This last Fall ran from September 23-December 21st 2011 (14 weeks). During that time I read 14 books which is one book a week, a small step down from my average. Then again, it was a busy time for me; I got married on October 15th and spent the prior weeks in heavy planning (meaning less doing-anything-else) mode and what with Thank You notes and work location changes and everything else, my life is only now beginning to settle down. Still, I quite enjoyed this Fall’s batch:
Brave New World (au) by Aldous Huxley
A good dystopian discussion piece, but not as grand as when I first read it years ago.
This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (au) by Marilyn Johnson
Learned a few new things about my profession from this paean to librarianship. Still, I’m not sure it tells us how “librarians and cybrarians can save us all,” instead focusing on the author’s experiences during her explorations in lieu of the adding depth to a wider view.
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck aptly captures the rhythms of the people and the tragedy of their circumstances in this remarkable story of a midwestern family’s migration west during the Depression. One of my favorite books of 2011.
Freeway by Mark Kalesniko
Graphic novel about a young cartoonist breaking into the industry that he idealizes based on the studio’s golden days in 1940s Los Angeles. The flashbacks here are beautiful, but the plot has that pathetic graphic novel malaise that make Adrian Tomin’s books such a drag to read.
Skybreaker (au) by Kenneth Oppel
An excellent sequel to Airborn. Great quasi-steampunk coming-of-age adventure story perfect for teen readers and me.
Hollywood Hills (au) by Joseph Wambaugh
Hard-boiled detective story with a late-blooming plot and entertaining dark local color. Takes place right around the corner from my library.
The Other Eighties by Martin D. Bradford
Interesting telling of several 80s counter-culture movements. Unfortunately it reads a lot like the leftist apologia it tries to be an antidote for.
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (au) by David Foster Wallace
From my goodreads review: “A contemporary Henry Miller, David Foster Wallace spouts beautiful, full, descriptive sentences that alternate at clutching the soul and numbing the skull. Misogyny too, is kind of a big deal here, and the outlook of a lit-theory postgraduate…should only be imbibed in measured doses.”
Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell
Top-notch video game criticism that descends into unexpectedly raw autobiography.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (au) by Robert Heinlein
Heinlein near his best in this sci-fi tale of a revolt incited by a supercomputer-turned-revolutionary.
On History by Howard Zinn
I read to get an example of a historiographical perspective and I got one. The essays and speeches that I read (I didn’t get into all of them) gave me a decent sense of a Marxist historical perspective – in that way many beat the on the same drum – as well as some previously-unknown-to-me events/people in history.
Historiography: An Introduction by Roger Spalding
A good, if not too 60s-80s perspective-heavy, introductory survey to historiography. Just what I was looking for when I read it.
Ship Breaker (au) by Paolo Bacigalupi
An apt alt-history young-adult novel with many of the same appeals as Kenneth Oppel’s Matt Cruse series (see Skybreaker above) but less storytelling finesse.
Concierge Confidential by Michael Fazio
A quick-and-dirty read full of Fazio’s entertaining stories-of-the-craft. His encapsulation of the customer service ethos appealed to me.
My winter reading has already started and it continues in a similar direction as the Fall. I am currently reading Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner which is, like Grapes of Wrath on my list of American authors/books I’ve missed so far. Looking at previous reading lists, I’ve been gotten a book or two from that list read every season, which is fine with me; I’ve never been much of a list-stickler. Historiography is also a strain that I’d like to continue. I have Ernst Breisach’s serious survey of historical study on my shelf as I type this. It’s a big one, but I hope to finish it during the Winter season and now that the groundhog saw his shadow and we get six more weeks, I think I may just be able to do it. I suspect my average number of books read will also decline because I’ve resolved to do more thinking and writing about the books I read so you might expect more bookish essays and long-form reviews (similar to the Reality is Broken essay I posted recently). Besides that, my commute is now shorter by half so my audiobook listening time has been likewise reduced. Oh well.