I’ve set a goal for myself to read 100 books in 2009. I read 80 in 2008, so I figured I can step it up. I need to hit 8.3 books a month, and so far I’m more or less on track.
Recommended that I’m interested in:
The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson
1. Black Girl/White Girl: Joyce Carol Oates (library) my thoughts: i was not in love with this book. in fact, i kind of hated it and forced myself to finish it. i hated the self-absorption of the white narrator and her total failure at grasping white privilege.
2. Indignation: Philip Roth (autographed!! purchased at Common Good Books in St. Paul, MN) my thoughts: short but excellent, Roth remains one of my favorite living American writers.
3. The Best American Non-Required Reading 2008: edited by Dave Eggers, Intro by Judy Blume (gift from my mother) my thoughts: there is something for everyone in here.
4. Everyman: Philip Roth (library) my thoughts: less intense than Indignation, but still pretty good. I don’t know why stories about aging, Jewish guys are so enjoyable to me, but they are.
5. The Best American Short Stories 2008: edited by Salman Rushdie (gift to KC from my mom) my thoughts: again, something for everyone in this collection. Loved it.
6. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For: Alison Bechdel (purchased at Common Good Books) my thoughts: DTWOF and Bechdel have saved my life too many times to count. This collection is outstanding– a great summary for people who haven’t read every strip. if you haven’t read Fun Home yet, you’re missing out. Bechdel is amazing.
7. DeadEye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut (mom gave it to us when she cleaned out some old books) my thoughts: meh, it was fine. i found it compelling, but I wan’t in love.
8. The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving (mom gave it to us when she cleaned out some old books) my thoughts: damn, I really do love John Irving although there is some squick-out factor with regards to incest.
9. Mother Night: Kurt Vonnegut (mom gave it to us) my thoughts: intense, but a good read.
*started The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut but hated it so much I put it down…which is rare for me. I usually have to finish a book, even if I hate it.*
10. The Quiet American: Graham Greene (from k-cal’s personal library) my thoughts: i probably would have been confused if i hadn’t seen the movie, in which Brendan Fraser does not suck.
11. Wilderness Tips by Margaret Atwood (library) my thoughts: intense in a good way… i had a hard time putting it down.
12. Fledgling by Octavia Butler (library) my thoughts: oh, i can’t believe how much i dug this book! i’ve never been into vampire stories before, but this was unbelievably compelling. i couldn’t put it down.
13. In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives by Judith Halberstam (k’s personal library–gift from me in 2007) my thoughts: amazing. my crush on Halby rages on… and you can read a post i made about one tiny part of this book here.
14. I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb (loaned to me by friend Rebecca– 900 freaking pages!!!!) my thoughts: again, i couldn’t put this gigantic thing down. it’s not that i liked it– too many sad things covered to say i liked it–but again, i use the word compelling.
15. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (library) my thoughts: i rented a movie from the library and it had a preview of the movie version, which looked interesting. i wanted to read the book first, so i did. i liked it– i liked the characters, even at the points where they were somewhat unlikeable, except i didn’t like the part that focuses on Moushumi toward the end. I’ll be getting the movie to watch soon.
16. love is a mix tape: life and loss, one song at a time: Rob Sheffield (library) my thoughts: intense, sad, uplifting, sad, glorious. spoke to the music nerd in me almost as much as Joe Meno’s Hairstyles of the Damned (read that if you love music). only this is non-fiction, and wonderful.
17. People of the Book: Geraldine Brooks (loaned to us by K’s mom) my thoughts: smart and engaging historical fiction that is loosely based on a real thing that happened. i dug it a lot.
18. Color of Violence: The Incite! Anthology by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence (my personal collection) i was recommended this book at an anti-racism/anti sexual violence workshop and it’s full of really amazing, but intense stuff, and can’t be read directly through like a novel… but I definitely recommend it.
19. Queerly Classed: Gay Men & Lesbians Write about Class edited by Susan Raffo (purchased at Quatrefoil Library book sale) my thoughts: This was awesome–and a lot of food for thought for someone who feels as transclassed as I do.
20. Super in the City by Daphne Uviller (library) my thoughts: it was smarter than most “chick lit” and more fun– a quick, easy read.
21. Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Year Disguised As A Man by Norah Vincent (please, get this crap out of my life from ethanfender) my thoughts: i want to write a big entry about it– stay tuned.
22. Chaos Theory & Higher Education edited by Dr. Marc Cutright (my personal collection– Dr. C was my boss in grad school) my thoughts: it covered a bunch of stuff I don’t really understand in some ways, but some of it was pretty interesting.
23. Look at Me by Jennifer Egan (library) my thoughts: there was a lot going on in these 400 pages, and there was a really strong lack of resolution– i hate fake-ass resolution, but i also hate wondering why i just read about someone if i have no idea what happened to them. kind of po-mo thoughts on identity but not po-mo enough to really get me thinking.
24. Only Child: Writers on the Singular Joys and Solitary Sorrows of Growing Up Solo edited by Deborah Siegel & Daphne Uviller (library) my thoughts: oy! I’m going to have to do a whole entry on all the resonant stuff in this book for me. Most of it is nothing new, but there are a few things. Damn, I’m reading faster than I can write about what I’m reading.
25. Best Music Writing 2008 (DaCapo) edited by Nelson George and Daphne Carr (library) my thoughts: i wasn’t interested in a lot of the topics, but still enjoyed about 80% of the essays.
26. I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley (library–recommendation from my mom) my thoughts: a lot of fun…a quick read. my mom was right– i liked it a lot.
27. Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost & Found in the Loony Bin by Norah Vincent (library) my thoughts: i definitely preferred this to Vincent’s first book, which i mostly hated. There was actually some good stuff about mental health, the process of medicating people, and process therapy that i found interesting and useful.
28. Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not the Answer by Jen Lancaster (library) my thoughts: mostly good information but her tone was sometimes a little irritating…and then a couple of pages w/ some racist bullshit right towards the end left me hating her. 😦
29. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (library) my thoughts: i had a hard time getting into it but then i really enjoyed it. the author is respectful of the subject but still able to be really funny. i love weird history, so this was a good one.
30. Simpsonology by Tim Delaney (library) my thoughts: I had high hopes for this because i loved the Simpsons & Philosophy book, but this was aaaaaaaaaaaaaaawful. He gives so much weird & unnecessary description of american life and society that it feels like he’s written for people who have no idea what Halloween is, or what the word “family” means. He’s also judgmental in a really irritating way–I couldn’t wait to be finished with this.
31. The Mayor’s Tongue by Nathaniel Rich (library) my thoughts: i really enjoyed this, although i’m not entirely sure what happened w/ Schmitz.
32. Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block (loaned to me by my friend Amie) my thoughts: this is totally a short, young adult fiction book but it was sooooooooooo wonderful. And yea, it’s shorter than most books I’m reading this year, but i think the 900 page Wally Lamb book balances this 100 pager out.
33. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon (bought at garage sale) I thought I had already read this book, but I’ve just seen the movie so many times that I was mistaken! I loved it…much deeper than the movie (per the usual). Michael Chabon is definitely one of my favorite writers.
34. Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing & Life by Anne Lamott (i bought it for k-cal in december) this is such a great book–for anyone who enjoys writing or wants to.
35. Rent Girl by Michelle Tea (loaned to me by my friend Jill) my thoughts: i really enjoyed both the story and the artwork by Laurenn McCubbin.
36. Making Trouble by John D’Emilio (my collection) my thoughts: I read one of the essays from this book back in undergrad and it blew my mind– it’s a really great look at modern gay history through the eyes of a groundbreaking gay historian.
37. The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno (library) my thoughts: once again, I ❤ Joe Meno. this is the third book I’ve read of his and i just love him. This book comes with a secret decoder– if that’s not enough to sell you on it, i don’t know what is.
38. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (library) my thoughts: good, but i didn’t feel emotionally invested in the characters due to the level of calculation in the story telling. but still good.
39. Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes by T Cooper (library) my thoughts: i loved this book– couldn’t put it down!! mr. kate the skate recommended it and i read it in one day. i need to read T’s first book.
40. FOXFIRE by Joyce Carol Oates (k’s collection) my thoughts: I’m not in love w/ JCO, and based on my experience earlier this year with book #1, I can’t believe I read her again…but I enjoyed this. I saw the movie years ago, and now i want to see it again.
41. The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith (k’s personal collection) my thoughts: this is a must read for any queer woman– partly because it’s important that we know some of our history, and this was a groundbreaking book of the mid 20th century because the women-loving-women don’t end up dead.
42. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon (i bought it) my thoughts: Chabon does it again– he’s seriously about one more outstanding book away from being my favorite living author (sorry, P. Roth). I just love every sentence the man writes. This coming-of-age story was published forever ago (late 80s i guess) and it’s a timeless story– i think he wrote it so it could have taken place in 1960, 1980, or 2000, etc. i loved it.
43. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (library, recomendation from my friend PC) my thoughts: oh my lord, i LOVED this book! at first, i was reading it like “whoa, this is going to remind me of work too much” but the way that he crafts the story, i became absorbed and felt warmly towards the characters who remind me of real life colleauges. i devoured this book in less than 24 hours– which is saying alot considering i slept for 7 of them, worked for 8, and whatever else filled that time.
44. This Common Secret by Susan Wicklund (library, recomended by my friend Becky Smith) my thoughts: this is a must read for anyone who a) cares about the abortion debate, b) knows someone working in that industry– as a provider, support staff, etc. This book chronicles Wicklund’s decision to go to college, med school, and journey into being an abortion provider– first who worked in clinics around the midwest, later opening her own clinic in Montana, and then changes as her elderly parents in Wisconsin required more support. It also touches heavily on her relationship with her own daughter, and covers a lot about the stalking, harassment, attempted murders, and murders that happened in the years. My friend Becky recommended it to me last week after the murder of Dr. George Tiller.
45. Demons in the Spring by Joe Meno (library) This is a short story collection–mostly of sad little vignettes that made me feel like there is depth in the world. I loved every single one in its own way– and there are some amazing illustrations from a variety of artists.
46. The Final Solution: A Story of Detection by Michael Chabon (library) This book was not what I expected, but it was a quick read. Although I had problems following parts of the story, I did enjoy it.
47. The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno (library) Meno, why are you such a vibrant young genius? I want to have beers with this guy– I should check his schedule and see if he’s coming to MPLS any time soon– he’d be perfect for a good reading at magers & quinn. This book was so sad and beautiful, but the thing Meno’s good at is making sure you’re not heartbroken when you finish the book.
48. Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon (library) You know, I really dug the wit, but I had a hard time following a lot of the action because of all the middle ages vocab I’m not familiar with– but I think k-cal’s gonna love it.
49. The Greatest of Marlys by Lynda Barry (library) I read this because K-Cal checked it out and I was waiting on some books I’d requested, and i didn’t love the first half, but i did enjoy the second half.
50. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science & Sex by Mary Roach (library) I want Mary Roach to write a book about every subject I might possibly be interested in so I can read it. This book actually taught me a lot of stuff that i had no idea about–it was fascinating, and i love her style of writing. She makes uncomfortable subjects like sex and death easy to get through because of her wit and style.
51. The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose (library) I couldn’t put this down– I read it for awhile in the morning, then in the car on the way to Father’s Day dinner, while waiting for a table, in the car on the way to the movie, in the theater waiting for Star Trek to start, in the car, and then at home until I finished it. All in one day– and it was worth it. First, this book opened my eyes to realize that while I feel judged by evangelical Christians, I’m no better judging them without knowing anything about their lives. Reading this helped me to see that students who choose a school like Liberty University do so for a lot of different reasons. Honestly, I’d recommend this most strongly to people who really hate evangelical Christianity (some good insights) and student affairs administrators who struggle to connect with their conservative or fundamentalist Christian students (like I did).
52. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach (library) I’ll be honest– this one was less fun than Stiff or Bonk… her prose style is still good, but I feel like it touched on a lot of the stuff she touched on in Stiff, and didn’t get to nearly enough other stuff it could have. Not one word about the Ouija board?!? REALLY? Still a good read though– and fast.
53. Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz (library) This book was really dense and amazing. Focused on much of the way southerners are still fighting a cultural war and rewriting history, this book was also really respectful of many sides of the conflict. Published in 1998, it still felt current and I’d recommend it heartily.
54. Atlas of the Human Heart by Ariel Gore (library) Wow, this was a quick, fascinating, fun read that I couldn’t put down. I loved it.
55. Typical American by Gish Jen (library) This was a really great, fast read about a Chinese immigrant family. My only complaint is that it ended very abruptly, but overall I liked it a lot.
56. The Traveling Death & Resurrection Show by Ariel Gore (library) Like Atlas of the Human Heart, this was a fun quick read that I couldn’t put down. I really like Gore’s conversational style.
57. Yes Means Yes: Visions of a Female Sexual Power & A World WIthout Rape by Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti (library) my thoughts: Wow…this was a really amazing and intense read. I had to take breaks to read fiction because the topic is so heavy, but i think everyone who cares at all about feminism, rape, and/or sex education should read this book.
58. Boychiks in the Hood: Travels in the Hasidic Underground by Robert Eisenberg (library) I really enjoyed this book– I really didn’t know much about Hasidim before reading it, and Eisenberg is respectful and hilarious.
59. Old School by Tobias Wolff (library) I grabbed this because I liked the cover, and it was an enjoyable quick read. much like other nerds of my generation, i love a good story about writers or boarding schools, and this one covers both.
60. Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business by Dolly Parton (library) OMG This book was great! I read it in less than 24 hours– partly because the type is huge, but mostly because it feels like you’re just listening to her talk. I loved it.
61. How Nonviolence Protects the State by Peter Gelderloos (borrowed from friend) I’m still formulating my thoughts on this.
62. Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (my collection) It took me awhile to remember where I got this book– it finally came to me that my friend Anne gave it to me a few years ago. Apparently, I let Erin & Kristel borrow it, and they returned it to me when i saw them a few weeks ago… so I finally read it. I had no idea it was a true story– I didn’t know that until the end. It was intense–very fast moving and engaging– it’d recommend it for sure.
63. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (library) This book was amazing, amazing, amazing. The story behind her life and writing is also amazing (check out her wiki entry by clicking on her last name.
64. Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities by Alexandra Robbins (borrowed from Megan) You know, I really wanted this to open my eyes like The Unlikely Disciple, but it didn’t– it just proved everything I thought from my seven years in college (two degrees, btw) and work as a student affairs administrator. By the end, I was sick of the tone and bored, and raced through the last 20 pages or so out of desperation to finish it.
65. I’m A Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson (borrowed from Megan) This was fun, even though it’s about 10 years old, most of the essays were hilarious and still relevant to our modern American lives. I would totally recommend it to seasoned Bryson fans, or people who are new to his observations.
66. Che’s Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image by Michael Casey (borrowed from Megan who took it out of the library) When my roommate Megan told me about this book, I was super curious. That was about a month ago, and this weekend she left it in the apartment. So I read it and found it interesting, but not as interesting as i wanted it to be if that makes sense. Essentially, Che Ernesto Guevara is one of the most hotly revered and reviled icons of the 20th century guerrilla wars, with a lot of mythology surrounding his life and death. In the years since his death, his image (taken from a Korda photo shot in 1960) has proliferated and been used to sell almost every kind of product, including revolution, under the sun. Casey tracks some of the uses geographically and also touches on a lot of the history and family drama around the subject as well as the photographer and distributers.
67. Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation by Leora Tanenbaum (borrowed from Megan): I was surprised by what a quick read this was, but it was sad and frustrating to read about how teenage sexuality is so tied up in rumor and innuendo and judges and a lot of really tough stuff. I hung out with the good girls in high school and dealt with a lot of sexuality based harassment because other teens identified me as an outsider because of my attitude and appearance (they were right, btw) but i never faced slut-bashing. This was a good read that i think all teachers should have to read– so many of the stories were about harassment at school that teachers knew about and didn’t address.
68. Hit By A Farm, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Barn by Catherine Friend (borrowed from Megan) Okay, so I’ll admit it– I loved this book. My roommate is an agricultural statistician and has a lot of books about farms– this one was one she strongly recommended, so I read it yesterday and loved it. A lesbian couple here in the twin cities decides to buy a farm about an hour from the city– and the writer tells about it from her perspective. She’s a great storyteller and there are lots of moving moments in the book. Strongly recommend.
69. The Compassionate Carnivore: Or, How to Keep Animals Happy, Save Old MacDonald’s Farm, Reduce Your Hoofprint, and Still Eat Meat by Catherine Friend (borrowed from Megan) I enjoyed this with the exception of the excerpts she lifted from Hit By A Farm, which I just read… Friend puts out some suggestions for more compassionate eating.
70. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs (own it) Well, he was kind of annoying with The Know It All (kind of the point of a know it all, isn’t it?) but I liked this more. There’s not much to say about it– i thought it was fun and interesting.
71. What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers (own it) This was absolutely amazing… i wish i had read it sooner. You can find out more about the real man behind this book and his work here.
72. Chuck Klosterman, Volume 4: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas by Chuck Klosterman (own it) This was a lot of fun…my favorite essay was about the Latino Morrissey fans in Los Angeles. I’ve never read any of his books, and i’m definitely going to check out more of his stuff.\
73. The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith (bought it at the thrift store) I really liked this! Strangely, this is the first thing from ZS i have read, so now i’m going to the library to get more.
74. Songbook by Nick Hornby (bought @ thrift store) A quick, charming read by an author whose fiction I really enjoy– it was nice to read something written in his own voice. It seems like he loves music as much as I do.
75. One Freak Show by Lynnee Breedlove (bought from him @ show, autographed!) This was fun– easier to follow the 2nd part because I saw him perform it. He’s been a hero of mine for years, and I can’t believe i got to chill with him at such a tiny show…
76. Living History by Hillary Clinton (library) can’t lie– i loved it, and she made me cry about 400 times.
77. Hardcore Troubadour The Life and Near Death of Steve Earle by Lauren St John (library) Amazing. i’ve been a fan of his music for years and appreciative of his work to end the death penalty as well, but had no idea what a rough life he made for himself along the way.