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Readin' Round-up 2009

You'd think that having a baby would mean I hadn't read anything past May. You'd be wrong. While it is getting harder to get more than a few minutes of uninterrupted reading time these days because I have to stay on high alert lest the Christmas tree become horizontal, I still have naptimes and as much as Evelyn likes to play with me (i.e. use me as a personal jungle gym), she does reach a point where she's all "Can you entertain yourself for a few minutes while I stare at and poke this microscopic bit I found on the carpet? Cool. Thanks." Now that I've been pretty diligent about keeping up my goodreads account, I actually have a fairly accurate record of everything I've read this year. A lot of the reviews are verbatim so if you've seen 'em once, you may want to skip.

The only bad thing about read so much is that half of it doesn't stick in my mind. This is also a function of having gotten all of these books from the library so I have no way of refreshing my memory.

Actual books (I can't remember the order I read them in since I added a bunch of them to goodreads at once):

1. A bunch of baby, pregnancy, birthing books which I am not going to bother listing because I don't use any of them anymore.

2. Great American Hypocrites by Glenn Greenwald - Greenwald is just about the only reason to read Salon anymore yet this book was kind of a letdown in that it was mostly things I already knew and it was quite repetitive. I think I will stick to his columns.

3. Annie Leibovitz at Work - I like seeing how real photographers work.

4. The Great Gatsby - I don't know how I missed this in high school. I didn't have any trouble finishing it, I just didn't care much afterward.

5. Silver Rights by Constance Curry - This is a book about desegregation in my home town. It was quite enlightening.

6. Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher - Very funny. I think I covered this one earlier.

7. Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut - Another one I probably should have read a long time ago. I liked it okay.

8. Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block - I'm so glad I gave birth in Canada at a hospital with good policies.

9. The Vaccine Book by Dr. Bob Sears - Confirmed what I knew, that vaccines are safe. Still I learned a lot.

10. Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes - Rarely is there a book that turns my thinking upside down. Rarer still is a book that gets me to change what I do. This is one of those books. It's kind of sad that it seems to have been more or less ignored since I think Taubes has the thread that will unravel the whole obesity "epidemic".

11. Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro - The first I've read by her. I was trying to read more Canadian authors. I won't make that mistake again.

12. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow - Fairly enjoyable though a lot of "Hello, this is what me, Cory Doctorow pretending to be a 17-year-old, thinks of this issue" plus over-explaining that comes across as condescending.

13. Push: a Novel by Sapphire Written by Sapphire with score by Sapphire by Sapphire - It's better than the movie but not by much.

14. The Language Police by Diane Ravitch - I don't doubt that there are some censorship issues out there that need to be addressed in education. This book doesn't do much to help the problem though.

15. Inherent Vice by good ol' Tommy P. - I'm just going to call this like I see it: this is Big Lebowski fanfic crossed with Fear and Loathing. Terrible, terrible jokes, like jokes your dad would tell.

16. Columbine by Dave Cullen - The most shocking thing I took from this was the sheer scale of the attack if it had gone according to plan. If they had had any clue about building bombs, this would never have been remembered as a "school shooting" but would have been filed as the worst domestic terrorist attack on American soil. Also, I'd like to give a brief Nelson-esque "haw haw!" to the fact that Cullen thinks CO2 cartridges are "whip-its". Yeah, you just try to get a buzz off of those.

17. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn - I see eye-to-eye with Mr. Kristof on a lot of issues. I think he wants to save the world, but he doesn't gloss over the fact that that's very hard to do since all of the well-intentioned acts in the world can just blow up in your face. He isn't shy about pointing out the failure of a lot of aid programs. All in all, I think this is a very important book about the state of women worldwide.

18. NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman - Pretty much Freakonomics for parents and educators. Interesting and informative. I really wish Tools of the Mind were available as a curriculum up here.

19. Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman - Ayelet Waldman calls out all the haters from her days as a Salon columnist. I must confess, I was once one of them. But now I get a lot of where she's coming from. Because being a mother does mean that you are in the center of a cultural tug-of-war and no matter who wins, you still lose.

20. Superfreakonomics by the Stevens - More of the same yet less compelling. The shitstorm from the geo-engineering chapter has been amusing though.

21. Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon - MICHAEL CHABON HAS A THIRD NIPPLE!!! and other revelations. Just kidding, the essays in this are pretty good. A couple of them are excellent. He espouses one of my closely held theories - that purposeful procreation is one of the ultimate expressions of optimism.

22. Love is a Many Trousered Thing / Stop in the Name of Pants by Louise Rennison - Just catching up on my YA reading. Josh said, "Why are these books all about pants?"

23. JPod by Douglas Coupland - Internet commenters TRICKED me into reading this even though I knew better and had avoided it since it came out. I would say that putting yourself in your own novel is usually a literary form of jumping the shark, but Coupland has more or less hopped back and forth over the shark since Girlfriend in a Coma. At a different point in time, I would have hated this book to death. I can only give a sigh of resignation these days.

24. The Road by Cormac McCarthy - I wrote a song about it.
Walkin' in a Nuclear Winter Wonderland.

Bad guys clang, are ya listenin'
In the road, ash is glistenin'
A terrible sight
We're hungry tonight
Walking in a nuclear winter wonderland

Gone away is the bluebird,
and the trees and the cow herd,
No one sings a song,
As we trudge along,
Walking in a nuclear winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a crude shelter,
Then pretend that we are safe and warm

Papa says: Are you okay?
Son says: No man,
There's a baby on a spit
and here comes a storm.

Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we've made,
Walking in a nuclear winter wonderland.

Hey, I didn't even have to change the last verse.


1. The Kindness of Women - in honor of the passing of J.G. Ballard

2. Geek Love - It was part of the A.V. Club's book club.

3. Big Fish - I think it was the first thing I grabbed in the bookcase before taking a bath.

Graphic Novels/Comics/whatever you want to call them:

1. Batman: The Killing Joke - Not a series. Also a waste of a $20 gift certificate. I liked it pretty well, but I did not need to own it.

2. American Widow by Alissa Torres - I was expecting something a little more poignant and little less bitching about the incompetence of FEMA.

3. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel - I read this and I liked it, but now I don't really remember much about it.

Completed the Series:

1. Y: The Last Man - I enjoyed it and I'm glad I waited until the series had finished to read it. Sometimes I have to learn that lesson over and over.

2. Girls by the Luna Bros. - Naked vampire bitches from space. Post-apocalyptic in a different way from Y:TLM.

Incomplete Series so far:

The library's graphic novel section is not only badly organized, it's spread over several areas. Plus people pick up the books and either hide them or steal them. This makes it difficult to start and continue a series of TPBs because you can only requests books that are not marked as "in" and if you can't find the one you want, you have to send the librarians out to look for the missing volumes just to prove they aren't there and THEN you can request a copy from another library. It's kind of an exhausting process. These are the ones I just haven't had the energy to finish tracking down because Volume 2 is "In" but it is clearly not present.

1. Scott Pilgrim - Cute and Canadian. I may search out the rest next year.

2. 100 Bullets - I like the premise and I want to see where the later volumes go.

3. The Sword - I haven't finished this one yet because the last volume won't be out until next year, but I'm with it so far.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 14th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
Wow I read a lot of the same stuff this year.
Love the song!
I'm going to check out Good Calories, Bad Calories and The Road now. and probably Half the Sky.
Dec. 14th, 2009 06:58 pm (UTC)
GCBC is excellent but very dense. It's 600 pages and apparently it started out much longer. It's not hard to read, it's just so much information. If you want a fairly concise summary of his points, I recommend the documentary Fathead which is informative and funny (though it has kind of a libertarian bent).

I highly recommend Half the Sky. The Road is depressing and I almost feel like I'm worse off for having read it. I usually only feel that way about Bret Easton Ellis books.
Dec. 15th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
The Scott Pilgrim books are pretty darn good. I don't know why, but I just hated Y: The Last Man as soon as I read the first two. I have no defense.

Currently I'm reading through the entirety of Grimm's fairy tales. Next I think I'll read that Roald Dahl compilation I believe you left us.

I really want to read Manhood for Amateurs now.
Dec. 15th, 2009 03:13 am (UTC)
I love the real Grimm's fairy tales. All squirrel shoes and people getting murdered.
Dec. 15th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC)
Let's read it to peapie! I still plan to read her Der Struwwelpeter.
Dec. 15th, 2009 09:40 pm (UTC)
Did you know there is a Scott Pilgrim movie coming out with Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim? I don't know how I feel about that.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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