Saturday, October 20, 2012

As resolutions go

As the title says, New Years resolutions always seem like a good idea at the time. I really did start this blog and my book goals with the best of intentions but you know "the best laid plans of mice and men...". So here we are coming up on the tail end of the year and I'm no where near my goal of books read or blogs posted but I'm not going to give up. My stack of books has grown significantly and my list of finished books has not but I'm not going to give up, there is still time.

I do have a few books to talk about and I might be leaving out 1 or 2 that I've read since my last post but as I looked through my bookcase these are the only ones I recalled reading so I figure they are the only ones worth talking about.

Ready? Set? Lets go!

The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure club and I Love Everybody (and Other Atrocious Lies) both by Laurie Notaro. This author has turned into my guilty pleasure because it has to be wrong to enjoy something so much. This broad is FUNNY and she writes well and should definitely be on your reading list. I enjoyed these so much that I went out and bought 2 more. Each chapter is like a short story or an essay and I literally laughed out loud while reading these. I highly recommend and if I had to pick Between the 2 I'd say start with "I love Everybody..." I think I'm partial to this one because there is a chapter where the author and her best friend go to a tea house and the hilarity ensues, this chapter struck home so much because it not only reminded me of antics me and my best friend have gotten into but also felt like something that was bound to happen to us. So, in closing this shit is funny, read it, enjoy it and don't feel guilty.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage - Alice Munroe
This is a collection of short stories, I guess. I've been asked about this book and I really struggled with describing it. It was enjoyable but I struggle with putting it into words. Alice is a spectacular Canadian writer and the stories in this book take place in Canada mostly in the mid to late 50's. I wouldn't call this collection a must read but also I don't regret reading it. From that glowing review, I guess I'd say don't put off something you're really looking forward to reading to start this instead.

This Shape We're in - Jonathan Letham
Ill start this review by bragging to you about an accomplishment. If you've read any of my other posts then you'll know that Jonathan Letham is my favorite author. This is the fault of my best friend who innocently told me one day many years ago that I should read Fortress of Solitude. Little did she know that by introducing me to J.L. That I'd become obsessed, but here we are and my accomplishment I wanted to brag about, is that I'm just a few books from owning his whole collection (and there are a lot). Ok that being said, of course this book was good, weird and good. I  put J.L. Into a few boxes, his novels that refer to sci-fi, his novels that are sci-fi and his essays on music. These boxes often overlap and you'll find parts of each in any book he writes but some are heavier in one category or another. This book is super sci-fi and was also spectacular. It was short and great and I loved every page. The funny thing about Letham is that I'm still in awe that I like him so much because I'm really not a sci-fi fan and I think that's a huge testament to his writing. As I always advise I highly recommend you read this or anything by Letham.

Ok so FINALLY a new post, thank you to the 1.5 people that actually read this. I've been really into comedy books lately do I'm currently reading "You're a horrible person, but I like you. The Believer Book of Advice" and next up is "Evil Plans. Having Fun On the Road to World Domination" - Hugh Macleod. Stay tuned for my next update.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Added bonus!

This has nothing to do with my personal reading but I found this website which is pretty bad ass and wanted to share, it's super interactive and really cool. Check it!

You just type in your favorite book and author and it spits out recommendations.

Slacker McSlackerson

Hello fellow readers, wow it's been a while and all I can say is I need a whole lot more hours in the day. I've been pretty tied up outside literature world which is by no means an excuse for being so behind in reading and not only applies to novels but additionally my magazine subscriptions. I only have 2 subscriptions but it does not help that one comes weekly. Anyways, no excuses, I have been a slacker. I was going to wait until I had two books to report on but the way things are going that could be a really long time so I at least wanted to post about the one I finished and the one I'm currently working on (I may also add 2 really interesting articles I've read because aside from being a slacker I'm also here to pass on good reads).
So, the book I've actually finished since the last post: "A Visit From the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan. This book is a "national best seller" and I'm normally not one to pick up a book just because its popular (no offense if you dig that kind of novel but if that was what I did all I would be reading would be Nicholas Sparks). So this novel was pretty stellar, it clocked in at about 340 pages and I found myself pretty engrossed really quickly. Unbeknownst to me, it followed the same writing style I tend to love, which is where every chaper provides the story from a different characters narrative. I find that books written like this tend to keep my attention more than others, along with keeping me wondering where and when all these "individual stories" are going to converge. This book not only kept me on my toes but kept me wanting more. Once I really got into it (trust, that did not take long) I could not stop and pretty much tore through it as time allowed. Additionally this book took me on a trip I was not expecting and really weaves it's way from the past to the present to the future in a whirlwind. "A Visit From the Goon Squad" is a very well written, very intelligent novel and this is one that I would put on my list of "highly reccomend".

The book I'm currently reading is one that I heard about via NPR(which if you stick around for my nonsense, you'll see that this is the place where I find a lot of book recommendations). The book is "A Widows Walk" by Marion Fontana. I heard about the author via an interview she gave on (I think) Fresh Air that they did for the 10th anniversary of September 11th. The book is written by a widow of one of the first responders (he was a fireman). This book is terribly heartbreaking and I'm not going to lie and say that I don't regularly shed tears as I read a few chapters every few nights. I think this novel has a little to do with my "reading stalemate" and I don't mean that in a negative way, it's just that it's really sad and takes some emotional rejuvenation before diving back in. I've always said I'm NOT a book critic and the book is a bit slow and provides a bit of detail that I don't think is necessary for the read, but regardless this is a really great detail of one person's perspective (make that one person who was almost as close as you can get) to the emotional, family side of 9/11 and I don't recommend for the faint of heart or overly emotional. This book, in a few words, is sad, raw, emotional and incredibly real(albeit a bit "draggy" at points) Read at your own risk.

I was considering discussing/recommending a few magazine articles before I realized that I was going to write my own (dragging) novel of a post, so instead of discussing I'll just say that I REALLY enjoyed the article "Ivan the Recumbent, or Demanjuk In Munich" from the March 2012 Harper's Magazine. I'm probably bias because he immigrated and retired to Seven Hills, Ohio which is very near me and additionally I am obsessed with stories (fictional and non) about WWII, but regardless I'll save the diatribe and just say if you can get your hands on the article it was a very educational, interesting read.

Alright fellow readers, sorry my posts have been few and far between, my goal is to be better and read more. As always please feel free to provide comments or recommendations. I hope your reading is more productive than mine, until next time READ ON!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Letham post

I was trying to hold out on this post because I was hoping that I'd finish another book in the mean time to at least throw in the middle of these 2 books Im going to write about now. As it goes "the best laid plans...". Which, can I take the liberty of an aside here and just say that there are a lot, and I mean A LOT of sentences from books that strike me as fitting to my life and incredibly ingenious, but none are so consistently fitting as that one from Steinbeck. If I had my way the theme song to my life would be a musical number of that sentence. Anyways, asides aside (ha) the two books I want to report on are both by Jonathan Letham (as im sure is surprising to you based on the title of this post). My goal is to read and own all of his works and I'm well on my way. For this post, I read 'You Don't Love Me Yet' and 'Men and Cartoons', the latter being a collection of short stories.

'You Don't Love Me Yet': well, I'll say that this was an odd one to me. It was, at it's core, a Letham book but it was also more explicity graphic, sappy and runaway to me than I'm used to from Jonathan. I didn't hate it but I also didn't love it. I'm not sure as to the publication date but I am pretty sure this was after 'Fortress of Solitude' and I almost felt like he needed to churn out a book. Now I know I said In my initial rules that I would never post anything negative about a book and I still feel like I'm adhering to that rule. Jonathan Letham is one of my all time favorite authors, he is like a relic to me and I hold him in the utmost regards, so maybe i have a more myopic view of this book, but I just didn't like it that much. It may be that I've been taken to a level of being so overwhelmed by his novels that my bar has been so raised that this one just fell short? I'm not sure. That being said, this is not my effort to discourage you from this book, if you aren't obsessed with his writing like I am, then you'll probably like it and should pick this up, although if you're just getting into him please see below, or my other posts for titles to read first.

On to 'Men and Cartoons' the 2nd short story book I've read by Letham (the first was 'Wall of the Sky Wall of the Eye'). This book provided multiple reinforcement to me as to why I fell in love with Letham in the first place. I used to not really enjoy short stories because they kinda left me feeling like I was being cheated, as an "always novel reader" I would get done with a story and want to know what happened next, only in reading more short stories by brilliant authors did I realize that was really the recipe for a great short story. This book did not fail that test, I'd get done with one and check just to make sure there were no pages stuck together so as to know that I didn't miss just a little more. The collection was stellar and I ran through it from start to finish in just an evening and I would highly recommend.

So, my current tally for January was 4 books and I'd like to stay on track for about 3 a month but like I've said before I don't want to post or talk about a monthly book goal, because I want to enjoy what I'm reading and not feel pressure to tear through them for the sake of saying "I read x amount this month". Also I clearly lied to you about which books were in my queue so I'm not going to tell you what book is up next although I will say I'm SUPER stoked as I have been wanting to read it for a really long time and FINALLY bought it...stay tuned.

In closing I guess I'll just say if you haven't heard of Jonathan Letham please do yourself a favor and look into some of his books, my fav and "first and foremost recommendation" is 'Fortress of Solitude', it's spectacular and I 100% endorse it. (but if you are for any reason "unfulfilled", let me know, (ya know holla at me) I'd love to discuss why you weren't happy).

Happy Reading and promising a non-Letham post in the near future.
Read On,
The Reader

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Progress? Not a lot

So this is just a quick update since it's been a while. I'm still working on the 2 books I said I was going to read next. By "working on" I mean that I've barely cracked one and have not even opened the other. I had some stuff I had to put time into over the past 2 weeks so I've been a slacker in regards to reading, but don't fear I'm free most of this week and plan on getting through at least one of the 2 books. I'd really like to stay on track for no less than 3 books a month with out forcing myself to tear through them. That being said I took advantage of some gift cards I had from Christmas and just bought 6 more books which just means my reading list is growing, which keeps me motivated, although I am placing myself on hiatus and am not (read NOT) buying any more books until I'm more than 1/2 way through my current stack of 15, which does not include the books I just bought. It's easy with so many options to let the ADD get ahold of me and start a ton at once but never finish any, so I try to be disciplined in finishing what I start before even looking at the next one. I'm also going to start the construction of the full wall of bookshelves in my spare room this month which for me is really exciting and gives me a place to put all the books I feel the need to buy. Well that's all I got, just wanted to check in with an update. I hope you're reading is going better than mine is.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2 Deep

Happy 2012!!! I hope that the new year is treating everyone well so far. We're almost 2 weeks in and I have 2 books so far to report on. Each literally took me combined about 2 days to read and both were quick and enjoyable.

1. Her Name Was Lola, Russell Hoban. I heard about this author by reading an article on (I think) The article said that he was more of a cult classic type of author with an underground following, on that cue I looked him up on Amazon and was hooked based on the reviews. The book that the article was mainly about was Riddley Walker, but I'm a sucker for one cent books on Amazon so I got this one first. Her Name Was Lola was weird, in a really good way. Parts of it reminded me of The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It was a quick read w the perfect amount of redemption at the end. It was a fun, enjoyable, albeit a little cheesey, book.

2. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney. I have read one other book by McInerney and was surprised by how invested I found myself at the end with out knowing it. I wondered if this one would strike me the same way, it did by 1000! I've found that McInerney will lead me along and then grip my heart before I know that he's done so. His writing style is such an easy read that it makes you feel like you are just having an inner dialogue. The main character in this book is a mess and I wanted to both punch him and save him from the beginning but what happens in the end makes the story and your emotions settle into place. Take that as you will but I cannot wait to read more stories by this author.

As a heads up for the next post, the next 2 books I plan on reading are "You Don't Love Me Yet" by Jonathan Letham (of course) and a guilty pleasure "I Love Everybody" by Laurie Notaro. I hope you'll stay tuned.

Enjoy your books- The Reader

Sunday, January 1, 2012

As promised my 2011 list

So, I had said that I would post a list of books I have read in the last half of 2011 and yes, this is later than I anticipated I would post it, but still here it is. I told you that I got this bug in May, these are the books I have read since then, please pick up at will and in some instances, seriously please pick up. In no particular order these are my 2011 books:

1. As She Climbed Across the Table - Jonathan Lethem (1. It's Jonathan Lethem, 2. It's not surprisingly a brilliant novel 3. Your loss if you don't pick it up).
2. Almost Home - Jessica Blank. This is a young adult novel that took me just a few hours and for those few hours tugged the shit outta my heart strings. I'll save my pontificating for other books but I wasn't regretful about this novel, adolescent geared or not.
3. Brightness Falls - James McInerney. This was one of the first books I swan dived back into and I was not disappointed. This was a sleeper, I didn't even realize I was invested in the characters of this book until the last few chapters where I suddenly found myself crying for them. I have another book on the waiting list by him and I cannot wait to see if he tricks me and sucks me in again in such a good way.
4. Girl In Landscape - Jonathan Lethem. Really all I have to say is Jonathan Letham and brilliant, read it and prove me wrong.
5. The Brief History of the Dead - Kevin Brockmeier. Very interesting novel and I enjoyed it.
6. My Father's Tears - John Updike. Brilliant work of short stories. John Updike is just amazing.
7.& 8. The Sportswriter and Independence Day - Richard Ford. I could say a lot but I won't because I'm not Richard Ford. I'm glad I've read at least 2 into the series and will read more because I don't give up.
9. The Disappointment Artist - Jonathan Letham - sadly one of my least favorites, but mainly b/c it made me question me. I LOVE Jonathan Lethem and this book made me question that love. That's not to say don't read it. I learned a lot about Jonathan and would read it again, I just disappointed myself in my engagement and enjoyment.
10. Night - Elie Wiesel - wow, this is my downfall, I'm a huge sucker for nonfiction/fiction about WWII. This book was haunting.
11. & 12. My Happy Life and Love In Infant Monkeys - Lydia Millett- where to start?? I definitely liked Love in Infant Monkeys better but I think that was due to hype. Lydia is a very interesting inventive author that is definitely worth a shot.
13. I Am the Messenger- Markus Zusak - **disclsimer** I effing love Zusak, the first novel I read from him was The Book Theif and I have yet to be satiated. This book, although written for a young adult audience like the book thief, is brilliant, along w heart wrenching and emotionally grading. I dont care what you read , pick up something by him and you won't be sorry.
14. I Have Lived a Thousand Years- Livia Bitton-Jackson, a WWII diary-esque novel as tend to be my faves but I was not blown away and I think writing style and story limited me, still a decent read.
15. Those That Saved Us - Jenna Blum. This book was effing spectacular. Made it to my top five favorites, the research that went into the book plus the added bonus of now V. Then. This book stunned me in a great way.
16. These Things Hidden - Heather Cudenkauf- this was a random amazon recommends and I was not disappointed, I read the whole book in 2 days and it was like a soap opera with its twists and turns although I kinda saw the end coming, regardless an enjoyable read.

So there it is my latter 2011 reading list, as promised. I hope you stick w me through 2012, id love to provide insight to you and have you do the same for me. So suggestions opinions disagreements, please send them this way. The Reader, signing off, for now