Books read while travelling


Three weeks on the road. Five books finished. Many books started but unfinished for various reasons (nephew returned it to the library, competition with kids, Pratchett audiobook proved to have more familywide appeal*, just never finished it alas). But it was a week of great variety and this is how it went:


080) The Novel by James C. Michener, finished July 12

Having grown fatigued of The Man, I replaced it with my first time reading a Michener novel. Luckily, I generally ignore blurbs until after reading a book because the ones on this were darn misleading. All the calls for adventure and thrills were . . . not exactly so. Perhaps out of context? I don't know.

I'm not sure what is the novel referred to in the title. At first I thought it was Lukas Yoder's eight novel as that is what the first section of the book---written in Yoder's voice---is about. But it doesn't even get mentioned in the second section starring his longtime editor. Maybe THE NOVEL is about the concept of the novel?
Some kind of platonic ideal? I'm not sure.

So the novel is broken into four sections. Writer, Editor, Critic, Reader. Each is narrated by such a person. Each narrator has his or her own motivations and concerns.
It does come together as a single, cohesive work with plot and everything! in the final section, but those aspects are also some of the most clunky in terms of the actual writing.

I found it most fruitful to read The Novel as an intellectual memoir in metaphorical form. Yoder, in this reading, is both an idealized version of Michener and a confession of what many of his contemporaries dismissed about him. It's hard to read this book and not think about the $30 million dollars he put up to endow the creative writing program in Austin. The book both defends the stodgy old and celebrates the daring new. It's various sections allow Michener to write both to a popular audience and to an audience of elites (though I don't know if the latter accepted his feelers).

It seems to me that UT MFA candidates should read this book. It's not great---it's not pushing me in the direction of more Michener novels (which, after all, on average are much longer than this one)---but it does intrigue. It certainly has made me question decisions I have made in my own writing over my unsuccessful years....
about than four months


079) Dodger by Terry Pratchett, finished July 11

Like Nation, this is a standalone novel for younger readers.
Like Nation, it takes place between a hundred and two ago. Like Nation, it features brilliantly conceived young protagonists. Like Nation, it's absolutely terrific.

Here's the gist: Dodger, a seventeen-year-old tosher (one who makes his living searching the sewers of London for lost valuables) saves a girl from being murdered which sets off a sequence of events that catapults him through all layers of society.

It's Pratchett-smart stuff and, listening to it, I kept thinking how tailer-made it is for BBC adaptation. It takes place in Victorian England. It features a wide variety of fascinating sets from the grimiest to the most glamorous (and all the people to match). It has fish-out-of-water. It has the opportunity for Sherlock-like "thinking." It even has some upstairs/downstairs stuff! And if all that wasn't enough, it also features all sorts of cameos historical (Charles Dickens,
Queen Victoria) and fictional (Sweeney Todd).

Were it up to me, I would ask Edgar Wright to take on this task, though I imagine more people would think first of Guy Ritchie. But it doesn't have to be someone with a movie background, of course.
It just can't be the people who've been making the BBC's Discworld nonsense.
about ten days


078) Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike by Lincoln Peirce, finished July 10

If it wasn't for Big Nate and the Wimpy Kid, would boys read? I honestly do not know.

I feel obliged to read some Wimpy Kid, but haven't been able to talk myself into more than a few pages. Big Nate (the strip, not the Wimpy Kid-style books) is an easier sale. It's a smart strip, consistently funny. In that respect, it can stand proudly alongside the greats like Peanuts or Calvin and Hobbes. However,
Big Nate doesn't have much to say beyond that. In other words, it has daily quality, but it does not have the broad years-wide quality of the greats.

This is not a knock. It's a good strip and good on Peirce for making money.

Fine book. I'm surprised I got through it though considering how many boys my reading was in competition with....
two days


077) Living Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson, finished July 7

This is a wonderful book. Like most people, I know Jackson best through "The Lottery" and one or two of her novels, but I also know the Charlie essay and so I got this collection for Lady Steed this Christmas, with the plan I would read it after her.

Lady Steed loved it. At first. And it never stopped being funny, but the way Jackson captures the oppression of being a mother was stressful for her to read.

From a professional standpoint, two things to observe. One, how she takes disparate essays published separately and turns them into one whole. Two, how well she uses adverbs in tags, something every writing teacher will tell you can't be done. But instead of being redundant or insulting the reader's intelligence or becoming swifties, Jackson's sly and ironic usage is like a secondary punchline---almost a parallel storytelling. It's quite something. She is a master humorist. Even if that's not how we remember her best.
not sure, but not that many days of actual reading time, most of them centered in the last couple weeks


076) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, finished June 30?

Of the books I downloaded for our trip, this is the one the kids chose to listen to first.

It's been a looong time since I've visited Narnia, so although the plot of the book was familiar to me, but of the rest was newly seen through an adult's eyes. For instance: the symbolism is actually quite heavyhanded. And the narrative voice has the sort of charm I know best, these days, as parodied by Lemony Snicket---but without the moralistic excesses Snicket is inoculating us against.

In the end, I enjoyed it. I expect I would still now, as then, prefer the standalone books (The Horse and His Boy and The Silver Chair), but I don't deny its classic status.
three or four days ish

Previously in 2017

72 – 75
075) Norse Mythology by Neil Gaimain, finished June 19
074) Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt, finished June 16
073) Wyrms by Orson Scott Card, finished June 15
072) Cairo by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker, finished June 13

68 – 71
071) Abstract City by Christoph Niemann, finished June 9
070) The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple, finished June 8
069) Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, finished June 5
068) Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, finished June 1

64 – 67
067) One Minute till Bedtime selected by Kenn Nesbitt, finished May 30
066) The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder, finished May 25
065) Wonder Woman: A Celebration of 75 years by (various), finished May 24
064) Leiathan with a Hook by Kimberly Johnson, finished May 12

60 – 63
063) Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, finished May 10
062) Cover by Peter Mendelsund, finished May 10
061) Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia, finished May 8
060) Age of Reptiles Omnibus, Vol. 1 by Ricardo Delgado, finished May 4

57 – 59
059) Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, finished May 1
058) Little Tommy Lost: Book One by Cole Closser, finished April 28
057) Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett, finished April 24

53 – 56
056) Angel Catbird (vol. one) by Margaret Atwood, et al., finished April 21
055) The Dinner Club by Curtis Taylor, finished April 21
054) The Hotel Cat by Esther Averill, finished April 17
053) A Field Guide to Awkward Silences by Alexandra Petri, finished April 9

48 – 52
052) The Ghost by Robert Harris, finished April 7
051) Injection, Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis & Jordie Bellaire & Declan Shalvey, finished April 7
050) Letters to a Young Mormon by Adam Miller, finished April 2
049) Fences by August Wilson, finished March 30
048) Art Ops Vol. 2: Popism by Shaun Simon and a crapton of artists including a panoply of Allreds, finished March 29

44 – 47
047) The Natural by Bernard Malamud, finished March 28
046) Let Me Drown with Moses by James Goldberg, finished March 26
045) Kaptara Volume 1: Fear Not, Tiny Alien by Chip Zdarsky and Kagan McLeod, finished March 25
044) The Big Book of Exit Strategies by Jamaal May, finished March 22

40 – 43
043) Casanova: Acedia Volume 1 by Matt Fraction and Fábio Moon and Michael Chabon and Gabriel Bá, finished March 18
042) Wolfie & Fly by Cary Fagan, finished March 15
041) Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab by Dave Dwonch and Anna Lencioni, finished March 13
040) An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen, finished March 10

36 – 39
039) Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, finished March 9
038) In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary, finished March 5
037) Ritual and Bit by Robert Ostrom, finished March 3
036) Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman, finished March 3

33 – 35
035) Under Brushstrokes by Hedy Habra, finished February 24
034) Rapture by Sjohnna McCray, finished February 20
033) The Destroyer in the Glass by Noah Warren, finished February 19

29 – 32
032) Old Boy, Vol. 8 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 18
031) Ms. Marvel Vol. 6: Civil War II by G. Willow Wilson et al, finished February 18
030) White Sand by Brandon Sanderson & Rik Hoskin & Julius Gopez, finished February 18
029) Honest Engine by Kyle Dargan, finished February 17

24 – 28
028) Best American Comics 2016 edited by Roz Chast, finished February 16
027) Old Boy, Vol. 7 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 16
026) Old Boy, Vol. 6 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 12
025) Old Boy, Vol. 5 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 11
024) Old Boy, Vol. 4 by Garon Tsuchiya & Nobuaki Minegishi, finished February 10

19 – 23
023) Ms. Marvel Vol. 5: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson & Takeshi Miyazawa, finished February 9
022) Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Last Days by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, finished February 7
021) Ms. Marvel Vol. 3: Crushed by G. Willow Wilson & Takeshi Miyazawa & Elmo Bondoc, finished February 7
020) Ms. Marvel Volume 2: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson & Jacob Wyatt & Adrian Alphona, finished February 6
019) Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, finished February 5

14 – 18
018) Curses by Kevin Huizenga, finished February 4
017) Precious Rascals by Anthony Holden, finished January 31
015 & 016) Anthem by Ayn Rand, finished January 31
014) Old Boy, Vol. 3 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, finished January 30

9 – 13
013) On Jupiter Place by Nicholas Christopher, finished January 30
012) Old Boy, Vol. 2 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, finished January 29
011) Old Boy, Vol. 1 by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, finished January 28
010) Summerlost by Ally Condie, finished January 27
009) Heat Wake by Jason Zuzga, finished January 24

4 – 8
008) How the End Begins by Cynthia Cruz, finished January 19
007) Delinquent Palaces by Danielle Chapman, finished January 19
006) Pilot by pd mallamo, finished January 19
005) Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, finished January 16
004) I Hate Fairyland Volume 1: Madly Ever After by Skottie Young et al, finished January 14

1 – 3
003) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, finished January 12
002) F in Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson, finished January 10
001) States of Deseret by William Morris, finished January 10


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final booky posts of
2016 = 2015 = 2014 = 2013 = 2012 = 2011 = 2010 = 2009 = 2008 = 2007

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