Sunday, December 31, 2006

favorite books of 2006

I read 142 books in 2006. 100 of them, or over 70 percent, were by women (including two co-written with a male author) . So shame on all those best-of lists that are white-male-centric! There were plenty of amazing books written by women this year.

Anyway, it's the last day of the year, I'm not getting anymore reading done, and it's time to post my eleven favorites of 2006! Alphabetically by author:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie--Half of a Yellow Sun
Gillian Flynn--Sharp Objects
Nell Freudenberger--The Dissident
David Grossman--Someone to Run With
Sara Gruen--Water for Elephants
Maile Meloy--Family Daughter and Liars and Saints*
James Morrow--The Last Witchfinder
Marisha Pessl--Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Scott Simon--Pretty Birds
Scarlett Thomas--The End of Mr. Y
Markus Zusak--The Book Thief

Some of my favorite authors--David Mitchell, A.B. Yehoshua, and Haruki Murakami--all published wonderful and readable books this year, but none quite made the list. The ones I recommended most frequently were Pretty Birds, Water for Elephants, and The End of Mr. Y.

*Both books are excellent on their own, but as counterparts they're pretty brilliant.

Friday, December 29, 2006

favorite graphic novels of 2006

Bryan Lee O'Malley--Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness
Alison Bechdel--Fun Home
Linda Medley--The Collected Castle Waiting
Hope Larson--Gray Horses
Gabrielle Bell--Lucky
Phillippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian--Get a Life

And of course I'm continuing to read (and love) the following titles: Y the Last Man, Fables, Powers, and everything Love and Rockets.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
Since my Holga seems not to have any light leaks, the multiple exposures thing is clearly the way to get weird photos.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

favorite cds of 2006

Here were the CDs I loved in 2006, put on mix CDs, sang along to in my car--in alphabetical order!

Audubon Park--Teenage Horses
Eric Bachmann--To the Races
all the Eccentric Soul Comps
Erie Choir--Slighter Awake
Essex Green--Cannibal Sea
Girl Talk--Night Ripper
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass--Whipped Cream and Other Delights Rewhipped
Hot Chip--The Warning
Hotel Lights--Goodnightgoodmorning
Portastatic--Be Still Please
White Whale--WWI

Yeah, that's eleven--so what? TV on the Radio probably should be on there too, but I got that pretty recently so it hasn't had as much of a chance to seep into my consciousness.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

let the lists commence! crappy books of 2006

The Favorites of 2006 will be coming soon, but in the meantime, here are the critically acclaimed, beloved-by-bloggers books I read in 2006 that I really didn't like!

Ali Smith--The Accidental
Mary Gaitskill--Veronica
Daniel Handler--Adverbs
Hilary Mantel--Beyond Black
Kathryn Davis--The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf
Shelley Jackson--Half-Life
Peter Carey--Theft: A Love Story
Maria Arana--Cellophane
Richard Powers--The Echo Maker
Heidi Julavits--The Uses of Enchantment
Emily Barton--Brookland

Those are in the order I read them. Man, it feels good to publicize that!

2006 book 142

Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects
This book is an excellent example of why I wait until the year actually ends before posting my list of favorite books of the year--this could very easily make the list and the year is almost over! Anyway, Flynn is also a writer for Entertainment Weekly, so I think I was expecting something light and pop-culture-laden (at least until I saw the cover, stark black with a razorblade). Instead, I was sucked into a story about a troubled woman who returns to her small hometown as a reporter, assigned to investigate the murders of two little girls. The whodunnit part of things isn't the main part--it's more about the protagonist's own psyche and she struggles to come to terms with her traumatic childhood--but it does a great job of really upping the intensity of the story. Seriously, I just read it in one sitting. A.

Monday, December 25, 2006

what jews do on christmas

Or this one, at any rate.

I actually planned to drive to various places in town with my Holga, but it's been pouring for the last day or so and so I'm going to stay inside instead. Lukcily VH-1 is playing all sorts of non-holiday programming, and I also have Pete and Pete season 2, which I have been saving for just this occasion. Later I will reheat some of the channa masala I made for dinner the other night, b/c eating leftovers on Christmas is a family tradition. I will also probably knit. And read.

Loads of fun!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


TWO cupcake bakeries are opening up in Pittsburgh this weekend! Wow!

I'm surprised the Triangle doesn't have even one yet . . . and not at all surprised that there isn't one here in north Florida. Maybe if I ever win the lottery I'll start a cupcake bakery. You know, with all my spare time. :)

Friday, December 22, 2006

how to fix a flat tire

I could have used this awesome advice on Monday, but then I was in party clothes and wouldn't have wanted to crawl around on the ground anyway.

Multimedia message

Multimedia message
Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
Here's a cute kitten picture you send you into the holidays.

new column at nextbook

David Rakoff (of This American Life, various books, etc) will be watching all 28 Woody Allen movies. Godspeed, Mr. Rakoff.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

let the harry potter rumor mills commence!

No idea if this is true or not--I'm attemping to access the game as I type this--but apparently you can get the title of the final Harry Potter book on J.K. Rowling's site by playing hangman! (I can't get the key.)

ETA: The title has been confirmed! Screw playing hangman.

ETA again: On today's date in 2004, they announced the release date for Half-Blood Prince. I wonder if book 7 won't be out this summer! I don't want to wait!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

2006 book 141

J.M. Ledgard's Giraffe
This was seriously depressing, not least of all because it's based on the true story of the largest giraffe herd in captivity being massacred in Czechoslovakia in 1975. It probably would be more depressing if the several narrators--a mysterious scientist, a young girl who sleepwalks, and a sharpshooter--were given more depth of character (I actually liked the girl a lot, but the others were barely more than sketches). Also, one of the giraffes narrates part of the action, but when I expected her voice to come through, it didn't. Whatever, if you want to read a novel about wacky Communists ordering the death of 47 giraffes, then check this out. I like giraffes and this novel didn't quite do them justice. B-.

best of 2006

No, these still aren't my lists! (I may post something later tonight though.)

Here's Epicurious' best cookbooks of '06 and here's NPR's. I am sure you can guess that I was thrilled at the link to a pimento cheese recipe in the Epicurious story. I'm sure you can also guess which cookbooks I covet. :)

By the way, check it out! I'm on the new version of blogger, complete with nifty new categories. Maybe over break I'll add labels to old posts! Hahaha, yeah right.

Monday, December 18, 2006

partially read

Max Brooks' World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
I decided at page 150 to stop reading this book. It's not that I didn't like it, although the lack of a plot did occasionally bother me. It's composed of a series of (fictional, duh) interviews, each a few pages long, with various survivors of a zombie plague. I was a little tired of this format when I stopped--though it did do an excellent job of ramping up the tension--but actually decided that I did not want to read anymore about zombies. I scare easily, you know, and don't feel like being up all night clutching my field hockey stick just in case some zombies try to break in. (You can imagine my relief that, in this book, Israel is the only country to really save itself--and allows all the other Jews and the Palestinians into its borders before douing so.) But for those who enjoy zombies, definitely give this a try. The writing is excellent, despite my general preference for a meaty plot and characters. A quick glance does indicate that some of the many characters recur--do I smell an ensemble piece?? Speaking of movies, Brooks is the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, so there's that too.


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
Here's a picture from the first roll taken with my Holga! I'm still experimenting but a few of these came out dark (despite being taken during very sunny days) and most did not exhibit any light leaks. I'm starting to play with the color gels so we'll see how that goes.

These pine trees have been up on campus for the past couple of weeks. Apparently they have something to do with not drinking and driving.

Friday, December 15, 2006

2006 book 140

Elizabeth Strout's Abide with Me
Strout's latest novel centers on a minister in a small town in Maine in 1959; after the death of his wife, he struggles to find his way while dealing with his traumatized daughter. He's a little too obsessed w/ Bonhoeffer for my taste, but is still a very likable and sympathetic character. His daughter, too, is a heart-breaking little figure. As the two of them try to get over their family tragedy and find their place, small-town gossis and church politics threaten to destroy the little they have left. Meanwhile, the spectre of nuclear war hangs over a culture on the brink of change. B+.


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
Happy Hanukkah!

I tried to put my new electric menorah in the window, but the sills are all too narrow. Boo. Also, saying prayers over an electric menorah feels pretty silly. I miss the smell of lit matches that signifies Hanukkah to me.

I have been enjoying my Hanukkah present Holga though!! I'm almost done with my first roll of film.

baby panda

I hate clicking onto my blog only to see my own face staring out at me, so here is a link to a story about the panda cub in Atlanta. It has a name!

Yet another reason to visit Atlanta . . . friends, rock shows, and pandas!

And here is a link to a latke recipe, since Hanukkah starts tonight. I'm sure I'll take a picture of my new electric menorah for posting purposes.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
My holga came!! Too bad it's raining out and I can't go play.

Also, look how long my hair is getting!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2006 book 139

Frances Park's When my Sister was Cleopatra Moon
I had some mixed feelings about this book. It revolves around two sisters, Cleo and Marcy, who haven't spoken in years; when the husband of Cleo, the other one, dies, she begs the younger to come stay with her. The story is told from the younger sister's perspective as she tries to deal with her niece and nephew and as she flashes back to the summer she was 14. The problem is that modern-day Marcy is really annoying! She's a total new age hippie who only eats soup and is forever meditating and spouting things like, "Don't poison what's natural! Don't lose what's real!" Flashback Marcy, on the other hand, struggling with adolescence, hero-worship of her sister, and a father away on business, is very likable and sympathetic. The older sister rarely rises above a caricature--which is perhaps fitting, given the younger sister is narrating--but I really enjoyed the flashback portions of the story. So, eh, B/B-.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

new mix

Song list exported directly from iTunes, as trying to type with a kitten crawlign everywhere is just not worth the hassle!

DOWAGER w/ a hatchet Audubon Park
In Your Arms Miho Hatori
He Brings Out the Whiskey in Me Amy Millan
Second Guessing Oakley Hall
Man O' War Eric Bachmann
Two Stories Tennis and the Mennonites
Province TV On the Radio
Poison Bell Biv DeVoe
Oh my God (feat. Peaches) Pink
Fashion punks with youth Opening flower happy bird
Shut Up and Kiss Me Pony Up!
Uptown The Crystals
Here Comes the Rain The Ladybug Transistor
Once In a While Sondre Lerche & The Faces Down Quartet
Right Here (Featuring Sophie Barker) Bliss & Sophie Barker
The Ballad Of Rocky P. Schooner
10CC Erie Choir
My Mathematical Mind Spoon

Friday, December 08, 2006


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
Hey, I finished the afghan I've been working on since Thanksgiving--all except for weaving in the ends. :) A couple more pictures are on flickr.

I look forward to curling up under this one! Berroco Plush is supersoft and warm--James Bond loves it too.

2006 book 138

Briefly (I'm waiting for the landlord to come and light the pilot in my furnace so I don't freeze to death when it drops to 21 degrees tonight):

Scarlett Thomas' Seaside
Oh, Scarlett Thomas, even when you write mystery novels with fairly predictable twists (except one I didn't see coming), I love you. A-.

Meanwhile, 007 has turned my nice little yarn cubby into a snraled colorful mess!

proof i'm a pop culture junkie

I read that Jeane Kirkpatrick died, and immediately thought that Bill the Cat must be heartbroken.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Originally uploaded by wordnerdy.
It's been way too long since I posted a cute kitten picture. Here is James Bond, being ever-so-helpful as I attempt to knit an afghan.

2006 book 137

Before I write my little review, I just want to thank David and Eric for sending me their bands' newest CDs!!! I knew you were my favorite bands for a reason. :) Seriously, though--thank you!!!!!

Elizabeth Strout's Amy and Isabelle
Finally, a good book! This novel centers on a mother and daughter (the titular characters) over the course of one summer (in, I believe, the 70s), after daughter Amy is discovered to be involved with her math teacher. There's lots of great small-town drama as mother and daughter stand off and as Isabelle's own past comes to light. Totally an A.

Monday, December 04, 2006

2006 book 136

Emily Barton's Brookland
I take back when I said earlier about being immersed in a good book; once again, I've disliked a critically acclaimed and much-blogged-about novel. It started off strong--it takes place in Brooklyn in the late 1700s, and primarily revolves around the eldest of three sisters who ends up taking over their father's gin distillery. Around halfway through the book, I was still seeing it as an A- kind of affair--there were some minor discontinuities, a slightly annoying main character, and way too much about how a distillery works, but the story and the half-narrative, half-epistolary premise were working for me--but then it really got bogged down as the protagonist decides to build a bridge across the East River to Manhattan. Maybe civil engineers will like this more than I did, but I definitely did not need to read so fricking much about the mechanics of bridge-building. Also, the end becomes entirely too overwrought. Like, way too stupidly melodramatic. I imagine this will end up on a few best-of-the-year lists--along with that horrid book by Ali Smith, The Accidental--but I am giving it a C.

terrible news

One of my favorite musicians (and a very sweet guy, to boot), Logan Whitehurst (of The Velvet Teen and Logan Whitehurst and the Junior Science Club), has died (news via Matt Tomich).

Please play some Robot Cat or Me and the Snowman in Logan's memory.


I've been dying to read Jessica Mitford's book of letters, and this article has me on the verge of ordering it from Amazon! (I'm still hopeful that the public library will get it.)

I mean, check out this line she wrote to Hillary Clinton (back before she was the first lady): Do write back. I’d love more news of Chelsea Victoria—what a marvelous name! How did you come by it? Was she conceived in Victoria Station, or Chelsea?


Sorry for the lack of book updates: I actually took a whole week off from reading (nothing seemed appealing) and instead spend time knitting and watching Battlestar Galactica. I am immersed in a good book now and am almost done with an afghan, so I'd say it's all worked out pretty well.

Friday, December 01, 2006


I think The Beat puts the whole controversy over the new DC imprint best.

I do agree that they need to get more girl creators on board, stat, but on the other hand, I'm big fans of a lot of the guys they have signed on and would get their comics regardless of publisher. But I've already emailed Chapel Hill Comics to have the Minx roster added to my subscription list. :)