January 2009 Books

I was browsing in a bookstore, as I often do, and saw one of Nick Hornby’s columns for Believer, in which he wrote essays and listed the books he’d read, bought, and not read. My review is partly based on that, with a few additions.

GN= graphic novel
*= recommended

Books read so far:

1. Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcom Gladwell
2. My Life in France, Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme *
3. Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino, Henry David Thoreau, and D. B. Johnson (GN)
4. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, Alison Bechdel (comics collection) *
5. Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood (Sisterhood of Traveling Pants), Ann Brashares
6. Good-Bye, Yoshimio Tatsumi and Adrian Tomine (GN)
7. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
8. Paul Goes Fishing, Michel Rabagliati (GN) *

Books bought:

Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories, Diana Wynne Jones
Castle in the Air, Diana Wynne Jones
Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino, Henry David Thoreau, and D. B. Johnson
Lotta Prints, Lotta Jansdotter
Best New Poets 2008: 50 Poems from Emerging Writers, ed. by Mark Strand and Jeb Livingood
Delight and Shadows, Ted Kooser
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, ed. by Jenni Ferrari-Adler
Putting Up: A Seasonal Guide to Canning in the Southern Tradition, Steve Dowdney and Rick McKee

Currently rotating reading list:

The Tenth Muse, Judith Jones *
The Elegance of The Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
The Book of Animal Ignorance: Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong by John Mitchinson and John Lloyd *
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, ed. Jenni Ferrari-Adler *
The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature, Jonathan Rosen

Best New Poets 2008: 50 Poems from Emerging Writers, ed. by Mark Strand and Jeb Livingood
One Secret Thing, Sharon Olds
Valentines, Ted Kooser *

Currently tempted by:
Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees, Roger Deakin
Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life, Jenna Woginrich
French Girl Knits: Innovative Techniques, Romantic Details, and Feminine Designs, Kristeen Griffin-Grimes
A Little History of the World, E. H. Gombrich, Clifford Harper, and Caroline Mustill
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, Tiffany Baker
Tinkers, Paul Harding
Winter Sky: New and Selected Poems, 1968-2008, Coleman Barks

For me the first book read of the year takes a special significance. 2007 was The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly, (a good year) 2008 was extremely outstanding Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (a very good year) and this year’s book is My Life in France, by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme. I guess this means it will be a year of good food (hopefully) and culinary explorations.

I also organized my enormous and ever-expanding book list and discovered that I don’t like to read very much fiction, although it is my most favorite genre to read. Perhaps it is because it is also the genre most likely to disappoint me. Nonfiction is fairly predictable; poetry is a separate class; and graphic novels are mercifully short (with a few exceptions). Last year, I read approximately 64 books, and stopped reading 2, which were fiction. I struggled through at least two more novels that did not interest me very much, and wished I had spent my time doing something else. This is sort of why I like series– same author, same topic, same writing style . Pretty safe, unless the consistency changes, which it inevitably does. Good thing for libraries, because I rarely buy fiction, (although I should have bought Out Stealing Horses from the start!).

Maybe this year I should resolve to take more chances and buy more fiction. Then again, my overflowing bookshelves look ready to fall on top of me.

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5 Responses to January 2009 Books

  1. carolyn says:

    dude. i do “hornby-esque” lists also (although I don’t expand beyond “read” and “bought”)

    sorted by “hornbyesque”:

  2. fawn pea says:

    Thanks for all the great recommendations! I have a bunch of old Dykes to Watch out For books that I should give you – they are so much fun.

  3. wade vidal says:

    I find it very interesting that we have read some of the same books ever talking about them. Julia Childs, and out stealing horses, in particular,

  4. f says:

    Ah, good ole DTWOF! Her blog is excellent too. I think I’ll have to get that for someone for V-day! I think I should start a list like this too – very good idea and so interesting to see it all laid out like this.

  5. gracia says:

    Ah, your book shelves sound much like my own — overflowing.

    Happy reading, g

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