Thursday, December 30, 2021

38. Read Hard: The Believer Anthology

Ed Park and Heidi Julavits eds. (389 pp) This is an anthology of non-fiction pieces from The Beliver Magazine 2003-2009. I have had it on my shelf forever and promised myself I would finish it this month. First, I will emphasize the writing is tremendous. Some of the pieces are timeless, some of the pieces are already incredibly dated, some of the pieces had me scratching my head, asking why does this exist? One piece reminded me of that moment in Licorice Pizza when Alaina is talking to William Holden and dreamily asks, "Are these lines or is this real?" I didn't do an exhaustive deconstruction of the table of contents but it is light on gender/bipoc/lgbtq+ diversity in a way that they could never get away with today. My favorite piece by Tom Bissell is about writing instruction books and includes this line about a book that was very helpful to me when I was a new and fearful writer, " one who ever read Writing Down the Bones became a writer by anything but sheer accident."

Friday, December 24, 2021

37. Anything is Possible

By Elizabeth Strout (254 pp) I'm almost 40 books for the year so I keep picking short ones to see if I can make it. I love Elizabeth Strout. These are stories about people from the Lucy Barton book but Lucy herself only makes a brief appearance. The writing is great but wow, these are damaged people. It's set in a rural town a couple of hours from Chicago and everyone has secrets and/or trauma. Still recommend.

Monday, December 20, 2021

36. The Nickel Boys

By Colson Whitehead (210 pp) This is a fictional story based on a real boys reform school in Florida and it is both brilliant and devastating. I read about the real reform school at some point, I guess when they discovered all the graves and the crimes that happened there became more well-known. The cruelty is hard to comprehend. But still, read the book. Whitehead is really good.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

35. Conversations with Wilder

By Cameron Crowe (358 pp) This is a book of Cameron Crowe interviewing Billy Wilder and it's fantastic. Crowe asks a lot of interesting questions and perfectly captures Wilder's cranky elder side while also getting some great stories out of him. As I read I made a list of all the Wilder movies I want to see but of course many aren't available or are on some platform that I don't have. I gave this book to Bob years ago and can't remember what prompted me to ask him to get it out for me. It's been on my nightstand for awhile. I would read a chapter or two and then let it sit. As I got to the end, I put off reading it because I assumed it would end with Billy Wilder's death and I didn't want to be sad that he died, you know, in 2002. That's not how it ends even though Wilder himself suggested that. Bob decided I needed the book of Francois Truffaut interviewing Alfred Hitchcock. Who knows how long that will be on the nightstand?

Monday, December 6, 2021

34. The Galaxy and the Ground Within (Book #4 Wayfarers)

By Becky Chambers (333 pp ebook) I loved the first two Wayfarers book and didn't read the third yet. I wasn't so hot on this one but the ending was so emotionally satisfying, I forgave it. In this one, a group of different alien species are all temporary grounded at this planet pit stop. At times it feels like an exercise for school about diversity and tolerance. But the characters argue and develop friendships. Recommend this series.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

33. Leviathan Falls (The Expanse Book #9 of 9)

By James S. A. Corey (529 pp ebook) This is the first time I have pre-ordered an ebook but I had to start it the minute it was out. The last in a 9 book plus a bunch of novellas series. It's was a satisfying ending to a series, but this book got a tad long in the middle. What I liked about this series was even with all the space battles and weird alien technology, we got so invested in this made family on the Rocinante.