Sunday, January 27, 2008


So with the writers' strike still in full swing, I'm really missing new tv. Catching up on every episode of Oz ever has been filling the hole in my heart, but it's not really the same. Here is my question to you--should I start watching Lost again? I haven't watched it since the season one finale, but have been kept abreast of major plot points as revealed in the media. Will I just be completely, well, lost, or should I give it a shot? They're doing one of those one-hour recap specials before the premiere, so will that be enough to catch me up? Please advise; I need new tv to look forward to. (Thank god for Psych, is all I have to say! Who else loved the new Spanish theme song from this weekend's episode?)

2008 book 16

Geraldine Brooks' People of the Book
This novel, inspired by the true story of the Sarajevo Haggadah, focuses on a young woman conservator tasked with studying and repairing the book before a major exhibition. She tries to puzzle out its past journeys as alternating chapters reveal the truth. At first that was slightly frustrating--I'd want to know what happened to Hanna, the conservator, and then get caught up in the story of Lola during WWII and want her story to continue. And so on. Anyway, I really enjoyed this (aside from an unnecessary romantic subplot), probably b/c I'm both a Jewish Studies nerd and a librarian type. (This book is dedicated to librarians and paints them in generally a heroic light--pretty sweet.) A/A-.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Did you know Dean Wareham has a memoir coming out? Neither did I! Here's an excerpt, about his affair with Britta Phillips (via Metafilter).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

2008 book 15

Willy Vlautin's Northline
See, this is why I love advance copies at library conferences--this is a book I'd never have picked up on my own. Written by some dude from an alt-country band, about a girl fleeing her abusive boyfriend, and she has imaginary conversations with Paul Newman--it just wouldn't have occurred to me to read it. And yet, it was really good, kind of tender and moving; you can't help but feel for this poor girl beaten down by life and all the people she meets on the way. A.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

2008 book 14

China Mieville's Un Lun Dun
Last week or so at ALA, I was chatting with two of my coworkers as we entered the exhibit hall, saying that I think the Spiderwick Chronicles are pretty overrated, and I wished they'd make a movie of Un Lun Dun, which was one of my favorite books of 07, etc etc. Not five minutes later we came across a booth giving copies away! Needless to say, I insisted they take copies and grabbed one for myself. It was the perfect thing for days spent on the couch coughing, drinking oj, and using up insane amounts of kleenex. Seriously, this book is great. Here is my original review.

Monday, January 21, 2008

2008 book 13

I'm sick and cranky and my computer is slow and I just want to crawl back onto the couch and sleep. But I liked this book so here.

Kate Maloy's Every Last Cuckoo
A grandmother forms a new family after her husband's death in this engrossing and sweet novel. Plus, kittens! A/A-.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

2008 book 12

Xiaolu Guo's A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers
Shortlisted for the Orange Prize, this novel revolves around a young Chinese woman who comes to London for an English course. Falling into a relationship with a much older man, she experiences the usual culture clashes. The story disintegrates a bit as she travels aimlessly around Europe, and her return to London is anti-climactic. B.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

2008 book 11

Jami Attenberg's The Kept Man
A woman, whose artist husband has been in a coma for six years, befriends the kept men husbands of various high-powered women. The she has to make decisions about her life, her husband, etc. I really liked some of the characters (especially the driver), but sometimes it's hard to have sympathy for rich New Yorkers binging on drugs. B+.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2008 book 10

Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides
Discussing Middlesex at book group yesterday made me wanted to reread this novel --it's funny, I remembered really liking it, but dang is it moving! Few writers can pull off the collective/1st person plural narrative (2007's Then We Came to the End is another that did it well) but Eugenides uses it to great effect here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2008 books 8 and 9

I read two books on the way back from Midwinter and started a third (which unfortunately appears to have been left at the baggage claim at TLH, which sucks b/c it looked promising--if anyone else got an advance copy of After River, can I borrow it?). JB needs attention so these will be brief:

Fiona Maazel's Last Last Chance
Wealthy eccentric family deals with drug addiction, kosher chickens, and the superplague. B+/B.

Eric Lerner's Pinkerton's Secret
Infamous detective saves Lincoln, frees slaves, hires a sassy woman as a detective--by the author of Bird on a Wire. B.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

2008 book 7

Jack O'Connell's The Resurrectionist
I read a description of this in the latest Algonquin catalog and was psyched to get an advance copy at ALA--it sounded great, about a comatose boy and his father and a mysterious comic book world. And it started off great--the father's story is very compelling, as were the interjections describe the comic book sideshow/freak show characters. But as things got more and more fantastic, the story got more and more derailed. I was about ten pages from the end and had no idea if I'd love the book or totally dislike it. In the end, I didn't like it nearly as much as I wanted to. B/B-.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

2007 book 6

Jeremy Jackson's Life at These Speeds
This came out a few years ago, so I have no idea why they were passing out copies at ALA. Not that I'm complaining, b/c I'd been meaning to read it for ages, and OH MY GOD was it good! It's about an eighth-grade boy whose entire track team, including his girlfriend, is killed in an accident. Suddenly he develops into an amazingly fast runner, while memories of the past elude him. A, A, A!.

2008 book 5

Bernard Malamud's The Assistant
Reread this for a book group--it's as good as I remember! I read it on my layover on my way to Philly yesterday and only just thought to blog it here. More books are on the way--I got some stellar advance copies and freebies already!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

why the amptp just needs to settle already

Here's a somewhat entertaining video of what those crime scene shows would be like without writers (I find it especially entertaining b/c I just started watching Oz and like half those dudes were in it. Also, I secretly love Law and Order: CI).

Sunday, January 06, 2008

2008 book 4

Irene Dische's The Empress of Weehawken
A sort-of-epic but very funny novel inspired by Dische's grandmother, this is a great story of mothers and daughters, religion, escaping the Nazis, and life in New York. It got a little bit slow toward the end but was still an enjoyable read. A-/B+.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2008 book 3

Susan Hill's The Pure in Heart
What a hugely disappointing followup to yesterday's book. I should note that although yesterday's was billed as a "Simon Serailler Mystery", he wasn't the main character. Here he was, and he just wasn't as compelling. Plus the book felt a little lazy--like in the first one Simon is described as having striking light hair and dark eyes, but in this his eyes are blue! Come on, editors. Not to mention that the story of a kidnapped boy managed to have absolutely no dramatic tension, and the vast majority of plotlines were completely unresolved--I can only assume there's another book in the works. I won't be reading it. C-.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2008 book 2

Susan Hill's The Various Haunts of Men
This was more like it! A few people in a small town in England disappear and a young woman officer is on the case! New to town, she's making friends and finding her way, and all sorts of the people she meets come to play a part in the story. The killer is revealed to the reader like 2/3 through, which is a great narrative device. I'm going to give it an A/A-, b/c although the end was very fitting, there was one thing I wanted to happen differently. Anyway, I recommend this one and will be reading the next book in this series for sure.

OK, back to Project Runway! They're at the Hershey store!! And like all good Pennsylvania girls, I have a serious fondness for Hershey. Who couldn't love a city where the streetlamps are shaped like Hershey kisses and everything smells like chocolate?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 book 1

Edward Eager's Half Magic
I SOOO need some new books to read! In the meantime I decided to reread an old favorite from when I was a kid, all about an Ohio family in the 1920s who encounter a magic charm. Good times.


I just noticed that I counted two books for 184, so actually I read 186 books this year. I mean, last year, since it's 2008 all of a sudden. Sheesh, you come home from a party and all of a sudden it's a whole new year!

Anyway, 186. Feel free to acclaim me in the comments. ;)