11th Five Books, 2010



055) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, finished December 2 and 3

When I started teaching Romeo and Juliet to 14yrolds I was sick up to here with R&J's silliness. I could sell it fine, but srsly, whatta bunch a young idiots our lovebirds are. (Which is exactly why you have to experience R&J as a teenager.)

I'm happy to say now that after a year off, this return to R&J was thoroughly enjoyable. I loved it. Yes, they're numbskulls, but living among their peers as I do, I could appreciate the charm thereof.

One other comment: the more I read a Shakespeare play, the fewer passages I don't understand. With Romeo and Juliet however, practically ever passage I understand for the first time . . . is about sex. This doesn't surprise me, yet somehow I am surprised.

For your edification, test your own knowledge of Romeo and Juliet: Quiz Key



054) The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry, finished November 27

This little book is charming and consistently smily if rarely laughy and while the ending is unlikely and overly convenient, it does involve a ton of frozen bat poop which keeps it from getting saccharine.

It's also very short --- just over a hundred pages and loaded with retro photos and ads from the 50s and 60s.

You'll likely enjoy it. I did.

two sittings


053) Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis, finished November 25

Wallis is an Athabaskan herself who has spent time living off the land, so she's uniquely qualified to tell this story of two old women, abandoned by their starving tribe in the midst of winter's famine.

The two old gripers left alone in the dead of winter above the Arctic Circle find forgotten reserves inside themselves and turn certain death into a bestselling adventure story.

The writing of this book is a bit pedestrian but the story is quite enjoyable and at under 150 text-light pages certainly worth your time. It'll take you to a world I'd only really ever experienced through a dog before,White Fang and leave you with enough to think about if that's what you desire --- if not, just enjoy the adventure.

two or possibly three days depending on how you count


052) Fish Stick Knife Gun by Jamar Nicholas from Geoffrey Canada's memoir, finished November 18

Read about it on Fob Comics:

two days


051) Hamlet by William Shakespeare, finished November 17

I'm getting too old for Hamlet. And reading it twice a year is getting to me. It's hard to call it the best thing ever written in the English language anymore.

May be time to try King Lear again. Clearly I am old. I've outgrown identification with Romeo and now I'm outgrowing my identification with Hamlet. After Lear, I suppose I'll be done with this life.

I'm too young!

under two weeks

Previously in 2010 . . . . :

050) Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, finished November 4
049) Legal Action Comics Volume 1 edited by "Dirty" Danny Hellman, October 29
048) The Atomics: Spaced Out & Grounded in Snap City! by people who are mostly not Mike Allred, finished October 28
047) The Trial by Frank Kafka, Chantal Montellier, David Sane Mairowitz; finished October 21
046) NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, finished October 6
045) Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, finished October 4
044) Song/Cycles by Mormon Artists Group, finished Sept. 15
043) The Complete Peanuts 1973-1974 by Charles M. Schulz, finished September 6
042) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, finished September 5
041) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, finished September 2
040) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, finished September 1
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
038) Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut, finished August 25
037) In the Void by Michael R. Collings, finished August 21
036) Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome, finished August 18
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. I've rarely been more angry than I was when my GRADUATE LEVEL master's seminar on Shakespeare spent three days on Hamlet. THREE DAYS! As though we all hadn't been forced to study it before! And THEN our professor had the nerve to tell us that we weren't telling him anything new about it. Made me want to sock him.

    Also, made me think him to be tremendously lazy: seriously. A bunch of master's students taking Shakespeare want to go over the LESSER KNOWN plays. Titus Andronicus. A Winter's Tale. Measure for Measure. All of which are, incidentally, far more interesting to discuss than Hamlet.

    (I almost laid my head on the table and cried the first day of discussion when he said, "Now do we think that Hamlet is TRULY crazy?")

  2. .

    Yeah. We cover that in high school.

  3. Well, you know. You could read MY version of Hamlet again and pick out all the little digs I threw at him.

  4. .

    I'm sure I will someday.

  5. Last night, we went to see BYU's production of Romeo&Juliet. I actually really enjoyed it. The actors who played the titular roles were so childlike that I was surprised to learn that they were college students. I laughed heartily at their antics throughout the first half (the balcony scene had a few pause-for-laughter moments), and the second half (which, in the productions I've seen previously, is usually filled with Juliet screaming and crying and talking unintelligibly) wasn't as painful as I remember it being (I mean, it is a tragedy, so it's sad and all, but I mean it wasn't tediously overwrought). I actually find that the old I get, the more I like R&J because I gain that, "Yeah, I remember when I was young and idiotically 'in love' all the time" perspective that allows me to sit back and enjoy the show. As a freshman in high school, I thought Romeo and Juliet spoke in beautiful, profound, and deeply moving love poems; after my mission, I was embarrassed that I was I so ridiculous and immature; now I smile and sigh and think, "Ah, young love--GOOD RIDDANCE!"