Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review - The Numbers

I'm taking these numbers from GoodReads.  Rather than linking to each shelf, if you want to know the details, you can rummage through my various shelves and books on your own.

Books read total: 202 (around the same as 2011)
Pages read total: 53639 (6k less than 2011)

Books read by format (in this case, one eBook and audiobook were the same title):
Print (hardback/paperback): 145
eBook: 32
Audiobook: 26

Books read by genre:
(Many of these duplicate each other, but I track these categories.  Some like music and techie include both fiction and non-fiction.)
Around the World: 65
Biography/memoir: 11
Books on Books: 2
Cold Weather Islands: 7
Foodie: 5
Graphic novels and comics: 6
History: 1
Librarianship (and anything relating to work, really, so teaching too):7
Music: 4
Poetry: 14
Post-apocalyptic or dystopia: 12
Science fiction/ fantasy: 47
Short stories (individual or compilations): 25
Southern lit: 2
Techie: 8
Travel: 4
YA: 4

Books read for other reasons:
Award nominees: 46 (not sure I'll do this again, this was 25% of my reading!)
Book clubs: 20
SFF Audio Podcast: 8

I expect poetry and southern lit to go up considerably in 2013 because of various challenges I will be participating in, and I have been stockpiling poetry to read for National Poetry Month (April.)  I'd like to read more history, the others I don't really have goals for, I just like to see.  I'm happy that I'm reading about 25% science fiction and fantasy.

Review of The Black Flower by Howard Bahr

The Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil WarThe Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War by Howard Bahr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Growing up in the northwest, the Civil War / War Between the States/ War of Northern Aggression gets a brief mention, but classtime tended to focus on local history. Fur trade, Oregon trail, Native Americans. Since moving to the south, it has become more clear how very recent events like this war were, and everything seems related to it in some way. Most of the time, I get mistaken for a Southerner, but I always feel like I should know more about the history.

This book was selected for the December read for the On the Southern Literary Trail Group, one I joined intentionally to have greater exposure to southern lit. This piece of historical fiction serves two purposes - one more southern novel, but one that takes a very intimate and specific look at a small group of Confederate soldiers surrounding the events of the battle in Franklin, TN, in November 1864.

Most of the story circles around a rifleman named Bushrod Carter, although sometimes it goes off on tangents following other characters' backstories. My favorite bits of the book were between Bushrod and Anna, a girl helping out at a home the soldiers end up at for rest and recovery. You might be rolling your eyes and saying, "Oh, typical girl," but I'm not a war novel person most of the time. This would have never been something I would have picked up on my own to read, but I'm glad I did. It humanizes the events and the soldiers, it brings the situation to a very realistic place through descriptive and emotional writing, and makes some connections to the future (the present) that I was nodding along with, things I recognized in the southerners I know.

The most memorable moment for me is the author talking about the impact the war had on the women, after burying their dead, but also after welcoming home the men who hadn't died in battle.
"...This the women could not forgive. Much was taken, too little returned; distinctions blurred, and the hearts that might have lain like picked roses in the women's hands were buried forever under the stones of the dead.
So the women would not forgive. Their passion remained intact, carefully guarded and nurtured by the bitter knowledge of all they had lost, of all that had been stolen from them. For generations they vilified the Yankee race so the thief would have a face, a name, a mysterious country into which he had withdrawn and from which he might venture again...."
One Yankee slur in passing I'm including here so I can go research it:
"'Never fear,' said the Major. He smiled his broad smile, the corners of his mouth crinkling. 'The day ain't dawned I can't outrun a tribe of cheese-eaters.'"
Cheese-eaters? Ha!

Music is so frequently mentioned that I hunted down the songs explicitly mentioned and created a Spotify playlist. Annie Laurie is used throughout, a Scottish-origin ballad that seemed to comfort the soldiers, in fact they seemed to prefer it even as heading into battle, over a rousing march (much to one band-leader's chagrin!).

View all my reviews

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 - Around the World Wrap-Up

There was once a group in GoodReads that decided to read around the world in 2012.  I didn't make it to 52 countries, but I made it to 64 books.  Almost all of us are going to continue on for another year (if you have coveted this project, envied it, you can join us in 2013!).  I know I have more books set in different countries, from my wishlist, to read than I did when I started a year ago!  

I was thinking about apologizing that a lot of my books seem to be from Europe, but I decided that it makes sense that those books would be more commonly translated into English.  I've found some gems from more obscure places, and 2013 will continue the trend.

First a visual representation, and then a list by region.  What book set somewhere other than where you live did you enjoy most this year?

ReadingEnvy Around the World in Books 2012

(Map made using, a fun travel site!)


The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany (review)
Baked good: Basbousa 

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai (review)

This Child Will Be Great by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (review)

In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar (review)
The Bleeding of the Stone by Ibrahim Kuni (review)

Redemption in Indigo: A Novel by Karen Lord (review)

South Africa
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes (review)
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (review)
Baked good - malva pudding!

Asia/Australia/Polynesia, etc.

Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1) by Kerry Greenwood (review)
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (review)

China Big Breasts and Wide Hips by Mo Yan (review)
Shark's Fin And Sichuan Pepper by Fuschia Dunlop (review)
Land of Plenty by Fuschia Dunlop (review)
Baked good: CongYou Bing

Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (review)
The Artist of Disappearance by Anita Desai (review)

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto (review)
A Pale View Of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro (review)
Ten Nights Of Dream, Hearing Things, The Heredity Of Taste by Natsume Soseki (review)
Tales of Moonlight and Rain by Ueda Akinari (review)
The Cape and Other Stories from the Japanese Ghetto by Kenji Nakagami (review)

The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific (review)

Korea, North or South
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson (review

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (review)

New Zealand
The Forrests by Emily Perkins (review)

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (review)
Moscow but Dreaming: Stories by Ekaterina Sedia (review)

Saudi Arabia
Habibi by Craig Thompson (review)

Sri Lanka
The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke (review)

Tahiti (French Polynesia)
Frangipani: A Novel by Celestine Vaite (review)
Baked good: Po'e


Dominican Republic
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (review)

Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat (review)

From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island by Lorna Goodison (review)
Baked good: rum cake 

Saint Maarten/ St. Martin
The Making of an Island: St. Martin by Jean Glasscock (review)

Trinidad and Tobago
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey (review)


Rock Crysta| by Adalber Stifter (review)

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht (review)
Baked good – black pepper cookies

Czech Republic
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (review)

Library of Shadows by Mikkel Birkegaard (review)

Faroe Islands
The Old Man and His Sons by Heðin Brú (review)

The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna (review)

The Unknown Masterpiece by Balzac (review)

City of Women by David R. Gillham (review)
The Lighthouse by Alison Moore (review)

Skios by Michael Frayn (review)
Kassandra and the Wolf by Margarita Karapanou (review)
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (review)

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G.B. Edwards (review)

A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle (review)
Dubliners by James Joyce (review)
Baked good: Caraway seed cake

Little Novels of Sicily by Giovanni Verga (review)
Baked good: Sicilian Cassata

The Taste of a Man by Slavenka Drakulic (review)

Dracula by Bram Stoker (review)
Island Of Wings by Karin Altenberg (review)

Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart (review)

Yes Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson (review)

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka (review)

Among Others by Jo Walton (review)

North America

On Whale Island by Daniel Hays (review)

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival (review)

South America

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (review)
Travels in a Thin Country: A Journey Through Chile (review)
Baked good: mil hojas

The News from Paraguay by Lily Tuck (review)

The Storyteller by Mario Vargas Llosa (review)
Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time (review)
Baked good - Arroz Zambito

Friday, December 28, 2012

Book Beginnings: The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

I stumbled across a blog that had posted a book beginning, and it led me to the Rose City Reader blog.  I may not remember every Friday, but what better way to spread reading envy than to share an excerpt from what I'm reading or reading next?

This Friday I am returning to The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi.  I read the first chapter last weekend as I speed dated a big stack of books, but I could tell it was going to take more focus then I had at the beginning of a vacation at the end of a long year.

I'm not certain how I first learned of this book since I've had it on my to-read list for a long time, but when I was sent a review copy of The Fractal Prince, I quickly realized it was book #2 of a trilogy and hunted down The Quantum Thief.

At this point, I'm as much fascinated with the author as with the concept of the book.  He is a mathematician by training, and founder of ThinkTank Maths.  I'm expecting the book to be heavy on the math and science side of things.  He is from Finland, lives in Edinburgh, and publishes in Finnish and English. 

Without further ado, here is the beginning of The Quantum Thief!
 "As always, before the warmind and I shoot each other, I try to make small talk."

The Hobbit, Final Week

"So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending!"

The Hobbit audiobook coverI am participating in the "The Hobbit" Read-a-Long instigated by Unputdownables.  As I previously mentioned, this is my first time reading The Hobbit! Some of my observations may seem like no-brainers, but I hope you can forgive my naive perspective.

Now we have come to the end, and I am writing this weeks in advance since I finished the book in early December.  I have loved this reading experience.  I have valued the words, the storytelling, the song, and the feedback of friends in reading communities who have offered their own thoughts as they journey with me through this book that seems to be a favorite of many.  Oh how I wish I had read this as a child.  It feels like a book that has nostalgia built-in.  The songs, the poems, the characters, the lands, the descriptions, the way action builds - these are clearly geared towards a younger audience, but I still enjoyed it very much.

I was surprised at what Bilbo did with the Arkenstone of Thraine.  I suppose I thought the battles and Gandalf's return would have enough momentum to resolve the story line, but I love that the Hobbit's actions prove central to the resolution of the story of the same name.

I'm not sure it does enough for Bilbo, who still just wants to go home, but he clearly earns the respect of Gandalf:

"'Well done! Mr. Baggins!' he said, clapping Bilbo on the back. 'There is always more about you than anyone expects!'"

Thorin has an excellent last-words speech to give to Bilbo, somewhat of an apology really:
"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

I will end this experience with this very poignant moment between Gandalf and Bilbo as they are close to the Shire:
"There is a long road yet," said Gandalf.
"But it is the last road," said Bilbo.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Reading Envy - The Best of 2012

2012 was a great year for reading! I thought I'd highlight a few of my favorites. Pictures link to Amazon, titles link to GoodReads.

1. Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith 

Maybe this book just resonates with my librarian heart, but the quiet strength of the character and the well-written story have remained with me since I read it this past summer.

Not everything has to be exciting or complicated to be good.  I feel like I may need to say that now, considering what will follow.

2. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

The book so nice I read it twice in 2012!  The book that started dystopian fiction, or at least helped turn it into what it became, having a direct influence on Orwell and possibly Huxley.

I read this on my own in April, and we recently had a great discussion about it on the SFF Audio Podcast, with Jesse and Professor Eric Rabkin.

This book may sound dark, but it is written like a journal, and is a quick read.  I'd recommend it to anyone.  This goes beyond my love for dystopia, slipping over into just being an important book.

3. Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

A newer voice in fantasy and science fiction, G. Willow Wilson got her start in graphic novels and this is her first novel.  I was lucky to read a galley of it, but now it is out in print for everyone.  I was drawn in by the political relevance of an unnamed Middle Eastern country and a teenage hacker, his unique ethnic/religious situation, and his adventure that includes jinns, politicians, and love.

I think fans of Cory Doctorow (Little Brother) or Ernst Cline (Ready Player One) would enjoy this one.  I think it is time to read it again.

4. The Ask by Sam Lipsyte

This book is more literary, but hilarious.  I devoured it and wanted more.  He uses words in clever ways, and comes up with characters who are far too realistic not to be believed.  I still want more.

5. You've Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories That Held Them in Awe
6. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
7. Moscow but Dreaming by Ekaterina Sedia

I read a lot of great short stories this year, and these three volumes were the cream of the crop.  The You've Got to Read This is the best anthology I've seen, unfortunately it is out of print.  It took me a while to find a copy to read the first time around (from a library), when I did a buddy read with one of my GoodReads friends.  I just recently tracked down a copy for my very own. My favorite story from that volume was "Reflection" by Angela Carter.

This is How You Lose Her received great acclaim this year, and for good reason.  Go for the audio if you can- the author reads his own work brilliantly.  I just finished the Sedia stories and they were beautiful and dark.

8. Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil

A dark horse for the Booker Prize this year, I still did not hear much about this book despite its short-listed status.  The only book written by the author (he is otherwise a poet and musician), one he made clear he didn't care if anyone read and that "wasn't for everyone," I loved it.  I loved the writing style, the way the story swirls around you especially in the seven page sentence that starts the novel. I loved how there was no main character, instead a main location, and the story would take different directions depending on who was in focus in the moment.

I would recommend it to people who are willing to try something new, and still want to be swept away.  I was, and I'm hopeful he will write more in the future.  I'm going to try to track down his poetry in 2013.

9. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

In the course of my reading with the Around the World in 52 Books group, I experienced a lot of authors writing about countries outside of the empires.  When I went to the Caribbean for a week, I had stockpiled many books set in the islands to read while I was in the atmosphere.  This was my favorite.  The descriptions of the landscape mirrored what I was seeing, and the non-linear storyline was compelling to the end.

When I see pictures of my trip, I recall bits of the story.  That's what can happen after a bout of immersive reading!

10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I almost forgot to include The Hobbit, probably because I read it so recently.  Of course this would rank in my top 10 of the year.  I wish I'd read the book as a child, but am still glad I was able to experience it.  Superb storytelling, fascinating world, and one little hobbit that I can't help but be fond of. 

Practically everyone I know was reading or rereading the Hobbit this year because of the movie.  I participated in a book-blogger readalong, and it was also the December pick for the Sword and Laser Book Club.

This also marked a new reading experience for me -  I used the Whispersync functionality that allowed me to move between an audio book and an eBook.  I loved hearing the story in audio, and could quickly mark a spot and return to it in the text.  Great way to read a special book, although I'm not sure I'd do it that often since it costs more.  If my commute were longer, I'd probably be more willing, but I only drive 3.6 miles each way.

Honorable mentions: rereads of Snow Crash and Cloud Atlas. This year I had several bouts of re-reading, and these two books still rank among my favorites of all time.

You can skim through some of the 200ish books I read this year in GoodReads.  Add me as a friend!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte

The Fun PartsThe Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sam Lipsyte has an ability to make me laugh uncomfortably, the way you would do after having a shared awkward experience where someone loses it in front of you. The characters in his short stories are always out of place, trying to cope with reality, failing, and the author is not afraid to push their scenarios to the most outrageous conclusion.

My favorites - The Climber Room (for the ending), The Wisdom of the Doulas (is the male doula "doulo" crazy, or is the world?).

Also - don't have kids. We forget, when we are grown up, how serious life was in our teens and pre-teens. Lipsyte hasn't forgotten, and it is terrifying.

To be honest, I really did enjoy these stories, but I liked The Ask even better.   Short stories tend to vary in audience and tone, and not all of these had the same punch.  The entire novel of The Ask did that for me.  I'd start either place if you are new to his work.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Moscow but Dreaming by Ekaterina Sedia

Moscow But DreamingMoscow But Dreaming by Ekaterina Sedia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These stories would hit the spot for anyone who enjoys Russian lit (dark, depressing, consequences) or fantasy (creatures, beings, unexplained events). The combination of the two is magical. Somehow a depressing event becomes epic sorrow when laced with supernatural elements. Sometimes the true story is only hinted at, and the reader has to unravel the words to discover the truth. To me, this is the very best kind of story.

A few highlights:

A Short History of Lunar Seas - Beautiful world building here, what a way to begin.

"One rain everyone still remembers occurred a few years ago, when words fell from the sky... The inhabitants groaned and suffocated under the weight of accumulated regrets, promises, lies, report cards, great literature, pop songs, and shopping lists."

You Dream - Where a boy dies repeatedly, or is it that he died once and haunts her?

Ebb and Flow - A deeply sad story about a prince from the land and a princess from the sea, only with a Japanese twist.

There is a Monster Under Helen's Bed - Adoption is a theme in these stories, but this is a terrifying combination of a childhood yellow wallpaper and a monster under the bed.

The Bank of Burkina Faso - A lighter tale. What if the spam e-mails we get from African royalty are actually true, but the reason they can't get to their bank accounts is that they only exist in dreams?

Seas of the World - Oh goodness. Almost all the sea stories are just terribly sad. This one took a moment to sink in.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Hobbit Week 7

"It is an ill wind, all the same, that blows no one any good."

The Hobbit audiobook coverI am participating in the "The Hobbit" Read-a-Long instigated by Unputdownables.  As I previously mentioned, this is my first time reading The Hobbit! Some of my observations may seem like no-brainers, but I hope you can forgive my naive perspective.

This week we read chapters 13-15.  Full disclosure, I am writing this post ahead of time, because I went ahead and finished the book a while ago.  The pace was too slow for me, plus I wanted to see the movie the weekend it came out.  Towards the end I'll probably review the movie as well!

This section is the action the entire book is building up to - acquiring the treasure alongside an unexpected multifaceted struggle with elves, eagles, goblins, wolves, and even more dwarves.  Townspeople and Gandalf also figure into the story again.  I admit to skimming parts of this section.  I will feel the same way in the movie(s), I'm sure, since battle scenes are always in the category of yawnworthy for me.  There is also a lot of posturing between Incredibly Stubborn Thorin, the Elvenking, Bard, and Gandalf.  Nothing is fully resolved, and we leave the story with Bilbo grumbling about food again, tired of the mountain, tired of cram, and I think he's going to do something drastic!
There are a lot of little peppy quotes in this section, and I was the annoying reader who kept turning to her husband and reading them out loud.

"While there's life there's hope!"
"Third time pays for all."
"It is an ill wind, all the same, that blows no one any good."

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review of The Rapture of the Nerds

The Rapture of the Nerds: A tale of the singularity, posthumanity, and awkward social situationsThe Rapture of the Nerds: A tale of the singularity, posthumanity, and awkward social situations by Cory Doctorow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure I'd recommend this book to most people. It would take a great deal of patience, delight in details relating to posthumanism and the singularity, and maybe some experience in virtual living. I enjoyed it because I'm just a big nerd, I guess.

Here's an example of the density of writing:
"Huw last saw her parents at their disembodiment; they'd already had avatars running around in the cloud for years, dipping into meatspace every now and again for a resynch with their slowcode bioinstances dirtside. When they were finally deconstituted into a fine powder of component molecules, it'd been a technicality, really, a final flourish in their transhumanifaction."

Really, if you're familiar with Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross, both in their fiction but also in knowing what they themselves geek out about, this is probably the book for you. I've read more Doctorow than Stross, but follow both of them in Twitter, so I suppose I qualify!

My favorite bit of this book is the second chapterish section, where Huw is taken to South Carolina to serve as an ambassador of sorts. Only Charleston, SC, is known as Glory City, and is only filled with people who think they should have been taken in the rapture and weren't. Not exactly the friendliest place for an atheist to have to go. Because of the environmental catastrophe (he refers to the people living there as radioactive), Glory City is in a dome surrounded by chemical showers to keep out the ants. Ants live in continental supercolonies, and are the dominant species, at least in North America.

Along the way, Huw changes genders, and then gets taken into the singularity by his/her mother, or at least a version of her. I love her take on her qualms about living in the cloud:
"Her primary beef against the singularity has never been existential - it's aesthetic. The power to be a being of pure thought, the unlimited, unonstrained world of imagination, and we build a world of animated gifs, stupid sight gags, lame van-art avatars, stupid 'playful' environments, and brain-dead flame wars augmented by animated emoticons that allowed participants to express their hackneyed ad hominems, concern-trollery, and Godwin's law violations through the media of cartoon animals and oversized animated genitals."

To that, I say... word.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Books on Book - The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction

I like lists - making them, reading them, borrowing items from other people's lists - you name it, I love lists! From time to time I'll pick up a book that talks about books, and most of the time they are talking about books that were significant to the author, or maybe a recommendation engine to lead to a list that others "should" read, before they die, before they go to college, to be a true hipster, etc. I thought that is what this book would be when I picked it up. I turned out to be wrong!

Before I share the review, I thought I'd let you peruse my growing "Books on Books" shelf in GoodReads. Some of these I've read and some I have yet to read. I would love someday to write a book on books on books, but sometimes it feels like that has already been done.

Books on Books

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession
The Complete Polysyllabic Spree
Phantoms on the Bookshelves
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book
Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere
Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life
The Stone Diaries
The End of Your Life Book Club
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
This Is Not the End of the Book
The Library Book
Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home
Outside of a Dog: A Bibliomemoir
Why Read the Classics?
The Child That Books Built: A Life in Reading
The Uncommon Reader
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared
84, Charing Cross Road
A Novel Bookstore
So Many Books, So Little Time: A Year of Passionate Reading

Jenny's favorite books »
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of DistractionThe Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not really sure I needed to read this. First of all because Professor Alan Jacobs is preaching to the choir. I love to read, and read on whims all the time, as he recommends. Second of all, he quotes heavily from 3-4 texts, two of which I've read recently (The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and the commencement address to Kenyon by DFW). However it is a short read (150 pages of text, many many big blocks of quotations, 12 pages of endnotes) and offers a perspective on why we should not read from lists, or to read classics just to cross them off the list. Unlike many traditionalist reading snobs, he isn't anti-eBook either, in fact reading eBooks may have given him back the love of reading.

Most of what I like the best, Jacobs is quoting from someone else.

"If a man is keen on reading, I think he ought to open his mind to some older man who knows him and his life, and to take his advice in the matter, and above all, to discuss with him the first books that interest him." - Rudyard Kipling

I'd like to rewrite it as:

"If a [woman] is keen on reading... [she] ought to open [her] mind to some older [person] who knows [her] and [her] life, and to take his advice in the matter... and to discuss with him... books that interest [her.]" and that's pretty much my reading journey. Hooray.

Another good gem comes from the poet L. E. Sissman:
"A list of books that you reread is like a clearing in the forest: a level, clean, well-lighted place where you set down your burdens and set up your home, your identity, your concerns, your continuity in a world that is at best indifferent, at worst malign. Since you, the reader, are that hero of modern literature, the existential loner, the smallest denominator of moral force, it behooves you to take counsel, sustenance, and solace from the writers who have been writing about you these hundred or five hundred years, to sequester yourself with their books and read and reread them...."

I liked the thoughts on rereading. I am always struggling to balance all the new books I want to read with the feeling of wanting to revisit some books... Gravity's Rainbow, Ulysses (already, yes, I know), Dickens, etc., etc.

The author quotes most extensively from the poet W. H. Auden; surely this must be one of his specialties or something. Regardless, I love this little bit about the five reactions to something a reader encounters:
"I can see this is good and I like it; I can see this is good but I don't like it; I can see this is good, and, though at present I don't like it, I believe with perseverance I shall come to like it; I can see that this is trash but I like it; I can see that this is trash and I don't like it."

Perhaps I'll renumber my rating system this way, although there isn't really room for ambivalence here.

Jacobs talks about the desire to read MORE, to read FASTER, and why this might not be such a good thing. I'm not sure I agree. Probably because I get criticized for reading too much all of the time. And, after all, I'm always feeling like there is not going to be enough time for all the reading I want to do!

More than anything, I'm going to use the annotated bibliography for this book, to add to my list of books to read. Okay, it is possible that I did not exactly take his message to heart, which might be decidedly anti-list.

View all my reviews