Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Books Read Lately

Geez, I knew I was forgetting something around here! I haven't been talking about the books that I've been reading. Not since January to be specific. I'm up to 88 read this year. So here is a giant (and I do mean giant) catch-up of all the pages that have been flipped and consumed since then up til now...
When you look at this list you'll note two things, I'm reading a lot of non-fiction and classic books and graphic novels and that I've read all of Neil Gaiman's writings this year. I stuck in Amazon links for the books I really recommend.

The True Game - Sherri Tepper This is a single volume collection of her first 3 published books, which is great because I had only ever been able to find one of the three and it didn't make much sense on its own! I have to say they aren't as well written as her most recent work, but still enjoyable and highly creative with glimmers of subjects she'll come around to again and again in her later works.

Celtic Way of Seeing - Frank MacEowen - Not my favorite book on celtic shamanism, pretty superficial and too general to be of much use. Glad I got it from the library.
Y- The Last Man - Brian K. Vaughn I can't recommend this series of graphic novels highly enough. The style might be too jarring and explicit for some, but the story is just terrific, what happens to the very last man (and his monkey) left on Earth after an instantaneous plague kills off all the men. Explores topics of the morality of unrestrained unregulated genetic research, sexuality and gender roles (when there is only one gender left!), new and changing definitions of family, inherent immorality of governments, militaries, and organized religions etc...Just a really great yarn, with tons of interesting characters and settings.
Until I Find You - John Irving I wasn't sure if I'd like this book or not, being so enamoured with A Prayer for Owen Meany, but this was really really good, heart-breaking, up-lifting and hilarious, just as a great Irving novel should be. Almost up to the level ofThe World According to Garp.

1602 - Neil Gaiman A graphic novel re-imagining the expansion of European power to American shores, assisted by superheroes of the era. Cool idea, wished it had been longer and better fleshed out.

Neverwhere - Neil Gaiman I wished I had read the book first before seeing the BBC tv miniseries, I couldn't just enjoy the book and had to mentally compare all the changes, very distracting, but that is my problem, not a problem of the book. It stands up all by itself, doesn't need the tv, and actually helped me figure out some of the plotlines that were murky in the tv version. What if there was another world, unseen by us, underneath all of our major cities, this book set in the London underworld. Terrific characters, some quite scary, and the storyline is very engaging.

Seize the Night - Dean Koontz - The second story following the characters from Fear Nothing. I don't know why I keep reading these, as they're always the same. Guess it is like eating popcorn, enjoyable at the time, but doesn't stay with you.
Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison I'd always been meaning to read more of Morrison's work as I'd enjoyed Beloved so much. This is very different, but still very affecting, I was thinking about the characters for weeks afterwards which to me means the author has really succeeded.

The Tale of Cuckoo-Brow-Wood (Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter Mysteries) - Susan Wittig Albert - A very cute and easy to read mystery tale set in the life story of author Beatrix Potter, casting her as an amateur sleuth. Part of a series, and good light summer reading. Albert is the author of the China Bayles mysteries, which are all herbal related, haven't read those as I'm not much of a mystery reader.

Fear Nothing - Dean Koontz Pretty good tale, yet another heroic dog and government project/town gone wrong. A standard enjoyable Koontz book.

Coraline - Neil Gaiman I loved this one, such an intriguing story idea that carries the work of Roald Dahl into a far darker range. This is marketed as a young adult/kid book, which I would have really enjoyed at that age. It will make a really good movie.

The Gunslinger Born - Stephen King I bought these comics, issue by issue, but I read recently they will be gathered into one volume, and the series will continue. I liked the pre-story filling in of details we didn't know from the very long Gunslinger series of books from King. Not satisfying as it didn't advance the story much beyond the books though. Not so enamoured of the artwork style either.
The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood This is a short yet sweet and brutal retelling of the ancient myth of Penelope and Odysseus from the perspective of the twelve hanged maids. Don't remember that one? Don't worry, just read Atwood's brilliant re-interpretation.

Dark Moon - David Gemmell Hmmm, I didn't remember this one, and had to look it up. Oh yes, I picked this up at the library because the cover was cool. Not worth the time to read in my opinion.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling I liked this HP book quite a bit, and thought it tied up the story pretty completely. But I wasn't as sad as I thought I'd be as I got to the very end. The HP phenomenon has been fun to participate in with my kids, they've grown up with this whole series after all, but it didn't have enough meat on the bones to really make a difference in their lives.

Stardust- Neil Gaiman This link is for the mass market paperback, but I recommend looking for the illustrated version which is way more fun to read. And no, I am lame and still haven't seen the movie! I loved this story, any new fairy tales are always ok by me.

Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger Our library recently set out some "classics", so this was one of the ones I read. A very different story to read as a grown-up as opposed to as a high school student. Much much sadder to me.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee I couldn't remember the last time I read this, all I could remember was the terrific movie. The book is great, it absolutely shimmers with the truth of childhood experience. I can see why it is on all those school reading lists. I'm glad my son will be reading it this year, I bet we'll have some great discussions.

The Fountain - Darren Aronofsky This is the graphic novel interpretation of the profoundly visionary movie of the same name. What utter and complete trash. And since it was sealed at Borders, I couldn't tell that when I purchased it. So I took it back! Really disappointing.

V for Vendetta - Alan Moore This is the graphic novel that the recent movie was based on. I thought the movie was a lot better than the book and got the major points of the story and philosphy behind it across. One of my all-time favorite movies though.

Wandering - Herman Hesse Checked this out on inter-library loan (first time using the service!), due to reading a very cool quote about trees on Keri Smith's blog, Wish Jar. There wasn't much more to the book than that quote unfortunately, except some strange little anecdotes and pen drawings.

Lucifer - Devil in the Gateway - Mike Carey Trying to carry on the character of Lucifer created in the Sandman universe by Gaiman. Eh.

The Sandman Companion - Hy Bender A great resource for studying and being an immersed fan of Sandman

WebMage - Kelly McCullough Pretty good, I liked the idea of The Fates struggling into the digital age.

Farenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury I re-read this so that I could talk about it with my son as he read it for literature class. Still as good as I remembered it.
The Giver - Lois Leary Younger son was reading this one and wanted to discuss, so I read it. Wow! Powerful book. Very provocative reading for sixth grade.

Labyrinths for the Spirit - Jim Buchanan I've been on a real labyrinth kick for a while now and snapped this book the second I spotted it. So much good information on making different types of labyrinths on your own. Which I intend to do! As soon as we get rid of the gigantic trampoline (guessing in the next couple of years.) I'm making one for myself.

The Golden Mean -Nick Bantock You can't just read one of these and leave it at that. The story is too engaging and you want to know what happens!
The Morning Star-Nick Bantock Plus the inventiveness of the letters and envelopes and bits and bobs is so much fun just to handle.
The Gryphon - Nick Bantock Inspiring collage art, great story and super book design.
The Road - Cormac McCarthy Only read this if you have enough time to finish it all at once. If you have a new box of kleenexes. And if you are ready to have your worst post-apocalyptic case scenarios played out right before your reading eyes. I loved it. Very moving.

Living Out Loud- Keri Smith A very fun book, that I think is beter suited for people who are somewhat hesistant to be creative. Ie, it didn't do much for me personally, but I could see giving this to someone who needs to break out and be creative or die....
Everyday Matters - Danny Gregory You've probably read his great blog, but this is the story of how he started doing the art he does. Very touching and inspiring and it will get you drawing.

Sew What Skirts - Francesca DenHartog A basic, and hip approach to making skirts without a store-bought pattern. Fun photography and pretty clear instructions. A good beginner book.
Quilts - Denyse Schmidt More than just quilts in this beautiful book, that I have now checked out of the library several times. No I haven't made anything, but I like looking at the pictures and reading her very fun irreverent approach to quilt making.

Something Rotten - Jasper Fforde My least favorite so far of the series. But I still like the writing style and characters and will read the next one.

American Gods- Neil Gaiman A longer read than I expected, and a very big concept in this book. What happens to old gods? Are new ones ever created? Would they get along??? Anansi Boys is more fun to read, but this one has the real moral oomph behind it.
Sandman Vol.X - The Wake - Neil Gaiman I read this one as slowly as I could, dreading the end because I knew that there were no more Sandman books to read after this. Sniff. Sniff.

Sandman and Joseph Campbell, in search of the modern myth - Stephen Rausch
As a Joseph Campbell fan from way back, I was intrigued to see these two combined in a title. The book is not an easy read (I believe it was a phd thesis or something), but it worthwhile. A good examination of the power of myth in our modern age, especially as practiced by the master, Neil Gaiman.

The Dream Hunters-Sandman - Neil Gaiman This was a really interesting collaboration with the Japanese illustrator, Yoshitaka Amano, instead of the usual comic book illustrators, and is a retelling of an old Japanese folk tale, with the character of Dream or Sandman in the story. Beautiful and very different than the other volumes.

Death: The High Cost of Living - Neil Gaiman These two books center on the character of Death, the hip goth-chick that comes to see you when your time is up. Guess she is a pretty popular character and these two volumes show that off.
Death: The Time of Your Life -Neil Gaiman

Sandman-Vol IX - The Friendly Ones - Neil Gaiman The Friendly Ones are the Three Fates who have shown up over and over again through the story.
Sandman - Vol VIII - World's End - Neil Gaiman
Sandman - Vol VII - Brief Lives - Neil Gaiman
Sandman - Vol VI - Fables and Reflections - Neil Gaiman
Sandman - Vol III- Dream Journey - Neil Gaiman
Sandman - Vol II - The Doll's House - Neil Gaiman I am well and truly lost in the mythos and aura of these books. Amazing work. And I wonder why I missed them. (Oh yeah, they came out when I was raising little babies!) So I'm late to the party but still enjoying them tremendously.

The Well of Lost Plots - Jasper Fforde A continuation of the Thursday Next story. Not as fun to read as the first, but I'm hooked on the character.

Essential Psychic Healing -Diane Stein A very feminist take on the subject, interesting and a good compendium of old and new ideas.
Collaborative Quilting - Freddy Moran and Gwen Marsten What a great book! Not a how-to with patterns (pshew, there are certainly enough of those!), just lots of ideas inspirations and gorgeous photos.

Black Orchid - Neil Gaiman Beautiful dreamy, illustrations by Dave McKean of the main character who is yes, an orchid who takes female form. Interesting story and characters. Apparently a redo of a former title previously published. With the Gaiman/McKean spin though.

Sandman - Vol V - A Game of You - Neil Gaiman
Sandman - Vol IV - Season of Mists - Neil Gaiman
Sandman - Vol I - Preludes & Nocturnes - Neil Gaiman Ohhh, so that's what all the fuss is about! I'm totally hooked by the end of the first volume.

Splintered Icon - Bill Napier Good story, characters not so well developed and the dialgue is stilted.

New Rules - Bill Maher Eh, not so "new" as he'd like to consider himself.
Plush-O-Rama - Linda KoppWhat a fun book this is. Read it several times with younger son Alex and we've made several already.
Naked - David SedarisI could read or listen to him everyday, hilarious, wrenching and so engaging.
Lost in a Good Book- Jasper Fforde The second book in the Thursday Next series, a great read, I can't wait to find the third.

Conservatives Without Conscience - John Dean Wow, what an interesting read, now I undersand conservative a bit more. John Dean, a conservative tries to separate himself and his cohorts from the conservatives of today who are running our country into the ground.

Gardening Among Friends - Master Gardeners of Marin,CA Great little essays with practical advice for California gardeners.

Gifts - Ursula LeGuin Hmmm, this was ok, and is the first in a new YA series she is writing. Mostly about using t he gifts we are given responsibly. A good message for a YA reader.
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde Oh man, what a great character and alternative world. Thursday Next, I want to be her.

Garden Seating - A mostly silly prententious look at cutesy seating, not many practical ideas.

The Paint Book - Good ideas for different rooms in your house, techniques and info on colors. Very helpful when we were figuring out which colors to pick for the new rooms in the house.

Pebble Mosaics - Projects and a little history of mosaics, I'll be checking this out of the library again.
The Ambler Warning - Robert Ludlum Good spy story but I figured out the plot twist ending near the beginning. It would make a really good movie.
Mistral's Kiss - Laurell K. Hamilton Pshew, another hot one from Hamilton. I have to make sure I read these books when the husband isn't out of town.

Forever Odd - Dean Koontz Oh bleah. He's phoning it in now. I am so done with this character! I hereby swear I am not reading the next one in the series.

Changing Planes - Ursula Le Guin A series of short stories /vignettes that have the interesting premise of traveling to diffrent worlds.


Lunaea said...

Hey Julie, I have two more Jasper Ffffffforde books you can borrow if you want -- I bought them but haven't read them yet! They are more alternate book-world kind of mysteries: "The Big Over Easy" and "The Fourth Bear". And there's a new Thursday Next novel out now too, I hear.

The Story Lady of said...

Julie, you might enjoy the steamy new novel Enthralled by Nadia Aidan (when your hubby is home).

Also not steamy but something you may enjoy is Rue the Day, a fantasy suspense novel set in Faerie, by Cat Muldoon, (

Ronda Del Boccio
author, speaker, author coach