The Answer is Obvious. But the Choice Was Hard.

Hello All,
And we continue on. And on. And on.

Best Graphic Novel I Read in 2009: Asterios Polyp

As I theorized back in well the answer is: Yes!

This was an incredibly hard choice to make. I believe that this has been the year of the graphic novel with so many great original works released. But again I was brought back to how blown away I was by Mazzuchelli's opus on intellectualism vs. humanity.e Art vs. Design. Talking vs. Doing. Love. Life. Everything. I am convinced that each time I read this I will find something new to marvel at. It is a masterpiece.

Here's my original post: Asterios Polyp

Have a great new years! Book Slave

Best of the Rest 2009. A Link-a-palooza.

Hello All,
Well I've been killing you all with my Best of 2009 choices this week. Here's a best of the rest of what I've read in 2009. These are books that didn't quite make it but are worth checking out as well. Each are linked with the original review posts from the past year.

Graphic Novels
Richard Parker's The Hunter
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Battlefield: The Night Witches
Queen and Country Vol.1: Definitive Edition
Alias Vol. 1
The Roberts
French Milk

Paper Towns
Thirteen Reason's Why
The Boat
The Night in Question
Guernsey Literary and Potatoe Peel Pie Society
You Must Be This Happy to Enter

Non Fiction
What It Is

Have A Great New Years! Book Slave


Wonderful Surprises of Heartbreaking Beauty

Hello All,
We continue on.

Best Fiction Book I Read in 2009: Northline by Willy Vlautin
“The book will break your heart.”
--my co-worker Zach

If it was not for a co-worker of mine I never would have picked up this book. His small review ended with the quote above, which at first I cynically snickered at, but then I decided to give it a chance. And oh my god it was the biggest surprise. As I was looking over all the fiction that I’ve read this year it was Northline by Willy Vlautin that I think really did affect me emotionally.

Vlautin is unafraid to ground his stories in harsh landscapes that are full of cruel realities. Set in Las Vegas and Reno, he dwells on the fringes that lie behind the blinking At the center of the story is a lost soul. She lacks any sense of identity for the first 40 pages. It isn't until she decides to leave Las Vegas and her abusive boyfriend, that we learn her name: Allison Johnson. Throughout the course of the book I began to cheer for her to succeed. I desperately wanted her to be happy. I despaired when she would self-destruct and make horrible mistakes. Allison has serious problems but I never felt that she deserved the horrible cards that had been dealt to her. But she has an inner strength that will lead her to overcome those circumstances.


A Risky Book Club Night

On this snowy night I attended the monthly Hard Boiled Book Club meeting. Shockingly there were 5 of us there to discuss Risk written by Colin Harrison. I really thought considering the weather and holidays that it would just be me and Zach Sampinos. It was good to see that I was wrong.

Risk is a very New York story. An insurance lawyer's everyday life is interrupted when he is called to the house of his firm's founder's widow. Awaiting her own death, she has recently suffered the loss of her son in a hit-and-run accident outside a bar on the streets of New York. She wants to know what happened and, playing on her deceased husband's respect for the lawyer, entices him into trying to find out what happened.

Originally serialized in New York Magazine, Harrison writes a well thought out whodunit. Admittedly it took awhile to suck me in. The writing style is not hardcore or pulpy. It's much more literary using vocabulary such as fungible, and playing with colloquialisms. I said it was a New York story. Harrison clearly writes to that reading audience by including all kinds of details about New York life. Everyone is obsessed with the Yankees, live in apartments, and take taxi-cabs. Some would consider this kind of regionalism off-putting but I enjoyed it. Being able to recognize even specific geography makes the main character more relatable. He is one of us.

Harrison strives to make clear the mediocrity of his main character. He is not a top PI, or cop/detective. Young sees himself that way. However he has enough of a specific skill set to plausibly solve this mystery. I also enjoyed the relationship that he has with his wife. He often refers to her as being smarter than him and the lack of drama between them is refreshing. It was very "Nick and Norah" the way they played off each other. I would have enjoyed more of that.

Harrison does get lost in his red herrings. I wish more would have been made of the Czech girlfriend or a Russian mob connection. Here I think some of the original serialization starts to show through. Characters drop in and drop out in the course of a chapter. A lot exposition dump occurs in the course of 12 chapters. I was hoping for a bit more complexity. This reminded me of something I would see on television which speaks to the nature of the way that it's written.

Our group was pretty split on the Dickenesque ending. Don't worry, I won't reveal it here. Personally I enjoyed it because of the way that the main character reacts. His actions are always grounded in doing his job, rather than some moral/ethical dilemma. He is not a tortured cynical man. Even as he acquires great fortune he refuses to let himself be changed by it. His wife, Yankees, and $14 wine is all he needs.

I had a good time tonight. Fun was had by all. Happy New Years, Book Slave.

Reading List 12/29/09-1/5/2010

Here's the plan this week heading into the next decade.

Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1
(Directly influenced by the excellent new Sherlock Holmes movie)
Batman: Battle for the Cowl

Vanity Fair

A Healthy stack of Comic goodness

Comic Pull List: Blackest Night #6
(Note: It's a skip week for comics. Have a nice week off Diamond Distribution.)

Have a great week! Book Slave.

Pre-Conceived Notions

Howse it going? It's incredibly chilly here. I've considered building a fire in the middle of my room. Can we just move forward to March? Please?

Best Non-Fiction I Read in 2009: It's Complicated: The American Teenager by Robin Bowman and Robert Coles

This was a hard choice because I haven't read a lot of non-fiction this year. However as I looked over the course of what I've read in 2009 it was a collection of photography titled It's Complicated that generated the biggest emotional response. I have always loved photography. However rather than beautiful vistas and sunsets, I love portraits of regular individuals living their ordinary lives. There's a simple beauty that is captured in people's faces that I find more interesting than any waterfall.

It's Complicated: The American Teenager was pulled together through The American Teenager Project by photographer Robin Bowman and sociologist Robert Coles. They branched out across the U.S. and chronicled the stories of teenagers in the 2000s. I feel as if it ranks right up there with the work of Robert Frank. As he captured the beginning of the teenage movement in the 1950s, Bowman captures them at the beginning of a new millenium. Often a marginalized and maligned group I found these intimate portraits both fascinating and heartbreaking. These portraits ask us to reconcile our pre-concieved ideas and stereotypes by using a variety of diverse individuals. I was struck by many of their stories. I still remember the story of a Muslim American teen who was reinvigorated in her faith after 9/11. Or a homeless teen who feels the need to wander like his "Beat" writers. These stories are wonderfully contrasted with a Texan debutante who is excited to be a part of her first cotillion. These cross-sections of the American experience capture the wonderful horrible experience of being a teenager.

Here's my original review from earlier this year: It's Complicated: The American Teenager

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Yes It was Fantastic.

My end of the year thoughts continue!

Best Movie Literary Adaptation 2009: Fantastic Mr. Fox
Just to qualify this choice up front: At the time of my writing this I have yet to see The Road or The Lovely Bones so don't give me grief. I fully intend to and who knows you might read about it in the future. Also I want to make clear that I don't see everything that comes out. I don't have time for movies that don't interest me. So moving along...

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is the perfect match of sensibilities. Based on the book written by Roald Dahl, the script was adapted by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach. In their adaptation the writers expand upon the original book but never enough that it moves away from the original audience or message. Dahl and Anderson share the same viewpoint on human nature-there isn't much difference between humans and animals.

In this adaptation the main character Mr. Fox has regular wants and desires. I was so struck when he says to his wife "I don't want to live in a hole anymore." He struggles with an existential angst which leads him to go back to stealing chickens and cider from his farmer neighbors. It is the thrill of the theft that Mr. Fox becomes addicted to. At the same time we are introduced to the deplorable Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. These three men, especially Bean, are as animalistic as those they are hunting. The parallels are easily drawn.

I have never been a purist when it comes to book to film adaptation. Any adaptation should feel free to expand/make changes from the source material in order to match the different medium. I have been a fan of director Wes Anderson since I saw Rushmore in theaters. He has a definite style and humor that is smart and full of wit. You know that you've watched a "Wes Anderson" film. And I have a feeling that he will never make films any other way.
In Fox Anderson/Baumbach use a look and feel that works on all levels. The stop motion animation allows me to believe in a world where animals walk around in suits, sell real estate, and do watercolors. It was a wonderful choice. These characters can do whacky things, but also show very real emotions. The filmmakers have humor and themes that both adults and children can relate to.

It was highly enjoyable. Check it out in theaters if you can.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Leave it to Dickens and the BBC

So I hope you are all enjoying the holidays! I'm looking forward to family festivities tonight and tomorrow. Got the hot chocolate going on. It's all good.

If everything goes as planned I'm gonna space out my Best of 2009. Here's the first.

Best Television Literary Adaptation: Little Dorrit

This was really no contest in 2009. As always it's the BBC that raises the bar for bringing literature to television. Television is often denigrated for how it kowtows to the lowest in our nature. Like reality television for instance. However, while network television has given up on the literary mini-series, PBS/BBC/Masterpiece Theater continues to serve us bibliophiles. They did not disappoint earlier this spring with their spate of Dickens adaptations.

Little Dorrit, having aired to great acclaim on BBC in fall 2008, was the mini-series I was looking forward to the most. And it did not let me down. All my thoughts on the series as a whole can be found here. In retrospect it's still my opinion that Dorrit was topical and dramatic, with brilliant performances. Claire Foy and Matthew McFadayen are wonderful as our protagonists. As an audience member I openly cheered for their mutual happiness, as they overcame the misery that surrounds them. Andy Serkis is a wonderful Dickenesque villian, although perhaps it was a mistake to give him so much exposition. Screenwriter Andrew Davies finds a way to include the absurdism of economic bureacracy, as well as the humanity of these characters. Also if you don't shed a tear for poor young Chivers, well then I think you're not human.

I just have to add that part of the fun of experiencing Dorrit was being able to share my reactions with those on The Egalitarian Bookworm and Dickensblog. I suggest checking out their reactions to Dorrit. Trust me, they are much smarter than I am. Little Dorrit is available on DVD, as well as online. It's well worth checking out.

If I haven't convinced you enough to check this out then here's a trailer from BBC:

Have a great weekend! Book Slave


A Gift For Us All

Two clips that brought me great cheer. I hope they will for you too.


Happy Holidays! Book Slave.


Reading List 12/22/09-12/29/09

Happy Holidays to you all!

Risk by Colin Harrison
Audacity to Win by David Plouffe

Comics! Comics! Comics!

Vanity Fair

Comic Pull List: Amazing Spider-Man #616, Criminal Sinners #3, Detective Comics #860, Fantastic Four #574, Garth Ennis Battlefields Happy Valley #1, Gotham City Sirens #7, Green Lantern #49, New Avengers #60, Northlanders #23, Powers (New) #2, Spider-Woman #4, Stand Soul Survivors #3, Superman #695, Wonder Woman #39

Happy Holidays! Book Slave.


Some Babbling Regarding Next Year

Don't you hate it when you know that you need to finish a book but you just can't. I'll just have to push through Audacity to Win. Being a political junkie it's feeding all my needs in that regard. However the book is due folks! And I also have 8 billion other things I want to read before the end of the year. Oh the frustration!

I find this happens far too often. Maybe next year I'll have to make a reassessment of my priorities. Should I focus on books that I own? or books that are due back to my library? Should I pass up good stuff even if I never get a chance to look at it again? Also life does end up interceding on occasion. I am taking a major exam soon, and hopefully grad school will follow that. What to do? Well I'll figure it out. It always ends up balancing itself out in the end.

Ultimately I look forward to 2010, and don't worry I haven't given up on this blogging thing yet.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Reading Plays.

This is long delayed due to tech delays and the busyness of the world. Enjoy!

Reading Plays: Pitfalls and Epiphanies

As I've written before, ever since I was a high school theater geek I started reading plays. Now conventional wisdom does say that plays are meant to be seen rather than read. However I live in a place where often it's a few years before I'll get the chance to see a play. Ever since I first heard of it during it's Broadway run, I was desperate to know what Angels in America was all about. But I also knew that it was going to be a long while before I got a chance to see it. Luckily I was able to find a copy at the library. This was where I began to critically see plays as literature that can exist outside of their performance.

Playwrights such as Shakespeare, Kushner, and Stoppard write complicated plays that require careful attention. When I started this blog I read Stoppard's Utopia trilogy and it was way over my head intellectually. I can only imagine what it would be like to experience a staged production. I think my head would spin from the philosophical references alone. Without any background information or intellectual insight a Stoppard play can be pretty inaccessible. I still love them though. And as long as I know what I'm in for, I can actually enjoy it better when I do see the play performed eventually.

I bring all this up as context to my re-reading this week of the play Copenhagen by Michael Frayn. Frayn centers the plot around a mysterious meeting between physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. in Copenhagen in 1941. The primary mystery that the 3 characters in the play debate is deceptively simple: Why did Heisenberg come to Copenhagen? The three characters in the play, Heisenberg, Bohr, and Bohr's wife Margrethe speculate openly amongst each other. Frayn allows himself incredible flexibility by having them exist in past and present. Anger, resentment, and forgiveness all play out amongst these former friends. According to Frayn, Bohr and Heisenberg are separated by the scientific ethics and responsibilities regarding the atomic bomb.

Frayn is brilliant in his conception of these characters and the high stakes of their discussion. Before reading this play I had no idea who these men were. I do understand the stakes of the weaponization of atomic energy, but really that's only half the play. By reading the play I was able to delve even further into the scientific concepts of Uncertainty and Schrodinger's Cat. I'm positive that I would have been lost while watching the play performed, no matter how great the actor's ability might be. This is a prime example where I feel that "reading" the play is necessary to gaining even more appreciation for what the playwright has created.

On the other hand I also read Bash: Latter-day Plays by Neil Labute. I've been meaning to pick this up for sometime because Labute is somewhat local. He went to Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, which is very surprising. BYU is known for it's rigid conservatism and uber-religiosity. In Bash Labute discusses the effects of violence on that culture. He uses three monologues made directly to the audience to steer us towards the ugliness inherent in human nature. Of the three I was most affected by Medea Redux. In this monologue a young woman details her seduction and revenge on a high school teacher. The medea reference should give you an idea of how this story ends up. Labute brilliantly is able to capture the exuberance of love but refuses to ignore the consequences. As a writer Labute takes a lot of criticism for his focus on the ugly, but I respect the fact that he refuses to pull any punches.

Unfortunately I think that any empathy or compassion for these characters is lost on the page. His work relies on talented actors to release any sympathy that I may feel towards these characters. Bash is a play that is written to be seen. I think it loses it's power when it is read without the actors as reference. Because of this I'm going to reserve judgment on it until it's possible to see the play in my area. Unfortunately that could be awhile since the LDS don't take kindly to criticism.

In the end what is the conclusion here? It's important to realize that true understanding requires a combination of both reading & watching. If I really want to get at the author's complexities I need to take into account what performance brings to the table.

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Happy B-day Jane Austen

Today our dear Jane would be 234 years old. As I've discussed before, I think that many of us female readers consider Jane Austen to be "our Jane." I think the fact that she died so young, didn't marry, and never sold out, means that I will always see her through a positive prism. She never fell from grace or let me down. Because I like her smart aleck, witty, narrative voice I feel as if I know her. But in reality all I know is a picture of her that I've created in my head. If she was still around today I am convinced that she would still be unmarried. Perhaps she'd appreciate the wit of Wes Anderson and moon over George Clooney. She'd enjoy the social commentary of Mad Men but also the lustiness of True Blood. At this point we are almost 200 years after the publishing of Sense and Sensibility in 1811. I want to add one more adjective to the discussion of Miss Austen's influence: revolutionary.

Consider that in the early 19th century the idea of the novel was fairly new. Sure you had Don Quixote, Henry Fielding, and the gothic world of Radcliffe. Novels were largely written in epistolary or Journal form. Fiction was still an evolving art form. Being an avid reader Austen was able to read literature critically with a discerning eye. This is evident in her satirical critiques of books and reading. I think her finest sections in North Hanger Abbey involve her discussion of the effects of too much reading has had on the characters. Also remember that Emma decides to read more when she sets upon her own self improvement. (Of course the joke lies in the fact that it didn't do Emma much good. So clever.)

However her revolution goes even further. While it is obvious that she was not as interested in Romanticism as her peers were, she does not completely discount it. Austen showed an austere pragmatism in her realization of the world she inhabited. But rather than be as cynical as Voltaire or Wharton her stories wrap up in happily ever afters. Generally the lovers find suitable partners, villians get there comeuppance, and society goes on.

One has to ask: Where did this approach come from? It's not immediately evident in the literature of the time. Robinson Crusoe was too busy finding God. Radcliffe was more interested in creeping people out. Ivanhoe was fighting in the 12th century. So that leaves us with the clearest influence on "our Jane"-William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare's comedies display in theatrical form all the aspects that Jane Austen would later bring to the novel form. Lovers long separated, misunderstandings, and even the obligatory marriage endings. She clearly saw that this is what the reading audience would want. That's some forward thinking, considering there wasn't even a massive literary distribution in place at that time. There was no promise of money or notoriety in being an author. In fact the profession was notorious, especially for women. So what motivated her? She just had to write. In her eyes there was no other option.

What a blow it must have been to have her first 3 novel attempts end up going nowhere. No wonder she stagnated for a few years while suffering in Bath. In the end her talent and foresight was so strong that eventually a publisher gave it a chance. It still took until 1811 that Sense and Sensibility got published. Austen had to wait for the literatti to catch up with her. By 1811 Gothic had played itself out. Audiences wanted a secularization of literature. And "our Jane" brought it.

Jane Austen found a new way to tell the stories that she wanted to tell. And didn't give up. That's a revolutionary act in and of itself.

Here's a fun Jane Austen entry from the past: Teach Me Jane I'm Willing to Learn...

Happy Birthday Jane!

Have a great day, Book Slave.


Reading List 12/15-12/22/09

Massive apologies. Been suffering through some technological difficulties as of late.

Here's the reading list for this week.

Audacity to Win

A slowly diminishing pile

Four Four Two

Comic Pull List: Amazing Spider-Man #615, Batman #694, Batman Streets Of Gotham #7, Daredevil #503, Dark Wolverine #81, Fables #91

Have a great week! Book Slave


New Things Can Be Good

Here comes some reviews old-school style. It's important to note that at least 2 of the reviews here are for all new series and one's a series I discovered this year. Yep I'm willing to try new things. It's not a bad idea.


Storming Paradise
Here's an interesting "What if" scenario: What if the United States had invaded Japan in WW2? This is the question examined by Chuck Dixon in his new series Storming Paradise. I enjoyed the realism Dixon and artist Butch Guice employed in this mini. War is terrible. No matter where/when, the consequences are never good. Dixon draws direct parallels to Vietnam-esque slaughter and the tolls that it can take on soldiers. This was a great examination and I hope that I can see more mini's like this from Chuck Dixon.

Other Chuck Dixon Reviews: Birds of Prey

So what would happen if the world's greatest hero decided to become a villian? This is Mark Waid's best work in years. I thoroughly enjoyed this trade. Waid has been stereotyped for as "the 60s silver age guy" since Kingdom Come. It's a pleasure to watch him rip loose and challenge that image. In these opening issues we watch as his former proteges try to understand why the Plutonium has gone bad. Amazingly Waid is able to capture it in one fatal scene, as Plutonium hears that one voice in the crowd that is ungrateful and mocking. That is the first step in a hero loosing his mind. Anyone who works in public service knows that feeling. Fortunately I don't have super powers or I might have lost it a long time ago. But I digress. Waid's genius is also that we hear Plutonium's story as told through others such as his fellow teammates and girlfriend. This ratchets up the mystery and suspense. Check out this new series, it's worth it.

Here's a cool Video Trailer from Boom Studios

BPRD: The Black Goddess
My journey with the BPRD continues. I was touched by the team's efforts to rescue Liz Sherman who was kidnapped in the prior volume. Also apparently there's some crazy battle going on between dragons, demon frogs, and the US military. I'm not quite sure what's going on. However I do think that this breaks the mold of being a self-contained story because if you had not read the prior volume you'd be lost. It'll be nice when this "Scorched Earth" trilogy is completed and our team can get back to doing missions. I love the fact that Lobster Johnson is back. I can't wait for the next volume to see what they'll do with this super-cool character.

Past Reviews: BPRD vol. 1 & 2 & 6, BPRD vol. 3 & 4 , BPRD Vol. 5, BPRD Vol. 7, BPRD Vol. 8

Have a great weekend! Book Slave.


Reading List 12/8-12/15/09

Here's my planned Reading List this week.

The Way He Lived

A Crazy stack of Goodness

Four Four Two

Comic Pull List: Action Comics #884, Adventure Comics #5, Amazing Spider-Man #614, Batgirl #5, Black Widow Deadly Origin #2, Green Arrow Black Canary #27, Red Robin #7

Should be easy to find time now that we've been blanketed with the white.


A Touch of Frost

When I woke up this morning I looked out the window. To my shock and amazement there was a layer of snow covering the world. I'm really not a big winter fan, I prefer the fall, but I really love fresh new fallen snow.

This all brought to mind a work that I haven't thought about in awhile Robert Frost's Stopping By a Woods on a Snowy Evening. For those who may have forgotten here it is, with my thoughts interspersed:

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

So who is the "He"? It's not the narrator, although it seems like the narrator knows this "he" who owns the woods. I think it's going a bit far to say that it's the biblical "he"; that doesn't seem to be Frost's intention. At this point the narrator does not feel as if he owns the woods, just like often an individual may feel as if they have no control over their own life. So if the woods is the world, then our narrator is taking a moment to reflect on it.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

Is the horse perhaps a symbol for the rest of the world? The horse is urging the narrator towards action. The horse doesn't understand the need to stop. I often have trouble myself just taking a moment to stop and consider.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

Of course this communion requires silence.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,

One could easily be sucked in, but the world beckons. Even our narrator feels compelled to return to his duties.

And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

These last two lines just feels like an audible sigh. The repetition of the line completes the thought and gives us closure.

Now this could all be read as a analogy for death, mortality, and how we live our lives. Frost argues that a life of reflection is often wished for, but ultimately isn't possible. Whose to blame for this? Ourselves. We get in our own way.

Oh poetry is good. Have a great week! Book Slave.


Unto the Breach

On this wonderfully snowy morning I prepare for the first Xmas party of the year. Yep it's a massive family event. I remember fondly that our family used to get together at Grandma's house on Christmas eve and kick it holiday style. Slowly but surely the party has gotten earlier and earlier. There are good and bad reasons for this but here's a good approximation of how I feel about it.

We'll see how it all turns out. At least there will be plenty of food.
Have a great Sunday. Book Slave.


How December Got Awesome.

So I was catching up on my Google Reader (isn't it great how once you reach 1000+ they stop keeping track?) and thanks to fellowette my December got awesome. Apparently this month PBS will be reshowing Cranford! Originally shown last year Cranford is a mini-series based on the books of Elizabeth Gaskell. The plot revolves around the relationships in a rural English village in 1840. The mainly female populace of the town is thrown for a loop when a young male doctor arrives.

Okay I'll admit it sounds pretty stuffy (and really not for males who like explosions) but it's hilarious. And touching. These spinsters are happy being in their own company. Unlike Austen or Bronte these females lives are not centered around romance or marriage. They worry about progress, money, and proper etiquette. The oncoming modernity of a railway is feared because of how much it will change these women's lives. They do not want the world to encroach on their simple pleasures. Gaskell, and the writers of this series, realized that the paradox of technological development is that it makes our lives more complicated not easier.

On the other hand the series also does a great job commenting on the inequalities that still exist even in a pastoral paradise. I was captured by the subplot involving the foreman Edmund Carter and his young charge Harry Gregson. Rather than just the usual 19th century reward of money and status, Harry wants something more lasting: knowledge. Money and status can be lost, (prime example: Lady Ludlow) but education sticks. It's lovely how education can help anyone transcend class in this world. Prior to a public education system the poorer classes had to fight to even gain literacy. Edmund Carter represents a positive sociological change.

Whereas Dickens often forced a character's innate goodness down our throats, Gaskell recognizes that positive change needs to be incremental. Otherwise it is feared and rejected. It should be noted that it took 2 World Wars for England to finally get over it's class system. The English don't change easily. But the world keeps moving forward, even in small rural villages.

Cranford is a place where I would love to live. And I can't wait to return.


Making Lists: Best Books of the '00s

Here we are at the end of the year. Which also means the end of the '00s. 2010 is quickly approaching. Now while that blows my mind, I guess you just have to roll with it. I started thinking back about the books I've read in the last 10 years.
Which also coincides with my years in book selling, strange eh? Well you can certainly tell that by how vast my book collection has grown. But I digress...

So here's a list of 10 books that I've read over the past decade that stand out in my mind. Now before we get started I do want to make this clear: There are many incredible books out there that I have not read yet. I'm sure that there are titles that would make this list that are sitting on my TBR pile as I type. There are also books that frankly I'm not interested in spending time on ie. Twilight so they're not on this list either. If that discredits me in your minds, well...this is a blog after all.

Alright here we go.

The Best Books of the '00s that I Have Read In No Particular Order

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1 (2000) by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
A wonderful adventure that combines 19th century literary characters with a modern wit.

Past Review: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1

Northline (2008) by Willy Vlautin
Highly emotional story of redemption.

Past Review: Northline

Spanking the Donkey (2006) by Matt Taibbi
Savage discussion of the presidential election of 2004. Taibbi is the next Hunter Thompson.

Areas of My Expertise (2006) by John Hodgman
Amazing satire and humor. Laughed till tears were leaking out of my eyes.

Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs (2003) by Chuck Klosterman
A great collection of essays on pop culture. Fave essay: Klosterman's vendetta against Cold Play.

Fingersmith (2002) by Sarah Waters
Amazing mixture of Dickensian mystery and heart-breaking romance. I was shocked by the narrative twists.

Old School (2004) by Tobias Wolff
This is a great fiction novel that celebrates readers who love writers. Best depiction/discussion of Ayn Rand ever.

The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time (2003) by Mark Haddon
Great mystery and expert use of character P.O.V.

Atonement (2002) by Ian McEwan
This book is much more raw and savage then it's romantic reputation. I was so involved in this book while reading it on the train that I missed my stop. Still blown away by the final paragraph.

The Road (2006) by Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy has captured the enduring need for hope in a world filled with despair. Really, just read it.

Enjoy! Book Slave.


Reading List: Week 12/1/09-12/8/09

The Reading List
Here's what I plan to decimate this week.

Audacity to Win
This Boy's Life

Massive Stack! Still a bit behind I'm afraid.

School Library Journal
(Also want to read the Hillary Clinton Profile in Vogue. I heard it was good.)

Comic Pull List: Blackest Night The Flash #1, Blackest Night Wonder Woman #1, Cinderella From Fabletown With Love #2, Superman World Of New Krypton #10, Sweet Tooth #4, Terry Moores Echo #17

And some zines for work.

Have a great week! Book Slave.