October 12, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Book Blather, Challenges | 2 Comments

Did you ever bite off more than you could chew

Wondering what you were going to do?

Did you really think that somehow you could read

8519 pages, this year, at any speed?

Much less in 34 days, the scheduled date

When challengers compare how they did rate?

At this point, my spirits are sinking

Though I double-checked: I was not drinking;

Still I wonder, what was I thinking?

It’s the Too Big to Ignore Anymore Challenge, and for some reason I forgot it was due before Thanksgiving.  I had it all scheduled out to finish by New Year’s.  It actually works out to 250 pages a day.  What do you think are my odds?

Week in Review

October 12, 2009 at 9:04 am | Posted in Book Blather, Fiction, Nonfiction | 2 Comments

In my dreams, I review every book I read.  In practice, it just ain’t gonna happen.  This isn’t so much a review blog as a blog about reading, as you’ve probably figured out by now because my reviews are lame.  So if you’re following my quest to read 500 books this year, here’s a taste from last week, my heaviest reading week of the year so far.  Notice that after nine months of heavy slogging, I’ve decided to indulge in some graphic novels.

Seven Days in the Art World – Sarah Thornton.  A brilliant, gossipy account of the world of fine art, something I knew little about.

Poetry as Insurgent Art – Lawrence Ferlinghetti.  I’ve been wanting to read more Beat poetry ever since I read The Beats a few months ago, and this satisfied.

Silverfish – David Lapham.  A tightly plotted, breathlessly paced graphic novel.  I love noir and I’ve enjoyed Lapham’s work before.

Evil at Heart – Chelsea Cain.  You know there was no hope passing this one up.  I threw off my whole week’s schedule because I couldn’t wait.

The Waxman Report – Henry Waxman.  How Congress Really Works.  Fascinating.  It would be cool to read similar books from a range of Congress people and their different perspectives.

The Magician’s Elephant – Kate DiCamillo.  It’s getting closer to the holidays and I’m auditioning children’s books for my tribe of young relations.  Beautifully illustrated.

The Known World – Edward P. Jones.  This is probably one of the best of all the Pulitzers.  Jones has this way of putting a character’s entire life story in one sentence of ordinary length.  A strange and intriguing book.

Low Moon – Jason.  I love Jason’s work, and Low Moon was probably my favorite so far.  There’s that blend of simple anthropomorphic cartoon with dark, ironic humor and stories that resonate long after reading.

Witch Baby – Francesca Lia Block.  If I got a tattoo it would say Weetzie Bat.  Everyone should read the Weetzie Bat books.

Juliet, Naked – Nick Hornby.  Nick Hornby!  Need I say more?

Local – Brian Wood & Ryan Kelly.  Graphic novel done right.  This is an innovative book with stunning artwork and a moving storyline.

Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli.   My posse of teenagers told me  I had to read this one, and they were right.  I just found out today that there’s a sequel, and I’ll be picking that up too.

The Store – T. S. Stribling.  Next in the Pulitzer list.  I found out this was second in a trilogy, and I shrugged it off because I wasn’t able to get the first or third books locally for less than $40 each.  Now that I’ve read it, I wish I had access to them, because this was a great potboiler of a story.  It’s a follow-the-money saga with everything from arson to incest to keep the pages turning.

The Freedom Manifesto – Tom Hodgkinson.  This guy cracks me up.  He promotes an “idle” lifestyle while working harder than anyone I can think of, publishing and running a sort of homestead in Britain.  He’s also prodigiously well read and he quotes everyone under the sun.

Lamb in His Bosom – Caroline Miller.  The next Pulitzer.  It’s about a pioneer family in the Georgia/Florida area prior to the Civil War.  Tearjerker!

Now in November – Josephine Johnson.  If you want to read an early Pulitzer winner, read this one.  It’s the first one to have been written in the first person, and it’s also the first to feel like a modern novel.  It packs a punch.

Fred the Clown – Roger Langridge.  This is subversive genius.  Langridge demonstrates his ability to draw in every style, and crack jokes from every period of comedic history.

Idiot America – Charles P. Pierce.  I’ve been hungering for nonfiction lately – I find it much easier to read than fiction and I certainly learn more.  Pierce’s dryly cynical wit had me laughing so loud the dog got out of my lap.

Honey in the Horn – H. L. Davis.  Possibly the greatest Western epic ever told, and certainly deserving of its Pulitzer.  Davis is quite droll, and he has a way of brushing by an anecdote in a short paragraph that could be a novel in its own right.  It’s a bit lewd, too.  This book should stay in print forever.

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