Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Best of 2014: Books

I ended up reading 8 of the 12 books on my reading list for the year, mostly at the beginning of the year and then I kind of gave up and read whatever I wanted.

I just barely met my 25 book goal, mostly because I wasted a month trying to read Infinite Jest.

Here's my favorite books I read this year

  1. The Son- Jo Nesbo
  2. The Power of Habit- Charles Duhigg
  3. Blind Goddess- Anne Holt
  4. Police- Jo Nesbo
  5. Mad World- Lori Majewski & Jonathan Bernstein

Book It!

Already ahead of the game on my reading list which will give me some extra time to tackle Infinite Jest. I'm gonna need it.

Just Read:

Moneyball- Michael Lewis

Baseball is one of my least favorite sports, but I have no problems reading about it (at some point I'll read The Art of Fielding again). The section that talked about Bill James and the start of sabremetrics went on a big too long for me but other than that, the book was very engaging, especially considering how much of it is about stats.

Do the Work- Steven Pressfield

I picked this book a couple years back and just never read it, so I'd completely forgotten what it was about. It was a nice short read. It wasn't completely relevant to me since it's geared towards writers and people in artistic fields. But all the stuff about resistance was great.

Double Dexter- Jeff Lindsay

Since I read the last Dexter book, I probably watched 3 seasons of the show. It did strike me that the books are darker than the show (which isn't really surprising). And Rita is 200% more annoying. This was one of the stronger of the series, so I am looking forward to reading the lastest book and finally being caught up.

Currently Reading:

Infinite Jest- David Foster Wallace

Up Next (probably):

Infinite Jest is going to keep me busy for awhile...

Book It!

Back in the saddle...

Just Read:

The Virgin Suicides- Jeffrey Eugenides (reread)

I haven't read this book in about a decade and I've been meaning to read it again for sometime now. I'd forgotten just how well written it is and even though I still remembered the story, it still drew me in and made me feel so sad for everyone.

Phantom- Jo Nesbo
Police- Jo Nesbo

I'm glad I read these back to back because they seem to be part of a series within a series (like The Redbreast, Nemesis and The Devil's Star). The books were both very strong and I think the serial elements are really getting stronger as the series progresses. On top of all the character's growth which is always captured very well.

Currently Reading:

Double Dexter- Jeff Lindsay

Up Next (probably):


Do the Work- Steven Pressfield

Book It: 2014 Reading List

This year my goal is to tackle some of my book backlog. I've got books I've had for a few years that I haven't gotten around to reading. My goal for 2014 is to read 25 books, and 12 of them are backlog/rereads (one a month). The tough ones will be Infinite Jest and 11/22/63 cause they're both really long (which is why I haven't read them yet).

In no particular order....

Double Dexter- Jeff Lindsay
Do the Work- Steven Pressfield
Moneyball- Michael Lewis
Infinite Jest- David Foster Wallace
The Keep- Jennifer Egan
The Dogs of Rome- Conor Fitzgerald
11/22/1963- Stephen King
Killer's Island- Anna Jansson
Blind Goddess- Anne Holt
The Boy in the Suitcase- Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis
The Bourne Identity- Robert Ludlum (reread)
The Virgin Suicides- Jeffery Eugenides (reread)

Best of 2013: Books

After barely making my goal of 35 books last year, I set this year's goal for 20 books. I ended the year at 26 books.

Here are my 5 favorite books I read this year. Again, I only read a few books released in 2013, so not enough for a separate list.

  1. The Absent One- Jussi Adler-Olsen
  2. Top of the Rock- Warren Littlefield
  3. Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn
  4. Faceless Killers- Henning Mankell
  5. Caveat Emptor- Ken Perenyi

Book It: Glass Key Roundup

Finished the last of the Glass Key books for the year. I read 9 winning books this year and have now read 12 of the 22 Glass Key winning books in all (I think 2 more will be published in the US next year).

I enjoyed every book I read and it was a nice goal to have because I read books I probably wouldn't have read otherwise.

Here's a final list of all the books I read in a loose order of best to "worst".

A Conspiracy of Faith- Jussi Adler-Olsen (2010, Denmark)

Faceless Killers- Henning Mankell (1992, Sweden)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- Stieg Larsson (2006, Sweden)

The Bat- Jo Nesbo (1998, Norway)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest- Stieg Larsson (2008, Sweden)

Missing- Karin Alvtegen (2001, Sweden)

Silence of the Grave- Arnaldur Indriðason (2003, Iceland)

Don't Look Back- Karin Fossum (1997, Norway)

Jar City- Arnaldur Indriðason (2002, Iceland)

The Darkest Room- Johan Theorin (2009, Sweden)

Lime's Photograph- Leif Davidsen (1999, Denmark)

Smilla's Sense of Snow- Peter Hoeg (1993, Denmark)

Book It!

Reading has been slow going lately, so I took a month off so I'd have more stuff to talk about. But I am on the last Glass Key book now and planning a big recap for after I finish.

Just Read:

The Fault in Our Stars- John Green
The author did a very good job capturing the subject matter and keeping everything from getting too sad or depressing. I'll be interested to see how the movie turns out. I think if done well, it could be really great.

The Redbreast- Jo Nesbo
Playing catch up with the Harry Hole series. I've intentionally read them out of order, so going back and reading the earlier books is filling in some gaps for me. I think the series does a great job of making it so you don't feel like you've missed anything if you haven't read the earlier books. There's always references to the previous cases but they're usually pretty subtle. This particular book kept me guessing about what was going on the whole time. and every guess was wrong. This book was different from the others in the series with the flashbacks, which were similar to Johan Theorin's books I read recently.

The Absent One- Jussi Adler-Olsen
This book reminded me of a plot from a SVU episode...a better constructed and thought out one of course. Elements of it also reminded me of Missing, which I read earlier this year.This is definitely one of my favorite series. I really enjoy the cold case stuff and the main character is very believeable and well written.

Currently Reading:


A Conspiracy of Faith- Jussi Adler-Olsen

Up Next (probably):

The Redeemer- Jo Nesbo

Book It!

Been super busy this month moving, vacationing, working and of course reading. Excuse the delay!

I have one Glass Key book left to read, so I'll be using my extra time to catch up on the Harry Hole series before the next book comes out.

Just Read:

The Darkest Room- Johan Theorin
The second of a very loose series, I actually liked the ties to Echoes from the Dead. But this story had a much different feeling to that book with more references to ghosts and the dead. Again, I enjoyed the time jumping in this one as well, although it served a different purpose in this book.

The Silver Star- Jeannette Walls
Enjoyed this book, although the end was a little lazy to me. It was a really quick read- I finished it in 2 days. I think it could have been longer since there were parts that weren't really expanded on too much. But it was an interesting coming of age-type story.

Echoes from the Dead- Johan Theorin
I like these types of cold case mysteries. I also liked the time jumping between modern day and the years leading up to the crime. I think the author did a good job of not making it obvious what happened and who the killer was. Throughout I felt like it could go so many ways.

Big Brother- Lionel Shriver
I liked this book most of the way, until you got to the "twist", which to me just made everything else I'd read irrelevant. There were some good parts touching on the psychology of obesity and others reactions to it, which was interesting. But overall it was just an okay book.

Currently Reading:

The Fault in Our Stars- John Green

Up Next (probably):


The Redbreast- Jo Nesbo

Book It!

I'm reading 5 different Scandanavian crime series right now. It is amazing I can keep them all straight.

Just Read:

Silence of the Grave- Arnaldur Indriðason
I liked that the book really drew out the mystery and left you guessing as to who the dead person was. There was a lot of sadness in this book, which is the first time I've really seen that in a crime novel. Looking forward to continuing the series.

Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction- Barry Forshaw
Perfect book for my particular reading interests. I liked how it was divided up by country so you could get a feel for the differences between each one. Of course it's really added to my reading list. My one complaint is that it's pretty spoiler heavy, so I had to skip large sections if I hadn't read the book. Eventually I'll go back and read those sections. But it's definitely gives a nice background and context to Scandanavian crime novels.

Top of the Rock: The Rise and Fall of Must See TV- Warren Littlefield
This book was very similar to I Want My MTV, which I loved as an oral history of the network. There were actually a fair number of similarities between NBC in the late 90s and the music industry and the huge numbers they were doing and how everything has collapsed since then, mostly because of their own actions. I really enjoyed reading how the different shows came together, even though I didn't really watch them except for the random Friends or Will & Grace episodes.

The Bat- Jo Nesbo
This is the first Harry Hole book and the 5th one I've read. It's interesting to read the first one knowing some of the things that are going to happen to Harry down the road. I also found it very interesting that the series starts with Harry far away from home working on a case. You're really left to wonder what his position is in the Norwegian police and what his life is like back home. How much of his actions are really what he's like or is he just reacting to the situation? I definitely think I'll have to read the 3 other books I have before the next one comes out in Oct.

Currently Reading:

Big Brother- Lionel Shriver

Up Next (probably):

Echoes From the Dead- Johan Theorin

Book It

Continuing to tear through books...

Just Read:

Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger- Ken Perenyi
The first half of the book reads like a coming of age story (which I enjoy) and the second half really gets into the forgery. It was really interesting to read how he created his fakes and the true appreciation he has for art and the artists whose work he was forging.

Jar City- Arnaldur Indriðason
First Icelandic book I've read. The author did a good job handling the interconnected main case and other crimes. Parts reminded me of Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum, but I think this book had a stronger plot overall.

Currently Reading:

Silence of the Grave- Arnaldur Indriðason

Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction- Barry Forshaw (about to start the Icelandic section)

Up Next (probably):

Top of the Rock- Warren Littlefield

Book It!

Decided to take last month off since I only managed to finish one book. Even though I'm finding more and more books to read, I'm reading less. Go figure. I am actually ahead on my Glass Key books now, so that's good.

Just Read:

Truth In Advertising- John Kenney
This was like watching modern day Mad Men if it was written by Jonathan Tropper. Which is to say I liked it a lot.

Missing- Karin Alvtegen
Quick, enjoyable read. I liked how much time was given to the main character's back story (which reminded me of She's Come Undone). The crime itself wasn't as interesting as what came before it.

Lime's Photograph- Leif Davidsen
While I enjoyed this book, it seemed very light on the crime/mystery parts of the story. It was really a secondary part of the plot and I wished it had been more developed. It could have been an even stronger story I think.

Smilla's Sense of Snow- Peter Hoeg
Interesting book, I learned a lot about Greenland from this book. The story was definitely more of a character study than just focused on the crime. There are a lot of similarites between Smilla and Lisbeth Salander, so I'd guess that she was a bit of an inspiration for Stieg Larsson.

Currently Reading:

Jar City- Arnaldur Indriðason

Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction- Barry Forshaw

Up Next (probably):

Silence of the Grave-  Arnaldur Indriðason

Book It!

Bad month for reading. Really got stuck on the Murakami book. Now I'm behind on my Glass Key books as well.

Just Read:

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle- Haruki Murakami
Reading this after 1Q84 was interesting. I found myself noticing similarities between the two which definitely influenced my thoughts on where the story was going. I did struggle at times to get through parts. I'm finding that while I enjoy Murakami's books, they're definitely not something I can read too regularly since they're so bizarre.

Currently Reading:

Smilla's Sense of Snow- Peter Hoeg

Up Next (probably):

Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction- Barry Forshaw

Book It!

The short month screwed me up and I thought this was the 3rd Monday when it's clearly not. Oops.

Just Read:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest- Ken Kesey
February's book club pick. I struggled to get through this one. I was looking forward to reading it but it was so slow paced for so much of it. I felt like I was watching The Walking Dead- when there was no action it was boring and I wanted to stop reading, but when things were actually going on, it was interesting and enjoyable.

Faceless Killers- Henning Mankell
First in yet another Scandanavian crime series I'll be reading (not to mention there's a TV show) and the first Glass Key winner. I really enjoyed this one, so I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series (eventually). I'd rank it up there with The Keeper of Lost Causes for best first novel in a series.

Currently Reading:

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle- Haruki Murakami (had to put this one down to read the book club book)

Up Next (probably):


Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction- Barry Forshaw

Book It!

Had a successful book club meeting last week for The Red House. Now I'm reading the first of the Glass Key award books. Didn't get too many new books for Christmas so my list of books isn't too crazy so far. I plan to read another Murakami novel and possibly a classic sometime soon.

Just Read:


The Red House- Mark Haddon

This book was interesting. Better than A Spot of Bother for sure. It was a bit tough to get into at first but I think as you read you get more comfortable just as the characters in the book do. The constant perspective changing was interesting as well, the author does a good job writing children.

When the Devil Holds the Candle- Karin Fossum

Third book in this series. I find the main character interesting but in this book they really didn't spend that much time with him. It was very focused on the crime and not as much on the detectives investigating and solving the crime. I don't have a problem with that, except that I think the main detective isn't prominent enough when he is so interesting.

The End of Boys- Peter Brown Hoffmeister

This is another book I downloaded for free months ago. I didn't even realize it was a memoir until I started reading it. The story was decent, but I felt like a lot of things were really glossed over about his life and about why he made the decisions he did. So I didn't really connect with it like you should.

Currently Reading:


Faceless Killers- Henning Mankell

Up Next (probably):


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle- Haruki Murakami

Best of 2012: Books

I met my goal of reading 35 books this year...barely. The job thing kind of slowed me down towards the end of the year. My goal for next year will definitely be less ambitious.

Here are my 5 favorite books I read this year. I only read a few books released in 2012, so not enough for a separate list like I did last year. I highly recommend the top 2.

  1. Ready Player One- Ernest Cline (I read and listened to the audiobook that's how much I loved it)
  2. I Want My MTV- Craig Marks
  3. The Keeper of Lost Causes- Jussi Adler-Olsen
  4. We Need to Talk About Kevin- Lionel Shriver
  5. The Help- Kathryn Sockett

Book It!

I feel like I just posted my monthly book update. Time is flying these days. I'll have a end of year book list in a couple weeks.

Just Read:

The Marriage Pact- MJ Pullen
After The Prince of Tides, I needed an easy chick-lit read which this delivered. I liked that part of it was set in Austin, but other than that it was a pretty average book.

The Prince of Tides- Pat Conroy
So glad to finally finish this one. I thought it was too long and while the story was good, the length really killed the momentum in the story at times for me. Kind of like Daniel Deronda. My book club also watched the movie, what a casting disaster that was.

Currently Reading:

The End of Boys- Peter Brown Hoffmeister

Up Next (probably):

When the Devil Holds the Candle- Karin Fossum

Book It!

Slow this month, I'm really going to have to push to meet my Goodreads goal by the end of the year.

Just Read:

He Who Fears the Wolf- Karin Fossum
I like that this series seems to focus more on the cases than the detective who is investigating. This book had a strange combination of characters who were at the center of the story and in the end it wasn't really important who the murderer was.

Currently Reading:

The Prince of Tides- Pat Conroy (I'm so close to being done)


Up Next (Probably):


The Red House- Mark Haddon

Book It!

First book club went well, although I think I read the book too far in advance so I couldn't remember certain details. Just getting into the next book. I've also set a goal for 2013 to read all the Glass Key award-winning books (the ones that are available in English anyway). I've already read 3, and already planned to read 2 more, so I figure I may as well do a job.


Just Read:

The Weird Sisters- Eleanor Brown
I didn't really care for how the narration was done where it was almost like there was a 4th sister even though there wasn't. I also don't think that the author explored the sister relationship well enough. Each sister was a well developed character and you could see the simlarities between them but the development of the sister relationship was lacking.

The Keeper of Lost Causes- Jussi Adler Olsen
First in another Scandanavian crime novel series for me. I really enjoyed this one, it's different from the other series I've been reading since it's cold cases rather than current crimes. I also liked the you got the victim's perspective instead of just the detective.

Currently Reading:

He Who Fears the Wolf- Karin Fossum

Up Next (probably):


The Prince of Tides- Pat Conroy

Book It!

Now that things have calmed down, I've been able to find more time to read. I also joined a book club, first meeting is next week. And then I've found more books to buy. I may need to take time off work to read!

Just Read:


One Last Thing Before I Go- Jonathan Tropper
Very excited for this book and while I did enjoy it, it definitely wasn't my favorite of Jonathan Tropper's books. I didn't connect with the main character as much as I normally do with his books.

Last Will- Bryn Greenwood
First book club book. For some reason, aspects of it reminded me of The Help, even though they're really nothing alike, so that was a bit weird. The characters were interesting and had a lot of depth to them which I wasn't really expecting when I started reading.

Sharp Objects- Gillian Flynn
This book's main character reminded me of the one from The Almost Moon, except that she was much better written as a seriously flawed, not-necessarily-likeable person. Plus the underlying mystery made this book more interesting.

Currently Reading:


The Keeper of Lost Causes- Jussi Adler-Olsen

Up Next (probably):

The Weird Sisters- Eleanor Brown

Book It!

My reading has almost completely stopped in the last month between the Olympics and moving to a new place. I did join a book club, so now I'll have one book a month that I'll have to read.

Just Read:

Broken Harbor- Tana French
A book I was definitely looking forward to. It's not my favorite of the series (I have to go with either In the Woods or The Likeness), but I thought it was better than Faithful Place.

Don't Look Back- Karin Fossum
Continuing to read (and enjoy) foreign crime novels. I'm interested to see where the main character goes as the series goes on. Whenever I get around to reading the next books.

Redshirts- John Scalzi (audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton)
I read this book based on a recommendation. I enjoyed it, although I wasn't a huge fan of the codas at the end. I'm expecting to watch Star Trek in a whole different way after reading this though.

Currently Reading:


Sharp Objects- Gillian Flynn

Up Next (probably):


One Last Thing Before I Go- Jonathan Tropper

Book It!

Only one week until the new Tana French book is out, so have to make sure I'm not reading anything else by that time.

Just Read:


Sag Harbor- Colson Whitehead
I enjoy a good coming-of-age novel, I expected more from the book plot-wise, but considering it takes place during one summer, that's a bit ridiculous on my part. I liked the main character and his attempts to use the summer to reinvent himself.

Dance Dance Dance- Haruki Murakami
The "sequel" to A Wild Sheep Chase, a book I really enjoyed, I had high hopes for this book. I was fairly disappointed. Parts of the book I did enjoy but I wanted more answers than I actually got. Kind of like watching Lost.

Ready Player One- Ernest Cline (audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton)
I read the book earlier this year but listened to the audiobook which was great. I love this book so much it didn't matter that it had only been a few months since I read it.

Currently Reading:

Don't Look Back- Karin Fossum
Redshirts- John Scalzi (audiobook)

Up Next (probably):

Broken Harbor- Tana French

Friday Five

Making my way through Haruki Murakami's novels. In the last year I've read 5, here's how I'd rank them.

  1. After Dark
  2. A Wild Sheep Chase
  3. 1Q84
  4. Dance Dance Dance
  5. Norwegian Wood

Up next is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but probably not for awhile.

Book It!

Going through one of those periods where I want to read every book. I'm adding more books to my to-read list than I'm actually getting through at this point.

Just Read:

Little Children- Tom Perrotta
I liked but didn't love this book, I felt there was something lacking throughout. The ending did help a bit though. I'm surprised this is supposed to be his best book.

Pygmy- Chuck Palahnuik
I listened to the audiobook, which I think made a huge difference. I tried to read part of the actual book, and I could see why some people had a hard time with it. The narrator really did a great job of capturing the book and the fact that it's actually supposed to be funny, which I think you could easily miss by trying to read it. It's definitely a better book than Tell-All or Damned.

One Day- David Nicholls
I enjoyed this book, I thought the author did a good job of capturing the aimlessness of post-college life and transitioning to a "normal" adult life.

Currently Reading:

Dance Dance Dance- Haruki Murakami

Up Next (probably):

Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn

Friday Five

New books I'm looking forward to this summer (and fall):

1. Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn (June 5th)- Interested in this one because of a friend's recommendation

2. The Red House- Mark Haddon (June 12th)- Wasn't a fan of his last book, but this one sounds interesting

3. Broken Harbour- Tana French (July 24th)- Really love this series, although the main character isn't who I expected after the last book

4. One Last Thing Before I Go- Jonathan Tropper (August 21st)- One of my favorite authors, I'm always excited for his new novels

5. Phantom- Jo Nesbo (October 2nd)- Another series I love. I'm hoping the other books are released here in October too

Book It!

Big book month for me, although it's probably the last one I'll have since I'm starting my new job today (!!!) and my reading time will be far more limited.

Just Read:

Nemesis/The Devil's Star- Jo Nesbo
I'm actually enjoying reading this series out of order, I don't know why. I really enjoyed both of these books. They're so well constructed, particularly the characters. I'm looking forward to the next book in the fall.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again- David Foster Wallace
I'm working up to tackling the bear that is Infinite Jest, but I'm not quite up to a really long book right now. Some of the essays in the book I really enjoyed (such as the title essay), but others I felt rambled on far too much and lost their focus.

The Almost Moon- Alice Sebold
I had a hard time getting my head around this one. I'm not sure how I felt about the main character. I think the author intended for you to like her but not her actions. If that's the case I don't think she did the best job. Also, the ending was a bit lacking.

The Sense of an Ending- Julian Barnes
Interesting and mildly depressing story. I thought the discussion of personal history and memories was definitely the strong point of the book.

We Need to Talk About Kevin- Lionel Shriver
Really enjoyed this one. I think the author did an excellent job of capturing the internal conflict of a woman deciding to have a child and then the results of that decision. The underlying nature vs. nurture debate throughout is also well done.

Currently Reading:

Little Children- Tom Perrotta

Up Next (probably):

Dance Dance Dance- Haruki Murakami

Book It!

Now I've tackled the bear that is Daniel Deronda, I have a backlog of library books to get through. Apparently it's my mission to read every book I can get my hands on that sounds remotely interesting.

Just Read:

Ready Player One- Ernest Cline
I loved this book. It hooked me pretty early on, no doubt because my love of the 80s. Although the majority of the references went over my head since my nerd cred is practically non-existant. I can definitely appreciate the encyclopedic knowledge of all things pop culture that the characters had.

American Psycho- Bret Easton Ellis
Oddly enough, I found this book tedious and boring. The graphic parts were pretty graphic, which I expected, but the in-between parts got more and more tedious to me as the book went along.

Daniel Deronda- George Eliot
I enjoyed the overall story and the depth of the characters, but this was a really tough book for me to get through. It got really long-winded at certain points. I think I would've enjoyed it even more if it were 100-200 pages shorter.

Currently Reading:

We Need To Talk About Kevin- Lionel Shriver

Up Next (probably):

The Sense of an Ending- Julian Barnes

Book It!

Been a one-book wonder for the last month.

Currently Reading:

Daniel Deronda- George Eliot (I'm about 2/3rds through with it now.)

Up Next (Probably):

American Psycho- Bret Easton Ellis

Book It!

Stepped up my reading game this month by reading shorter books. Go me!

Just Read:

The Help- Kathryn Stockett
I haven't read a book this fast since I read The Lovely Bones in one night a few years back. A pretty easy read but still had plenty of depth. Looking forward to seeing how they screwed up the movie version.

The Leftovers- Tom Perrotta
Interesting premise (life after a Rapture-type event) that was pretty well done. Made me think about my reaction if something like that were to happen.

A Wild Sheep Chase- Haruki Murakami
Really enjoyed this one, wished it had been longer though. I like sheep.

We Are All Weird- Seth Godin
I thought the basic concept behind this book was interesting- the rise of niche markets, but the book was boring. I was hoping for more stories about the niche groups and their growth, but instead I just felt like the same point was being repeated over and over.

The Leopard- Jo Nesbo
The Leopard really picks up where The Snowman left off. It's an interesting mystery and Harry Hole is still a deeply flawed character. I'm really getting into foreign mysteries. I think it's the foreign names and places.

I Want My MTV- Craig Marks & Rob Tannenbaum
This book was awesome. I think it gave a pretty in depth oral history of MTV from all the important perspectives: MTV execs, record label execs, artists, video directors, etc. You can see how great MTV's impact was on the music industry and the beginnings of the industry's collapse. I'd be interested to read a book about MTV's second decade just to see how it's turned into the joke of a network it is today.

Currently Reading:

Daniel Deronda- George Eliot (I'm going to finish it finally)

Up Next (probably):

Double Dexter- Jeff Lindsay

Book It!

Fewer finished books this month since I've taken to reading things that are at least 500 pages.

Just Read:

The Corrections- Jonathan Franzen

Had a hard time getting into this one because the characters weren't all that likeable at first, but by the end I understood them more. If you liked Six Feet Under, you'd probably like this.

The Snowman- Jo Nesbo

This is the first of the Harry Hole series I've read. I decided not to read them in order because this one sounded interesting and I didn't want to read 4 books before I got to it. I think it was worth it.

1Q84- Haruki Murakami

Enjoyed this one, reminded me of those movies that you don't fully understand the depth and complexity of until you watch them a second time.

Currently Reading:

I Want My MTV- Craig Marks & Rob Tannenbaum


Up Next (probably):

The Leopard- Jo Nesbo

Best of 2011: Books

It’s been awhile since I’ve done an end of year book list, but with getting a Kindle and a library card this year, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I've split the list in 2 parts, one for books released this year and the other for other books I read for the first time this year.

2011 Favorites:
  1. The Art of Fielding- Chad Harbach
  2. Poke the Box- Seth Godin
  3. 1Q84- Haruki Murakami
  4. The Marriage Plot- Jeffery Eugenides
  5. Headhunters- Jo Nesbo

Other Favorites:

  1. The Likeness- Tana French
  2. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest- Stieg Larsson
  3. After Dark- Haruki Murakami
  4. In the Woods- Tana French
  5. Middlemarch- George Eliot

Book It!

Been spending a lot of my time reading in the last month, partially because I can't get motivated to do much else at the moment. Luckily there are always books to read.

Just Read:

Faithful Place- Tana French

I enjoyed this one, although not as much as her first 2 books. Definitely looking forward to the next book.

The Art of Fielding- Chad Harbach

I've seen this book everywhere for the last few months. Finally decided to read it and it was definitely worth it, one of the best books I've read this year.

After Dark- Haruki Murakami

I really enjoyed this one. Liked it more than Norweigan Wood.

Currently Reading:


1Q84- Haruki Murakami


Up Next (probably):


The Snowman- Jo Nesbo

The Corrections- Jonathan Franzen

Book It!

With all the books I'm reading right now, I've decided to do a monthly book update. I'll keep things spoiler free.

Just read:


The Likeness- Tana French
Loved this book, going back and forth in my head as to whether I liked it more or less than In The Woods. Was definitely one of those books that sticks with you even after you finish it.
The Visible Man- Chuck Klosterman
As someone who has studied psychology, parts of this book drove me nuts. Like yelling at the book nuts. And yet that didn't take away from enjoying it.
The Marriage Plot- Jeffery Eugenides
Been looking forward to this book for months. I enjoyed it but I think I'll have to read it again to fully appreciate it.
Are We Not New Wave?- Theo Cateforis
Recommended if you're a fan of late 70s/early 80s music.
Headhunters- Jo Nesbo
If you liked Stieg Larsson's books, you'll probably enjoy this.
Damned- Chuck Palanhuik
Enjoyed this one. Thought it was better than Tell-All.

Currently reading:


Faithful Place- Tana French


Up next (probably):

Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell

1Q84- Haruki Murakami

Friday Five

Right now I'm reading Are We Not New Wave?, which is all about new wave in the late 70s to mid 80s. It's a pretty interesting read for someone like me who is a big fan of music from that time. The author goes pretty in depth in analyzing certain songs, which creates a sort of playlist to go along with the book. Some of the songs covered:

  • Just What I Needed- The Cars
  • Rock Lobster- The B-52s (a song I really hate)
  • Planet Claire- The B-52s
  • Uncontrollable Urge- Devo
  • Cars- Gary Numan

Friday Five

Since I'm basically chain reading right now, here's a book update.

Last 5 books read:
  1. In the Woods- Tana French
  2. Black Swan Green- David Mitchell (reread)
  3. Tell-All- Chuck Palahnuik
  4. A Visit From the Goon Squad- Jennifer Egan
  5. Before I Go To Sleep- S.J. Watson
And I'm still slowly making my way through Daniel Deronda.

Next 5 books...I think:
  1. The Likeness- Tana French (currently reading)
  2. Faithful Place- Tana French
  3. The Marriage Plot- Jeffery Eugenides
  4. Double Dexter- Jeff Lindsay
  5. The Visible Man- Chuck Klosterman

WIP Wednesday: Bookworm Edition

On a bit of a book binge right now. Yesterday I finally got a library card and now I can check books out on my Kindle, I'm totally happy (well, until I saw all the new fancy Kindles that were announced today, so now I want a new one). It's been so long since I've been to a library, I forgot how much I like them. When I was a kid, my mom and I would go all the time and I'd check out huge piles of books. I owned the summer reading programs (I'm a notoriously fast reader).

books

So I picked up a couple of books, and then checked one out for my Kindle- Black Swan Green by David Mitchell, which I actually own but is packed away.

I'm also in the planning stages for the birthday contest prize piece and the next Phat Quarter swap (theme: somebody told me). I've got ideas for both, but they are completely different, so my brain is all over the place. I bought a notebook specifically to use for my stitch ideas before the food swap, and it is definitely coming in handy right now.

Friday Five

The next 5 books on my reading list (in no particular order):
  1. A Visit From the Goon Squad- Jennifer Egan
  2. The Marriage Plot- Jeffery Eugenides (really excited for this one)
  3. In The Woods- Tana French
  4. Before I Go To Sleep- S.J. Watson
  5. Double Dexter- Jeff Lindsay
I have so many books that I haven't read yet and there's at least 3 coming out in October that I've been waiting for, so I think I'll be doing a lot of reading this fall.

Stitch Story: Book Swap

The latest Phat Quarter swap theme was books and my partner's favorite author was Haruki Murakami. I did some research and decided to read his book Norwegian Wood and create something based on that.

PQ Book Swap

I wanted to do something to capture the mood of the book. There were a number of forest/outdoor scenes so I used that as the basis for the piece. I wanted to keep the detail simple and just added a single green butterfly, to represent the 2 main female characters, Kaoko and Midori.

Book swap detail

The quote is from a conversation between Toru and Midori:

Toru: "Nobody likes being alone that much. I don't go out of my way to make friends, that's all. It just leads to disappointment"

Midori: "Nobody likes being alone. I just hate to be disappointed." You can use that line if you ever write your autobiography.

The piece is on light blue 28 ct fabric. It's the first time I've worked on 28 ct which took some time to get used to. At times the stitches seemed way too small to be right. But everything turned out pretty nicely, other than the butterfly, which looked great in the pattern but looks like a blob stitched.

WIP Wednesday: Patterns

Right now I'm working on some new patterns. There's a geek one, a music one, and a subversive/naughty one, and possibly something for my mom.

After stitching almost every day for 3 months, it feels weird not to be working on anything. However, I was finally able to read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which was really really good. Now I've started on Her Fearful Symmetry, which is good so far.

WIP Wednesday

To keep with the updates, I'm going to (try to) post pictures of my ongoing projects once a week.

This week, it's the 3rd in the "series" I'm working on for a friend. It'll make sense once they're all done.

wip wednesday


Also, after 3 months, I FINALLY finished The Tipping Point. It was really bugging me that it was taking so long for me to finish when I could easily read a book that size in a couple days. So I really made a point to find time to finish it. Which basically meant reading on the way to work. I enjoyed the book, although I think Outliers was better.

Now I'm about halfway through Juliet, Naked (which is twice as long as The Tipping Point) after a couple of days. So far it's really good.

Fall/Winter Reading List

Now that my birthday has passed and I've gotten even more books to read, I can make a proper reading list that I probably won't get through. The one thing I miss about grad school is that it gave me plenty of opportunities to catch up on my reading. So this is what I'll be trying to tackle, with some additions likely...

Brideshead Revisited- Evelyn Waugh
Pygmy- Chuck Palaniuk
Sex, Drugs, and Coco Puffs- Chuck Klosterman
The TIpping Point- Malcolm Gladwell
Strokes of Genius- Jon Wertheim
Cane River- Lalita Tademy
The Innocence of the Devil- Nawal El Saadawi
Let The Right One In- John Ajvide Lindqvist
Her Fearful Symmetry- Audrey Niffenegger
Dexter By Design- Jeff Lindsay
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters- Ben Winters/Jane Austen

Lately I've been...

Reading: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, which is basically what it sounds like...the zombie apocalypse in 19th century England. Normally I'm not interested in the bastardization of my favorite book, but most of the original text (thus the plot) is intact, so it was an interesting reimagining of the story. I can't wait until they turn it into a movie.

Listening to: Pearl Jam (who I've come to like in my old age), Live, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth (who I need to spend more time with cause they're pretty awesome), The National (Alligator, which I definitely enjoy more than Boxer).

Watching: Slowly making my way through the Best Picture nominees, so far I've seen Slumdog Millionaire and Frost/Nixon. Also watched Rachel Getting Married, which is like Margot at the Wedding but FAR better.

TV shows...Castle and The Unusuals which are both growing on me and will probably be cancelled. Dollhouse, which is seriously being held back by Eliza Dushku's total inability to be versatile. And of course Lost.

Making: I hurt my hand which has prevented me stitching as much, but I'll post a picture of what I'm currently working on tomorrow.

Blame It On July

  • Still working on Atonement, last week I took a break and re-read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which I've really enjoyed both times I've read it. It's a mystery told from the perspective of a 15 yr old with Asperger's syndrome (or high functioning autism)
  • No work today, so I was able to watch quite a bit of Wimbledon finally. Of course they didn't actually show Federer's match, But i got to see both Williams sisters' matches even though I already knew the outcome. One of them has to win, I can't imagine anyone else winning. I find it amusing that the top women's seeds have all lost. I think it just proves how inconsistent they all are. I think there will be lots of different top ranked players for awhile. Oh, and I've been impressed by Andy Murray. He totally crushed Tommy Haas the other day. It was like watching Federer play Roddick (or Hewitt). Total domination. I haven't seen him play all that much cause he normally loses early on, but it seems that he might have gotten his shit together. I hope he beats Nadal. preferably like the way he beat Haas.
  • Got Wii Fit yesterday, I suck at everything except hula hoop. Go figure.
  • Watched the first season of Californication. There are alot of boobs in that show. But David Duchovny is funny. Also saw Be Kind Rewind, pretty good, definitely better than The Science of Sleep.
  • Before i get to this month's albums, a quick recap of June's picks (Something About Airplanes- Death Cab for Cutie & Songs For Polar Bears- Snow Patrol). It was nice to listen to both albums after such a long time. It actually took me a listen to remember all the songs again. Took me another 3 or 4 listens to stop wondering what the hell happened to Death Cab. But now I want to listen to We Have the Facts & We're Voting Yes. Snow Patrol was a little different because they went "downhill" quicker, so I wasn't as into them. So I just enjoyed hearing the songs again. But moving on to this month's albums...
July is Canadian month apparently, fitting that July 1st is Canada day. Both of these albums are mortal locks to be on my personal classics list that I am sloooooowly compling for my own music nerd purposes. I'm also looking forward to new albums from both these artists this year.

Public- Emm Gryner
Back in the summer of 99, I had to stop listening to this album for a week because I was absolutely killing it. That being said, it's probably been a couple years since I've listened to it. someone I hardly knew gave this album to me back in 98 because they thought I would like it. I listened to it once, thought there was something weird about emm's voice and didn't touch it again for months. Inexplicably I pulled it back out around the end of my senior year of hs and fell in love with it. So that's what the album reminds me of.  It's still my favorite Emm album,  really because it was the first I heard and it has a bunch of nostalgia attached to it because I listened to it so much.

Little Songs- David Usher
Since moving to California, one of the best things I've had the opportunity to do was to see David Usher live a couple of years ago. His albums aren't released here so he never plays in the US,  but he played one show in LA at a tiny little club which was awesome. One of the songs he played was "St. Lawrence River", which is one of my all time favorite songs (I'm a big believer in getting to hear your favorite songs live because it's always special), so that made the show perfect. I listen to this album fairly often, although it's probably been close to a year since I last heard it. This is my favorite David Usher album, and I think it's an example of how great and special debut albums can be. Great debut albums capture the rawness of the artist that can never be duplicated. Before there are any expectations, before songs get overproduced, before drugs and booze become legitimate problems, etc. Little Songs is one of those albums- acoustic, recorded in a kitchen, raw. not to say his other albums aren't good too, but there's definitely something special about this one.

June Gloom

  • Finished Rant last night. I enjoyed it, although there was some pretty messed up stuff going on. But from what I know about Chuck Palahniuk that's par for the course. I'll be starting Atonement this week.
  • The best part from the otherwise boring spelling bee



  • Yet again, new month means new albums. I enjoyed listening to both Placebo and Spoon. I had some serious nostalgia going on while listening to A Series of Sneaks. That album reminds me of Austin so much. Without You I'm Nothing, even though I can remember when I bought the album, doesn't remind me of anything else. Nut listening to it for a month reaffirmed that it's not my favorite Placebo album. Since those albums have 2 of my favorite album covers, I thought i'd make a proper list..
In no particular order...

Joe Jackson- Look Sharp!


Placebo- Without You I'm Nothing


Keane- Under The Iron Sea


The Police- Ghost in the Machine


Spoon- A Series of Sneaks


This month's albums are similar because I used to really like these 2 bands and then they started to completely suck and sadly, I've abandoned them to the point that I don't even listen to their good albums anymore. So this month I'll be constantly wondering what went wrong and thinking how good these bands used to be. I've actually been looking forward to these albums.

Death Cab For Cutie- Something About Airplanes
   
I'd guess it's been 6 or so years since I listened to this album. I gave up on death cab around the time Transatlanticism came out and Ben Gibbard did all that horrible electronic crap known as The Postal Service (which in my opinion is what ruined his ability to write good songs). But way back in 98, I was just hearing about Death Cab and for 3 albums they were really fucking good. So it's going to be hard to listen to this album without wanting to curse the music gods for turning Ben Gibbard into a complete toolbox. No doubt I will like it as much as I did back when it was new.

Snow Patrol- Songs For Polar Bears
    Um....I last listened to this album maybe 6 years ago as well. Unlike Death Cab, I think this is Snow Patrol's only good album. Their second album had some good songs on it, but overall kinda sucked. And then after that they decided they wanted to turn into Coldplay (who now wants to be U2, go figure), changed their sound and got successful. For the record, it's not the success that bothers me, it's the turning into Coldplay. Anyway, I think this first album is pretty good, and it's sad they've changed so much from what they used to be.

Randomness

  • Kobe won the mvp...yay!
  • I should be finished with The Time Traveler's Wife next week. I'm limiting my reading to school hours only, otherwise I'd finish it this weekend. It's really really good.

May Day

I can't believe it's May already.

New month, new albums. but I did enjoy listening to Madonna and Bic Runga. I was surprised at how many of the Ray of Light songs I still like, especially considering how long it's been since I've heard them and how my musical taste has expanded since then. Granted, I still won't be in any rush to listen to the album again any time soon. But it was something different for a month, which is part of the point of this whole flashback thing. Listening to Drive again was nice as well, and I might listen to it again soon, I do really like the album.  But this month I'll be listening to...

Placebo- Without You I'm Nothing
   
I believe it's been about 2 years since I listened to this album last, simply because it sounds crappy in my car. This is the album that got me into Placebo and has one of my favorite album covers. It's probably my 3rd favorite Placebo album (don't ask what the top 2 are). I remember the first time I listened to the album, I started to fall asleep and then the beginning of "Scared of Girls" woke me up and kinda scared the crap out of me. I've listened to Meds and Sleeping with Ghosts fairly often the last few years, so it'll be nice to listen to a different Placebo album for awhile.

Spoon- A Series of Sneaks
    It's been a few years since I've heard this album because it's not compatable with long drives (it's a short album). It's not the first Spoon album I heard but it has some of my favorite Spoon songs on it (The Guestlist/The Execution, Reservations, Car Radio, Metal Detektor) and has my favorite cover of all the Spoon albums. I must own it on vinyl so it can be framed and appropriately admired. Too bad it's hard to find and fucking expensive when you do. This album reminds me of the early days of my Spoon fandom and my time in Austin. before they became critical darlings and when they actually played these songs live all the time. So yeah, it's not going to remind me of 1998.

Also, since I'll be starting summer school next week, I get to catch up on my reading. So here's my reading list for the next 3 months...

(In relative order)

  1. The Time Traveler's Wife- Audrey Niffenegger
  2. Atonement- Ian McEwan
  3. Rant- Chuck Palahniuk
  4. No Country for Old Men- Cormac McCarthy
  5. Girl With a Pearl Earring- Tracy Chevalier

Top 6 Books of 2007

I read a bunch of books this year and here are my favorites, in no particular order because rating books is even harder than rating albums. i tried to pick 6, but i just couldn't.

Black Swan Green- David Mitchell
: This book appealed to me because it's by a British author and it's set in the 80s. A nice coming of age story.

Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time - Rob Sheffield:  Music based memoir by Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield about his life with his wife before her unexpected death. Even though you know the book is based around her death, it's still heartbreaking to read about his life immediately following it.

A Long Way Down- Nick Hornby: I like High Fidelity and About a Boy better, but this one was pretty good as well. Story about 4 people coming together after meeting while contemplating suicide. Nick Hornby needs to write more books though.

The Book of Joe- Jonathan Tropper:  This was hands down the best book I read this year. Books don't usually make me tear up, but this one did on a few occasions. Jonathan Tropper is very good a writing a believable screwed up character. I found myself thinking Joe was either an asshole, an idiot, or a lonely fucked up bastard throughout the book. This is one of my all time favorite books.

The Gun Seller- Hugh Laurie: I bought this book on a total whim, basically because I like Hugh Laurie and the premise didn't sound half bad. It turns about it was actually a pretty good book. There's a bit of a surprise at the end with is unexpected and interesting. Parts of it reminded me of the Jason Bourne books but with a less serious tone. I kept picturing House in the role of the main character though. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

How to Talk to a Widower- Jonathan Tropper: This is Jonathan Tropper's newest book. While I like The Book of Joe and Everything Changes better than this one, it was still really good. In some ways it's a fiction version of Love is a Mix Tape (which I read before this one). With the unexpected deaths and the ways both husbands grieved.


Almost done with my reading list...

I plan to read The Time Traveler's Wife next. The movie version is coming out next year sometime.

Girl With a Pearl Earring- Tracy Chevalier

A Dirty Job- Christopher Moore

Rant- Chuck Palahniuk

The Time Traveler's Wife- Audrey Niffenegger

F
luke- Christopher Moore

The Book of Joe- Jonathan Tropper

Dexter in the Dark- Jeff Lindsay


Love is a Mix Tape- Rob Sheffield

How to Talk to a Widower- Jonathan Tropper

Reading List Update

Still in no particular order.....

Fluke- Christopher Moore

The Book of Joe- Jonathan Tropper

Dexter in the Dark- Jeff Lindsay

Love is a Mix Tape- Rob Sheffield

How to Talk to a Widower- Jonathan Tropper

Girl with a Pearl Earring- Tracy Chevalier

A Dirty Job- Christopher Moore

Rant- Chuck Palahniuk

The Time Traveler's Wife- Audrey Niffenegger

2 additions....

Me and Mr. Darcy- Alexandra Potter (just bought this one today cause I need something to do during class and I forgot the bookIi meant to bring)

The Gun Seller- Hugh Laurie (on a side note: I already like this season of House better than last)

I read Love is a Mix Tape in one day (it's pretty short), I really liked it. It was nice to see someone look back on 90s culture and say positive things. Just further reminded me how craptastic this decade has been in comparison.

Fall/Winter Reading List

Just finished The Book of Joe this morning. very very good book.

In no particular order.....

Fluke- Christopher Moore

The Book of Joe
- Jonathan Tropper

Dexter in the Dark- Jeff Lindsay

Love is a Mix Tape- Rob Sheffield

How to Talk to a Widower- Jonathan Tropper

Girl with a Pearl Earring- Tracy Chevalier

A Dirty Job- Christopher Moore

Rant- Chuck Palahniuk

The Time Traveler's Wife- Audrey Niffenegger