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10 November 2008

Books, books, books! What are you reading now? Tell, tell! [More:]

I'm pretty psyched because I just started Garth Nix's YA "Mister Monday", the first book of his "Keys to the Kingdom" series, and fell in love instantly. Best thing? If I stay in love (and I suspect I will) there are five more books in the series. How did I miss this guy before?

Of interest to writers and fans: Nine Stages of a Novel: The Creative Lifecycle of a Garth Nix Book.
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posted by taz 10 November | 06:54
I'm re-reading the Little House series.
posted by Stewriffic 10 November | 07:03
"Bill Moyers on Democracy"

"From Promise to Power" - story of Barak Obama

Just finished "Sounder"
posted by lysdexic 10 November | 07:15
Just finished "The Political Brain" by Drew Westen, about how to win elections by using psychology and appealing to emotion.

Halfway through "Black Powder War" by Naomi Novik, part of her Napoleonic-war-plus-dragons Temeraire series. Seems good so far, more action than the last one.

posted by TheophileEscargot 10 November | 07:25
Hermetica: The Greek Corpus Hermeticum and the Latin Asclepius in a New English Translation... I'm still working through the (very interesting) introduction.

Also Thomas Metzinger's Being No-One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity, which, I must admit, I am struggling with & am not sure if I'll finish it.

posted by misteraitch 10 November | 07:25
Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer - Maureen Ogle
posted by octothorpe 10 November | 07:34
The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, by Alex Ross. (It's a history of 20th century classical music.) I'm only about 20% of the way in, but it's good so far.
posted by BoringPostcards 10 November | 07:48
I'm half way through volume one of The Theory of Communicative Action by Jürgen Habermas.
posted by Daniel Charms 10 November | 07:50
I've got two on the go. 1: The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks and IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation, both of which are really good.

Once I've finished those, I'll start on Made to Break Technology and Obsolescence in America which I bought last year but, for some unknown reason, didn't start, even though it looks very promising.
posted by TheDonF 10 November | 07:53
I just finished In Heaven, Everything is Fine: The Unsolved Life of Peter Ivers by Josh Frank and now I'm working on a collection of short stories by Anton Chekhov.

BoPo: I was kicking around picking up The Rest Is Noise after discovering it via the blue recently. The only thing making me hesitate is that it seems like it might be too inside for a classical neophyte like myself.
posted by Slack-a-gogo 10 November | 08:05
What a bunch of swots & nerds!!!! ;-)

My highbrow reading consists of David Hewson's latest, "Dante's Numbers". Detective fiction set in Rome.
posted by Wilder 10 November | 08:29
Oh and Barbara Nadel's "Pretty Dead things". Detective fiction set in Istanbul. See what I'm doing here?
posted by Wilder 10 November | 08:30
Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama.

And obsessively re-reading all the Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb books I have because they're like comfort food to me.
posted by TrishaLynn 10 November | 08:31
And just to prove there's really no hope for me, one of the best books I've read this last few months is this from Steig Larsson set in Sweden. It's harrowing but wonderful.
posted by Wilder 10 November | 08:33
Ooh, I've never come across Garth Nix either, taz. The books are going on the list.

I am re-reading Diane Duane's Young Wizards series, also Generation Kill, after having watched the David Simon mini-series. And I just finished First Among Sequels, the last Thursday Next book.
posted by gaspode 10 November | 08:44
I just finished The Year of Endless Sorrows by Adam Rapp and I really liked it! I gave it to a friend.
posted by rmless2 10 November | 08:48
Blankets by Craig Thompson.
posted by concrete 10 November | 09:18
I'm rereading Edward Conlon's Blue Blood. Best. Police Memoir. Ever.
posted by jonmc 10 November | 09:38
Slack-A-Gogo, I think you'd like Ross' book. It's very accessible, and the website ( has audio samples, divided into chapters that match the book, so you can hear excerpts and whatnot about the different pieces he writes about.

How was the Peter Ivers book? I think I'd like to read that one.
posted by BoringPostcards 10 November | 09:44
Georges Simenon's "Mémoires Intimes" are a miracle. Even if you don't like his crime fiction they're totally worth a read.
posted by matteo 10 November | 09:46
I'm rereading Perdido Street Station and enjoying it even more than I did the first time around. Just finished John Crowley's new one - Lord Byron's Novel - and liked it with like being the operant word: not love.
posted by mygothlaundry 10 November | 09:49
I'm reading 1968 by Mark Kurlansky which is particularly interesting to me because it's the year I was born. I sort of knew what was going on in the US at that time, but he's got a total international [well European-international] perspective on the year so I've been learning a lot about France and Romania during that year.

Blankets by Craig Thompson.
posted by concrete

Amusingly one of the last books I read was Concrete.
posted by jessamyn 10 November | 09:55
Surprise! I've read a book - when I took the train down from Stockholm I read through "Heartburn" by Nora Ephron which I found on my mom's nightstand. It was funny (the giggle loudly kind), spoke a lot about food, and even had me a little teary-eyed at points. She wrote it in funny rambling style that my mother often writes in which was really hilarious to me as I almost confused her voice for my mothers. (Only difference is that my mom does it in Swedish and I read the book in English)
posted by dabitch 10 November | 09:56
ps - it's a short read, more like string of columns or something, I read it down in three hours flat and had nothing to do but buy coffee the rest of the trainride.
posted by dabitch 10 November | 10:00
Two Lives by Vikram Seth. It's really fascinating; I highly recommend it.
posted by amro 10 November | 10:18
"Fear and Loathing on the Campaign trail '72", by Hunter S. Thomson. Really, I could read him until the cows come home. The book drips with cynicism and other things.

I'm also midway through Douglas Coupland's "Shampoo Planet," but I stuck that on the back burner for some reason. Reading two books at once kind of shorts me out.
posted by hellojed 10 November | 10:34
I'm slowly pushing through George Soros' Alchemy of Finance, a finance/investing classic that I've neglected until now. It's been pretty slow going though--Soros is horribly repetitive and if this book had an actual editor, he or she didn't wield much influence.

Once I'm done with this, I'll probably go back to works of fiction for a bit. I've read a handful of Philip K Dick books this year and still have a couple more on my bookshelf. And I also picked up a couple more Cormac McCarthy books.
posted by mullacc 10 November | 10:38
I'm reading some Tad Williams, which I'm pretty sure is due to some(one| people) mentioning War of the Flowers on MetaChat recently. It is bog standard "tramping around the woods looking for lost items" fantasy, but has just enough of the page-turner about it to keep you going.
posted by Wolfdog 10 November | 10:42
I was just on vacation, so got through many novels in the past week:

How To Be Good by Nick Hornby, which I was 3/4 of the way through on the plane when I realized I had read it before. It was nice, but not great, kind of in the "I'm glad I read it but I'm not sure I'd seek it out again (unless I once again forgot that I had already read it)" category.

The Dive from Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer, which was rather awesome and unsatisfying all at once. I've decided that if a book is described as "provoking," I will likely very much like the book and very much hate the ending.

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler, which weirdly echoed a lot of the Packer book. But I didn't like this one very much at all.

Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier, which I liked, but it felt a little maudlin and I've read better novels about the period (suffragists in London). I read her Virgin Blue a few weeks ago and liked it much better.

And I just started The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, which I'm enjoying muchly.
posted by occhiblu 10 November | 10:54
Just picked up McCullough's The Great Bridge at Costco, on a whim, about the making of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Also working my way through In Search of Ancient Oregon, which is a pretty but dense book, tracing the geological history of every square mild of land currently in in Oregon. It's mind-numbing, to try to remember all of the periods of time, but fascinating and it will assist me in further boring people with geological factoids, when I am here or there around the state.
posted by danf 10 November | 11:08
mile up there, not mild.
posted by danf 10 November | 11:09
jessamyn, I really enjoyed 1968. Local relevance! :-)

I just started Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner. It's a novel about the United Fruit Company sugarcane plantation in Cuba at the time of the revolution, told from the viewpoint of two American children of plantation employees.
posted by initapplette 10 November | 11:40
@occhiblu: I think I liked Ladder of Years, but since I also had to look it up to remember whether or not I'd read it, I'm thinking I didn't like it that much.

One of Anne Tyler's books that vacillates on the "Did I really like it?" scale is A Patchwork Planet, mostly because I'm not sure that I could empathize with the main character. I'll betcha that jonmc could, though, because he's a regular Joe (named Barnaby) who kinda coasts through life.
posted by TrishaLynn 10 November | 11:59
I'm reading the MetaFilter collaborative novel, as I add the final contribution!
posted by Eideteker 10 November | 12:04
Another Morning by Wessel Smitter courtesy of this post and my wife's UW Library borrowing privileges.
posted by stet 10 November | 12:10
I have a terrible habit of reading six things at once, so some of them never get finished... I am a bad person, and I feel bad for being so bad at badness.

I'm reading:

To Rule the Waves, How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World, by Arthur Herman. I'm kind of obsessed by Elizabethan England and British naval history, so this scratches that itch most satisfactorily.

Bridge of Sighs, by Richard Russo. I know he'll never be considered a top-tier novelist because his books are filled with recognizable people doing understandable things in familiar places, a concept anathema to the circle-jerk pomo grandees who guard the gates of Literary Merit, but I think Russo writes circles around most other US novelists working today, and he does it in a clear, uncluttered, straightforward style that, as a wanna-be writer, I'd like to learn how to imitate.

The Court of the Air, by Stephen Hunt (steampunk! Argh! Kill me now! But it's from the library, so it's not like I paid for it or anything). Just started it yesterday. There are blimps and orphans, so that's cool.

... and I just finished:

Marvel 1602, by Neil Gaiman, pencilled by Andy Kubert (comics count, right? Right?). A new comics store just opened next door to the supermarket, so I bought it to support my local nerd-merchant, and really enjoyed it. If the last four parts had been as good as the first four, it would have been brilliant. But still, an enjoyable Sunday afternoon read.
posted by BitterOldPunk 10 November | 12:25
I'm reading 'Little Children' by Tom Perrotta, which I picked up for free in the book exchange at work. It's ok, a little bit Peyton Place-y, but a light read for the train and for 10 minutes before bed. I'm reading heavy stuff all day at work, so I stick to light stuff in my leisure and travel time.
posted by essexjan 10 November | 12:27
I'm currently in the middle of Kushiel's Scion which will get finished at some point. (It hangs out in my purse for any potential waiting moments.)

I've got Swallowing Darkness on my nightstand as a present to myself once I turn in/give this godawful presentation I've got on Thursday.

And then there's my textbook that I am currently 3 chapters and 1 article behind in for class. Yeah, I doubt that's going to get made up any time soon.
posted by sperose 10 November | 12:41
I'm about halfway through Breaking Dawn, which is eating my sanity (but the completionist in me demands that I finish the series). I seriously cannot take the emo-ing, although it's slightly better now that Bella's been vamped. (I will add that the first thing I did in my NaNo novel was write a character named Bella and then kill her off. Horribly.)

I'm about to start two books on Quakerism, George Fox's journal and one about how Quakers raise their kids. We'll see how far that goes.
posted by Fuzzbean 10 November | 12:57
Dashiell Hammett short stories, and that Mark Bowden book about the football game, and a Stanley Crouch anthology.
posted by box 10 November | 12:58
Bridge of Sighs, by Richard Russo. I know he'll never be considered a top-tier novelist because his books are filled with recognizable people doing understandable things in familiar places, a concept anathema to the circle-jerk pomo grandees who guard the gates of Literary Merit, but I think Russo writes circles around most other US novelists working today, and he does it in a clear, uncluttered, straightforward style that, as a wanna-be writer, I'd like to learn how to imitate.

Marry me.
posted by jonmc 10 November | 13:04
I still haven't gotten around to the last Richard Russo, but I will soon. He's the only current fiction writer that I love enough to read every book by. Mohawk and Risk Pool are two of my faves, and the Whore's Child is a fabulous collection of short stories.

He taught at Southern Illinois University when I was going there, and I had signed up for his fiction class based on the raves of a friend, but I was bumped out when my registration check did not clear in time. It was the only time I was ever late paying for registration. I figured I'd catch him the next semester, but he took a "brief hiatus" from teaching after that semester and never returned. As I read each of his books I became more bummed that I didn't get a chance to have him as a teacher, because he wrote in EXACTLY the style I was going for with my own writing. Of course, I didn't do it with even a fraction of his skill, but his was the delivery style I had been going for, which is why my friend was so insistent that I take his class.
posted by Slack-a-gogo 10 November | 13:21
BoringPostcards: I've read everything on the Rest Is Noise website and listened to lots of the audio on the site. I wasn't sure if maybe that was all I needed, or if I'd get anything out of the book. Part of me's afraid it'll confuse me more than enlighten me, but I think I'll take a shot.

The Ivers book was really damn good. Considering how little I knew about his life other than a paragraph's worth of bio. He seems like he was a fascinating guy, plus you get a look at those whose paths he crossed, including the National Lampoon founders, the early LA punk scene, David Lynch, Devo, and a seemingly endless and unrelated group of people from several different artistic communities and eras. I'd recommend it to people even if they nothing about his music or New Wave Theater.
posted by Slack-a-gogo 10 November | 13:27
I tell ya what I'm not reading, Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. I got it for my birthday. If any US-ian bunnies have a burning curiosity, memail or email me and I'll mail it to you. Read a few pages last night, and that's it.

I did read and enjoy Bridge of Sighs. Just finished The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt, that was ok. Three books checked out of the library today. It's soon time to start my next continuing ed self-study for work nightmare project, too.

Joyce Carol Oates has been spotty lately, but I devoured My Sister, My Love, her latest.

Also sitting out is a collection of plays by Sarah Ruhl.
posted by rainbaby 10 November | 15:32
I'm reading The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. I have to say I'm surprised by how many of the stories seem incredibly non-sequitur and kind of...insane to me. I've read The Optimist's Daughter at least twice and I love it so much, for its concision and sensitivity. I've read Why I Live at the PO and that's in this collection and it's still as great as ever, but man, some of the stories before and after it are completely opaque to me. I feel either stupid and Welty is highlighting it, or insane and Welty is enhancing it.
posted by birdie 10 November | 18:33
box: My dad mailed me the Bowden book, but I haven´t gotten around to reading it yet. Is it good?
posted by concrete 10 November | 18:51
Hickory Dickory Death by Agatha Christie, because the title was so hilarious.

Aside from that, mostly noir. I just took out In Cold Blood from the library, along with some of Capote's short stories, Auster's Leviathan, and the Border trilogy by Cormack McCarthy.
posted by klangklangston 10 November | 19:24
I'm not too far into it, concrete, but it's pretty good so far--the best book I've read about sports in a while. Here are a couple related pieces.
posted by box 10 November | 19:36
Ghost Stories and Mysteries by Sheridan LeFanu. Victorian tales of fops, lesbian vampires, and nasty fairies. Good stuff!
posted by Lentrohamsanin 10 November | 20:59
I just finished The Count of Monte Cristo and am simultaneously working on this and also started in on this series.

however, I must say that last is tending to cause me to pine for this guy.
posted by lonefrontranger 10 November | 23:35
I just reread J.K. Galbraith's Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went and Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine.
posted by arse_hat 11 November | 02:06
I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I'm currently reading Duma Key by Stephen King at the moment. I'd pretty much gone off his work because it had become too predictable, but this was one of my "buy a book at the airport newsagent on the way to the gate" buys. It's actually quite good, but nowhere near good enough for this company, obviously.
posted by dg 11 November | 15:19
oh quit that, dg. before I started Count of Monte Cristo, my most recent read was a turgid fantasy/romance novel from Jacqueline Carey.
posted by lonefrontranger 11 November | 15:40
Count me in with the quit it, dg. I'm back on the murder mysteries after a few literary novels. It's been a hard year, and the murder mysteries are pure escapism - processing fictional people's fucked up psychopathologies is far better than having to do it in the real world. So, I just finished a Ruth Rendell and started on a Colin Dexter while my to-be-read pile of acclaimed literature keeps growing and growing (due to the excellent book ranges of the charity shops near the bus stops I frequent). And I'm okay with that right now.
posted by goo 11 November | 16:42
I just finished most of the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters. After that was Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and now I'm reading Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
posted by deborah 12 November | 01:33
Paul of Dune, quite apropos for election season reading!

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posted by Lynsey 12 November | 17:20
Freeze Frame Photography. || Please enjoy these photos of "microminiature art"