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« December, 2018 »
A Canticle for Liebowitz

This book, a scifi classic, was made up of three short stories. I liked the first one very much and the second two less so. The end is basically suffering porn and I was annoyed at it. People told me I could still get a lot out of this book if I don’t have much knowledge of the bible or Catholicism. I’m not sure they were correct.

Manfried the Man

What if cats were human sized and had cat sized humans as pets? That is hte entire premise of this graphic novel which winds up being about much more than that. Super fun. I am not totally sure why all the man-pets are men, but maybe there’s some reasoning behind it. Well-drawn and well-written, this was a fun romp for the last read of 2018.

Firecrackers: Female Photographers Now

An excellent look at some of the interesting things female photographers have been doing recently. This book tries to have an international focus but seems to mainly be around women in the UK orbit for the most part. Really interesting photographic projects, some more traditional some a lot more experimental. The cover photo, which I found a little off-putting even if interesting, is not representative of what you’ll find inside.

The Tiger Flu

This is one of those books that I finish and then go read other reviews of the book so I can be sure my interpretation of what was going on is actually correct or at least consensus-correct. This was a confusing book. But I liked it! Usually I “nope” out of these books where there’s either a really murky plotline or a lot of “And then she took drugs and you weren’t sure what was real for a few chapters afterwards” situations. But in this case, the plot was interesting, the characters were compelling and it’s SO refreshing to get to read a book where most of the characters are women, especially, a scifi book, that I pushed ahead and was happy I did.

The Fated Sky

I enjoyed this book. It’s a little more complex than the first one in that there’s a little more interpersonal stuff going on and a little less “How do we deal with this catastrophe” There is also a little more random number talking which I am always surprised at (like I get that she is a calculator but lists of numbers when they’re doing “space things” makes for sort of odd reading"). A lot less Nathaniel in this book which is too bad but generally speaking this is about going to Mars, it’s very space-y, it’s a great sequel to the previous book and I look forward to more.

The Best We Could Do

Thi Bui wanted to tell her story in a visual way so she learned to create graphic novels. This is her first and it’s captivating. Starting from the birth of her own baby and her mother’s somewhat paradoxical reactions to it, she goes back and explores the background of both her parents as they struggled in Vietnam under the shifting and oftentimes brutal regimes that were there. Bui herself is a “boat person” who was born in Vietnam and came to America when she was very small. This book is especially poignant against the backdrop of the current immigration crisis and our President’s complete mishandling and barbaric response to it.

Bury the Lead

There is a lot going on in this novel - there’s a health scare at the hospital, Willy gets on pain meds, a woman is killed and tossed in the woods, someone is messing around with a local grocery warehouse. Mayor ties it up nicely as usual and this book has slightly less of the stress-points of some of the past novels where you worry about someone being in trouble or getting hurt (there is a little of that but not much). I enjoyed it, it’s a little dry a times but overall good and what I was expecting.

Speak: The Graphic Novel

This is a powerful graphic novel about high school and ostracization. I did not read the original book but really enjoyed this version of it, illustrated by Emily Carroll, though I needed to switch it to my “daytime reading” pile from my nighttime reading pile because it was too dark for nighttime. It’s a story about a terrible thing that happens and the aftermath which is, in some sense, just as terrible. I related to the character who was isolated in her own home with self-absorbed parents and friends who always seem to be after something and who are also trying to just make their way in the world. I think the story works especially well as a graphic novel because a lot of the imagery is almost better seen than read.


I always like but don’t always love Sedaris. I love that he talks about the ups and downs and actual weird stuff he does on a day to day basis (feeding your lipoma to a snapping turtle? Loved that story!) I have a harder time when he brings his family into it and I worry/think about the story behind the story. His sister is famous in her own right, I wonder what she thinks. Another sister committed suicide after a long period of mental illness and his last reference to her in this book is about closing a door in her face. His father may not live until the next book. It’s all super interesting, a complicated mix of thigns that are funny right next to things that are not that funny but it makes it all the more real.

How to Be a Muslim: An American Story

I struggled a lot with this book which is about one man’s struggling with his own idea of faith and how it overlapped with his physical and mental illnesses and his own desired for what he wanted in his personal life. I’m not sure if it’s just that the author is Muslim and male and younger than me, or if it’s that this book just wasn’t that well written. There were huge chunks in the middle of it which were just recounting parts of the Quran or the life of Mohammed and while this may have been meaningful to the author, it was less understandable from a reader’s perspective. In general this book outlines the author’s journey and then end wraps up maybe a bit too neatly. I wanted more details in some places and fewer details in others. Glad I read it but just barely.

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

Wanted to like this but it was already up to three different perspectives and a little too strategic for me and I’m trying to get better at cutting my losses.

Kingdom of the Blind

The latest in the Gamache series. A good one about the really corrosive effects of street drugs. That said, a little too much of the phrase “junkies and tr*nnies and whores” for my tastes even if the main character did do a good job of using correct pronouns later on. People moving in new directions and an interesting main story and side story. Read over a few long airport stays. Worthwhile.