My month in books: June 2015

The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City by Michelle Nevius

Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi

Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

Genius by Steven T. Seagle

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Promethea, Vol. 1 (Promethea #1) by Alan Moore

Promethea, Vol. 2 (Promethea #2) by Alan Moore

Promethea, Vol. 3 (Promethea #3) by Alan Moore

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Promethea, Vol. 4 (Promethea #4) by Alan Moore

Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest by David Hall

Laundromat by Snorri Bros.

The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

Many moons ago I was living in Scandinavia and my boyfriend was reading The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. He really liked it and I made a mental note to read it one day. After that it became a hit and I saw copies everywhere. I kept thinking oh yeah I should read that but walked on by. A store I like on Main Street started carrying a mishmash of used books in a suitcase on the sidewalk. I leafed through and bought this one and Dubliners. I really enjoyed it. At times I was like this is ridiculous and there’s no way this man would get away with it but that’s magical realism for you.

I came upon Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe at a book exchange along E 10 Ave in Vancouver. I know him mostly from Parks and Recreation. I’ve seen The West Wing a few times but don’t have much memory of what happens. I know, I’m a disappointing former poli student. If it helps the only episodes I’ve watched were at parties with poli friends. I figured that since he seemed like a cool dude in Parks and Rec then his book was worth carrying home. I enjoyed it. Memoirs are fun and there was a lot of stuff about Lowe’s life that I never have known about otherwise. I guess when you catch a former child star in their forties there are a lot of details that slip by. He has another book out at the moment but I think I’m good for now. Maybe in few years.

I’ve started a shelf on Goodreads of books that I want to read but can’t get out of the library. Instead of sighing and being disgruntled about this shelf I’m ordering them (and doing a bad job of actually reading them since they have no due dates). I added Inside the Apple: A Streetwise History of New York City by Michelle Nevius probably because it has a pretty cover. That’s really half the battle. It was interesting to learn more about New York City. It’s such an important city and so many neat things happened that make it what it is today. It would be interesting to go back there knowing some of the stuff I do today. I’m planning to do a quotes posts with stuff I liked from the book but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Marjane Satrapi is kind of a legend in the graphic novel world. I first encountered her when I saw the film version of Persepolis at the Calgary International Film Festival. I still had Chicken with Plums and Embroideries left so I got them out of the library. Both were very good in the typical Satrapi style. Chicken with Plums was a dark tale with a sad ending. Very dramatic and beautifully drawn. Embroideries was about the tales women tell one another. It was both playful and risque with the discussion of sex and men. The type of thing you’d find in Sex and the City but in an Iranian living room over tea. It’s nice to see female writers crafting clever stories around these sorts of things.

I think Goodreads told me I’d like Genius by Steven T. Seagle. I’m not really sure where I go it from. I was feeling behind on my reading goal for the year — I hope to finish most of it before leaving for grad school, which leaves with me about 40 books to finish in July and August — so I decided to take some graphic novels out of the library. Part of me feels like it’s cheating, part of me thinks it’s totally okay to use strategy to play the game and part of me really likes graphic novels. It’s nice to get back into them even if it’s partially because they’re so much less of a commitment than a full book. They’re the one night stands of my bookshelf and I have no regrets.

Back to Genius. It was a good graphic novel with an interesting idea behind it. There’s a physicist who has to publish something new or get fired. His wife is sick and if he gets fired they lose their health care. One of those sad very American stories. In Canada you’d just lose prescriptions and health spending perks, which can break people as well but not as badly. I am a huge believer that health care isn’t universal if it stops being free when you are discharged. We can’t be fiercely proud of Tommy Douglas’s legacy and not fund prescription drugs. Anyways it was an interesting tale with a good story arc and drawings.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is on the Rory Gilmore reading challenge list so I will address it in a separate post. I didn’t read it specifically for the challenge, especially since my book club has fallen to little tiny pieces. It may restart one day. Or I may continue on my own terms. Who knows really.

I’ve been a fan of Alan Moore since I first learned of the existence of Alan Moore. Yeah, his beard is a little bit crazy looking but he wrote Watchmen and all that other stuff. Periodically I type his name into the library search bar and see if something I haven’t read comes up. So I decided to read through Promethea. I’ve read the first four volumes and am working on the fifth. I will hopefully finish it in July. I like it so far. I enjoy the concept and think it has interesting characters. The sex thing was a bit weird but that’s graphic novels for you. Nothing you haven’t seen in Hellblazer. A lot of the weirdness was that so much space was dedicated to it. It seems like he spends a lot of time stretching out one plot point or idea. You can spend an entire volume on sex with a magician or traipsing about on a quest to find a husband. There’s one volume left as far as I can tell and I’m not really sure how far we’ve gotten into Promethea’s tale.

I’ve been hearing about Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel but didn’t want to read it because the name is so terrible. I mean what kind of name is fun home for a graphic novel? I’ve read it and understand the reference and still hate it. Other than the horrible name I really liked Fun Home. It’s about her father and childhood. Her father was closeted and slept with random men from time to time. Bechdel turns out to be a lesbian. Bits of literature they both like are tied in nicely. It was a good story. Don’t let the name fool you, it is very much worth reading.

Most of the rest of these are photo books, which I enjoy in part because they are pretty and in part because I think photographers should look at lots of photos. I couldn’t really get specific ones with how holds work in Vancouver so I’ve been on a bit of a spree lately.

I saw Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest by David Hall at the Chapters on Robson and thought it was really cool. Instead of flipping through it there I made a mental note to track it down later. The shots are all done under water in the Pacific Northwest. There is so much wildlife and beauty there. The book is stunning.

Laundromat by Snorri Bros. was a really, really nifty book. He? they? went out and took pictures of all the laundromats in Manhattan. These basic across the street shots are really beautiful and capture an interesting part of everyday life. It makes me think it would be fun to do something like that for sushi restaurants in Vancouver.

Last but not least was The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer. I have already expressed some of my thoughts on this book and posted some quotes. I really enjoyed reading The Art of Asking and think it’s a great book for any creative person to read.

The Art of Asking reminded me in many ways of Eat, Pray, Love. Anthony reminds me of Richard from Texas. Instead of saying Beauty he could be saying Groceries. It’s also one of those books where I like the female narrator and I relate to her in some ways but I’m definitely not her. Not close. It’s not like My Salinger Year where it was easy to fall into the story and relate to her. Changing a few minor details that story is basically about me. With Gilbert and Palmer I feel more alike to their boyfriends/husbands than I do to them. They’re more exuberant and outgoing than I am. I really enjoyed both books — as previous rambles about the merits of Eat, Pray, Love prove. It can be nice to read about people who are different than you.

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