10) The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, finished February 7
- Sometimes I wish I had some notion how many times Lady Steed and I have been through this book together. But that might just make me read it for the wrong reasons. Anyway, we finished it again last night and that always makes me sad. Because the last writer--Moroni--is my favorite. And the first writer--Nephi--is my least. And now we're back on Nephi. Hhhhh. Hi, Nephi.
9) Lisey's Story by Stephen King, finished February 1
- People coming into our house for the first time are often heard to ask, "So...which one of you is the Stephen King fan?" The question is a funny one because although we do indeed own quite a few of his books, [Lady Steed] has read only one short story collection and On Writing (both of which she liked) but no novels. Me, I've read those two, his other nonfiction book, various odds and ends and Bag of Bones. I purchased Bag of Bones because the first chapter was available on Amazon back when it was released and the book took a grip on my mind that wouldn't let go until I found the book on remainder and bought it and read it. And although it was a good book, he botched the ending. But the book's virtues kept me from dismissing him outright as I did Dean Koontz when he not merely botched but totally sucked up the ending to Dragon Tears. ¶ Last year I listened to Cell on cd during my commute and although I had maintained a high (if not totally supported) opinion of King, this book cemented it for me. It was brutal and frightening yet each twist in the plot was not just laying it on (as the saying goes), but peeling back another layer of the human soul and exposing us for what we pray we are not. I was angry at the ending, but I do think it was the proper ending and that giving me what I wanted would have been a mistake. ¶ I first heard about Cell the first time I heard about Lisey's Story. King said he was working on two books, one was populist (Cell) and one was more ambitious (Lisey). I'm always suspicious of someone deciding which of their books are the artistic ones, and I was so impressed by Cell that I was leery of Lisey's. But I picked it up at the library (first library book of the year to make the list) and I read it and it was beautiful. ¶ One thing I particularly like about Stephen King is his membership in the Nonce Club, along with Shakespeare, me and Lewis Carrol, we Noncers celebrate language by growing it, by coining words left and right and loving them and incorporating them. And King is a master at this. I can't think of an artsyfartsy who is his superior. And Lisey's is a treasure trove of words. If you love language, consider Lisey. ¶ I could wax lengthy over this book, but I won't. I do not want to say much more about the plot or characters or settings than to say it is the story of a wife mourning her celebrated husband and recreating the past in order to move forward. (Incidentally, this books is loaded with flashback which King has explicitly called not his kind of writing. I guess every rule has its exception.) In the process, she--- ¶ No. I'm sorry. I really can't say anything about this book other than it is written well and even if snotfaces like Harold Bloom dismiss King unread, I think his popularity can only be a positive indication that we reading masses still maintain some taste. Good for us.
roughly one week
8) The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, finished January 26
- First, after reading the short author bio at the end of my old paperback (purchased two summers ago from the San Francisco library when we were hanging with the Fobs), I really want to read a 600-pager about Dash Hamm. What a life! And this Sam Spade adventure wasn't too bad either. It wasn't all the fancy I had been led to expect, but the ending made up for all the doubts I harbored along the way--even if Spade namechecks San Quentin instead of Tehachapi, like he did in the movie.
two or three weeks
7) Empire by Orson Scott Card, finished January 24
- Card's new book had not been demanding me to read it, but then 'sposita lent me her copy and so I added it to my list. Then I accidentally checked a book out of the library, and so I zipped Empire to the top of my list so I could read it and still have time to get that book back to the library without punishment. ¶ First impression: Empire felt rushed. This is the same impression Shadow Puppets gave me when I first read it. With Empire though, there was excellent reason to rush. The book begins with an assassination of the president on June 13, 2008--wait too long, and the book's already in the past. In fact, it's already showing signs of age: the book presumes a Republican majority in the House in 2008. Not likely. ¶ I'm not saying the book is lousy. But when you are Orson Scott Card, the expectations are high. And this book couldn't meet them. Which isn't too say the message is not worthy of debate--I certainly say it is--but the book is a message book and fine though it is, not compelling enough for me to recommend. ¶ Also--what's up with the terrible covers OSC's books always get? I'm under the impression he likes them, but man. Why?
6) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, finished January 22
- I bought a signed copy of this book from the BYU Bookstore years ago and inscribed it to Lady Steed for what are, to us, obvious reasons. Her husband simply could not not buy her this book. The content is almost incidental. ¶ Having now finally gotten around to reading the book myself, the story seems an important metaphor for our lives. When I was getting into her, I knew that this woman would make my life so much more fun and interesting and worth living. And when people learned she was marrying me, they warned: "You're marrying Theric? Well. Your life will certainly be . . . interesting . . . ." ¶ In fact, instead of emphasizing those aspects of each other, we seem to bring out the other's boring, making us, to date, the third most boring couple west of the Continental Divide. ¶ As for the book, it is good. I couldn't see how Spinelli was going to manage to come up with a decent ending, but he nailed it and I was impressed. Perhaps he deserves his Mars-sized reputation. I'll have to read another one.
just under a month
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