the time to read them...

Books I have read. More for me than for you, but I guess that depends on who you are. If you stalk me, than this will probably be more useful for you than me.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

company by max barry

Max Barry is one of my favorite authors and this is his new book. He is amazing. You should read this. I just got my copy. He writes hilarious corporate American satire. If you've enjoyed Christopher Buckley, Carl Hiaasen, or Tom Robbins (says my friend Matt) you will like this. If you like news and funny, you will like this. If you don't really like the news, but like funny and like to have a social commentary position, you will like this. If you really hate big corporations, you will like this.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye

I Kissed Dating Goodbye: A New Attitude Toward Relationships And Romance by Joshua Harris

I had heard about this book as part of Christian contemporary culture but also as part of some Quirkyalone type thing. It's generalized thesis--"You shouldn't date and you shouldn't feel bad about not dating because dating is lame." very much fits in with the whole ethos. However, the more specific thesis being "You shouldn't date because God doesn't want you to and if you date you are giving parts of your heart away to people who aren't your God-chosen spouse." was a little much. Since I wholeheartedly agree with the general thesis, I didn't need much convincing, but this book was more for convincing by telling you God was unhappy with everything you do in your dating life. I can see how people who aren't supposed to have sex before marriage might get way too into dating since they have to get married to have sex, but there are reasons outside of religion for not dating as well, and so it was sort of annoying not to see those included much.

Perhaps I made the mistake of reading two christian books in a row, but this one is waaaaaaaaay christier than "blue like jazz." i ended up skimming because it was just too much. It is amusing that EVERY couple in this book "doesn't intend" to have sex, but then does. I thought that was pretty funny. It does make a lot of points I agree with that aren't being made very loudly in general culture (ie, our culture is frigteningly against being alone ever, and that's creepy and wrong; media portrays a bizarre unrealistic image of beauty/romance that apparently some people are too stupid to realize is not reality, getting married/dating just because you are supposed but not because you actually are in love is dumb, most people who date are just screwing and are not really in love, they just think they are, etc.), so that was good.

But, I'd really only recommend this if you are a born-again Christian who has been led astray from the path by dating. In that case it's pretty practical. However, I doubt I have many readers (ha) in that category, so carry on without this book.

1000 Signs

This is part of the Taschen/Colors 1000 series. I read 1000 Extra/ordinary Objects. I liked it a lot, but it took a long time. This was very fast, since signs need little explanation. In fact, the signs I wished had explanation because of their language or because they are conditional on the environment they are in, had no explanation. There were passages of writing and I could not for the life of me understand their relevance. Again, they were oddly moralistic/political screeds, totally irrelevant to the sections (man, land, etc) they were in. I liked this book, but it would have been so much better if the translations of the foreign signs were included.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Blue Like Jazz and a fairy tale

Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller

I really liked this book and it read really fast. His style is very readable. While the book is religious and I am not, it was refreshing to hear this viewpoint. A big point of the book is that non-Christians often act way more Christian than Christians do. In fact, Miller pretty much talks about how selfish we all are, how little we are all doing for other people, and how modern Christianity doesn't really encourage anyone to be less selfish.

He also makes good points about living alone vs. living in a community. I like living alone, but I have always enjoyed living with other people. I think a lot of people really hate living with others, but Miller makes the point that living with a group of people forces you to socially interact and socially compromise. His point is that when you live alone, you converse (for most of us in our heads, I hope) with only yourself and just keep getting more and more used to how you do things. I totally see this in older people who have lived alone for a dozen years or so--they can't handle anything done a different way in their house. It also seems to me that when you live with other people you get drawn into social activity that you might not participate in if no one was there to say "Come onnnnnnnnnnn, let's go OUUUUUUUUUT!" I think living alone makes it easier to make excuses that you really need to stay home. Also you have to do all the housework yourself, which does take more time than if a lot of people are doing it.

This book made me very homesick for Portland because there is a lot of specific place information in it. Apparently, I lived a few blocks from the author several times! Also, much of the book takes place at my alma mater. I do not know when the stories in the book took place, but I lived, worked, and attended the college in question for the six years before the book was published, so I imagine I know some of the people mentioned. In fact, there is a very very specific mention of someone that I cannot imagine being a coincidence. It is very weird to read about places you know so intimately, and people you know in real life in a book. That really hasn't happened to me in this degree before. It's completely creepy. SO CREEPY. You feel like someone's watching you read the book!

This is probably the most easily enjoyable religious book for non-religious people, possibly because it disses on Christians. But I do not know if I would have liked it half as much if I couldn't related to the places and people mentioned.

Lona: a fairy tale. By Dare Wright
This was a pretty book, sadly in black and white. It was not as weirdly creepy as the majority of Dare Wright's children's books, which I am taking as a good sign.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Basket Case

I liked this book a lot. It was pretty witty. I could take a little less Florida in his novels, and I don't get the snake obsession, but it was funny. The reason for the title isn't revealed until the very end, and it's great. I listened to this on audiobook and it was read well.

There are 2 good female characters in this book, and of course the main character dates one of them. However it was painfully obvious to me he should be dating the other one. :)

Once again, suspenseful, fun, and funny.

visual fun!

Bizarro Postcards

This was a fun "read" since it's all photos! Why some of these were made into postcards, I will never know. It was sometimes a lot funnier than the Boring Postcards" series, just because it was more random. My favorites include a man with human sized pepper mills and the "grave of the first white child buried in KY."

Amusingly, Amazon has the concordance of this book. :)

Also in visual entertainment, I finally finished HEY SKINNY!: Great Advertisements from the Golden Age of Comic Books

I completely wanted to buy everything in this book and had to remind myself 1. the ads were 50 years old, 2. they were for not real things, 3. they were created to trick 11 year olds, and I am 26. But who can resist a POCKET SIZED MONKEY!?

It also surprised me to see so many ads aimed at girls, which from my comic reading I do not remember at all. I wonder if there were more girl comics in the olden days. It kinda made me want to read more comics, but they are too serialized for me, and the library has so few of them. maybe I will buy an Archie next time I am at the store for old time's sake.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder

I have wanted to read this for about 5 years. My upcoming visit to the Museum of Jurassic Technology pressed the issue. First, the book is very short. A lot of the book is notes and bibliography, etc. That leads me to the most annoying part of this book--endnotes! Grr! They are too long to be footnotes, I guess, because they really are notes/anecdotes, and not references. There aren't a lot of references even though there is clearly a lot of research.

I would say the first half is great. This is a wonderful subject. I love Mr. Wilson. However the second half, which could have told me a whole lot more about the museum, its creator, and its exhibits, instead researches the bejesus out of only a few exhibits. Basically, it's a very academic research project to figure out whether the exhibits are true or not. The final conclusion is that most of them are really true, so the whole background research is kinda boring and useless.

Overall I did like this book because I was so excited about the subject matter. But it's really hard to read about all the non-interesting parts without getting to the good parts. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, so apparently many people liked it. It really walks the line between "popular" and "academic." I think it fails this, as the only good parts of academic books (facts! footnotes!) are not used, but the bad parts (long, long references to Freud. Extensive quoting from manuals in non-modern English, a lack of reporting of actual events in favor of discussing cultural impact).

I guess this review will not be complete until I visit the museum!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

LA Roundup!

I am going to LA in Feb. for the first time, so I got a bunch of guidebooks including LA Off the Beaten Path, Frommer's Irreverent Guide to Los Angeles, and Eccentric AMerica

The latter was the best, but least specific. I am considering buying the new edition (I got the first), but it even showed me things in areas I have lived and visited that I did not know about, which is fairly impressive, since these are the things I try to see when in new places.

The Off the Beaten Path and Irreverent Guide are sort of redundant and are organized oddly by cutesy categories. This means you really have to look over the whole thing. This was fine, and I learned a lot, but the Irreverent Guide had better maps.

I am also reading Mr. Wilson's Cabinet Of Wonder which is about the Museum of Jurassic TTechnology, which I plan to see when in town.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

33 1/3 Velvet Underground

I like the VU in an obsessive way. My favorite albums of theirs are demos which feature them redoing a song over and over again for 30 mins. I even like Nico.

Understanding that, I loved this book of course. It read so quickly. Still I would not recommend it unless you are 1. a huge VU fan or 2. an intense audiophile. If you enjoy 10 page discussions which try to figure out how many tracks a certain album was recorded on, using private investigation-like detective work, then this is the book for you. i don't know anyone who like the VU enough to recommend this book, but I know maybe one person who might get something out of it. I haven't read any other full 33 1/3 books so I am hoping to to see how this one compares.

Mainly I did love the histories of particular songs that the book ended with, but it made me realize that this is not my favorite album by them and I do wish there were other songs covered. But then I imagine this would have been a longer book!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Book Roundup!

72 books read this year.
24 were fiction (1/3)
9 were religious or by religious publishers
1 reread
21 were audiobooks (29%)

What I couldn't get through fast enough cuz I loved them soooo much:
Green River, Running Red--Ann Rule
No way to treat a First Lady--Christopher Buckley
Library Mascot Cage Match
Killing Yourself to Live : 85% of a True Story--Chuck Klosterman
Urban Tribes
Assassination Vacation
Dry by Augusten Burroughs
men who stare at goats by jon ronson
The Pirates and Their Adventures with the Scientists
CandyFreak by Steve Almond
The Know-It-All : One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World
Into Thin Air -- Jon Krakauer
America, the Book -- Jon Stewart
God Is My Broker -- Christopher Buckley
Little Green Men -- Christopher Buckley
Book 11 of Lemony Snicket

Books I hated, or could not finish:
Seconds of Pleasure--Neil LaBute
Cheap Ways to...
fat pig--Neil LaBute
Inside of Me
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves
Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way
In the Dark--Richard Layman
Glorious Appearing--Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins
Tommyland by Tommy Lee
Life of Pi
Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent by Judy Ford

Favorite(s) this year: Tie between The Pirates and Their Adventures with the Scientists and men who stare at goats by jon ronson

Biggest Dissapointment? Life of Pi

Modern Drunkard

After reading a review for this book here, I knew I must read this. So much so that when my local library did not stock it, I actually went out and bought it. This is a momentous occasion as I never ever buy books, really. But it was worth it. Some of it is a little repetitive because it's based on columns in a magazine, but I heartily enjoyed it. The explanations for how to get free drinks and drink at work unnoticed are hilarious. There are excellent graphics and checklists for telling if you are a modern drunkard. Best of all, there's info on how to beat an intervention!

I liked the spirit of this book because it celebrates excessive drinking, something that used to be seen as more "okay" than it is now. The book repeatedly points out situations where liquor used to be standard and now would be considered offensive (for example--your desk at work!). Considering how much teens/20somethings drink at college, this new opinion seems a little hypocritical and puritanical! So, in addition to being quite humorous, the political message was interesting.

The only downsides were the repetitive thing, and the CONSTANT odd referencing of Jackie Gleason. Jackie Gleason must be the author's personal hero, and I respect that, but I personally could care less about JG, thanks!

Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie

I have read 4 or so of Jennifer Crusie's novels and I have greatly enjoyed all of them. I am even on her list-serv. But this one started very slow. Part of the problem was that it referred to characters in another of her books that I read about 2 years ago. Generally, although I did get very into this book, I thought it was slow at times, and my least favorite of her books. It had a TON of characters, which I found difficult at first. It also, like most of her books, had an animal based subplot, and I could care less about those, but I realize she digs em! Anyways it was good, but not as good as the rest of her novels. It did, however, make me want to read more of her!