. Armageddon In Retrospect is a collection of previously unpublished short essays, lectures, drawings, stories, and a letter that he wrote to his family while he was overseas and waiting to be shipped back home. They had no idea where he was and whether he was dead or alive. He’d been classified as missing in action. He begins the letter with “Dear people …”. That is an excellent way to address a letter. That’s about all I’ve read so far, I’m pretty sure I’ll like it all.
- Salman Rushdie: The Enchantress of Florence
I suspect I will not finish this book in the time allotted. I only have it for one week, and I’m not particularly excited about it, I just want to see if I like it or not, and if I do then I’ll probably get it again later when it’s less popular so I can keep it longer. There are a lot of other books I’d rather read first before I get to it. But I figure I would take a peek now and see if I should bother getting it again. I have not read any of his books from cover to cover. I’ve skimmed a few. I think I lose patience, or never had enough patience to begin with to continue reading and/or I just didn’t really care about what was going on, or the characters. Those are not compelling conditions under which to read a book. *Update 06.20.08: I didn’t even crack it open. Other things were more compelling.
- Douglas Coupland: Hey Nostradamus!
I started reading this over the weekend. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, it centers around a school shooting, and didn’t seem like something I would normally enjoy reading. But I really like his writing style. I don’t know how to describe it to myself. I guess it’s straight-forward, slightly dry/comic, and has a conversational/inner thoughts manner about it. I like how he describes/depicts things. I don’t feel jarred or bored by his narration. It’s just very pleasing to read his work. 06.11.08: I finished the book. It’s really good. I think I like it as much as Eleanor Rigby, but in time perhaps slightly less, just because ER was a bit happier.
- Douglas Coupland: The Gum Thief
I had forgotten I read this because I have a poor memory, but I saw it in the library today and made a mental note to add it to my list. I read this a while back and I really liked it. I didn’t like it as much as Eleanor Rigby, but it’s still really good. I enjoy his sense of humour, his writing style and his characters.
- Douglas Coupland: Eleanor Rigby
This is a beautiful book. I read it over the winter, a little bit at a time, before going to bed, and it I had forgotten about it until I saw The Gum Thief today. I think I will try to read the rest of his books. I loved the story and the characters, and it was funny and sad, and sweet, and a really good read. One of the best books I’ve read this year.
- Katie Crouch: Girls in Trucks
Just got this from the library today. I didn’t really enjoy it. It felt like it was a bunch of short stories put together rather than a cohesive novel, on the copyright page I think it said two of them had been published as short stories. They are better as individual short stories than as a whole novel. In a novel I want things to tie together and flow, and I want character development, and I don’t want to be jarred at the beginning of each chapter with basic introductory material that I already learned in the first chapter, like you would have at the beginning of a short story to introduce everyone and their place. I stopped reading halfway through and skipped to the end to see what happened, and then quickly skimmed the last half. I didn’t really like any of the characters in the book and they also seemed kind of flat and devoid of emotion, or at least, they didn’t make me feel anything. And I didn’t like the jumpy timeline and change in narration. I like it in some books, but not this one. It just added to the feel that it was a bunch of short stories. I actually double-checked the jacket and it was referred to as a novel. SO, as a novel, I didn’t like it. As short stories, they are fine.
- Tal Ben-Shahar: Happier
I saw this guy mentioned in a New York Times Magazine article last year. He teaches a course at Harvard on positive psychology. After reading that article, I thought it would be nice to take that course, and that it would be nice to have that course at all universities. The book seems like it is a good substitute for the class- I just started reading it last night and it’s pretty good so far. The are exercises too, so is like taking a class, and I’ve got homework for the next 3 days now. The book jacket is a bright yellow and pleasing to look at.
- Charlaine Harris: From Dead to Worse
This is the latest Sookie Stackhouse book. I have read all of them, and they are great. Highly entertaining, fun, and easy reads. I can’t wait for the next one.
- Julie Buxbaum: The Opposite of Love
I just started reading this. I read the jacket blurbs and thought I would like it. After reading the prologue, I’m quite sure I’ll like this. I feel very lucky to have found two good books (Submarine and this one) to read in such a short period of time, especially since I have not had such good luck with books in the past few months.
*Update: 05.13.08 – Finished the book. Love the book.
I just borrowed a bunch of his books from the library. I read a short essay with pictures by him a while back, which I really enjoyed and I have Breakfast of Champions but never read it. Then yesterday I read a review in the NYT about a book his son has just published, which includes some unpublished KV stuff. It looks like a good read. And then I figured I should try reading some of his other books.
I borrowed two of his books from the library and have not really had the time to go through them, they look like good reference books for cooking, but not everyday reading. Those are now on the ‘maybe later’ list.
Joe Dunthorne: Submarine
I really enjoyed this book. I read it last weekend. I like the main character’s voice, his name is Oliver Tate and he’s 15. It’s quite funny, slightly disturbing, very enjoyable. His pamphlet is highly entertaining and useful. I’ve copied it for my own personal use. I’m sure it will come in handy soon. In fact, I should start making those adjustments to my life immediately. It’s slightly reminiscent of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, in that it’s a teenage boy narrator and his mannerisms are slightly quirky and amusing and endearing. But the stories and content are different. And I didn’t like ‘night-time’ immediately. The first time I tried to read it, I gave up. I just didn’t think I would like it. But then I heard a reading of a chapter of it on the radio, and I thought it was great, so I gave it another go. And I really liked it.
Curtis Sittenfeld: The Man of My Dreams and Prep
I read these a couple years ago and was reminded of them because I just saw The Man of My Dreams on the discount rack at the bookstore, reduced to $7.99. I guess it was not as popular as her first book, Prep, but I quite liked The Man of My Dreams. In fact, it’s my favorite of the two. I like the way she writes, I like her characters. They were very enjoyable reads. I will definitely read whatever she writes next.
Melissa Bank: The Wonder Spot
I’m reminded of this book because I read it around the same time as the Curtis Sittenfeld books. And similarly, it’s her second book and was also not as well received as her first, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, but I really enjoyed The Wonder Spot and liked it better than her first book.
The Remembrance of Things Past – Marcel Proust
That is no longer high up on my to-read list. I will probably read it one day, but it’s just too dense to try and get through at the moment. Plus I’m on a non-fiction kick, so it will be a while before I get back to it.
I flipped through this at the bookstore today, it looks pretty interesting, AND it explained chords in a very clear and concise way that I could understand, much better than some of the guitar theory books I have been perusing.
*Updated 04.13.08: I just started reading this. It has explained the concept of tones, pitch, scales, intervals, and chords in language that I can understand. That was just the first chapter.
*Update 05.09.08: I have abandoned the book. I enjoyed that first chapter, but my interest started to fade, and there are other books out there to read. I might come back to it later.
My Old Books Page
I love to read. I’m hoping to maintain a list of books I liked, didn’t like, and would like to read.
What to Eat by Marion Nestle: This is the best book I’ve read lately. It explains in fascinating detail what is contained in various food products (cereal, yogurt, frozen food etc.) and how these products are made and marketed, or grown and raised, in the case of meat, fish, poultry and produce. I’ll probably not be buying yogurt any time soon.
BOOKS I LIKE:
The books are (auto)biographical graphic novels about her life in Iran and elsewhere, and her uncle is the subject of Chicken with Plums. They are translated from French. I love her drawing and story-telling style.
BOOKS I DON’T LIKE:
Anything by that Kevin Trudeau guy who has those TV infomercials. I can’t believe bookstores stock his books, and I can’t believe that people actually buy them. They are worse than tripe.
The Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust
I bought this book because Rory, from Gilmore Girls, had mentioned it in an episode. I had never read anything by Proust, and it seemed interesting, so I bought it. I have tried reading it on a number of occasions, but always end up putting it down. I doubt that I have completed even 15 pages of the book. I am glad I didn’t invest in the entire series, as I had originally planned. This book is on my list because I do eventually want to see what the fuss was about, but I’m not terribly excited to read it. The book sits on the bookshelf, it has been untouched for years. I think if I ever got sent to prison, that would be an ideal time to read it.