Sixth Five Books of 2007


Cover by Edward Gorey

30) Devils & Demons edited by Marvin Kaye, finished April 23
    Whoo. I've been working on this book a long, long time. But it was worth it. The last couple stories (read tonight) were quite nice and although the book had its share of fallflats, as a whole, I quite enjoyed it. Of particular note are Robert Block's "Enoch" and Earl Godwin's "Daddy"--the latter is the first tale to be added to my collection of truly impactful short fiction (upon me) in many a long year. And one of only two since my mission ended a decade ago. ¶ I suppose one should be shocked to know that this book has spent most of the current millennium off and on my nightstand--no doubt the last bit of proof that I am a lost soul indeed--but why? I think the modern American spends too much time mollycoddling himself, pretending the world is beautiful and fair. Which, speaking again of the latter, it most certainly is not. Using fiction to examine the horrors that live in our minds and that are symptomatic of this life is helpful I think. Now. Who wants to go see The Host with me?
    coming up on four years

Talk Talk Talk

29) Talk Talk Talk: Decoding the Mysteries of Speech by Jay Ingram, finished April 23
    This book is a nice 101 in linguistics. It hits on a multitude of topics with just enough depth to feel you've really learned something--unless it's a topic you've already studied. Fortunately (actually, unfortunately), I have not studied much in the field and thus I was rarely frustrated by long strings of information I already knew. ¶ In addition to the book's many merits, it was also fascinating to read a book that was so unabashedly . . . Canadian. The book was researched and written by a Canadian radio personality and assumes a Canadian audience (ex: "If you had been born in Italy instead of Canada....") which made the book extra delightful to be, due to my irrational love of all things Canada. ¶ Recommended to people interested in creoles, Freudian slips, tip-of-the-tongues, Spoonerisms, Proto-Indo-European, Neanderthal larynxes, interrupting, strokes, wild children, Noam Chomsky, positron emission tomography, the Tower of Babel, Martian, Koko the gorilla, Wernicke's area, Margaret Thatcher, aphasias, speaking in tongues, and, of course, Canada. ¶ Unless you've already a master's degree in the field.
    month and a half

In Austria, the genius sleeps tonight.

28) Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman, finished April 20
    I don't know what I was expecting. Something less beholden to the title? A more indepth look at Einstein's actual conclusions? Pizza? Don't know, but Einstein's Dreams was not what I was expecting. Which isn't to say I didn't enjoy it. The series of dreams reminded me at times of novel-length looks at single visions of time such as Timequake and Thief of Time, or of the Mormon doctrine of God's timeless time, but this book ran through vision after vision with a rapidity that led to a completely different aesthetic experience. ¶ The dreams were not all the same, though the writing was consistent. Some were intellectual exercises, some were beautiful prose poems heartrending and tragic--or sweet and warm--and deeply human. ¶ I can understand why this book has been a touchstone for so many people. After all, it's a pretty good read. With physics.
    fewer than twenty-four hours

The Long Chalkboard by a husband-and-wife team

27) The Long Chalkboard: and Other Stories by Jennifer Allen and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, finished April 19
    From the outside, this looks like a picture book for grownups, and I think that's an apt description. Flip it open, and it looks like a collection of New Yorker cartoons. Read it and it's a nice little collection of three entirely pleasant short stories--one about a giant chalkboard, one about a pair of feuding children's book writers, one about a talented maker of chili. ¶ The book is an excellent example of how words and pictures can play together and one of the most effortlessly mainstream examples of comics I've ever seen. ¶ Check your library.
    about seven hours

Sinclair Lewis as Babbitt

26) Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, finished April 19
    Babbitt has had the bad luck of constantly getting misplaced and reshelved without invitation, which is part of the reason it has taken me so long to read. The other reason is this: it's not demanding. ¶ When Babbitt came out it was a big success and created a new archetype for America to recognize and immediately accept.... Or at least that's true according to the afterword in my copy. ¶ Anyway, good book. It's surprising that I can say that so readily about a book about a boring guy who does boring things, but it's true. It is. ¶ The book isn't much of a novel when you take it apart--it's really a 300-page character sketch. And watching Babbitt finding new ways to be unhappy...maybe I enjoyed it as much as I did because I spent well over a year reading it. ¶ Anyway, it's a classic, so you can get it cheap.
    coming up on two years


25) Frank by Jim Woodring, finished April 12
24) The Complete Concrete by Paul Chadwick, finished April 3
23) The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde, finished March 30
22) Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, finished March 28
21) Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller et al, finished March 23
20) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, finished March 16
19) Batman: Gothic by Grant Morrison et al, finished March 13
18) Wild at Heart by John Eldredge, finished March 7
17) Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid by Megan McDonald, finished March 7
16) 50 Professional Scenes for Student Actors: A Collection of Short 2 Person Scenes by Garry Michael Kluger, finished March 6
15) Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda, finished March 5
14) Frindle by Andrew Clements, finished March 1
13) Brain Wave by Poul Anderson, finished February 27
12) The Best American Comics 2006 edited by Harvey Pekar and Anne Elizabeth Moore, finished February 26
11) Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, finished February 15
10) The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ edited by Mormon and Moroni, finished February 7
9) Lisey's Story by Stephen King, finished February 1
8) The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, finished January 26
7) Empire by Orson Scott Card, finished January 24
6) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, finished January 22
5) Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh, finished January 17
4) Superman Adventures Vol. 1: Up, Up and Away! by Mark Millar, finished January 16
3) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, finished January 12
2) Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud, finished January 11
1) Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut, finished January 10


  1. I own Einstein's Dreams, but I haven't read it yet. I enjoyed the quirkiness of Timequake. I actually have an idea for a story based on changing time but I'm still working out what the rules are that the concept will have to sit within. It's fun to think about.

  2. .

    It is. And getting the rules straight can be tricky. Good luck!

  3. Gosh, I need to read more.

    And quit freaking reading blogs! Or emailing! GAH! Seeing your list of books here makes me hang my head in shame that I haven't read a good book in AGES! AND I used to work at a bookstore------in fact, 2 different ones!