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Total Books Read: 52

Fiction: 35
(Novels-27, YA-3, Plays-4, Short Story Collections-1)

Non-Fiction: 17
(Memoirs/Personal Essays-10, Science/Social Science -4, Language/Food/Self-Help -1 each)


Fave Fiction (in no particular order, because ranking things is hard, dammit):

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet -David Mitchell
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -Jonathan Safran Foer
Juliet, Naked -Nick Hornby
Shades of Grey -Jasper Fforde
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian -Sherman Alexie
Freedom -Jonathan Franzen
The Year of the Flood -Margaret Atwood
The Help -Kathryn Stockett


Fave Non-Fiction:

Manhood For Amateurs -Michael Chabon
The Happiness Project -Gretchen Rubin
Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture -Daniel Radosh
Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America -Barbara Ehrenreich


Le Grand List, in the order I read them )
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Started Early, Took My Dog -Kate Atkinson
This is the latest Atkinson featuring the awesome Jackson Brodie, and a host of other mysterious characters. She is a master of multiple plotlines that magically converge in the end--in this instance, I found that there were maybe a couple too many characters for me to try and keep track of. Could be a fault of my attention span/memory, and not the of the author. Still well worth a read, but not my very favourite Atkinson.

Packing For Mars:The Curious Science of Life in the Void -Mary Roach
I love Mary Roach! She brings her immensely readable science writing to the subject of astronauts (after previous books on sex, ghosts, and dead bodies). It's hilarious and informative--I had never given any thought to how astronauts go to the bathroom, but now I know a *lot* about it. More than really I ever wanted to.

Talking to Girls About Duran Duran:One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut -Rob Sheffield
Sheffield tells great stories about his life in the 80s. Very fun and enjoyable, although I think I would have liked that much more if I were about 5 years older than I am. Some of the details about the early 80s would have been more relatable had I been 12, like the author, and not 5, when the decade started.

The Help -Kathryn Stockett
I put off reading this for a long time, having the vague notion that it would be kind of Oprah-y or something. After a couple of recommendations from friends, I finally picked it up, and I'm so glad I did! So great. I was totally immersed in the lives of these Southern maids in the 60s, and the white woman who decides to try and help them tell their stories. It made me cry, and made me really damn mad--this book only takes place 50-odd years ago! That's scarily recent.

The Fry Chronicles -Stephen Fry
A new Stephen Fry memoir! Super exciting. It was delightful, as expected. I has quite a different tone than "Moab Is My Washpot", his last memoir detailing his childhood and high school years. This volume takes us through his 20s, when he was at Cambridge, and met Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, and other future collaborators. I want him to be my friend--he is so smart and funny and awesome. Sigh. Is it wrong for me to have a bit of a crush on a 53-year old gay man?
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Half-Empty -David Rakoff
Rakoff is my favourite melancholy essayist. I also love his appearances on This American Life. These personal essays are darkly funny, sometimes surprisingly poignant, and always wonderfully written. The essay on "Rent" alone had me laughing my head off and reading it out loud to people. The essay on his cancer diagnosis and treatment is powerful and raw.

So Much For That -Lionel Shriver
Well, I can't say that I 'enjoyed' this book, because man, was it depressing. It was really interesting and well-written, though, so worth a read if you're not too sad already! The protagonist has been planning all his life to retire to a small island nation, where his nest egg would let him live like a king. The night he's about to leave, his wife reveals that she has terminal cancer, and will need his money for treatment, as his work insurance has recently been slashed. It's a pretty damning statement on the American health care system, that's for sure!

Mary Ann In Autumn -Armistead Maupin
Yay, new Tales of the City book! Unlike the last one, which wasn't great, this book was a pretty great return to the old school TotC style. Funny, sad, weird, awesome.

The Hunger Games -Suzanne Collins
I finally succumbed to the (imagined) pressure, and read the first book in the popular series. And......I liked it! I don't want to overuse the word 'compelling', but that's how I'd describe it--once I started, I didn't want to put it down!
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I thought I could somehow get caught up enough to do a year-end wrap up on time, but alas. A few more posts to come! Sorry if I end up spamming you with many book and movie posts this weekend!


Freedom -Jonathan Franzen
I loved this! A big, sprawling, amazing family saga. Deserving of all the praise it's been getting, for sure.

God of Carnage -Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton
I had heard this play was amazing, and I'd still like to see it on stage sometime, but on the page, it didn't do it for me. The characters are all mean and unpleasant and just yell at each other a lot. Oy.

Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America -Barbara Ehrenreich
Considering I threw "The Secret" across the room when I read it, this book is right up my alley. She explores the history and the dark side of the positive thinking movement, and has chapters on everything from cancer treatment to the recent economic crisis. Really well-researched and reasoned, eminently sensible and clear-headed. I loved it!

The Year of the Flood -Margaret Atwood
I probably should have re-read Oryx and Crake before reading this--I didn't realize they were both in the same universe, and I'd forgotten most of O&C. Regardless, this was awesome! Margaret Atwood gives good dystopia. Super compelling and weird, dark, funny, all around great.
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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet -David Mitchell
LOVED THIS. David Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. I shall refer you back to the post I wrote right after I finished it.

Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine -Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst
The authors claim to be objective, and do a pretty good job, but it's also clear that they think a lot of popular alternative medicine is bunk. Fair enough, so do I, so the book had me on their side from the start. They also have the science to back it up, which I appreciate, so I'd like to think they could change someone's mind, if they came to it with a mind open to hearing the science. They also give fair props to treatments that do appear to be effective, which is nice!

Room -Emma Donoghue
I liked this quite a bit, but not as rapturously as many others seemed to. It's told from the point of view of a 5-year-old boy, which is definitely inventive, and the story is sad and compelling and touching, but the POV is a bit limiting--by design, I guess. I thought maybe a short story would have been enough. It's definitely worth reading, though. I just didn't think it was the greatest book ever, as some reviews seem to be saying. (Especially since I read it right after Jacob de Z, which kind of IS the greatest book ever.)
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I thought maybe I'd stop bothering to do my little write-ups, but I want to catch up, because I do like looking back at them later on. Trouble is, if I keep doing them months later, I won't remember anything about the books/movies/plays!

Let's see what I remember about August:

August: Osage County -Tracy Letts
I saw this play in Toronto last year, and it's coming here to Vancouver next year, so I thought I'd read the libretto. It's so intense, and darkly funny and upsetting. Not quite the same right on the page, but a play is really meant to be seen, or at least heard out loud. I cannot confirm or deny that I occasionally read scenes out loud to myself, playing all the characters.

Great House -Nicole Krauss
I remember quite liking this, but the details have faded pretty fast. It's a bit dense, and I didn't love it like I loved her previous novel "The History of Love", but this is still a beautifully written, sad novel. There are several different plots and a big, imposing desk that ties the many characters together.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian -Sherman Alexie
I loved loved loved this!! Why hadn't I read any Alexie before? Everyone should go read this right now.

Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture -Daniel Radosh
I have a definite fascination for books about mysterious religious things I don't understand. Radosh wrote a great, funny and informative overview of, well, the title says it all. I knew a certain amount about, say, Christian pop, but my eyes were opened to the worlds of Christian movies, theme parks, romance novels, pro wrestling, you name it. Great book.

Going In Circles -Pamela Ribon
Yay, pamie.com! I still feel all proprietary and proud when a blogger I've read for years starts writing books! This third novel was her best yet, I think. The main character goes through a divorce and takes up roller derby. It's funny, and sad, and a good quick little read.
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The Happiness Project -Gretchen Rubin
I picked this up based on a few recommendations from friends, and I'm so glad I did! Rubin recounts her year of trying various projects to get more happiness into her life. Get More Sleep, Sing in the Morning, Start a Blog (which became wildly popular, and led to this book!), Take Time to be Silly, and many more. I can't say that I immediately went out and made myself a million projects to try, but I definitely enjoyed reading about her year, and I think it's a book I'll return to every so often to give myself a boost.

Bite Me: A Love Story -Christopher Moore
I do love me some Christopher Moore. This was the latest in the vampire-y series, which isn't my very favourite stuff of his, but is reliably silly and funny, as expected. Good times.

The Book of Dahlia -Elisa Albert
I went into this one knowing nothing about it, but somehow having the idea that it was some sort of murder mystery or thriller or something (maybe the name Dahlia made me think of the Black Dahlia? Dunno.) That's not what it's about! It's about a slackery, misanthropic 30-year-old woman who is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. No one in the book is particularly likable, but the writing is great and the story definitely drew me in. Funny and sad.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -Jonathan Safran Foer
I liked Foer's first novel just fine, but this one just slayed me. So much love. Experimental and emotional and funny and terribly sad and just...LOVE. Oskar is a weirdly precocious 9-year-old whose father died in the Sept 11 attacks, and who sets out on a quest across New York City to find the lock that fits a mysterious key. Foer intertwines this with the story of Oskar's grandparents (including some passages so beautifully written that I gasped out loud), and the novel is also studded with photographs and drawings and other bits of experimental layout. Possibly too precious or consciously sentimental for some, I totally bought in to it and it got to me big time. I burst out laughing, and crying, several times. Highly recommended.
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I gotta catch up on this!

June was a giant roadtrip, basically, so I didn't really read much. I get a bit sick reading in a car (plus I figured making conversation is the politer option!)

So, yeah. Only three books read. Let's see if I remember anything about them two months later!

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage -Elizabeth Gilbert
I read Eat, Pray, Love several years ago when it first came out (before all the hype) and really enjoyed it, so I was intrigued to read this followup. I have also often been fairly skeptical of marriage (and yet find myself contemplating it), so the subject matter interested me. Gilbert has a way with a phrase, and did a lot of interesting research on the history of marriage. I enjoyed the book!

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers -Xiaolu Guo
I picked this up based on the concept: a young Chinese woman comes to London to learn English, and, as it's written from her perspective, the grammar and vocabulary of the book improve as the character's English improves. I thought it was a really interesting idea! The plot of the book was pretty standard, but I loved the experimental style. From choppy, broken English at first to complex fluency by the end. Neat idea.

The 100-Mile Diet -Alisa Smith and James McKinnon
I certainly admired this book, and the yearlong experiment this couple undertook. Eating local is a great idea, but they went hardcore! It hardly seems realistic for most people to go quite as far as they did, but it was a very eye-opening idea. Anything that gets me thinking about where my food comes from is a good idea. I try and get local food, and looooooove farmer's market season, but I confess that I couldn't possibly live without things like avocado, so a fully local diet ain't gonna happen.
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So, I went to do my Books Read In July post, then noticed I hadn't done June...or May. Oops! It's so silly--I quite like writing up little things about books, but I seem to never get around to doing it. So now I shall start back with May, and I probably won't remember much about them....sigh.


The Discomfort Zone -Jonathan Franzen
A great little book of autobiographical essays about Franzen's awkward adolesence. "Portrait of the artist as a young geek", as another review said! Good writer--he has a new novel coming out soon, the first since "The Corrections", which I'm excited about!

The Blue Girl -Charles de Lint
I read an urban fantasy YA novel! Why? Who on earth knows, but it was super fun! Not really the kind of thing I often read. (Oh yes, actually I know why I picked it up--I remember [livejournal.com profile] dangerdean telling me how awesome De Lint is.) A goth girl (who turns blue!), her shy nerd friend, and a sad ghost--oh yeah, and some fairly malevolent fairies. Fun stuff.

Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language -Ruth Wajnryb
I like the idea of a book on cursing, and I'm sure there's a good one out there, but this was a tad boring. Some interesting bits, but quite dry overall. Not as fun as I thought it would be!

Slammerkin -Emma Donoghue
My first Donoghue (recommended by [livejournal.com profile] listersgirl and it won't be my last! I generally shy away from historical fiction, so I wasn't drawn to the book initially, but I'm so glad I read it. It was a totally compelling page-turner about a poor young girl in 18th century London who yearns for higher station but ends up in prostitution then servitutude. Fascinating and a great read.

Welcome to Higby -Mark Dunn
I'm a big fan Dunn's debut novel, "Ella Minnow Pea", which is experimental and superawesome. This is a more straightahead novel, and it didn't thrill me to bits, but it was definitely worth a read. Cast of thousands in a small Southern town. Wouldn't seem out of place as a Robert Altman film.


Ok, that was May. Perhaps I'll get to June tomorrow! Or maybe by October...
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Shades of Grey -Jasper Fforde
I love me some Fforde (with the caveat that read too close to each other, books from the same series can get a bit repetitive) and was excited about this latest book, the start of a whole new world! It did not disappoint--while it still had some Fforde silliness, there's a more dystopic creepiness to it than usual, which I totally loved. It's set in a future world, after the mysterious Something That Happened. People can only see certain colours, and your rank in society depends on which colour you can see. Totally cool and interesting--there are two more books planned, and I can't wait!

I Don't Care About Your Band: What I Learned From Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I've Dated -Julie Klausner
Klausner has dated a lot of lame guys, and is hilarious in describing the terribleness. Some of the situations hit pretty close to home for me, and I winced in familiarity several times. Totally fun.

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, Vol. 2 -Gordon Dahlquist
More insanity from Dahlquist. This series is bonkers--not great, grand literature, but a totally compellingly readable weird gothic/horror/suspense/erotica/science fiction/mystery concoction. There's hardly a genre not represented!

Naked -David Sedaris
I love listening to Sedaris' essays on NPR, but I haven't read many of his books. I'm trying to atone for that--he's brilliantly funny.

Live The Life You Love -Barbara Sher
I've been off-and-on reading/working through this book for months. She has lots of exercises on how to figure out what you want to do with your life! Suffice to say, I've now been through it and I still don't know. But I do find books like this (similar to something like "The Artist's Way") interesting and fun to read.

The Other Hand -Chris Cleave
This a pretty interesting novel with an annoying marketing campaign: the back cover implores the reader to pass it on to their friends but not to tell anyone what it's about. Huh? Dumb. The editor's note in the front is also hyperbolic about the book's awesomeness, comparing it to Cloud Atlas (one of my all-time favourites.) It's a perfectly good book, but it's certainly no Cloud Atlas. I shall defy the back blurb and just say that it's about a British woman and a Nigerian teenage girl who meet first on a beach in Nigeria, then two years later in Britain, after the girl has spent the two years in a refugee detention centre. Stuff happens. I believe this book was published in the US as "Little Bee".
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Too Much Happiness -Alice Munro
I don't always love short stories, but man, Alice Munro is the master of the genre. Good stuff. Mind you, I read this at the beginning of February, and the details of most of the stories have already long faded from my memory, but I certainly remember liking the book a lot!

Nine -Maury Yeston/Arthur Kopik
I was a tad less than thrilled with the movie of Nine, and to make myself feel better, I re-read the libretto of the original stage musical, which I just love. Reading the script to a musical is always a bit odd--but reading the lyrics of songs without listening to them is kind of nice sometimes--helps me see them in a different way.

Generation X -Douglas Coupland
I read this for Canada Reads--I could hardly believe that I'd never read it! I understand why it's considered a groundbreaking and important book, but I didn't love it. Seemed a bit dated, and none of it really grabbed me. I'm glad I've finally read it, though.

Manhood For Amateurs -Michael Chabon
Good lord, I love Chabon. His fiction is amazing, and this is the second book of personal essays that I've now read. From childhood to fatherhood to comic books to how he learned to love his man-purse. I loved it all!

Juliet, Naked -Nick Hornby
I'm a Hornby fan, but have enjoyed some of his books more than others--this one is great! High Fidelity-ish music obsession, now in middle age. Duncan's obsessed with a reclusive former rock star, Tucker. Duncan's girlfriend, Annie, puts up with it. She also ends up striking up an email friendship Tucker. I found it really fun and compelling.

Last Night In Twisted River -John Irving
Oh, John Irving and your giant books of mayhem. I love them so much! This was epic and twisty and turny and, well, Irving-y as all hell. There's bears, wrestling, avoiding going to Vietnam, occasional shocking violence, moving to Canada. The man finds things he likes and sticks to it! Not that this book is particularly anything like his others specifically. I just laugh sometimes at the little things that are so Irving-y. Heck of a good read.

Blackout -Connie Willis
New Connie Willis!!! Whee! First since 2002. Now--it's sadly only half a novel. I believe she turned in a giant novel that her publisher decided to chop in half and release part now and part in the fall. So the only bad thing about this book is that I want more, more, more! And I have to wait. Boo. But this was great--we're in the same future Oxford as in Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, and a bunch of time-traveling historians are heading back to WWII. Awesome and dramatic.


Man--so many great new books from my very favourite authors! Chabon, Hornby, Irving and Willis are all up there in my list of faves. And I just read the latest Jasper Fforde, but that will wait until next month's wrapup. I love books!
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Yarn Harlot -Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I enjoyed these little stories and anecdotes about knitting--makes me want to knit more! I'm currently in the middle of a giant project, but once it's done, I have so many more things I want to make!

Company -Stephen Sondheim and George Furth

On my 35th birthday, I thought I should re-read the libretto of Company, now that I'm the age of the main character! God, I adore this musical. Even just reading it off the page was cool.

Good To A Fault -Marina Endicott

I'm starting to read the five shortlisted books for Canada Reads this year. I really enjoyed this book, in the end, but it took a while to get going. Really interesting premise--a woman causes a minor traffic accident, then ends up taking care of the family she hit. Very well-written and compelling.

Nikolski -Nicolas Dickner

Another Canada Reads title, a Quebecois novel in translation. While I was reading it, I totally adored it, but it hasn't stayed with me much. Three different quirky main characters, in alternating chapters, all distantly connected, though not aware of it. Dickner spins some great yarns, weaving in and out of the different stories--geography, identity, pirates, fish, books--good times!

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters -Gordon Dahlquist

Let's see how I described this book to [livejournal.com profile] starfishchick the other day:

"I've also just read a crazy fun book that you might like: "The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters" by Gordon Dahlquist. I hadn't heard of it, or him, but some friends in Sweeney Todd picked it for a loosey goosey book club we sort of have. It's a fat, juicy rollicking page turner--I don't even know how I'd describe it...a gothic Victorian melodrama/suspense with elements of science fiction/steampunk and some sexy/kinky bits! Truly strange and silly, and a darned fun read. And I was delighted to learn that there are two more in the series!"

The Jade Peony -Wayson Choy

More Canada Reads reading. I'd heard amazing things about this book from people, so maybe I was expecting to be blown away, but I admit I wasn't. It was interesting, and readable, but it's probably my least favourite of the three CR titles I've read so far. It's told through the eyes of three siblings in a Chinese-Canadian family in Vancouver in the 1930s and 40s. There are great descriptions of Chinatown and Chinese culture of the time, and I found the third section, told by the youngest brother, quite compelling, but overall, it didn't leave a huge impression on me.
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Total Read: 54 (including 2 re-reads)

Fiction: 30 (Novels: 21, YA: 5, Short Story Collections: 4)

Non-Fiction: 24 (Memoir/essays: 8, Arts: 5, Science: 5, Language: 3, Religion: 2, Self-Help: 1

By Women: 22
By Men: 32

Favourite Fiction

The Believers -Zoe Heller
The Book of Negroes -Lawrence Hill
My Year of Meats -Ruth L. Ozeki
The Post-Birthday World -Lionel Shriver
Olive Kitteridge -Elizabeth Strout

Favourite Non-Fiction

Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside The Phenomenon of Christian Rock -Andrew Beaujon
The Secret Lives of Saints -Daphne Bramham
Pictures At A Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood -Mark Harris
The Guinea Pig Diaries -AJ Jacobs
In The Land of Invented Languages -Arika Okrent

Le Grand List, by month )

In conclusion, yay books!!

My 2010 readolutions are to read at least 50 books, and to read all five Canada Reads shortlisted books before March.
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Slam -Nick Hornby
I enjoyed Hornby's first foray into YA. A charming novel about teen pregnancy and a talking Tony Hawk poster, among other things.

Eating The Dinosaur -Chuck Klosterman
I picked Klosterman's latest collection of essays up as soon as it came out. He's awesome!! This one isn't my favourite, but he's always worth a read.

Downtown Owl -Chuck Klosterman
I realized that I hadn't read Chuckie's novel, only his non-fic, so I checked this out. I liked it a lot--same Klosterman feel, interesting story. The end was a bit out-of-the-blue nutso, but it drew me in. Quite compelling.

Free-Range Kids:Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry -Lenore Skenazy
I don't, you know, have kids or anything, but a book club that I'm kinda-sorta in was reading this, and it sounded intriguing. It was! I hope that when I do have kids I can keep them safe without being a hovering, overprotective parent who doesn't let their kids do anything for themselves.

Witches Abroad -Terry Pratchett
I am slowly and randomly poking my way through Pratchett. Always fun. I like the witches!
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Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex –Mary Roach
Yay for Mary Roach and her entertaining and informative science books. I love her first book, “Stiff”, about human cadavers, and her latest is also awesome. (I still need to find “Spook”, about scientific studies about ghosts.) Any author who has sex inside an MRI machine in the name of science, is ok by me!

The Braindead Megaphone –George Saunders
Interesting collection of essays. As is often the case with such books, I like some essays more then others, but generally—enjoyable! I’ll seek out some of Saunders’ fiction, which I’ve heard is good.

The Importance of Music to Girls –Lavinia Greenlaw
This memoir sounded like it would be great—maybe a true-life High Fidelity for girls. Sadly, I found it kind of underwhelming. It’s a short book, but I found it to be a bit of a slog.

The End of the Alphabet –CS Richardson
I loved this quirky little novella about a dying man and his wife, who decide to travel around the world, from A-Z, before he dies. Romantic and sad. A blurb on the back jacket says that it’s a book that’s destined to be mailed between lovers—and, indeed, when I finished it I totally wanted to send it to my boyfriend!

The Guinea Pig Diaries –AJ Jacobs
I love Jacobs’ big silly experiments and the books he writes about them. It makes me want to find something to do for a year and then write about it! Now, if I could only think of a project…
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Oh man, I'm so behind! Ah well.

Last Night At The Lobster -Stuart O'Nan
I liked this novella a lot--two months later, not a ton has stuck with me, but I enjoyed it. It's the last night at a Red Lobster restaurant that's being closed--the manager is being transfered to a nearby Olive Garden. It's winter, and a blizzard is keeping most customers away, and some of the employees as well. Definitely worth a read.

Let's Talk About Love: A Journey To The End Of Taste -Carl Wilson
I'm very attracted to the 33 1/3 book series, but this is the first one I've read. Wilson dives deep into Celine Dion fandom, trying to figure out why some people like her, even though she's considered incredibly uncool by music snobs. What is good taste vs. bad? Why do we love or hate what we do? Very interesting reading.

The Post-Birthday World -Lionel Shriver
I loved, loved, this novel! Go read it right now! After an initial setup chapter, it continues in alternating realites. At the end of the first scene, a married woman either kisses another man, or doesn't. The novel follows both possibilities (à la the movie "Sliding Doors") and then brings it all together in a great final chapter. Fascinating (not always likeable) characters, great premise, really well written. I want to seek out Shriver's other books!

Pictures At A Revolution: Five Movies And The Birth Of The New Hollywood -Mark Harris
Another winner! I had a good run of excellent books! Harris' brilliant book dissects the 1967 Oscar race, and the changing of the guard from Old Hollywood to New. It was a fascinating year--the best picture nominees included the groundbreaking "The Graduate" and "Bonnie and Clyde"; the more conventional "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" and "In The Heat Of The Night", both dealing with racism; and the ridiculous, bloated musical adaptation of "Doctor Dolittle." This book is a must-read for any film fan! I totally loved it.
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Eat The Document -Dana Spiotta
I really enjoyed this novel. It follows a couple of former Vietnam-era student protestors who were involved in setting off some bombs, and have been living underground ever since. Very compelling and fascinating.

Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse -Victor Gischler
Very Christopher Moore-esque, but even more crude and ridiculous. Also quite violent and a little disturbing in parts, but in a surreal, over-the-top way. Quick read, pretty fun.

The Shadow of the Wind -Corlos Ruiz Zafon
I loved this! A sort of literary mystery-in 1940s Barcelona, a 10-year-old boy finds a book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books (cool!) which begins a decade-long quest to find out what happened to its mysterious author, and why someone is trying to destroy every copy of his books. Very awesome.

(Not That You Asked):Rants, Exploits and Obsessions -Steve Almond
Humorous Personal Essays is one of my favourite genre of books;plus, I enjoyed Almond's book about candy, so I picked this up from the library. It was pretty good-quite funny at times, but Almond just seemed angry and arrogant and kind of unpleasant a lot of the time. Maybe I should have expected that from a book that says right in the title that it's going to be ranty, but his persona turned me off. Ah well.
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I just realized I didn't do a July books-read post. I'd better hop to it and do August tomorrow:
books! )
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I feel like I've been way off my reading game--for quite some time. I guess that's ok. I'm still reading, and enjoying lots of books-but I'm reading slower than usual and not always getting totally enthralled with what I'm reading. Huh. Hopefully soon I'll have a run of absolutely amazing reads. Suggestions?

Anyway-here's what I've been reading: )
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I Was Told There'd Be Cake-Sloane Crosley
I love books of autobiographical comic essays, a la Vowell, Rakoff, or Sedaris, and was sucked in by the title of this one. Bridesmaid duties, the old Oregon Trail computer game, Pony collections, and lots of good coming-of-age stuff. It was good--not the very greatest of all time, but definitely worth a read if you like such things. I do, I do!

The Believers -Zoe Heller
Fantastic book. I picked this up because I really enjoyed Heller's What Was She Thinking?, the basis for the film Notes on a Scandal. Her new novel is also excellent-a great dysfunctional family portrait of a prominent New York lefty intellectual family. The patriarch's had a stroke, and everyone else is falling apart at the seams. I loved how even though none of the characters are particularly likeable, I still got totally involved and invested in the story. Definitely recommended.

Escape -Carolyn Jessop
I go through phases of being really interested in certain subjects. One of them these days it's cults and wacky religions. Jessop was raised in a fundamentalist Mormom polygamous group, and eventually escaped with her eight children. Fascinating stuff.

Fool -Christopher Moore
I do love me some Christopher Moore, and his latest, a ridiculous re-telling of King Lear from the point of view of the Fool, is funny and crude and worth reading if you're a fan, but I didn't like it as much as I've liked most of his others. Ah well.

Early Bird -Rodney Rothman
I loved this! People always talk about wanting to retire early, but Rothman, a TV writer, up and moved to a retirement community in Florida at the age of 28. He played bingo and shuffleboard, ate dinner at 4:30, and tried to break into the canasta clique. Totally hilarious. I'm a big fan of the do-something-crazy/unusual-for-a-year-and-write-a-memoir-about-it genre. It makes me want to do something similar! Now I just need a project, and a book deal.
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