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155. Books Bought & Read, April 2017…

155. Books Bought & Read, April 2017…

April 2017 saw me buy 24 books and read a nice round 10 of them: a slowing down on all fronts, but then I am getting older, (I somehow turn 40 later this year, although thankfully I still feel 14 inside), and started the second of three jobs I will have by the time you read this, so I may have to focus on quality over quantity from now on.

As warned, my reading revolved primarily around food this month, as I led my first food tours around Greenwich Village, so the history of places and proteins were my principal literary diet this month. From fish to France and potatoes to Provence, I filled my mind with all sorts of food and drink based knowledge as well as virtual geographical exploration.

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Even when I wasn’t directly learning about where our fish comes from (and why it’s almost run out), or how apples were spread across the USA not for their fruit but for the liquor you could make from them, I was reading literature which revolved around food in the form of the International Booker Prize winning South Korean novella ‘The Vegetarian,’ which was dark, depressing and mysterious, a kind of Murakami novel without the jazz, or cats, or wells, or spark of optimism.

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The Last Interview series continued to surprise and educate with a series of snapshots of the life of Lou Reed at various points during his life. This blended seamlessly with John Strausberg’s encyclopaedic tome on Greenwich Village, whose streets I pound most days now, whilst feeding people pizza and ferreting out modern-day speakeasies or discovering the (still existent) studio where Jimi Hendrix recorded Electric Ladyland.

Michael Pollan continues to delight and surprise: I devoured his ‘Cookedlast month, and this month finally had a crack at one of his smaller offerings which had somehow never tempted me.

Despite its awful title, ‘The Botany of Desire‘ revealed the wonders of human interaction with apples, potatoes, tulips and marijuana. Trivia abounded, as did some useful information for my tours, (did you know apple seeds each create their own, completely different type of apple tree? You did? Liar!)

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Paul Greenberg’s ‘Four Fish‘ was equally fascinating, and followed the flow of salmon, tuna, cod and sea bass across space and time. The latter I learned is a bizarrely catch-all term for a huge number of creatures, including the Patagonian Toothfish which, unsurprisingly, sells much  better in restaurants when presented under its new name: Chilean sea bass!

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It was a blend of depressing history, (repetitive over-fishing and tragedy of the commons), with scientific genius, but I ended the book more confused than ever about which fish to eat/where to get them/whether to eat fish at all.

I’m going to go have some organic sprouted almond butter on ezekiel bread whilst I think about it…

 

Books Bought, April 2017

McSweeney’s No.3 (various)

Lists Of Note, Vol.II (ed.Sean Usher)

A Field Guide To Whiskey  (Hans Offringa)

His Bloody Project (Graeme Macrae Burnet)

Here I Am (Jonathan Safron Foer)

The Vegetarian (Han Kang)

The Best Of McSweeney’s (various)

The Last Bad Man (Miranda July)

I (Stephen Dixon)

The Adventures Of John Blake: mystery of the ghost ship (Philip Pullman & Fred Fordham)

In Their Lives: great writers on great beatles songs (various)

A Little History Of Philosophy (Nigel Warburton)

The Undoing Project: a friendship that changed our mind (Michael Lewis)

The Fireside Grown-Up Guide To The Meeting (Jason Hazeley & Joel Morris)

McSweeney’s No.49 (various)

The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka)

Somewhere A Master (Elie Wiesel)

The Duel (Anton Chekov)

Collected Stories (Gabriel García Márquez)

Half A Creature From The Sea (David Almond)

When Strangers Meet: how people you don’t know can transform you (Kio Stark)

On Writing: a memoir of the craft (Stephen King)

Tasty: the art and science of what we eat (John McQuaid)

The Pine Tar Game: the kansas city royals, the new york yankees, and baseball’s most absurd and entertaining controversy (Filip Bondy)

 

Books Read, April 2017 (Recommended books in bold)

David Boring (Daniel Clowes)

The Last Interview (Lou Reed)

Coming In To Land: selected poems, 1975-2015 (Andrew Motion)

The Botany Of Desire: a plant’s-eye view of the world (Michael Pollan)

The Village: 400 years of beats and bohemians, radicals and rogues – a history of greenwich village (John Strausbaugh)

The Fireside Grown-Up Guide To The Meeting (Jason Hazeley & Joel Morris)

The Food And Wine Of France: eating & drinking from champagne to provence (Edward Behr)

Four Fish: the future of the last wild food (Paul Greenberg)

The Subway Chronicles (various)

The Vegetarian (Han Kang)

 

 

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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in BOOKS

 

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152. Books Bought & Read, January 2017…

I know last blog I promised you a review of 2016, but as the legendary Douglas Adams famously said: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by…

So that’ll be next month.

I read a large baker’s dozen of books this past month (14), but everywhere I turned I seemed to stumble across a treasure trove of Penguin Classic Deluxes, which I am slowly accumulating and which account for the elevated quantity of books in the Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott wheelhouse, as well as the tally of 43 books acquired, (including two of the Brooklyn bard’s classic ‘Leaves Of Grass.’ Anybody looking for a spare copy? I just can’t help myself from buying beautiful books…)

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I discovered a new favourite author this January in Simon Rich, ripping through two collections of short stories by this New Yorker and Saturday Night Live writer, every one of which was rye, twisted and hilarious.

Don’t let the fact that he looks 12 years old put you off: go out and read something by him, now.

(Here you go: I’ll even get you started with one).

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I gave my nod to NY history by finishing the mammoth biography of the richest man in modern times, John D.Rockefeller (Sr.), and refreshed my scientific curiosity with the short and sweetly written ‘The Ten Most Beautiful Scientific Experiments,’ a blend of history and explanation of the magical universe I greatly enjoyed.

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That set me up to read the equally delightful ‘The Pattern On The Stone,’ a simplified explanation of the theory behind computers. Terrified I would be inundated with complicated jargon and incomprehensible technical maps, this exploration of the core concepts of logic and information storage may not help me to create an iPad from scratch after the inevitable apocalypse, but was a fascinating and highly accessible read nonetheless.

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Miranda July continues to be one of my favourite people, and I finally got hold of a copy of her unclassifiable ‘It Chooses You,’ a masterclass in procrastination in which she visits, interviews and photos strangers advertising things for sale in a local newspaper which she has absolutely no intention of buying. Truly bizarre, and a little hypnotic.

A lot like this video of hers…

And, after reading two award winning novels last month, I eventually read 2016’s Booker Prize Winner, ‘The Sellout,’ in which Paul Beatty sets off from the starter’s pistol at pace and never lets up. A coiled, compact tale of race relations and twisted stereotypes packed with endless, streaming wordplay, I can’t believe it took me this long to read it.

You shouldn’t wait, either.

Books Bought, January 2017

Leaves Of Grass (Walt Whitman) x2

Privacy (Garret Keizer)

An Anthropologist On Mars (Oliver Sacks)

I Like You: hospitality under the influence (Amy Sedaris)

The Great War: july 1, 1916: the first day of the battle of the somme (Joe Sacco)

McSweeney’s No.23

On Argentina (Jorge Luis Borges)

Lonely Planet: colombia

Lonely Planet: iceland

Songs Of The Garden (Utamaro)

Twelve Years A Slave (Solomon Northup)

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey)

It Chooses You (Miranda July)

Bat-Manga! the secret history of batman in japan (Chip Kidd & Geoff Spear)

Ronin (Frank Miller)

The $100 Startup: reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love, and make a new future (Chris Guillebeau)

Top 10 New Orleans (Dorling Kingsley)

Pride And Prejudice (Jane Austen)

The Polysyllabic Spree (Nick Hornby)

Shakespeare Wrote For Money (Nick Hornby)

Housework Vs.The Dirt Nick Hornby)

More Baths, Less Talking (Nick Hornby)

Today Will Be Different (Maria Semple)

The Mark And The Void (Paul Murray)

Islam (Karen Armstrong)

The Broom Of The System (David Foster Wallace)

The Strange Library (Haruki Murakami)

Fooling Houdini: magaicians, mentalists, math geeks, and the hidden powers of the mind (Alex Stone)

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

Emma (Jane Austen)

The Narrow Road To The Deep North and other travel sketches (Bashô)

The Gospel Of Wealth: essays and other writings (Andrew Carnegie)

The Empathy Exams (Leslie Jamison)

The Divine Within: selected writings on englightenment (Aldous Huxley)

ABC (Marion Bataille)

The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)

The Ministry Of Special Cases (Nathan Englander)

Being A Dog: following the dog into a world of smell (Alexandra Horowitz)

Writing In The Dark: essays on literature (David Grossman)

The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments (George Johnson)

Collected Essays (Arthur Miller)

Presence: collected stories (Arthur Miller)

 

Books Read, January 2017 (Books in bold are highly recommended)

The Jaguar Smile: a nicaraguan journey (Salman Rushdie)

Spoiled Brats (Simon Rich)

A Book Of Penguin (various)

The Sellout (Paul Beatty)

The Pattern On The Stone: the simple ideas that make computers work (W.Daniel Hillis)

The Last Girlfriend On Earth: and other love stories (Simon Rich)

Hallucinations (Oliver Sacks)

Titan: the life of john d.rockefeller, sr. (Ron Chernow)

The Geography Of Genius: a search for the world’s most creative places (Eric Weiner)

Privacy (Garret Keizer)

It Chooses You (Miranda July)

The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments (George Johnson)

Scepticism Inc. (Bo Fowler)

The Broom Of The System (David Foster Wallace)

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in BOOKS

 

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128. Books Bought & Read, September 2014…

128. Books Bought & Read, September 2014…

Books Bought, August 2014read-this-next-cover-us

The Wake,’ Paul Kingsnorth  

Jude: Level 1,’ Julian Gough

The Cobra’s Heart,’ Ryszard Kapuściński 

The Shipwrecked Men,’ Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

Seventeen Poisoned Englishmen,’ Gabriel García Márquez

Ender’s Game,’ Orson Scott Card

Read This Next,’ Howard Mittelmark & Sandra Newman 

1932416501Journey To The End Of The Night,’ Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Moominsummer Madness,’ Tove Jansson

Moominland Midwinter,’ Tove Jansson

Pop Charts,’ Paul Copperwaite

Vader’s Little Princess,’ Jeffrey Brown

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane,’ Neil Gaiman

Brooklyn,’ Colm Tóibín

We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves,’ Karen Joy Fowler

Le Petit Prince,’ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

God: a biography,‘ Jack Miles

Blindness,’ José Saramago

Here They Come,’ Yannick Murphyimgres

A Guided Tour Through The Museum Of Communism,’ Slovenka Drakulic

The Search For Signs Of Intelligent Life In The Universe,’ Jane Wagner

‘The Paris Review Interviews, Vols I-IV,’  ed. Philip Gourevitch

 

Books Read, August 2014

Scoop,’ Evelyn Waugh 

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Sous Le Soleil Jaguar,’ (‘Under The Jaguar Sky’), Italo Calvino

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Seventeen Poisoned Englishmen,’ Gabriel García Márquez

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Vader’s Little Princess,’ Jeffrey Brown

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Michael Rosen’s Sad Book,’ Michael Rosen & Quentin Blake

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Drown,’ Junot Díaz

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A Little Book Of Language,’ David Crystal

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The 2½ Pillars Of Wisdom,’ Alexander McCall Smith

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Moominsummer Madness,’ Tove Jansson

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Creating a World Without Poverty,’ Muhammad Yunus

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Moominland Midwinter,’ Tove Jansson

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Ender’s Game,’ Orson Scott Card

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The Fry Chronicles: an autobiography,’ Stephen Fry

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Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry,’ B.S.Johnson

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The Dog,’ Joseph O’Neil

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Jude: Level 1,’ Julian Gough

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The Doors Of Perception/Heaven And Hell,’ Aldous Huxley

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One Year: America, 2917,’ Bill Bryson

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A Movable Feast,’ Ernest Hemingway

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A Guided Tour Through The Museum Of Communism,’ Slovenka Drakulic

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25 bought, (mostly presents), 20 read: even for me, this was a busy month, fuelled by the time available on long-distance flights, some kids’ books (my first Moomins among them, which were simultaneously cute and unbelievably creepy), and a lot of time at my parents’ place working my way through my back-catalogue of signed books.

Some classics were finally ticked off, from Huxley’‘s The Doors-inspiring ‘The Doors Of Perception‘ to an Evelyn Waugh novel which wasn’t ‘Brideshead Revisited,’ but which was lots of fun. Most enjoyably, I finally got to read that staple of friends’ references, ‘A Moveable Feast‘ where Hemingway managed to make me dislike him less than I always have done – a memoir worthy of all the praise which is always being heaped on it.

A Moveable Feast from a Punchable Face. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

A Moveable Feast from a Punchable Face.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

 

I found Joseph O’Neill’s Booker Prize shortlisted ‘The Dog‘ to be underwhelming, but balanced it with Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’s thought-provoking book on his (accidental) life’s work, creating micro-credit institutions, which was heart-warming stuff.

One ‘new’ author I read I enjoyed so much that I have already blogged on the work here, whilst in the other direction I finally got around to reading the first work by an author I thought I knew well, Junot Diaz.

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Most enjoyable of all, for someone who likes to read books about the places he is living in/visiting, was the ever-reliable Bill Bryson‘s giant work on a single, pivotal year in American history, (whilst also, of course, taking in decades before and after). Whilst ostensibly being about one man’s race to be the first to cross the Atlantic by sea, (although this isn’t even really factually correct, as Bryson explains in detail), we are treated to everything from Babe Ruth and the Yankees to Prohibition, anarchist executions to the history of sky-scrapers.

I loved it.

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1927: quite a year…

 

The eagle-eyed amongst you are probably wondering who operated on you in the middle of the night and replaced your regular eyeballs, which is a horrible feeling to wake up to. Everyone else with normal eyes has probably noticed a new feature this month: a few friends had requested that I include some sort of ‘marks out of ten’ system so that they know what they should read and what they shouldn’t waste their time on.

(These ‘friends’ were presumably too busy to actually read the blog to get this information).

Always happy to bow to peer group pressure, this month sees the first use of my patented* ‘Books Out Of 10’ scoring system: the more Borges the better, the more Dan Browns the worse.

*Not actually patented

 

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Let me know what you think…

 

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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in BOOKS

 

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