February 2009 books

a little reminder to myself (60/365.2)

GN= graphic novel
*= recommended
[]= on hiatus

Books read so far:

9. Too Cool to be Forgotten, Alex Robinson (GN)
10. Black Jack Vol. 3, Osamu Tezuka (GN) *
11. Ordinary Victories, What is Precious, Manu Larcenet (GN)
12. The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard, Eddie Campbell and Dan Best (GN)
13. Nevermore: A Graphic Adaption of Edgar Allan Poe’s Short Stories (GN)*
14.. Red Colored Elegy, Seiichi Hayashi (GN)
15. Coraline, Neil Gaiman (re-read)
16. The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature, Jonathan Rosen
17. The Push Man And Other Stories, Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Adrian Tomine (GN)
18. Skim, Mariko Tamaki (GN) *
19. The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, Judith Jones *
20. Hands of my Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love, Myron Uhlberg
21. Serena, Ron Rash*
22. Valentines, Ted Kooser*
23. Tinkers, Paul Harding*

Books bought:
Black Jack Vol. 3, Osamu Tezuka
Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking, Aoibheann Sweeney (gifted)
Does an online subscription to Selvedge count? šŸ™‚

Currently rotating reading list:

Netherland, Joseph O’ Neill
Made From Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life, Jenna Woginrich
The Red Leather Diary, Lily Koppel
Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, ed. Jenni Ferrari-Adler *
[The Book of Animal Ignorance: Everything You Think You Know Is Wrong by John Mitchinson and John Lloyd *]
[The Elegance of The Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery]

[Best New Poets 2008: 50 Poems from Emerging Writers, ed. by Mark Strand and Jeb Livingood]
[One Secret Thing, Sharon Olds]
Love Comes First, Erica Jong

Currently tempted by:

Delicate Edible Birds, Lauren Groff
Service Included: Four Star Secret of an Evasedropping Waiter, Phoebe Damsroch
The First Person and Other Stories, Ali Smith
Central Park in the Dark, Marie Winn
All in a Day, Cynthia Rylant and Nikki McClure
A Homemade Life, Molly Wizenberg (on order)

Oh my. That was one productive book-reading month. Well, the first six graphic novels were devoured in almost one sitting (thanks to a stomachache). And I read fiction! It helped that the previous book, Jonathan Rosen’s Birding at End of Nature was a little…I daresay, dull. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well-written and I did learn some interesting tidbits, like how conservation of natural resources is often ironic (folks who advocate most for preservation of natural habitats are hunters, and bird-watching itself is an extension of the hunting/preying instinct), but the whole spiritual part eluded me. It just isn’t my thing. And uh, I must confess, I skimmed the end.

I’m still waiting for that bolt of lighting to show up. Or maybe pigeon poop.

As always, YMMV. At the same time, I started Ron Rash’s Serena, and it was an absolutely wonderful followup — a Macbeth-like setting (complete with its own version of a Greek chorus) against the background of destructive logging and the sheer, sometimes terrifying, beauty of the mountainous wild. I can’t recommend it enough– it’s got a clever plot, great wit (oh the wit), and if you have ever lived in North Carolina, an almost nauseating, but familiar sense of homesickness and longing:

“It was the kind of early-fall day Rachel had always loved, not warm or cold, the sky all deep-blue and cloudless and no breeze, the crops proud and ripe and the leaves so pretty but hardly a one yet fallen– a day so perfect that the earth itself seemed sorry to let it pass, so slowed down its roll into evening and let it linger.”

Just the words I needed to read in bitter February. And if you still like words, but don’t mind that plot devices are in the background, you might like Tinkers, by Paul Harding. It reads like one long poem, lovingly crafted and caressed, to be spoken softly and slowly, your eyes wide with wonder as if reading for the first time.

“Your cold mornings are filled with the heartache about the fact that although we are not at ease in this world, it is all we have, that it is ours but that it is full of strife, so that all we can call our own is strife, but even that is better than nothing at all, isn’t it? And as you split frost-laced wood with numb hands, rejoice that your uncertainty is God’s will and His grace toward you and that that is beautiful, and part of a greater certainty, as your own father always said in his sermons and to you at home. And as the ax bites into the wood, be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world, even though you have done nothing to deserve it. And when you resent the ache in your heart, remember: You will be dead and buried soon enough.”

Hope this streak continues into March– I’m already looking forward to reading Molly Wizenberg’s book. What are some of the books you’re looking forward to reading in March?

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5 Responses to February 2009 books

  1. Luis says:

    Looking forward to listening to Alexander Hamilton by Ron-Chernow, but I fear that is about it for March… :/ Oh, I guess I did read Ian McDonald’s Cyberabad and re-read Dark Knight Returns mostly in March. Yay me!

  2. Luis says:

    (and it goes without saying that I’m jealous of your awesome list…)

  3. elisa says:

    I’m planning on finishing up the Tales of the Otori series and it’s my turn to pick a book for book club, so maybe I’ll check out “Serena”. I’ve been feeling the need to read some Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Isabella Allende, too. Allende is one of my favorites.

    And also? Erica Jong is one of my absolute most favorite authors/poets. I’ve been lucky enough to find many of her older works as they were originally published, and I never tire of her. Olds is another favorite poet of mine. When I really NEED some words, though, I will often find myself turning (and returning) to Leonard Cohen. šŸ™‚

  4. Luis says:

    If you’re looking to start in Marquez, elisa, I recommend Love in the Time of Cholera- it’s both excellent and accessible.

  5. marthasnail says:

    i’m reading a collection of korean short stories right now. sparse and good so far. i have tons of great galleys that i’m excited about…but for some reason i’m reading sylvia plath. on order: notes from no man’s land. just got tinkers and our life in gardens.

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