Thumbs up for Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman. Children’s nonfiction.
The true story of a fireboat, and its heroic return from retirement. This book made me cry.
“The piers were the places where ships and trains brought all manner of merchandise to be sold in the city. Like wood and cotton and bananas and bubble gum and EVERYTHING.”… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Young adult.
I was (quite unfairly) wary of a repeat of my experience with Robinson Crusoe – one of the most agonizingly boring books I’ve ever dragged my way through – but this came highly recommended by my coworker. He was not wrong; it is indeed a delight. Yo-ho-ho!
“‘Marooned three years agone,’ he continued, ‘and lived on goats since then, and berries, and oysters.
… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. Science fiction.
To start with, it’s FUNNY. And smart. And, to me as a writer, inspirational, because it has a very simple story arc but is nevertheless brilliant. There are almost no books I wish I’d written, but this comes close. If you like any variety of science fiction, you should run and buy all of Scalzi’s books right now.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Just A Geek: Unflinchingly Honest Tales of the Search for Life, Love, and Fulfillment Beyond the Starship Enterprise by Wil Wheaton. Memoir.
If you are a geek, you just grinned, because you already read WWdN. If you are not a geek, you said to yourself: “Who is Wil Wheaton? And why doesn’t he spell his name with two L’s, like a normal person?”… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Fever Dream by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Suspense.
Going from Cormac McCarthy to Preston & Child: Ow. No offense to them, but I think they would be the first to agree that one does not read their books for the prose. But I stuck with it, and after I relaxed into the fact that it was what it was, I enjoyed just as much as always the gleefully over-the-top adventures of ultra-rich ultra-brilliant bullet-dodging DSM-IV-quoting Southern gentleman who is Special Agent Pendergast (he has an evil brother, does that tell you anything about this series?).… >> Read more
Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Love Poems from the Japanese translated by Kenneth Rexroth. Poetry.
Not anywhere near the standard of the previous book of Rexroth-translated Japanese poetry I’ve read, One Hundred More Poems from the Japanese. All of the best poems in here were also in that one. So read that one instead.
“Your hair has turned whiteWhile your heart stayedKnotted against me.I
… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Literature.
I was strangely attracted to this book in spite of the fact that both my coworker and my boyfriend said the same thing about it: “That’s an AMAZING book. Don’t read it, you won’t like it.” This is because they know I assiduously avoid depressing novels. However, what they didn’t realize is that I have no objection to bleak survival stories – and this book is bleak, bleak, BLEAK – it’s dysfunctional interpersonal dramas I hate.… >> Read more
Two big thumbs up for Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, translated by Edith Grossman. Literature.
I won’t lie: I probably would not have assayed a 940-page book at this point in my life had it not been a Christmas present from my boyfriend. He has excellent taste in books so my reaction was more an intrigued “hmm!” rather than a horrified “aaaagh!”… >> Read more