Alchemical Thoughts

Items about books I want to read, Lucky 13 edition

Posted on: October 18, 2010

Wow, we made it to 13 of these mini-lists of books I would like to read at some point. So many books, so little time as the saying goes. And since this is the Lucky 13 edition, I have included 13 books, rather than the usual ten or so, plus some bonus things.

Articles and posts about books:

  • From the blog Blogging for a Good Book, another book about American workers and how their corporate masters are pretty much giving them the short end of the stick. The book is David K. Shipler’s The Working Poor: Invisible in America. The reason I say “another book” is because I recently finished readingThe Big Squeeze, which is similar in terms of issues covered. To be honest, it may be a while before I read another book on this topic. The thing that irks me is that the people who really should be reading this kind of book will probably miss it.
  • Blogging for a Good Bookalso suggests The Warrior’s Apprentice, the first novel in the Miles Vorkosigan series. I have to admit that I have a copy that has been sitting on the shelf for a while. Maybe I should move it up the TBR pile.
  • Liz B. reviews the novel Hunger. I will admit this is not necessarily up my alley in terms of reading preferences; I am not a big YA reader. However, the way she describes the plot sounds so good that I have to take a chance on it. She writes, “Lisabeth Lewis, seventeen, has taken three of her mother’s Lexapro and intends to take more. A messenger knocks on the door, hands her Scales, informs her she is now Famine (as in one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse) and says “Thou art the Black Rider; go thee unto the world.” You get to be one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. How cool is that? Well, I think it would be cool.
  • This sounds like a book I should order for our library as well as one I may need to take a look over, especially given the recent suicides by young gay people due to bullying. The book is Stuart Biegel’s The Right To Be Out: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities in America’s Public Schools. The post about it comes from Lambda Literary’s blog.
  • From Fine Books Magazine, Nicholas Basbanes recommends two books. I am only interested in one. The book I am interested in is The Groaning Shelf.
  • Here is a book about drinking and classical cocktails. I find the topic of classical cocktails interesting. Lately, I have been experimenting with making my own martinis at home. I think I have almost found a recipe that works for me. Part of the allure of experimenting with making your own is economic; you do a lot better buying good liquor, some mixers, and trying out your own recipes. So this book sounds interesting. The book is Old Man Drinks: Recipes, Advice, and Barstool Wisdom. Plus I like books with quips, quotes, and advice too. Found via Liquor Snob blog.
  • There is a novel out about the chess machine. The chess machine is the topic of Tom Standage’s The Turk, which I read a while back. The novel is Robert Löhr’s The Chess Machine, and apparently it focuses on the dwarf who worked inside the machine. I am curious to see how the novel plays out knowing the story as I do. By the way, I highly recommend Standage’s book, which does read like a detective story in a way, and very neatly does not reveal the true secret of the machine until the very end. Found via PhiloBiblos.
  • Via AlterNet, a book about the not-so-nice side of Coca Cola. In the interest of disclosure, I will say that I do like Coke memorabilia, especially some of the old promo posters with pin-up girls, but I am very well aware of the company’s less than nice record. Then again, this is not the first American company with a bad historical past, especially in Latin America, where U.S. multinationals were notorious for all sorts of crimes and misdemeanors. The book is The Coke Machine.
  • Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family, which I listed in one of my previous lists, has a new book. The book is C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy. The author discusses the new book in an interview at Alternet.
  • I always like history books that look at the more unconventional sides of history, like the fact that 19th century prostitutes in the U.S. were among the most free, most wealthy, and educated women of their time. AlterNet offers an excerpt of Thaddeus Russell’s new book A Renegade History of the United States.
  • The Manga Critic offers a review of Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse. On the one hand, the book is one published by Haikasoru, which is always a plus since I have enjoyed other works from them. On the other hand, the reviewer offers comparisons to Shirley Jackson, a writer I pretty much despise, in large measure because I was one of those kids forced to read “The Lottery” when I was in grade school. Otsuichi, the book’s author was nominated for a Shirley Jackson award, which is where the connection likely comes in. He was nominated for his other book, Zoo, which I do want to read. The awards are given for “for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic” (from the website). I do like that kind of genre, even if I do not like Jackson herself. So, I will try to put aside that dislike when I pick up the book. As I think about Jackson’s story, I cannot help but wonder if I would appreciate it better had I read it on my own as an adult. Some English teacher ruined it for me at some point to the point I just can’t stand it.
  • I am not sure if I can handle another book on politics, let alone about the teabaggers and their distortions and misinformation, but this one sounded interesting, or at least, like a serious look at their selective reading (and labeling it that is being charitable) of the Constitution and the Founders. The book is The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History. It was mentioned in the What SIS faculty are reading blog.
  • And here is something I can use for my work. A book on social media marketing. The book is The Zen of Social Media Marketing. It is discussed over at Social Media Examiner.

Book lists and other reading suggestions:

  • I am not too keen or thrilled about the new trend to have zombies in every other fiction work (“zombified” classics, really now). The thing there are some good ones out there, even if they are hard to find. The zombie thing is kind of like the softening of vampires in popular culture (ok, I actually have a less polite word in mind). So, if you must, here is “The List: Zombie Fiction” via Blogging for a Good Book blog. You won’t find those silly “zombified” classics on this list.
  • Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is on my list of things to read; then again, anything he writes is pretty much a must-read for me. He went on a book tour for it recently, and he would read a chapter from the book at each stop. You watch parts of the tour and the author reading the book over on his young readers’ blog.

Bonus item: This is not about books, but it is reading material nonetheless, so I am including it. points to “The 100 Best Magazine Articles Ever Read.” Like any list of this nature, it is somewhat subjective, but it seems worth a look. It may take me a while to find, let alone read some of the articles listed. They also have a list of “The 51 Best Magazines Ever.”

2 Responses to "Items about books I want to read, Lucky 13 edition"

Thanks for the link! I’m not gaga about Shirley Jackson, either; I find her writing more interesting from a cultural studies standpoint than from a literary one, but I liked Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse nonetheless.

I also wanted to say how much I enjoy these book round-ups — my Amazon wish list gets longer every time I finish reading one your columns!

Katherine: Thank you for stopping by. For me, I think Jackson was pretty much ruined in school. May take me a long time before I revisit her. Now, a new Haikasoru book is always good news for me. I will make a note when I get to it.

Best, and keep on blogging.

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October 2010


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