December 31, 2004
52 Down, 0 To Go

Banana Yoshimoto's Goodbye Tsugumi is a wonderful way to finish my 52 Books, 52 Weeks project for 2004. Yoshimoto writes with clear, crisp prose, and her characters' emotions flow through you as you read this book. The story of two cousins, Yoshimoto creates complex characters with an honesty that is refreshing. This book is definitely recommended, as is anything that Yoshimoto has written.

The 52 Books 52 Weeks project has come to an end for 2004, but look for its phoenix to rise in another form tomorrow. My great thanks to everyone who recommended books this year. If I didn't read your recommendation this year, you can be sure it has been added to my ever-growing "to read" list.

Posted by david permalink
December 27, 2004
51 Down, 1 To Go

Dave Eggers' How We Are Hungry is a magnificent collection of 15 stories. Eggers is one of my favorite authors, capturing the essence of our my generation with his pen. The only downside to this collection is that I had read several of these stories elsewhere, but even so, I enjoyed reading them again.

My last book in the 52 Books 52 Weeks project is a Christmas gift, Banana Yoshimoto's novel, Goodbye Tsugumi

December 19, 2004
50 Down, 2 To Go

Art of Modern Rock is a magnificent collection of poster art sure to please both music and art fans. With almost 500 pages of amazing posters, this book would make an excellent gift for the music fan on your holiday shopping list.

Book #51 of my reading year will be Dave Eggers' book of stories, How We Are Hungry.

Posted by david permalink
December 11, 2004
49 Down, 3 To Go

Kazuo Ishiguro's When We Were Orphans was enthralling until the ending. Ishiguro paints a thoroughly detailed picture of Shanghai, but the story unravels as the end nears. Still, I look forward to reading more of Ishiguro's work, and admittedly was warned by several friends about this book (and avoided it for a year as it sat on my nightstand).

My next book is Art Of Modern Rock: The Poster Explosion.

Posted by david permalink
December 08, 2004
48 Down, 4 To Go

Jeff Tweedy's debut book of poetry, Adult Head, if taken as lyrics, isn't a bad book. As poetry, it's a strong initial effort, but musical backing would have filled in the weak spots. Tweedy takes chances, and often they pay off, but he won't be replacing Theodore Roethke or Wallace Stevens on my bookshelf any time soon. But then again, I won't be buying any of Stevens' or Roethke's music, either.

Book #58 will be Kazuo Ishiguro's detective novel, When We Were Orphans.

Posted by david permalink
December 07, 2004
47 Down, 5 To Go

The iPod Fan Book is a great resource for the new iPod user. Covering everything from basic use to accessories, the book will probably disappoint power users with its simplicity, but the elegant design will keep even them entertained.

Book #48 will be Adult Head, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy's book of poetry.

Posted by david permalink
December 04, 2004
45 Down, 7 To Go

When my wife and I adopted a kitten earlier this year, we decided to keep him indoors. We were concerned about keeping him entertained and healthy, so my wife picked up The Indoor Cat by Patricia Curtis. Curtis offers common sense advice in a conversational manner. Often cat books are either cutesy or scientific, but Curtis lends the wisdom of her experience in a tone neither full of cat baby-talk or technical terms. This is a wonderful trove of information for anyone with an indoor cat.

My next book was a Christmas present from my sister last year. A Very Southern Christmas is a collection of "holiday stories from the south's best writers." I have been waiting for the holidays to read this collection, which features stories by Donna Tartt, Richard Ford, and others.

Posted by david permalink
December 02, 2004
44 Down, 8 To Go

Having been incredibly busy the past few weeks, I haven't updated the books I have read. Over the next several days I'll update the status of the 52 Books In 52 Weeks project.

Book number 44 was Tears of the Cheetah, by Stephen O'Brien. The fourteen evolutionary tales in this book touch on cheetahs, whales, pandas and other animals, but the real value of this collection is the connection O'Brien makes of animal genetic studies to human health and disease. Often reading like a detective novel as O'Brien sleuths complex genetic questions, I would recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in genetics.

My next book, The Indoor Cat: How to Understand, Enjoy, and Care for House Cats, was a birthday present from my wife. Will this book help us enrich Neko's indoor life? We'll see.

Posted by david permalink
October 30, 2004
43 Down, 9 To Go

Travels With Barley is part beer history, part travelogue, and all about the love of beer in all its forms. Ken Wells holds the reader's interests, even through a chapter devoted to beer yeast, with humor and well-written prose. This book would make a great present for any beer lover on your holiday shopping list.

Book #44 is Tears of the Cheetah: And Other Tales from the Genetic Frontier, by Stephen J. O'Brien.

Posted by david permalink
October 24, 2004
#41 and #42 Down, 10 To Go

Before I write a brief review of Greg Kot's Wilco: Learning How To Die, I have to admit to being a huge Wilco fan. Kot paints a vivid picture of the formation of the band, and in particular the life and evolution of Jeff Tweedy. I'd recommend this book to any fan of modern music.

As my next book, I finally read Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser. I know I'm stating the obvious, but this book reminded me of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, which I reread last year. This eye-opening and and often horrifying story of the fast food industry should be read by anyone contemplating a meal at McDonald's for lunch.

Next up is Ken Wells' Travels with Barley: A Journey Through Beer Culture in America. As a fan of both travelogues and beer, I am hoping this book will quench my literary thirst.

Posted by david permalink
October 17, 2004
#38, #39, #40 Down, 12 To Go

#38: I have great respect for Birmingham's own Denis Covington as an author. I count his Salvation on Sand Mountain as one of my favorite pieces of non-fiction, so I had high expectations for Redneck Riviera. The book is an excruciatingly honest account of Covington's attempt to claim his inheritance, a piece of worthless Florida land. Like all of Covington's work, though, events cannot be anticipated, and the book takes unexpected turns. Gripping and heartfelt, this was a quick read yet fascinating.

#39: When we recently adopted a kitten, my sister-in-law sent us Cat Speak: How to Communicate With Cats by Learning Their Secret Language, by Bash Dibra and others. Overall, I found the book insightful into the language of cats, their body language especially. I expected more in-depth analysis, but found this an excellent entry-level book on how to understand your feline.

#40: My fortieth book of the year was Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer by Ann Rule. I am a huge fan of true crime, and this book is one of the best examples of the genre I have read in several years. Rule manages to respect the victims by recounting their lives with dignity, while shocking the reader with the abnormal psychology of the killer and the horrifying details of the crimes.

My next book will be Wilco : Learning How to Die by Greg Kot.

Posted by david permalink
October 09, 2004
37 Down, 15 To Go

Not having read anything by Paul Auster, I had great expectations for his New York Trilogy. Friends have been recommending Auster for year with glowing references, and after reading this trilogy of novels I can see why. Auster transports the reader to his version of New York City, into thrillers that take you on a mythical journey. This collection is easily one of the ten best books I've read this year.

Book #38 of 2004 is the non-fiction Redneck Riviera: Armadillos, Outlaws, and the Demise of an American Dream, by Birmingham author Dennis Covington. I have always enjoyed Covington's fiction and nonfiction, and this should be a quick yet fulfilling read.

Posted by david permalink
September 22, 2004
#33, #34, #35, #36 Down, 16 To Go

Yesterday we returned from a ten day Texas vacation, where i was able to put a significant dent in my 52 Books/52 Weeks project. Leisurely reading is a luxury I look forward to on holiday, and I finished four books during our much-needed break.

When I picked up Waiting for Snow in Havana, I expected a thrilling true account of Cuba's revolution through the eyes of a child. The book not only rewards the reader with the memoir, but does so with beautiful use of language that captivates as well as narrates.

Before we left on our trip, I found a tattered copy of Flannery O'Conner's Wise Blood at a used bookstore. Having lost my own copy while in college, I picked up the book and decided that it would be the first book I've reread all year. I found the book heartbreaking, bleak, and funny, as it celebrated the southern grotesque as only Flannery O'Conner could.

Once we arrived in Texas, I asked my brother for an interesting book or two (a tradition we carry on every time we meet). The first book he handed me was On Love by Alain de Botton. de Botton examines a love affair in great detail, from beginning to end, and through that affair love in general. The result is insightful and classically-tinged without being dry. This book drew me into the lives of the protagonists with humor and discerning observation, and made me anxious to read more of de Botton.

The second book I borrowed from my brother was The Advent of the Algorithm: The 300-Year Journey from an Idea to the Computer, by David Berlinski. The book was fascinating for its ideas, but these were often hidden under the dense prose of Berlinski. His style is probably an acquired taste: a mix of essays, fiction and history. I would have a hard time recommending this to anyone who didn't enjoy at least one of Berlinski's previous books.

My next book is Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy: City of Glass, Ghosts, the Locked Room.

Posted by david permalink
August 26, 2004
32 Down, 20 To Go

Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions was an interesting read, the story of six MIT students under the tutelage of a former math professor who develop and refine a system to beat the casinos at blackjack. As an occasional blackjack player who once was thrown out of a casino for counting cards, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others who have an interest in blackjack or probability and statistics.

The next book in my 52 Books Project will be Carlos Eire's Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy, mostly because a friend lent the book to me yesterday. The subject matter is interesting, though, the Cuban revolution as seen through the eyes of a child.

Posted by david permalink
August 21, 2004
31 Down, 21 To Go

The Autobiography of Red manages to be both tender and humorous, the kind of book that stays with you long after you've finished. This story of a boy with wings is filled with melodrama and romance, and is much recommended.

The next book is Bringing Down the House, the story of several MIT students who developed mathematical models to win in Vegas. Having been thrown out of a casino once for counting cards, I'm sure to enjoy the subject matter.

Posted by david permalink
August 10, 2004
Book #31

In an effort to clear off my nightstand, I have decided to read The Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, by Anne Carson. A gift from my wife, the book has been near the bottom of my reading priorities for a couple of years. I'm actually glad to be finally reading this uniquely structured novel.

Posted by david permalink
August 08, 2004
30 Down, 22 To Go

Our Band Could Be Your Life was a fascinating, in-depth biography of both many indie bands of the early 80's, but also an insightful history of the early indie scene and the labels that supported these bands. Michael Azerrad brings the period to life through interviews with band members, label owners, and other musicians. Sonic Youth, the Replacements, Fugazi and others have chapters dedicated to their history, and all were entertaining and informative. If nothing else, this book might prompt you to pick up an extra cd or two at the merchandise booth at the next show you attend, after reading how hard it is for indie musicians to make ends meet.

I'll announce the next book tomorrow, after I have a chance to drop by the bookstore. Does anyone else have other recommendations for music books?

Posted by david permalink
July 31, 2004
29 Down, 23 To Go

Yamuna's Table is a fascinating book, filled with flavorful vegetarian Indian dishes. If you enjoy Indian food, I highly recommend this cookbook, even if you're not a vegetarian. Many thanks to Lalitree for the recommendation.

Next on my list is Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, by Michael Azerrad. I picked this book up several years ago, read the chapters on Sonic Youth and the Replacements, then put it down, only to lose it in the clutter that is my "to read" pile. With chapters on Big Black, Mission of Burma, and Beat Happening (among others), I'm looking forward to this book of indie rock history.

Posted by david permalink
July 18, 2004
28 Down, 24 To Go

Perhaps the best review I can give of the three short books I read this week is that after finishing them, I immediately ordered and preordered the rest of the series.

Joe Pernice's The Smiths' Meat Is Murder stood out among the three as a lyrical novel. Set in 1985 (just as the Smiths album came out), the book will captivate anyone who ever associated strongly with an album. This book alone captures the spirit of Continuum's 33 1/3 series.

Andy Miller's The Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society takes another tack, chronicling the recording of this Kinks record.

I found Sam Inglis's Neil Young's Harvest to be my least favorite of this threesome, but still a worthy read for music fans.

Next up is Yamuna's Table: Healthful Vegetarian Cuisine Inspired by the Flavors of India by Yamuna Devi. Many thanks to Lalitree for recommending this book, the first Indian cookbook on my shelf.

Posted by david permalink
July 09, 2004
27 Down, 25 To Go

I wouldn't recommend Shanghai Baby, but wouldn't actively deter anyone from picking it up. Reading like a Chinese version of an early Bret Easton Ellis novel, the book is too predictable and (in my opinion) either poorly written or shabbily translated. The cultural transition of Chinese youth was at times fascinating, but I was expecting that theme to be further developed. This book is a good vacation read, but unfortunately not much more.

As I wait on my cooking selection to be delivered, my next book will consist of three chapbooks. I have raved about Continuum's 33 1/3 series of books about albums before, and will read three of these short tomes (because 33 1/3 * 3 =100, it makes sense to me) as my next book:

The Smiths' Meat Is Murder, by Joe Pernice
The Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society, by Andy Miller
Neil Young's Harvest, by Sam Inglis

Posted by david permalink
June 29, 2004
26 Down, 26 To Go

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim is a good summer read. One warning: many of these stories have been published previously in magazines, so if you read the New Yorker, you have probably read several. Sedaris is one of my favorite humorists, honest and often laugh out loud funny. Like most essay collections, the book is a bit uneven, but if you want to laugh this summer, read this book.

The next book I will read, Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui, was recommended by my brother. The book covers the '80s rock and roll scene in Shanghai, I'm looking forward to it.

Posted by david permalink
June 22, 2004
25 Down, 27 To Go

Jeffrey Zeldman's Designing With Web Standards is a rare technical book that is both informative and entertaining. Zeldman lays out his argument for designing to standards, then walks the reader through the implementation. Though I've heard most of his arguments before, having them presented in a cohesive manner made them much more forceful. If you design websites (for fun or profit) and haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.

My 26th book of the year will be David Sedaris's collection of essays, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

Posted by david permalink
June 12, 2004
24 Down, 28 To Go

Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville, was a fun read given the dark subject matter, had an interesting premise, and in all was a worthy return to the science fiction genre for me.

I haven't been counting my work reading in this project, but I've picked up (and started) Jeffrey Zeldman's Designing With Web Standards and have enjoyed it so far.

I'd like to read a cookbook (or book on cooking) next, any suggestions? I have to warn you that my wife and I have over seventy-five cookbooks, so I'm looking for something informative, unique and interesting that hasn't crossed my path.

Posted by david permalink
May 25, 2004
23 Down, 29 To Go, Sci-Fi Anyone???

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami, is a novel that deftly explores the human brain's perception of the world. Murakami masterfully melds two distinct storylines, building a thriller that gains speed as you read. Interesting and insightful, I can strongly recommend this book.

Can anyone recommend some science fiction for my next book? Aside from William Gibson's Pattern Recognition (that I read earlier this year), I haven't read any science fiction since high school. Philip K. Dick has been recommended already, but I'm looking for other options. Thanks in advance, I appreciate all the responses.

Posted by david permalink
May 19, 2004
22 Down, 30 To Go

I wanted to love Candyfreak. Occasionally, I'll watch FoodTV's "UnWrapped" and be amazed by the art and technology that goes into my favorite snacks, and I expected a amimilar approach to candymaking in this book. On this note Steve Almond's book does a good job. When Almond sticks to the history and manufacture of candy, the book is enthralling, but when the book strays into memoir, I was disappointed.

My next book is the second Haruki Murakami novel I will read this year, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was fantastic, and I'm expecting nothing less from this novel.

Posted by david permalink
May 14, 2004
21 Down, 31 To Go

"The Namesake," by Jhumpa Lahiri, is an elegantly written novel. The story of Indian immigrants and their straddling national identities, it is at times touching and enlightening. I can also recommend (along with the Pulitzer Prize committee) Lahiri's book of short stories, "Interpreter of Maladies."

Next up is "Candyfreak," by Steve Almond. I love candy, especially good chocolate, so I've been anticipating finally reading this book. All I need now is the right props to get me in the mood. If anyone has any extra See's truffles, Baci, or dark chocolate Dove Promises, their donation will definitely help with my research.

Posted by david permalink
May 09, 2004
20 Down, 32 To Go

Often, collections of essays are uneven. Luckily, in Art and Ardor, the low points are good and the high points are truly wonderful. Cynthia Ozick expresses her love for literature throughout the book, exploring and dissecting such diverse authors like Edith Wharton and John Updike as well as the state of Jewish literature. Some of the essays are a bit dated, but Ozick's arguments are clear and always well-founded.

I promised myself a book of fiction, and have chosen The Namesake: A Novel, by Jhumpa Lahiri as book number twenty-one.

Posted by david permalink
May 08, 2004
19 Down, 33 To Go

I am a political biography junkie, and Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, by Joseph J. Ellis was a welcome addition to my collection. The book recounts the political climate of the 1790's, focusing on Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, and James Madison. The concept seems daunting, but Ellis manages to make this political biography read like fiction. Thank you, Lauren, for recommending this fine book.

Buried in my messenger bag is book number twenty, the out of print Art and Ardor, a book of literary criticism by Cynthia Ozick. I picked this up in a local used bookstore a year ago, and it has been sitting on my nightstand ever since. I should finish this soon, since I've been reading the essays this week during lunch. After this, I'm ready for some fiction. I'll be looking over everyone's previous suggestions and picking something out. As always, feel free to recommend something...

Posted by david permalink
April 29, 2004
18 Down, 34 To Go

Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a book that had potential to be great. The premise, exposing grammatical errors and instructing the public in a witty, chatty manner, had me hoping for the best. Unfortunately, I found the humor in the book forced at times, and the chatty dialog often rambling. It's not a bad read, and at times it is a bit humorous, but at most I'd give the book two stars out of four.

My next book is Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, by Joseph J. Ellis. Many thanks go to Lauren for the suggestion. I am definitely in the mood for some political biography.

Posted by david permalink
April 24, 2004
Book #18

For my eighteenth book of the year, I'll be reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss. The premise is intriguing: the dissection of common grammatical errors in a humorous manner. I'm looking forward to starting this today.

Posted by david permalink
April 21, 2004
17 Down, 35 To Go

Barbara Kingsolver's book of essays, Small Wonder, though not enlightening (I had seen most of these essays in their originally published form), was still an enjoyable read. Her political rhetoric is deftly weaved into the fabric of her life. Reading these essays is like sitting across the coffee table from the author, enjoying the conversation as it meanders from the natural world to America's conspicuous consumption to the importance of ecology.

What will I read next? Much depends on whatever Books-A-Hundred has available this afternoon. The time has come for another biography, preferably a political figure. Any suggestions?

Posted by david permalink
April 14, 2004
16 Down, 36 To Go

Jenny and the Jaws of Life, by Jincy Willett, is a collection of dark, well-formed psychologically thrilling stories. Though a bit uneven and at times seemingly repetitive in its characters, the book holds much promise for a first collection of short fiction. I am intrigued enough by Willett's craft to put her only novel, Winner of the National Book Award: A Novel of Fame, Honor, and Really Bad Weather, on my future reading list.

Next up: Small Wonder, a collection of essays by one of my wife's favorite novelists, Barbara Kingsolver.

Posted by david permalink
April 06, 2004
15 Down, 37 To Go

Jane Leavy's biography of Sandy Koufax, A Lefty's Legacy, was a surprisingly light read, given the subject matter. Sandy Koufax was the premier pitcher in the mid-1960's, and Leavy examines his career in parallel with the changes in society and baseball during that time. I expected a more detailed view of the great pitcher's life, but the book mostly delves into Koufax's youth, on-field accomplishments and the arm problems that forced an early retirement. If you're looking for a Kitty Kelley tell-all, pass on this biography. This book is entertaining spring reading, the story of a reluctant hero in a time of change.

My next book, Jenny and the Jaws Of Life: Short Stories by Jincy Willett was recommended by a good friend. I have been a lifelong fan of short fiction, from fairy tales to Flannery O'Connor, Chekhov to Cheever, so I have high hopes for this book.

Posted by david permalink
March 31, 2004
14 Down, 38 To Go

I finished The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold yesterday. The story revolves around the murder of a young girl and its effect on her family friends, and the murdered girl herself (in heaven). After reading the first chapter I was enthralled, Sebold initially sets the scene for a magnificent novel, but the story stutters before picking up in the final third of the book. I would liken the book to a fallen soufflé: a bit dense in the middle, but still filling and full of flavor.

My next book has been on my reading list for a year: Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy, by Jane Leavy. With baseball season starting yesterday, I'm ready to take on the story of one of baseball's premier and most enigmatic pitchers.

Posted by david permalink
March 17, 2004
13 Down, 39 To Go

I expected much from Reading Lolita In Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Several friends heralded the book from different angles: as memoir, social study, historical text and literary criticism. The book didn't disappoint, but Ididn't bedazzle, either. I felt that Nafisi had too many literary irons in the fire, and found myself wishing for more memoir, to hear more about the lives of her study group participants and herself and less literary criticism. This is a powerful book, nonetheless, describing the life in modern day Iran from the viewpoint of women.

My wife (and others) recommended my next book, Alice Sebold's novel, The Lovely Bones.

Posted by david permalink
March 03, 2004
12 Down, 40 To Go

The General In His Labyrinth fleshed out the life of Simon Bolivar, putting a human face on El Liberador while following him through the last months of his life. Gabriel Garcia Marquez works his lyrical wonder while giving us a historical account of the liberation of South America along the way.

My next book is Reading Lolita In Tehran, by Azar Nafisi, a blend of memoir, literary criticism and social history. The story of a literature professor who returns to her native Tehran to teach banned western books has been strongly recommended and looks like a fascinating read.

Posted by david permalink
March 01, 2004
11 Down, 41 To Go

I finished The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro last night. Joe McGinnis captures a year in the life of a small-town Italian professional soccer club competing in the Serie B (the second best league in Italy), and puts the reader in the locker room, on the pitch, and caught up in the drama as the season unfolds. A must-read for soccer (and sports) fans, McGinnis at times becomes too involved in the story he's reporting, but overall this is as good a "behind the scenes" sports book as I have ever read.

Next up is The General in His Labyrinth, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the only novel by him that I haven't read. I've been amazed by the diversity of people reading One Hundred Years of Solitude (thanks, Oprah), and a couple of Ms. Winfrey's earthly minions have inspired me to read this fictionalized account of Simon Bolivar.

Posted by david permalink
February 26, 2004
10 Down, 42 To Go

Our Cancer Year is an amazingly honest look at dealing with cancer, both individually and as a couple. The book, brilliantly illustrated by Frank Stack, has Harvey Pekar (of American Splendor film and book fame) struggle to overcome lymphoma with the help of his wife. Pekar and his wife gloss over none of the painful trials this causes, and their true love and determination to beat the disease together shines through.

Next in the 52 Books, 52 Weeks project is The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro, by Joe McGinniss. The story of a small Italian soccer club among the bigger teams in the Serie B, the book was recommended by frequent commenter Phil, and it's a book that I've been eying for a couple of years now.

Posted by david permalink
February 20, 2004
9 Down, 53 To Go

William Gibson's Pattern Recognition was a quick read, filled with internet jargon and pop culture, but the ending left me wanting. This was the first book I've ever read as an e-book, a horrible experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. From now on, my literature will be on paper and ink, thank you. A laptop screen is a poor excuse for the printed page.

Having recently seen American Splendor, my appetite has been whetted for the graphic novel mentioned in the movie, Our Cancer Year, so I've chosen that as my next book in the 52 Books, 52 Weeks project.

Posted by david permalink
February 13, 2004
8 Down, 44 To Go

Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat was a surprisingly easy read, considering it dealt with neurology. The clinical tales are clearly detailed and explained in laymen's terms, while reading like fantastic short stories of the organic mind.

Next on the nightstand is Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. Many people have recommended Gibson, and somehow he's passed me by. One of this project's aims is introducing myself to new authors, and this is a fine example.

Posted by david permalink
February 05, 2004
7 Down, 55 To Go

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex is a novel I found myself savoring, longing for every subplot to last forever. The magically written story of a genetic male raised as a female, it combines historical fiction, romance, and psychological drama in a way few books have. Many thanks to Valerie, Erin of Mannequin Hands, and Kari for the recommendation.

Book number 7 is The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, by Oliver Sacks a selection of essays exploring rare neurological disorders. This book has been on my radar for a couple of years, so when Cathy of Bent Back Tulips recommended it, I took it as a sign that the time is now.

Posted by david permalink
January 29, 2004
Side Effects Of Reading

Since I've started my 52 Books, 52 Weeks project, several side effects have emerged. The pile of magazines both in the living room and by the bed are growing. My television viewing has dropped to an all-time low. I'm spending less time in front of the computer and more spread out on the couch with a book in my hand (and a laptop by my side, though, I have to admit). I've also taken to reading more before going to sleep, which has often led to grogginess in the morning when I head to work.

Still, I'm very pleased with the project so far. The books have been well-written and interesting, and I can almost feel my brain rejuvenating.

Posted by david permalink
January 28, 2004
6 Down, 46 To Go

When I finished As Nature Made Him, The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl, I was impressed by both the subject of the book and its author. The story of a biological boy raised as a girl (due to circumcision complications) manages to seamlessly integrate the subject's life while explaining the medical community's often selfish misguided motives and subsequent physical and psychological trauma of the subject. John Colapinto dutifully examines sex roles and the effects of the psychological community on the book subject and the intersex community, painting a horrifying picture of the scientific community that valued ego and publishing over its patients' lives and well-being.

Next on my list is Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, also recommended by Valerie.

Posted by david permalink
January 25, 2004
5 Down, 47 To Go

Book #5 in the 52 Books, 52 Weeks project was Carter Beats The Devil by Glen Gold. This is a magical piece of fiction (pun intended), Gold writes a delightful historical tale, easily the best thing I've read this year. If you haven't read this yet, give it a chance. I owe many thanks to Valerie, Troy, and Keith for hyping the book.

Next on the night table is As Nature Made Him, The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl, by John Colapinto, a case study centering on gender identity and the medical community that has only lately put the patient, and not individual egos, at the forefront.

I'm beginning to get a little apprehensive, I've enjoyed every book I've read so far this year, and would recommend all of them to others. Usually I'm more discriminating, but I'll be optimistic and mark my luck to wonderful recommendations.

Posted by david permalink
January 19, 2004
4 Down, 58 To Go

Girl With A Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier was an interesting read. Chevalier paints a vivid portrait (pardon the pun) of life in 17th century Holland. She deftly portrays everyday life for both the rich and disenfranchised, and manages to give art lessons along the way.

The next book in the queue is Carter Beats The Devil by Glen Gold. This was by far the most recommended book when I originated this project, and it arrives with great expectations.

Posted by david permalink
January 16, 2004
Not Hooked On Classics

JC at Boston Confidential looks at the books that were recommended, and wonders why more classics weren't included. His weblog is incredibly well-written and is much recommended.

I have a strong love for the classics. When I went to college, I vowed to fill in the gaps of my education by reading at least part of a classic every day. In that way I fell in love with Thomas Hardy, Balzac and many others doomed to dusty bookshelves by the masses, not to mention poets. In a similar vein to JC's, I am amazed that I get funny looks when I take a break at lunch, visit the park, and draw a book of poetry out of my messenger bag. I even had one person ask me if poetry was still being written. As with all good things, seek, and ye shall find. I carry a book of poetry with me every day (currently James Tate's The Selected Poems) to fill in the odd moments when I don't have the time to read a story or a chapter, but am in the mood to savor something.

I appreciate all your recommendations, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and especially graphic novels. I was surprised how many of the recommended books I've already read, but also glad to see that many interesting books are available and people are kind enough to share their love for the written word.

Posted by david permalink
3 Down, 49 To Go

I finished my third book of the year, The Color Of Water, A Black Man's Tribute To His White Mother, last night. The book started very slow for me, but as the dual stories of the mother and son took off, I was swept into their lives. The story of the triumph of will through faith and hard work, I'd easily recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting peek into race in America.

Next up is the novel, Girl With A Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier (and now a major motion picture, as is stamped on the newer paperback copies). My sister-in-law recommended this book a while back. My wife read this and thought it "good" but not ground-shaking, I'm eager to form my own opinion about this story concerning one of Vermeer's models. Vermeer holds a special place in my heart. A couple of years ago the painter, Arnold Friberg (the only Academy Award nominee I've ever had dinner with) sent me a Christmas card (soon after his trip to Holland to study the Old Masters), with a drawing of himself nose to nose with a Vermeer portrait. In the drawing, his wife is pulling him away, saying "Don't get so close, Arnold, they'll throw us out, AGAIN!!!"

Posted by david permalink
January 13, 2004
2 Down, 50 To Go

I just finished my second book of the year, Haruki Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. The book is a fine example of post-modern noir done well, meandering through its plot of good against evil. Murakami entrances you with his seemingly haphazard storytelling that weaves itself together as the story is told. An excellent book, at first I was reminded thematically of the two Murakami books I read this summer, A Wild Sheep Chase: A Novel and Dance, Dance, Dance, and was afraid that a similar storyline would develop. Murakami is too talented for that, and my only regret with this book is that there is no sequel.

While I wait for my book order to arrive, next under the reading lamp is The Color Of Water, A Black Man's Tribute To His White Mother, by James McBride. Normally a front cover blurb from Mirabella magazine would scare me away, but since my wife was kind enough to pick this up for me, I will gladly give it a chance.

Posted by david permalink
January 06, 2004
One Down, Fifty-One To Go

I finished my first book of the year (and inaugural tome in my 52 book project) today, From Beirut To Jerusalem, by Thomas Friedman. By far, it is the best book I've read on the dilemma in the Middle East, able to deftly shift perspective from local streets to the global repercussions of the conflict.

Next up is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami. This summer, my brother lent me two Murakami novels, The Wild Sheep Chase and Dance, Dance, Dance, after we discovered a mutual admiration for fellow Japanese novelist Banana Yoshimoto, and these offbeat novels made me a fan.

Thanks for the recommendations so far, I'll be updating my reading schedule as I finish each book. I noticed a recommendation for Maus and Maus II. Does any other favorite graphic novels? That is a genre I have sadly neglected,and this is an excellent opportunity to get my proverbial feet wet.

Posted by david permalink
January 04, 2004
52 Books In 52 Weeks

Kottke is reading a different magazine each week, Vegard is listening to a different album every seven days, and I'm jumping on the meme-wagon by committing to reading a book a week this year.

I'm an avid reader. Books, magazines,newspapers, toothpaste tubes... anything I can get my hands on. In the past couple of years, though, I've become enamored with the availability of online information, and my reading habits have slacked. To remedy this, I'm resolving to read a book every week, fiction and non-fiction, to hopefully reinvigorate the passion I have for the written word and learn a thing or two along the way.

I'm open to fascinating titles contributed by the interactive peanut gallery. I'm looking for the fascinating and enlightening, in a wide variety of subjects. Any suggestions?

The books:
From Beirut To Jerusalem, by Thomas Friedman
From Beirut To Jerusalem, by Thomas Friedman

The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami

The Color Of Water, A Black Man's Tribute To His White Mother, by James McBride
The Color Of Water, A Black Man's Tribute To His White Mother, by James McBride

Girl With A Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier
Girl With A Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier

Carter Beats The Devil, by Glen Gold
Carter Beats The Devil by Glen Gold

As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto
As Nature Made Him, The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl, by John Colapinto

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, by Oliver Sacks
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat
Oliver Sacks

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
Pattern Recognition
William Gibson

Our Cancer Year
Our Cancer Year
Harvey Pekar, Frank Stack, with Joyce Brabner

The Miracle of Castel di Sangro
The Miracle of Castel di Sangro
Joe McGinnis

The General In His Labirynth
The General In His Labirynth
Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Reading Lolita In Tehran
Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir In Books
Azar Nafisi

The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones
Alice Sebold

Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy
Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy
Jane Leavy

	<br />
Jenny and the Jaws of Life: Short Stories

Jenny and the Jaws of Life: Short Stories

Jincy Willett

	<br />
Small Wonder: Essays

Small Wonder: Essays

Barbara Kingsolver

	<br />
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

Lynne Truss

	<br />
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Joseph J. Ellis


Art and Ardor

Cynthia Ozick

	<br />
Founding Brothers: The Namesake

The Namesake: A Novel

Jhumpa Lahiri

	<br />


Steve Almond

	<br />
Hard-Boiled Wonderland

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel

Haruki Murakami

Perdido Street Station

	<br />
Designing With Web Standards

Designing With Web Standards

Jeffrey Zeldman

	<br />
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

David Sedaris

	<br />
Shanghai Baby

Shanghai Baby

Wei Hui

#28/52 (three in one)
	<br />
The Smiths' Meat Is Murder

The Smiths' Meat Is Murder

Joe Pernice

	<br />
The Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society

The Kinks' The Village Green Preservation Society

Andy Miller

	<br />
Neil Young's Harvest

Neil Young's Harvest

	<br />
The Smiths' Meat Is Murder

Yamuna's Table: Healthful Vegetarian Cuisine Inspired by the Flavors of India

Yamuna Devi

	<br />
Our Band Could Be Your Life

Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991

Michael Azerrad

	<br />
Autobiography of Red

Autobiography of Red

Anne Carson

	<br />
Bringing Down the House

Bringing Down the House

Ben Mezrich

Posted by david permalink