Hello faithful followers,
(Wow, that sounds a bit creepy…kind of religious! Maybe I could start a cult: doronism? klemerology? the people of the book??)
Thanks for dropping by again, be it via a facebook nudge, a twitter prompt or bumping into me in the street and guiltily realise that, despite all those facebook nudges and twitter prompts you’ve somehow never quite gotten around to checking out the blog.
Before I get back to the job of reviewing books one by one, I realised that an entire month has passed, (and a little bit more…quite a lot more, since even if you’re reading this the day it comes/came out, it will still be a few weeks from the time I’m writing it, since I have another one lined up beforehand. It’s like Back to the Future IV around here. “We have to reach 88 words per minute, Marty!!”)
You know what that means? It means another list of books I’ve bought over the preceding 31 days, (I had to do that thing on my knuckles to figure out if it was 30 or 31. Do you know the thing I mean? The world is divided into three types of people: those who know the rhyme, those who do the knuckle thing, and those who don’t know either of them and just get out their iPhone to check how many days in each month).
‘Working the Room,’ Geoffrey Dyer
‘Super Freakonomics,’ Stephen.D.Levitt and Stephen.J.Dubner
‘On Royalty,’ Jeremy Paxman
‘An Idiot Abroad,’ Karl Pilkington
‘Horrible Histories: the Blitzed Brits,’ Terry Deary
‘Horrible Histories: the Vicious Vikings,’ Terry Deary
‘Horrible Histories: the Angry Aztecs & the Incredible Incas,’ Terry Deary, Martin Brown and Philip Reeve
‘Dead Famous: Oliver Cromwell and His Warts,’ Alan MacDonald
‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar: fold and play travel set‘
‘Ladybird: Kings and Queens of England, book 1‘
‘Horrible Histories: the Frightful First World War,’ Terry Deary
‘The Strange Laws of Old England,’ Nigel Hawthorne
‘The Art of McSweeney’s‘
‘Kafka on the Shore,’ Haruki Murakami
‘Dinosaur vs. The Library,’ Bob Shea
‘Spanking Watson,’ Kinky Friedman
‘The Possessed,’ Elif Bautman
‘Adverbs,’ Daniel Handler, (aka Lemony Snicket)
‘The Secret Lives of Great Writers,’ Robert Schnakenberg
‘The Tao of Travel,’ Paul Theroux
‘House of Leaves,’ Mark.L.Danielewski
‘How to Archer,’ Sterling Archer
‘Tough Shit: life advice from a fat, lazy sh*t who did good,’ Kevin Smith
‘Let the Buyer Beware,’ Lenny Bruce, (+6xCD’s)
‘The Last Holiday: a memoir,’ Gill Scott Heron
‘The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup,’ edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey
‘Leaving Microsoft to Change the World,’ John Wood
‘Collapse,’ Jared Diamond
‘The Tipping Point,’ Malcolm Gladwell
‘A Man For All Season,’ Robert Bolt
‘50 Years of Sports Illustrated‘
‘Lost in the Funhouse: the life and mind of Andy Kaufman,’ Bill Zehme
‘The Victorians,’ A.N.Wilson
‘Stardust,’ Neil Gaiman
‘Beware of God,’ Shalom Auslander
‘Inside Out: a personal history of Pink Floyd,’ Nick Mason
‘The Divine Comedy, book 1: Inferno,’ Dante Aligheri
‘Dorling Kingsley’s the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland‘
So, this month’s totals: 39 books bought, ten of which were British history, seven presents, and four signed books, (the Daniel Handler which I found for a dollar in the fantastic Japanese bookshop ‘Book Off’ in Manhattan turned out to have been signed, which was a pleasant surprise; the Nick Mason was dug up in a small charity shop in Southend, signed by the Floyd stick man; meeting Kevin Smith, director of two of my all-time favourite movies, Mallrats and especially Clerks, was enough to get me shell out a whopping $27US for his autobiography; and finally, a live comedy evening enabled me to meet Jon Benjamin, the voice behind the hilarious cartoon series Archer, as well as Karl from Family Guy. Which means that technically I now have a book signed by a fictional character).
There was also one book bought which I already owned (Neil Gaiman‘s ‘Stardust‘), but which I found for 25p in a nicer edition, although when I got it home it turned out that although I have just about everything he has ever written, I somehow didn‘t have this one! How the book gods smile on me sometimes, (surprisingly often, in fact, but I guess these things happen when you buy several dozen books a month…)
There were also some fantastic names amongst this month’s authors: a Schnakenberg wrote the cartoon illustrated history of authors with messed up lives; a Zehme is going to be teaching me about the crazy life of the Man on the Moon, Andy Kaufman; and there was a Kinky and a Shalom for first names, (what I grew up calling christian names in the UK, although the irony of describing someone’s christian name as Shalom is obvious). Elif and Aligheri are good names, too. Well done them.
Then there is Danielewski. He gets his own paragraph, you see, because I have to tell you about this book he wrote in a space all on its own, not crowded by Shaloms and Schakenbergs. Whilst juggling several books I was trying desperately not to buy at the mini-Strand book stall on the South-East corner of Central Park, my perusing-partner pulled out ‘House of Leaves.’
“You have to buy this,” she announced definitively.
True, she had said this about the last three or four books she’d pulled out, but this time something in her voice made me understand she actually meant that I actually had to buy it. I had told her that, with all of the history books waiting for me, and the fun books peeking out behind them, I was enforcing my ‘Top Ten Rule’: that if a book wasn’t good enough for me to want to read it before any but the next ten books I had lined up, then I wasn’t buying it for later because, due to the string theory of books, there may well never be a later when it comes to books lower down the food chain.
“Even with the Top Ten Rule?” I queried.
The nod was definitive. “Number one.”
It could have been bravado. It wasn’t.
After finishing the two London books I had taken with me across the pond, (foolishly thinking they would last me the three week holiday), I ploughed through the Handler, the Bautman, the Friedman, the Kevin Smith, (most of which was read whilst waiting for the amazingly fan-friendly Silent Bob to get around to me in the queue), and several times through the unbelievably cute and 2-year-old favourite Dinosaur book. There was nothing else for it: I was going to crack the (admittedly already fairly well cracked second-hand) spine on the imposing, daunting 600+ page breeze block of a book which, from a simple flick through, had intimidated me more than any book had in years.
In fact, I’ve decided that ‘House of Leaves‘ deserves not just its own paragraph, but its own blog entry, so that will be coming soon: feel free to track down a copy and read it in the meantime, so you can join me in my confusion.
Finally, and, most surprisingly of all, eight of the 32 books bought last month which were not presents have already been read thanks to some long train journeys, a remarkable 25% ratio. If I can keep this up, someday soon maybe I’ll start making a dent in The Cupboard…