Below are the twelve (or so) books I am looking to read in the twelve and a half weeks between September 22nd – December 20th. It’s going to be approximately a book a week, but I think I can manage seeing that some of the books are short and others are graphic novels. Not a lot of “essential” authors on the Fall list besides Steinbeck and Ibsen. East of Eden will mark my having read the second of what I call Steinbeck’s “big” books, the other being the powerful Grapes of Wrath. Otherwise, I’m already into John Nichols’ book and Lean In and I had gotten approximately halfway through Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls before I had to return it to the library, so I may be able to add more to this list. The Old Patagonian Express is for my book club and An Introduction to Legal Reasoning was recommended to me (along with copy lent) by Abraham who is part of the book club. Ezra recommended Etger Keret in the summer but I wasn’t able to get to him then and I picked up a copy of The Tender Bar while handing copies out for World Book Night. The graphic novel suggestions I got from a handy little book called 101 Best Graphic Novels. If I have time, I’d really like to add a few sci-fi titles by James White and maybe a few other incidental titles.
The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols
Started slow but progressed into a great tale of conflict between the rich and poor, city and rural, Spanish and Anglo people of a small New Mexico-ish region. Definitely a regional classic.
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (au) by Cheryl Sandburg
Essential reading for any woman (and man) in the working world. Sandburg shares personal stories, gives advice, and makes it clear why woman have not been as successful as they could be in the workforce.
An Introduction to Legal Reasoning by Edward H. Levi
A long essay elucidating tensions between case law, statutory, and constitutional interpretation that uses numerous examples and cleverly brings them all together in the end.
The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas by Paul Theroux
A long, entertaining, and enlightening train trip from Boston down to Patagonia led by a curmudgeonly-guide. Many worthwhile stops along the way, including several evenings with Jorge Luis Borges.
The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
A short graphic novel about a teenage runaway coming to terms with having been sexually abused by her father. On one hand, it takes place in the Lake District in England, on the other it’s a somewhat paltry treatment of psychological conflict and resolution. Also, I don’t particularly care for rats.
Farnham’s Freehold (au) by Robert A. Heinlein
Nuclear war sends a family several millennia into the future where though the world is a lot different, many ingrained prejudices remain the same. Felt like three books, all satisfying in themselves, but not in relation to each other.
Starman Jones (au) by Robert A. Heinlein
Entertaining coming-of-age juvi of a naive young man gifted with an extraordinary memory and desire to “space”. Typical appeals of Heinlein’s juvenile novels — though this one especially reminded me of Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn trilogy.
King: A Comics Biography of Martin Luther King. Jr. (V. 1) by Ho Che Anderson
A thin volume that tells the story of MLK Jr.’s early rise to fame using a fine visual language and narrative editing techniques that give the Civil Rights leader’s life the complexity it deserves.
City of Glass (the graphic novel) by Paul Auster (adapted by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli)
A digest version of Auster’s strange detective tale that manages to capture at least some of the fragile identity play and stylistic flavor of the novel (which I haven’t read).
City of light, city of dark : a comic book novel by Avi and Brian Floca
A teenage girl must save the island of Manhattan from freezing by carrying out a mission set forth by a mystical, age-old tribe. She succeeds, but the journey is uneven and simplistic. Recommended for younger audiences only.
Planned, but unread:
– East of Eden by John Steinbeck
– The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
– Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
– The Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God & Other Stories by Etgar Keret
– Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen
– A book of haiku or three from the Haiku Foundation Digital Library.
I didn’t read all the books I had been planning to read, but the ten books (.83 books/week) that I did read were good enough, especially the first few. The only disappointment this Fall was that I didn’t read a play and a book of poems as had been my goal when pre-planning my reading lists. Though I’ve read plenty of books, it feels like I haven’t been doing a lot of sustained reading. Perhaps in the Winter, one of my objectives will be to read for longer periods of time per sitting. That will typically mean that more books will be read.
A few of the books that remained unread this season are holdovers from previous lists, including Etgar Keret’s book of shorties, David Sedaris’ audiobook, and The Tender Bar. Will I read them next season or will I let them go? The Tender Bar will go, but on the others? Time will tell.