Twenty-first Five Books of 2009


Warning: This is one of those book posts that's at least as much about me and my life as it is about the books.


105) Blindness by Jose Saramago, finished December 18
    I saw the tv ads for this movie when it was about to come out. Here's something from the same advertising campaign:

    I saw that it was based on a book, saw that the book was written by a Nobel Prize winner, saw that it had an awesome cover, I saw I saw I saw.

    Ah, how seeing seems to natural, like such a given.

    How lucky we are.

    Of all the postapocalyptic fiction I've read this year, the epidemic of blindness felt most like something that could happen to me.

    I added this book to my wish list last year shortly before Christmas and Ceila and Matt bought it for me. Then I lost it (which is to say, Lady Steed stuck it on a shelf somewhere) for about half the year.

    Had I picked this book up in a bookstore, I probably would not have bought it. Long long paragraphs with minimal punctuation tend to turn me off as obnoxious pretentious and hard to read. And it did slow my reading, to be sure. But, it ends up, Saramago had a solid reason for writing the book this way (though you're unlikely to guess the reason until about fifty pages before the end) and even without that solid reason, the uncertainty it gives accurately echoes the characters' blindness --- without proper tags and paragraphing it can be very hard to tell one voice from another,

    I've heard pretty middling things about the movie (and it certainly wasn't in theaters very long), but this clip has made me put it back on my to-see list:

    The book, however, should be on your to-read list no matter what. I can see why there is this love for this writer. Which thing I did not know before I started carrying around one of his books. It's a good way to meet people. You should try it.

    half a year, give or take

104) Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson, finished DATE

    The back of the bookmark.

    This is the back of the bookmark that was in Hell's Angels. I've read all those books since we moved here. And as I think about it, I realize that I read the first five the summer of 2007, finished the sixth (I had just been using the dustjacket flaps, but when i got serious about finishing it, hello bookmark), and started this book. This book I picked up free at a library giveaway and I enjoyed Thompson's tales of hanging with the Hell's Angels in my town. Fascinating account. Good read and I recommend it.

    At first, I was going through the book quite quickly. It was the latest book to be kept in the Lapper's door pocket. And then the Lapper's health plummeted. Then we bought a new car. And so the book-I-read-in-the-Lapper became neglected. In fact, if the Lapper hadn't refused to start last Monday after a union meeting in Richmond, it might still be unfinished. As it ended up though, I had some time.

    One aspect of keeping track of books, for me, is the journalistic component. And while I could say much more about this book, for me, it's story is the story of the paperback's life with me. (Question begged: the book was forty years old when it got to me --- where else has it gone, what else has it done?)

    about two and a half years

103) The Best of Mormonism 2009 edited by Stephen Carter, finished December 13
    My earlier review still basically holds now that I've finished the book. I did love the essay on nothing, but my overall impression of to many essays holds. Not because they weren't good, but because I get tired of essays. Read also my interview with the editor.

    couple weeks

102) Missile Mouse by Jake Parker, finished December 11
    Incredibly, I haven't written my Fob Comics review for this. It's percolating. And then I intend to write a longer version for Fantasy Magazine. But for such a seemingly simple story, I'm having a hard time getting my mind around what I need to say. I have a mental outline, but that is all. The main point is that it's good and enjoyable and I recommend it highly if you're looking for an adventure comic for your kids. I'll post links when I get more indepth elsewhere.

    about three days

101) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, finished December 3
    When I was in high school it seemed like the high-fantasy illustrations of the Hildebrandt brothers were about the hottest thing around. But based on these illustrations, I don't really get it.

    I also don't get what the big deal is with Baum's text. There must've not been much competition back in the day because it's not that great.

    We read it because a house around the block does a big Wizard of Oz display for Halloween each year so the Big O asked to read it. I read probably 75% and Lady Steed the other 25 and the kids enjoyed it. In fact, the Big O remembers it far better than most stories we've read. So maybe its weak literary merit and problematic ethos matter less than being "fun" and "exciting".

    Anyway, now he wants to read A Christmas Carol again, so that'll be fun. Maybe he's old enough to sit still for it this year? He did for Baum. Dickens shall be the test.

    twenty-three days



the first five, 1-5
the second five, 6-10
the third five, 11-15
the fourth five, 16-20
the fifth five, 21-25
the sixth five, 26-30
the seventh five, 31-35
the eighth five, 36-40
the ninth five, 41-45
the tenth five, 46-50
the eleventh five, 51-55
the twelfth five, 56-60
the thirteenth five, 61-65
the fourteenth five, 66-70
the fifteenth five, 71-75
the sixteenth five, 76-80
the seventeenth five, 81-86
the eighteenth five, 86-90
the nineteenth five, 91-95
the twentieth five, 96-100


  1. I used to wear a black leather biker jacket in my teens. I got called a "hood" once by a nice old lady in my ward because of it.

    Anyway, on one occasion some bikers passing through town started to talking to me as if I was a "brother" I didn't understand half of the slang they used so before too terribly long I went and found Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson.

    I was not familiar with him before this, it just happened to be the first book I found that looked like it could teach me something new on the subject. I have since becom a fan of Thompson for his irreverant absurdism.

  2. .

    So you've become a fan of the gonzo, then?

  3. As much as a non-drinking, non-tripping Mormon can yes. He makes me laugh in pieces like-The Kentucky Derby is Depraved and Decadent. Lot of stories and essay's in Great Shark Hunt.

  4. .

    I think a collection of his shorter work would be the next place for me.