Book Recommendations from the Bookogs Newsletter

December 1, 2017

Overtime:Selected Poems

Overtime: Selected Poems by Philip Whalen - From seburns: If you like Beat poetry and have yet to check out Philip Whalen, do yourself a favor and pick up this book. Whalen is a rambling stream-of-consciousness delight, with notes and hand drawings appearing among the poetry. Combining his Zen Buddhist beliefs with the tenets of Beat poetry, Whalen seems like a 1960s Walt Whitman, with similar joy in nature and a penchant for wide exhortations to the world. Well worth your time!

November 1, 2017

The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky

The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky by Alejandro Jodorowsky - - From brephophagist: This memoir relates the history of Jodorowsky's spiritual growth, and is largely framed by his evolving relationship with the Zen Master Takata. Viewers of his films and Jodorowky's Dune likely bring expectations to this book: drugs, sex, shock, suspiciously great stories, and enough discussion of the reality of death to provoke discomfort. The book delivers on all these things. Whether Jodorowsky's varied mystical experiences ring hollow, loony, compelling, or any other way will be a personal reaction from the reader, but I think it's safe to say that this is an engaging read that provokes thought.

Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millenials & the Meaning of Grime

Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millenials & the Meaning of Grime by Jeffrey Boakye - From kalli: Jeffrey Boakye blends personal, historical, geographical and sociological perspectives in his write up of grime music, covering its origins, evolution and resurgence. Each bite sized chapter deals with a specific important song in the history of the genre. Its a fun and interesting read, a refresher with behind-the-scenes insight for people who've followed the scene and a good introduction to everyone else. There's also a playlist of all the tracks mentioned to soundtrack your reading.

October 2, 2017

Monsters in the Movies

Monsters in the Movies by John Landis - From MarbleheadJohnson: Since Halloween is coming up, there is no better time to recommend this, one of the finest books on monsters ever assembled. John Landis, the man who gave us one of the finest horror flicks ever with “American Werewolf In London”, pores over the history of scary movies, while providing plenty of full color photos and witty commentary with his 2011 tome to beasts, “Monsters In The Movies”. It is presented in a thick hard cover, giving it the full-on coffee table treatment, but it’s no less a labor of love for Landis as he painstakingly highlights each little fact of the cinematic monsters we love. Separating the contents into Vampires, Werewolves, Mad Scientists, Zombies, Ghosts, Mummies, Myths, Dragons, Dinosaurs, Apes, Nature, Mutations, The Devil, Outer Space, Machines, and of course, Humans, Landis takes significant time to also talk to well-known horror directors. Through conversations with legends like John Carpenter and Guillermo Del Toro, Landis picks out why we are in love with monsters so much, and the possibilities of why humans might be the most frightening monstrosities of all. So put on your costumes and crack this baby open — it doesn’t get more Halloween-y than this.

Freshers

Freshers by Kevin Sampson - From alexl: September saw many students go to university. The new students are known as Freshers (Freshmen in the USA). Kit is a new student at Sheffield University in South Yorkshire, England. He is the everyman. He makes friends easily, he's intelligent, but he's not a hit with the ladies or arrogant. Like many students he gets homesick and realises the girl he likes isn't really into him, but likes his friend. Kevin Sampson manages to capture the desperation and loneliness of living in a new town and being away from home for the first time, like most of his novels he has a good ear for dialogue as well. What he doesn't seem to be able to capture is the jokes and silliness students share. This isn't a humour novel. Another two minor criticisms are the novel was written in 2003, clearly Sampson knows the area of Sheffield well and has done his homework (pun intended), but many bars and clubs have since closed their doors: O'Neills Irish Pub, Gatecrasher and a few others, it would have been an excellent tour of the city's pub\club scene at the time not so much in 2017. Each chapter also lists the music Kit is listening to on that day. This is a nice feature, but it mainly includes Warp's back catalogue consisting of artists like Mogwai and Boards of Canada. While this isn't unrealistic, the reality is most students were still listening to The Smiths, Oasis and even some bands considered uncool like Coldplay and Black Eyed Peas in 2003. I'm not sure if it was an attempt to make Kit appear urbane, to make the music match the emotions expressed by the words or just an exercise in showing off Sampson's good taste in music. However, this is probably one of the better and more believable UK novels on student life written in the 21st century.

September 1, 2017

The Descent of Alette

The Descent of Alette by Alice Notley - From seburns: One of the first books that I ever contributed to the database, The Descent of Alette is told as an epic journey for the titular character in a form of poetry that Notley devised herself, where beats or phrases are contained in quotation marks. This is something that takes a bit to get used to, but ultimately enriches the work. Metered in this way, Alette's journey is a dark and strange trek through subway cars and caves that takes her to the house of the Tyrant, who she must confront if she is to change the fate of everyone in her world. Unabashedly feminist, Notley's epic is both inspiring and haunting.

August 1, 2017

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton - From alexl: The definitive book on DJing and club culture, this book is written by Bill Brewster, a DJ well-known for his rare eclectic sets and Frank Broughton, an author and editor who has written for everything from NME to i-D. There have been many books written on DJing and electronic music especially around the "boom time" of late-90s and early-00s when every TV programme, ad and film had a DJ in it. What separates this from the pack is you can tell it was written by people with not only genuine knowledge, but also a genuine passion for the subject; in other words not by someone doing an internship for a giveaway tube magazine. Disco, Rave, Detroit Techno, Hip-Hop, Acid House: it covers them all. Even if you are vaguely interested in the scene or the music, the stories make it a page turner.

July 5, 2017

Shop Cats of New York

Shop Cats of New York by Tamar Arslanian - From MarbleheadJohnson: As light-hearted coffee table books go, Shop Cats Of New York is as good as it gets. Throughout its 176 pages, the reader is treated to hundreds of full color photos as the author provides a brief summary of the company the cats represent, and where that company is located. Real estate offices, bike shops, and even record stores are not immune to where this book goes, and just about any type of brick and mortar shop you can think of gets represented here through pages and pages of furry goodness. The book does a great job of avoiding being too cute for its own good, though, as it prefers to let the stories and photos do the talking. More than anything, the book showcases our need to be around cats (especially as we work), and proves that felines can bring out the best in us.

Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse

Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse by Anne Carson - From seburns: Autobiography in Red: A Novel in Verse is an achingly beautiful tale inspired by Greek mythology and told in poetry that both echoes the epic tradition of storytelling in verse and infuses the story with the kind of personal feeling and revelation that more resembles much later lyric poetry. Geryon is a young confused boy, neglected by his mother and abused by his older brother, but at the same time he is a red winged monster out of myth. He meets another boy, Herakles, who is both the boy Geryon loves and the mythic half-god who must steal red cattle from Geryon as one of his twelve labors. Carson weaves these realities together to produce a haunting narrative populated by striking and unforgettable images. A must-read for any fans of poetry, Greek mythology, or innovative forms.

June 1, 2017

The Turbulent Universe

The Turbulent Universe by Paul Kurtz - From MarbleheadJohnson: One of the leading skeptics of our time, author Paul Kurtz was responsible for some of the most original thinking regarding secular humanism the world has yet seen. Mixing this humanistic approach with the threats of nature (and the taxes humans put upon it) became Kurtz’s life’s work, and “The Turbulent Universe”, his last book, is arguably the best example of his approach to the never-ending conflict of humankind, and how we relate to the universe around us. Kurtz points out that the hardline determinists and their empirical approaches have much to learn, perhaps just as much as the faithful theists do in their leaps to fill in the unexplainable gaps. Kurtz argues that human endeavor can peacefully intermingle with science, creating new intellectual pathways to a better understanding of the ever-changing universe.

The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs

The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs by Irvine Welsh - From alexl: This novel isn't one of Welsh's master works, but it is a darn fine novel. It has drawn comparisons to Dorian Grey and Jekyll and Hyde, but it reminds me of Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.

It is about two characters: lovable loser, Brian Kibby a high flying, but socially anxious council office worker and his co-worker Danny Skinner - a good looking and popular bully who is an alcoholic and cocaine user. Like all good Welsh novels he balances the character flaws with pathos and empathy. Danny Skinner is on a pursuit to find his father who might be a top celebrity chef or Joe Strummer of Clash fame. Brian Kibby might be looking for love or a "good ride" while advancing his career. The novel introduces an arguably genius play on body horror when Danny Skinner puts a curse on Brian Kibby by giving him all his hangovers, come downs and obesity when he eats bad takeaway food. You can't hate either character in this story, but you may find yourself choosing sides. Danny Skinner for all his maliciousness is funny; Brian Kibby for all his patheticness is essentially a good guy.

The real reason this is recommended is it may open a few wounds. We've all been the newbie at the office, wanting to fit in and finding it doesn't always go our way. We've all had "bedroom" and "basement" obsessions like Brian Kibby's model railway or his unhealthy obsession with videogame Harvest Moon 64. We've all wished we didn't have the mother of all hangovers after drinking too many whiskies. Most importantly we've all wanted to do the right thing in times of moral ambiguity.

May 1, 2017

What a Carve Up!

What a Carve Up! by Jonathan Coe - From alexl: Loosely inspired by a 1961 schlocky horror film of the same title, this novel is a plodding 501 page door stopper. What it isn’t is a murder mystery in the generic mould. It is literary fiction focusing on dodgy deals, corrupt aristocracy and childhood obsessions. This book was first published in 1994, a time when post-modernism was creeping into popular fiction, whether that be the film Pulp Fiction or when The Simpsons started to hit its stride. This novel is very much a Meta book with the narrator's childhood writing featuring a mock family tree and most pretentious of all, a fictitious manuscript at the back of the book. Despite all its illusions of grandeur, it is involving with some excellent observations and quirky character development (the narrator being obsessed with Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin being one). The main reason for reading this book is it has been overshadowed by the works of Martin Amis and maybe Will Self in terms of "breaking the mould" contemporary fiction. Looking back at some of the plot, wealthy family the Winshaws doing arms deals with Middle Eastern dictators is sadly as prophetic now as it was back then.

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell - From MarbleheadJohnson: For those unwilling to accept video games as art, Tom Bissell might just change your mind with Extra Lives. Bissell walks the reader through some of the darker moments of his past, and how his obsession for gaming made those habits both worse and better than they should have been. The exploration between emotional bonding and uncontrollable compulsion are closer than one might think as the author talks to game designers across the industry while comparing his own experiences with the developer’s original vision. There have been many books on the artistic legitimacy of video gaming, but Bissell touches upon what makes humans of all ages a case study into how games can be everything we want them to be, while providing avenues to lesser-sought outcomes.

April 3, 2017

So Sad Today: Personal Essays

So Sad Today: Personal Essays - From brephophagist: I'm simultaneously reassured and terrified by how much I identify with Melissa Broder's So Sad Today. It's a cohesive collection of short-to-medium length essays that center around constantly and creatively devaluing one's own self-worth. Its materials are timely: sex and love and the maddening quest to fuse them; social media; body dysmorphia; childhood and family. However, I'd wager anyone who's familiar with the black dog will feel a kinship with its well-humored but unflinching self-portrait.

The Manual - How to Have a Number One the Easy Way

The Manual - How to Have a Number One the Easy Way by Jim Cauty and Bill Drummond - From MarbleheadJohnson: Packed into a pint-sized near-pamphlet, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty culled together their experience as pop stars, and extolled the virtues, and cynicisms, of producing a hit single. Nearly 30 years old, “The Manual” offers serious tips in how to translate the fire-breathing and unforgiving language of the record industry, and how to properly pimp and play the game to its most successful effect. Drummond and Cauty pull no punches in their descriptions of how to lie, cheat, and sample your way to the top, and it’s even been proven to work (see bands Edelweiss and Chumbawumba). The KLF have a new book coming this summer, and The Manual is written proof that you should be excited and awe-struck with whatever insight they have left.

March 1, 2017

Deaf Sentence

Deaf Sentence by David Lodge - From alexl: This book is beautifully written and takes the grave subject of deafness and manages to inject some humour into it. While deafness in itself is both tragic and comic, so is this novel. The tragedy is further amplified by protagonist, Desmond Bates caring for his ageing father who has senile dementia. There's an unusual subplot with the manipulative, but beautiful American student, Alex; who may or may not be trying to convince Desmond to have an affair in her riverside apartment which toes the line between farcical and believable.

David Lodge overdoes the literary references with bulbous quotes from poems, but the pleasure of reading this novels lies in the fact protagonist, Desmond Bates is clearly modelled on David Lodge and will have the reader questioning how much of it is based on his real life.

The God Delusion

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - From MarbleheadJohnson: It’s tough to argue with relentless logic and facts, and Richard Dawkins presents it all here in painstaking detail. Dawkins uses his background as a scientist to present unequivocal truths about the effect religion and blind faith have taken on humanity, while also taking extended looks at how atheism is the least tolerated belief in the United States. Of particular merit lies in Dawkins’ reversing the myth that atheism breeds immorality with a studied argument showing atheism requiring a far higher moral framework in comparison to other belief systems. Making the book most readable, though, is Dawkins’ ability to illustrate why atheism makes sense for any thinking individual on this planet, and why discarding facts for blind faith endangers our evolution. It might be preaching to the converted, but for anyone curious to understand the thought process and care atheists take in their view of the world around them, this book is essential reading.

February 1, 2017

Krautrocksampler: One Head's Guide to the Great Kosmiche Musik - 1968 Onwards

Krautrocksampler: One Head's Guide to the Great Kosmiche Musik - 1968 Onwards by Julian Cope - From MarbleheadJohnson: One thing Julian Cope can never be accused of is being boring. Whether you agree with his ranting dissertations stands as little concern, for Kruatrocksampler remains one of the ultimate testaments of well-written fandom. Cope takes the reader through a summary of krautrock albums he deems as essential, and even takes some moments to lambast more popular bands that were able to find a wider audience for reasons he explains are disingenuous at best. At its core, this book recognizes collecting culture, and why it’s so important to back up those years of involvement with a personalized spin. Cope gives it more credence by being able to back up his claims by being an ex-rock star himself, but the author chooses to sidestep that in favor of being a music fan, and only that. Krautrocksampler will set you back a pretty penny, but being one of the most imminently readable love letters to music ever printed proves the worth of such endeavors.

Gone to Croatan: Origins of North American Dropout Culture

Gone to Croatan: Origins of North American Dropout Culture edited by James Koehnline and Ron Sakolsky - From accraze: A fascinating look at different communities and movements that have slipped through the cracks of North American history. Filled with interesting ideas about temporary autonomous zones and liminal spaces, this is the stuff I wish I would have learned about in history class. Focusing on different groups of Native American tribes, colonial dropouts and runaway slaves, this book provides a refreshing look at what the world could be like if people let go of social prejudice and worked together.

January 1, 2017

Man and His Symbols

Man and His Symbols by Carl G. Jung - From bootsncats: For those unfamiliar with the author, Carl Gustav Jung was a German psychiatrist who was both a student and colleague of the more well-known Sigmund Freud. Building on Freud's earlier work, Man and His Symbols delves even deeper into the complex labyrinth that is the human mind. Introducing novel concepts including symbols, archetypes, and the collective unconscious, Jung presents groundbreaking psychological research in a digestible manner without requiring readers to have PhD level understanding of the field. With numerous connections drawn between his theory and real world phenomena, Jung encourages readers to rethink mankind's most ancient institutions as stemming from a common thread of universal understanding. I would highly recommended this to any fan of Freud, or psychology in general.

Things The Grandchildren Should Know

Things The Grandchildren Should Know by Mark Oliver Everett - From MarbleheadJohnson: This book’s hype sticker reads “Rock music! Death! Crazy people! Love!”. While it would be a disservice to dismiss this book as just these elements, it’s not too far off, either. After all, don’t these four promises illustrate some of the best reasons why we all adore music in the first place? Things The Grandchildren Should Know, written by Eels’ Mark Oliver Everett, takes us through a roller coaster of the deepest emotions as the author describes his early love affair with music, his disconnected relationships with his parents, and the untimely deaths of each member of his family. Through tragedy, Everett proves that music can be the sole savior of sanity, and the inspiration to live again, day by day. Everett will put things in perspective for you, no matter how rotten your day is going.

December 1, 2016

The Question of Lay Analysis

The Question of Lay Analysis: Conversations with an Impartial Person by Sigmund Freud - From ahr2nd: The text is just about 100 pages and was published originally as a pamphlet in Austria to persuade the public of the merits not just of psychoanalysis—a science "scarcely as old as the century" itself—but of psychoanalysis performed by non-doctors, analysts the law called 'laymen' (hence the titular question). While this particular debate—whether or not lay analysts should be permitted to practice—may today appear hopelessly arcane, the text is possibly the briefest and best introduction to psychoanalysis that Freud produced. It was, after all, written for a general audience in the form of a simple dialogue, one with an 'impartial' (but really very skeptical) interlocutor. In fact, when Anna Freud was asked to provide input on the creation of an introductory volume of her father's work, she suggested that The Question be placed at the beginning, a perhaps surprising choice for those who might have passed it by in favor of Freud's (longer, more difficult) 'introductory' lectures! In short, if you're interested in learning more about Freud, consider picking up this slim, oft-forgotten text.

Super Sad True Love Story

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart - From weetzie: Super Sad True Love Story is Gary Shteyngart’s satirical look at America's dysfunctional “near-future.” The story is a bleak, but thought-provoking look at a functionally illiterate society tinkering with immortality.

In case this epistolary “bound media artifact” isn’t strange enough on its own, I'll make things just a little bit weirder with a haiku review:

Eternity in
dystopia = bleak.
> super sad, < love story.

Yeah, I know I didn’t actually manage to follow traditional haiku rules, but we are living on the brink of a “post-literate” age so I was hoping you wouldn't notice.

November 1, 2016

The Wise Woman

The Wise Woman by Phillipa Gregory - From lupadupa: When Morach found Alys outside her cottage in the 1500s, she had no idea what she was in for. Morach raised and taught Alys the mysteries of a cottage witch, only for Alys to flee their poverty-stricken life, and set into motion a scheme that could only end in misery.

The Wise Woman by Philipa Greggory is set during Henry VIII's rule of England, and while the historical aspects of this novel are important and move the plot, this really tells the story of a woman driven by fear in a time where women were considered powerless. While I was appalled by Alys (and hoped for her demise at many points), Greggory's real message appeared neither good or evil - instead, questioning the dual nature of humanity and the choices we make. "How far is too far?"

How to Write About Music

How to Write About Music edited by Marc Woodworth and Ally-Jane Grossan - From loquearde: “How To Write About Music” is the perfect book for every aspiring music journalist out there. Packed with stories from the beloved 33 1/3 series and other different sources, it offers the reader a gorgeous selection of texts covering areas like the album review, the live review, the artist profile, the music essay… Absolutely fantastic, don’t miss it!

October 1, 2016

The Magicians

The Magicians - From Weetzie: The Magicians, the first of a trilogy from Lev Grossman, is like reading a darker and dirtier version of all of your favorite fantasy tales from childhood. Mix together an ample amount of alcohol, anxiety, and sarcasm with Harry Potter, Narnia, and Lord of the Rings, then add a touch of Brideshead Revisited, and you’ve got the basic recipe for The Magicians.

And if that doesn’t sound enticing enough, I should also mention that The Magicians is the best type of series: the completed kind, ready for binge-reading! The final installment in the trilogy, The Magicians Land, was released in 2015.

Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness - From brephophagist: I first encountered Heather Havrilesky's writing in 1999, when she penned the cartoon series Filler for Suck.com. Since then she's taken her razor-sharp insight and wry wit to more journals and periodicals than I should reasonably name here; her semi-regular contributions to The Baffler are particularly delightful surprises. Currently her steadiest gig is writing Ask Polly for the Awl, where she's taken Filler's ennui-filled, devil-may-care young writer Polly Esther and restyled her into a more mature, ennui-filled, devil-may-care advice columnist.

Disaster Preparedness is Havrilesky's first book, a memoir of her years growing up in a quasi-Catholic divorced family in North Carolina. To acknowledge my own bias: as a child of a quasi-Catholic divorced family in North Carolina, I didn't exactly have to move mountains to identify with her story. If there's an organizing theme here, it's Havrilesky's relationship with her parents, and how that changes as she deals with their marriage, divorce, and the death of her father.

Peppered throughout are a few things I expected, having read Havrilesky's other writing: witheringly hilarious takedowns of pop culture phenomena and youthful delusions; self-deprecating inner monologues spiraling into near-anxiety; and cynicism aplenty. (When subbing this book, I noted with a chuckle that "Pessimism" is the primary Library of Congress category.)

However, unlike a fair swath of Havrilesky's shorter-form writing, she doesn't allow ironic distance or nihilism to persist unrestrained, and consistently brings her memoir back to a place that, while it can't reasonably be called "enthusiasm", has at least a tinge of hope and acceptance. It's an engaging and funny read that goes fast, but still has some substance.

September 2, 2016

AllAges: The Rise and Fall of Portland Punk Rock

All Ages: The Rise and Fall of Portland Punk Rock 1977-1981 - From brephophagist: All Ages tells an invaluable history of Portland at the dawn of punk through the knowing eyes of Mark Sten, who seemed to be everywhere during that time. Packed with photos, flyers, zine covers, and scraps of paper, Sten tells the story not only of who played where and when, but also how the social dynamic of punk in Portland evolved from a bunch of kids trying to find a venue that wouldn't kick them out to an anarchist collective dedicated to keeping New Wave (Portland's term for punk) alive and available to all. Fans of the Wipers, Poison Idea, Dead Moon, or Smegma should consider this book mandatory reading.

NLP In A Week

NLP In A Week - From lupadupa: NLP In A Week is a tutorial on how to re-wire your "Neuro Linguistic Programming". It forces you to take a look at how your perception shapes your reality, which then affects your ability to connect with others through your words and behavioral cues.

The information presented here can be applied to both business or personal relationships, and is aimed to create less misunderstandings and more success. Designed to deliver a lesson each week, I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to increase their rapport, and begin to break down the pre-conditioned attitudes that shape our lives.

August 2, 2016

Survival Quest (The Way of the Shaman: Book #1) by V. Mahenenko

Survival Quest (The Way of the Shaman: Book #1) by V. Mahenenko - From Weetzie: This LitRPG series is set in the near future in which a D&D-style MMORPG becomes many people's main reality. This virtual world, Barliona, is also where criminals are sent to serve their time since it's much cheaper to plug prisoners into VR gaming capsules than upkeep prisons in the RL.

Enter our protagonist Daniel Mahan, who finds himself sentenced to eight years in Barliona [Assigned Character Stats: Race: Human, Class; Shaman; Profession: Jewelcraft]. Can he level up and gain the skills and experience to escape his prison sentence within Barliona? Can you game the system, when the system is a game?

Too many acronyms in that description for you? Then skip it... this book is probably only for the serious RPG-geek. But if that's you, then pick it up and enjoy the weirdness of reading a first person VR adventure with plenty of quests, player stats, and leveling up!

The Peripheral by William Gibson

From jcrosen - William Gibson's latest novel "The Peripheral" is a whirlwind that will carry you into both a near and far dystopian future with a tale about conspiracy, politics, and intrigue. In his now typical style, Gibson crafts not just one but two worlds; both far from the world we know now and yet both so tangible.

Gibson tends to challenge the reader and this novel is no exception; the first hundred pages are dense and the first fifty will likely confuse and confound as you're pulled forward through Gibson's imagination with no preamble and no exposition. There are a small but strong set of characters with crisp and terse dialog, through which the nature of both worlds is revealed with vivid imagery and subtle but powerful context and subtext.

Once the stage is set the reader is rewarded for their patience with an exhilarating read. Gibson threads a classic noir-style murder mystery through themes including printed matter, nano-technology, advanced robotics, declining civilization, the future of art, and more. His worlds are vibrant and believable, and at times may even seem plausible. His descriptions of the near-future and the impacts of 3D printing, drugs, and war are even more jarring for their sameness; the future is blended into our present so deftly the reader is pulled into the story. The far-future is even more grotesquely similar, a post-fall existence whose novelty belies the abstracted parallels with our own power hierarchies and obsession with the past.

There are a few nits I could pick with the book; a few plot points are never resolved, there are times when Gibson's proclivity for "obscuring" the world is annoying, etc. But the journey was so much fun that I honestly don't care. The climax was satisfying and does somewhat tie-off the main narrative thread, but my curiosity is still very much piqued. In a sense that is perhaps the best praise I can give; I want to read more stories from these worlds and be enchanted again. I hope Mr. Gibson isn't done here.

July 1, 2016

What the Dormouse Said by John Markoff

What the Dormouse Said by John Markoff - From accraze: A fascinating look at the role of computers amidst the counterculture of the 1960s & 70s. It's a very non-Steve Jobs, non-Bill Gates history of the birth of the personal computer revolution. Full of phone phreaks, homegrown tech and big ideas, this book is an awesome read for anyone interested in history or technology.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant - From lupadupa: “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant is a fictional account of the Biblical stories of Jacob, Joseph, and Dinah that is told from Dinah’s perspective, giving a feminine perspective to an age-old tale largely shadowed by patriarchal traditions. Dinah’s “true story” will never be completely divulged, apart from one chapter in Genesis, but Diamant uses scripture and historical reference to provide a plausible ‘coming of age’ narrative that is both heart wrenching and mind-opening. A wonderful read for anyone interested in Biblical scripture, or not, as religious faith is not the the meat of this story.

June 1, 2016

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

Pulitzer prize winning and deservedly so, The Orphan Master's Son is a beautifully written, culturally relevant, and thoroughly entertaining adventure centered primarily around a citizen and soldier of the DPRK. While not perfect, Adam Johnson captures your imagination and builds a gripping story that's both horrifying and hilarious in its boldness, ingenuity, and sense of the macabre. I am generally wary of a western author writing a story like this, but there's a lot of respect for the specific subject matter and Korean culture in general. Highly recommended! - Recommendation by jcrosen

Neuromancer by William Gibson

With Neuromancer, William Gibson singlehandedly kickstarted the American Cyberpunk movement and, while certainly dated, its influence cannot be overstated. As readers, we are given a dingy and bleak future through which we confront our beliefs about class, corporate power, artificial intelligence, and security concerns that come with the at-the-time burgeoning internet. For fans of Philip K. Dick, the Matrix, and Sci-Fi kitsch. - Recommendation by famous_mortimer

October 26, 2015

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumaker

Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumaker - A deserving winner of the 2015 Thurber Prize for American Humor, Dear Committee Members tells its story through a series of turgid, narcissistic letters of recommendation written by Jason Fitger, a professor of writing at a fictional liberal arts college in the Midwest, for his students and colleagues. As he hilariously laments his mundane problems as though they were archetypal tragedies, we learn how completely Fitger's prickly pride has burned every surrounding personal and professional bridge, and watch him cope with reconciling feelings of regret and nostalgia with his own all-consuming ego. - Recommendation by brephophagist

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - You've probably already watched High Fidelity with John Cusack, but have you read the novel the movie is based on? English novelist, essayist, lyricist, and screenwriter Nick Hornby wrote High Fidelity 20 years ago, but this tale about a romantically challenged record store owner is still just as charming and hilarious today. Step into Championship Vinyl, where Rob and his employees harass musically-taste-challenged record store browsers, discuss mix-tape fundamentals, and Rob recalls his five most memorable breakups. - Recommendation by Weetzie

September 3, 2015

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan - This award-winning book weaves together the lives of several characters focusing on the music industry. -Recommendation by seburns

The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Wind-Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi - Set in Thailand in a future where calorie wars among corporations have devastated the world's biodiversity, this novel follows the fate of the wind-up girl, an engineered being treated as second-class citizen in the turbulent times. - Recommendation by seburns