Next Five Books, yo
(ugly and illegible Paint edition)


040) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, finished September 1

Finally! I'm not too late the zeitgeist!

The book's about everything you've heard. Even I, who never rush through books anymore, rushed through this book. Even I, who never stays up late in an attempt to finish a book, stayed up late attempting to finish a book last night.

The book is imperfect however. After the natural conclusion, Collins attempted to introduce a secondary climax which fizzled, though I suppose it may matter in later books. I hope it does.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH: My other major complaint is that none of the heroic characters are made to murder another heroic character. That was the great moral complexity the book promised but utterly failed to deliver on. And while I suppose that was nice, it does make me wonder if the author's nervous of going to the truly dark places. And if she's afraid to go there, where else will she be afraid of going?

Anyway, I'm planning on reading the other two as well. (It's great getting books from the school library before it opens for students.)

three days


039) Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There by Mark Di Vincenzo, finished August 28

Lately, trips to the inlaws have resulted in interesting library books to peruse. I read all the When-is-it-best-to questions and a goodly percentage of the answers. And ever since (it's been a couple days now) I've been quoting salient and worthwhile facts. I want to get a copy of this book and share all the education-related ones with my students and just to have on hand next time I'm thinking about buying a refrigerator.

And, incidentally, buy ketchup in May because it's cheapest then, not freshest. Whatever you might mean by fresh Heinz.

(More tips from Vince, only online.)

an afternoon and evening


038) Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut, finished August 25

Perhaps if this was your first Vonnegut book you might be suitably impressed, but otherwise you're apt to think, well, themes copied from this book and this books, narrative voice renewed from this book and this book.

So, in other words, not one of his best. But still enjoyable. Made me want to read Breakfast of Champions again since a) they share characters and b) I don't really remember it at all.

about a month


037) In the Void by Michael R. Collings, finished August 21

When I first read Michael Collings --- in Irreantum --- it was one of those rare moments when a poem opens up and speaks to me as reader as if written in the moment for my eyes. I doubt this has happened ten times in my life, but it does happen and this was such an experience.

So when he sent me a copy earlier this year (full disclosure) I was happy to dig in. Particularly because I believe "genre" poetry has potential and I've never really seen it done well.

And this book's full title is, after all, In the Void: Poems of Science Fiction, Myth and Fantasy, & Horror.

    Another example of opening poetry occurred shortly after my high-school graduation in the pages of The New Yorker --- a poem about a snowman by Sparrow. I later had more indepth experiences with Sparrow while carrying a Sun subscription and found him half bore, half blowhard. But, then again, no way he could live up to the mythologized late-adolescent experience he had catalyzed.
I've had a similar experience with this book. I have enjoyed it. I've found numerous poems I plan to introduce to my students. I had some laughs and I had some dark smiles. I can recommend the book without reservation. I did not lose myself and rediscover myself in a new country.

But it's not fair to expect that from every book --- even one written by someone who has reached those heights before. SO let me leave you with a snippet:
    ....to dine, to surfeit on web-wrapped parts— the crimson spider at their heart.
about four months


036) Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome, finished August 18

This I think, will be the final book I read on the Kindle before returning it. I downloaded it as a mobi from Gutenberg and it worked like a charm.

This book is the sequel to one of my all-time favorite books and while not as fully engaging as Three Men in a Boat, it was still mostly good. Some dry storyless patches in the middle where he just goes on and on about Germany (something he swore he would not do), but still worth a read.

What was heartbreaking though, was to read the Wikipedia article and learn that his companions in these two books, Harris and George, are not real. In fact, he had taken these vacations with his wife. I sputter impotently in disbelief. I wonder if Connie Willis knows.....

In the final chapters, his analysis of preWorld-Wars Germany is wonderful and delightful but also clearly primed for Nazis.

I wonder if this book is still as popular as it once was in German English-language classrooms and if so what the current generation thinks of the book.

Let's share a couple passages, shall we?

JKJ on being an early adopter:
    I agree in trying new experiments up to thirty-five; after thirty-five I consider a man is entitled to think of himself.
JKJ correctly predicts the new lingua franca:
    In the course of the century, I am inclined to think that Germany will solve her difficulty in this respect by speaking English. Every boy and girl in Germany, above the peasant class, speaks English. Were English pronunciation less arbitrary, there is not the slightest doubt but that in the course of a very few years, comparatively speaking, it would become the language of the world. All foreigners agree that, grammatically, it is the easiest language of any to learn. A German, comparing it with his own language, where every word in every sentence is governed by at least four distinct and separate rules, tells you that English has no grammar. A good many English people would seem to have come to the same conclusion; but they are wrong. As a matter of fact, there is an English grammar, and one of these days our schools will recognise the fact, and it will be taught to our children, penetrating maybe even into literary and journalistic circles. But at present we appear to agree with the foreigner that it is a quantity neglectable. English pronunciation is the stumbling-block to our progress. English spelling would seem to have been designed chiefly as a disguise to pronunciation. It is a clever idea, calculated to check presumption on the part of the foreigner; but for that he would learn it in a year.
JKJ on why Germans became the bane of the Twentieth Century:
    Their everlasting teaching is duty. It is a fine ideal for any people; but before buckling to it, one would wish to have a clear understanding as to what this "duty" is. The German idea of it would appear to be: "blind obedience to everything in buttons." It is the antithesis of the Anglo-Saxon scheme; but as both the Anglo-Saxon and the Teuton are prospering, there must be good in both methods. Hitherto, the German has had the blessed fortune to be exceptionally well governed; if this continue, it will go well with him. When his troubles will begin will be when by any chance something goes wrong with the governing machine.

perhaps a month perhaps less

Previously in 2010 . . . . :

035) Utah: Sex and Travel Guide by Calvin Grondahl, finished August 10
034) E Pluribus Unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon, finished August 9
033) The Complete Peanuts, 1971 to 1972 by Charles M. Schulz, finished August 6
032) I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, finished August 6
031) Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent, finished July 26
030) Servant of a Dark God by John Brown, finished July 21
029) Drink Me, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog by James Goldberg, finished June 9
028) Out of the Mount (tentative title) edited by Davey Morrison, finished June 8
027) Madman Boogaloo! by Mike Allred, Mike Baron, Bernie Mireault, Steve Rude; finished June 2
026) The Education of Robert Nifkin by Daniel Pinkwater, finished May 22
025) True Grit by Charles Portis, finished May 21
024) Old Man's War by John Scalzi, finished May 15
023) Pandora's Nightmare: Horror Unleashed, finished May 13
022) Anthem by Ayn Rand, finished May 11
021) Look! It's Jesus!: Amazing Holy Visions in Everyday Life by Harry Choron and Sandra Choron, finished May 9
020) Travels in the Scriptorium: A Novel by Paul Auster, finished May 5
019) Suburban Folklore by Steven Walters, finished May 4
018) The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall, finished April 30
017) Gracie: A Love Story by George Burns by George Burns, finished April 20
016) The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, finished April 15
015) Dispensation: Latter-Day Fiction edited by Angela Hallstrom, finished March 24
014) The Best American Comics 2009 edited by Charles Burns, finished March 22
013) Icon: A Hero's Welcome by Dwayne McDuffie and MD Bright, finished March 17
012) There's Treasure Everywhere by Bill Watterson, finished March 15
011) Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool. Finished right at midnight between March 13 and 14
010) Teen Titans: Year One by Amy Wolfram et al, finished March 7
009) The Complete Calvin and Hobbes, Book One by Bill Watterson, finished March 6
008) Apparition & Late Fictions: A Novella and Stories by Thomas Lynch, finished March 5
007) Stone Rabbit #1: BC Mambo by Erik Craddock, finished March 2
006) The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, finished February 23
005) Missile Mouse 2 by Jake Parker (MS POLICY), finished February 5
004) Heroes of the Fallen by David J. West, finished February 4
003) Still Life in Milford by Thomas Lynch, finished January 19
002) Rapunzel's Revenge by Hales Shannon Dean and Nathan, finished January 16
001) Mormoniana by Mormon Artists Group, finished January 13


  1. Did Lynsey not tell you that we brought all three of the HG books to your house along with tartlets?

  2. I'm with you on Collins not fulfilling the most interesting moral complexity in The Hunger Games by not having one of the main characters be required to kill the other... the big "Katniss-is-so-clever" moment with the berries just felt a little like a cop-out in some ways...

    Of course, of all the books I've devoured in recent days, that one made me stay up all night too. And I don't even like Katniss!

  3. .

    RC: We're trying to read them at the same time. Upsettingly, the hs library only has book one. So now she has to wait for me. (I'm on book two, page 142.)

    Conf: And the berry thing does seem to be paying off in book two. I'm still not so sure about that decision though.

  4. Ok, good. Just wanted to make sure they weren't lost. Because if they were, 'Spoza would Not Be Happy with me.

    Regarding moral complexity: Book 3 is significantly more complex, and I think you'll be more satisfied after reading it. Although I paid rather dearly in an emotional sense for that intellectual satisfaction.

  5. Glad you got IN THE VOID.

    My wife asked me just last night if I was going to pick up Hunger Games etc, and I said No because I hadn't read a review of it by anyone I trusted, convincing me to do so. Yours is the closest yet but not a deal breaker, I'll wait for your next review.

  6. .

    That's probably the right decision. I'm a little angry at the second book right now for yanking me around, but I won't pass final decision till Mockingjay.

  7. .

    [Edit: All the numbers were off. So I fixed them.]