New books, Spring 2011

Over the past six months or so I’ve bought 58 books. I read just 74 books over 2010. I’ve got less than two years left to read. In 2013 I’ll be 30. This is the simple math.  22 months to go. At 6 books a month, on average, I have 132 left to go.

Of course I’ll keep reading after 30. I’ll keep buying books and rereading old books and reading about new books and I’ll probably still be writing about books. But it will be different. I’ll be on borrowed time. I’m still in a window, for now – I can still read with impunity.

Part of not reading, not really reading for three months was not really writing either, about books or about reading or about anything important. Or, rather, writing things that simply don’t make any sense outside of where I was through the spring.

  • Ian Fleming, Doctor No (1958) – from Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963) – from Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Paul Auster, The Music of Chance (1990) – More old Auster. From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Victor Sebestyen, Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire (2009) – written in chunks, country-to-country. I’ve never really read the reporting of this period and this seems like an easy place to start. From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Alan Furst, The Foreign Correspondent (2006) – From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Timothy Garton Ash, The File: A Personal History (1997) – A personal history as explored through the now-opened Stasi files from the other side of the Berlin wall. This is the thrill of used bookstores, and the value of looking at each and every book in the “conspiracy/espionage” section because you never know when something like this will simply appear. From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Joseph O’Neill, Blood-Dark Track: A Family History (2001) – Personal history by the guy who wrote Netherland, which I really really enjoyed last month. From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Patricia Highsmith, Ripley Under Ground (1970) – From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Alan Furst, The Spies of Warsaw (2008) – From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Natalie Goldberg, Long Quiet Highway (1993) – A memoir. From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Joseph Lanza, Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong  (1994) – Yet another part of the ongoing exploration of my own relationship to Karen Carpenter. I’m always thrilled to hear Steely Dan in Muzak form. From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Ben Watt, Patient: The True Story of a Rare Illness (1996) – the guy from Everything But The Girl got really sick in 1994 and wrote a book all about it. From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar (1975) – From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Paul Auster, Sunset Park (2010) – More new Auster. From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • John le Carre, The Looking Glass War (1965) – From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Katie Hafner and John Markoff, Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier (1991) – Still my very favourite secret history of the moment. This is a new library I am working on: computers, and the people that surround them, in post-war US history. Big business and small business and espionage and history in simplest sense: how we ended up where we are today. From Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Mark Hume, The Run of the River: Portraits of Eleven British Columbia Rivers (1992) – BC travelogue. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Bruce Serafin, Stardust (2007) – Essays. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Todd Tucker, Atomic America: How a Deadly Explosion and a Feared Admiral Changed the Course of Nuclear History (2009) – Another addition to my nuclear library. from Magus Books in Seattle.
  • Craig Nelson, Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon (2009) – Official history, written for an official audience. From PulpFiction on Main.

  • Paul Auster, In The Country of Last Things (1987) – Still more Auster. I read them so fast, I need to keep my reserves up. A positive balance. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • VS Naipaul, Guerillas (1975) – From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Joan Didion, Run River (1963) – From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness (2009) – Maybe the last Alice Munro book I will ever buy, because now I have them all. From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward (1968) – I am reading this right now. What a wonderful edition, solid and unforgiving. What a wonderful book. From PulpFiction on Broadway.
  • John Le Carre, The Secret Pilgrim (1990) – From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • Patricia Highsmith, Nothing That Meets The Eye: The Uncollected Stories (1938-1982) – I have to stop buying her books because when I read them I freak out and feel awful. But I love that books can do that, so here’s another great big anthology. From PulpFiction on Broadway.
  • Kristin Hersh, Rat Girl (2010) – I’ve meant to order this for moths, and even wrote about it, months in advance, and here it is marked down to $6.99 or something incredible at Book Warehouse. From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • Don DeLillo, Point Omega (2010) – From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • Simon Reynolds, Rip It Up And Start Again: PostPunk 1978-1984 (2005) – Another secret history. From PulpFiction on Broadway
  • Bill Mathews and Jim Monger, Roadside Geology of Southern British Columbia (2005) – A guide to the rocks and landscapes and the basic physical history of my province, written through the frame of the highways we’ve built around and across and through it all. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Matt Hern, Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future (2010) – My pal Ben recommended this and so did the guy at Pulp Fiction when I brought it up to the counter. I am curious to counterpose this to George Melnyk, New Moon At Batoche: Reflection on the Urban Prairie but I think it may be less myth and more technocrat. From PulpFiction on Main.

  • Hugh Brody, Maps and Dreams (1988) – More histories of BC; recommended by my friend Renee even after we saw Mr. Brody discuss his friendship with Mr. Ignatieff at tedious length last summer. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Robert Sabbag, Down Around Midnight: a Memoir of Crash and Survival (2009) – I read more than half of this in March before I realized that, just like the books I’d tried before, I wasn’t actually reading it. I blame external factors – this is actually a pretty neat premise. Our hero the author is in a place crash in 1981(?) and takes steps, years later, to track down the other people in the crash, to learn how they’ve dealt with the memory, and to learn how it all connects in the end. I should start over. From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • Philip Kerr, A Quiet Flame (2009) – More espionage, more glamourized 20th century. From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • Kenneth J Harvey, Inside (2006) – I just read this, a cheapo novel that was a fast read. Hard life in Atlantic Canada. I wasn’t that into it but I did enjoy it. In 2002 I would have been really into this book. From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • John le Carre, The Mission Song (2006) – From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • James Sullivan, Over The Moat: Love Among the Ruins of Imperial Vietnam (2004) – More secret history, public and private and travelogue. But also an interesting counterpart, genderwise, to Burmese Lessons. White-Man-finds-Viet-woman-to-love vs White-Woman-finds-Burmese-man-to-love. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Elizabeth Royte, Bottlemania: Big Business, Local Springs, and the Battle over America’s Drinking Water (2008) – Boring, boring, boring but also cheap, fun, fast. From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • Margaret MacMillan, Nixon in China: The Week that Changed the World (2006) – The big official history of big officials doing big official things.  From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • Harry Harrison, Make Room! Make Room! (1966) – The original draft of Soylent Green. I remember over-population and Thomas Malthus but I can’t remember the last time these things mattered as a public crisis. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Marshall N Klimasewiski, The Cottagers (2006) – A cheapo first novel set in Sooke and featuring tourists. From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • Paul Theroux, The Kingdom By The Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain (1983) – A counterpoint to Simon Winchester, Outposts – home base against the colonies. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Dave King with Eric Duhatschek, King of Russia: A Year in the Russian Super League (2007) – Two of my favourite things: hockey and post-Soviet Russian travelogue. But I am ready, oh so ready, for disappointment. From Book Warehouse on Broadway.
  • Jim Walsh, All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History of the Replacements (2007) – A history of the Replacements through collage: interviews from across the last 30 years. In the category of bands I maybe should like more than I do, bands I forget to listen do, and maybe a band, like Luna, that I’ll appreciate more through history. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Fred Wah, Diamond Grill (1996) – My friend Renee talks about this book and it looks so wonderful, all about British Columbia on several levels. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Boyce Richardson, Strangers Devour the Land (1976) – The history, public and private, of the construction of the massive James Bay hydroelectric projects in Quebec. From Book Warehouse on Broadway.

  • JM Coetzee, Summertime (2009) – Part three in this set of pseudo-memoir, of which I have only read part two. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Margaret Atwood, Negotiating With the Dead: A Writer on Writing (2002) – Writing is reading and if I do have to start writing, somehow, someday, then I’ll have to keep reading about writing. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • David Kaplan, The Silicon Boys and their Valley of Dreams (1999) – I feel there is some secret history at work here but that’s just the shadows of The Soul of a New Machine left in me. But if every book is rewritten as I read it, if what I bring to the table is my experience of any book I’ve ever read, then what I bring to this, a lameo set of business-porn profiles from Wired magazine or something, is a context of: military-industrial complex; espionage; economic development in the post-war United States; unintended consequences. Secret history. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Zadie Smith, White Teeth (2000) – The biggest book of 2002? Finally in an edition that won’t crack all over the spine like the first paperback edition that I see everywhere. This is in every used bookstore I ever go to but it’s always cracked along the spine. Maybe I am the only person who didn’t read this at the time. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • ed. Lee Gutkind, The Best Creative Non-fiction Vol. 1 (2007) – I haven’t been reading anthologies in over a year. I may have not read an anthology, in fact, since I read the same, Vol. 2, of the best Creative Non-fiction. But it matches on my shelf, you see, and I am glad to have this on hand. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Andrew Meier, Black Earth: A Journey through Russia After the Fall (2003) – I very nearly bought this from Powells in Portland on a trip there with my friend Rich and others in 2006. In fact I wrote down the title so that I could track it down one day. And here it is, Russia After the Fall, on the shelf at my local neighbourhood shop, just down the street. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies (2006) – More Auster, more Auster. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Howard Kalman, Ron Phillips and Robin Ward, Exploring Vancouver: The Essential Architectural Guide (1994) – I grew up with this, reading my father’s copy. Some of the buildings are gone now but that makes it all the more valuable. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • John McPhee, Annals of the Former World (1998) – Another history, a geological history of the continent but also a story of how it was written, across the continent. I’m excited to spend a month with this. From PulpFiction on Main.
  • Emma Donoghue, Room (2010) – A gift from my mother. I don’t know anything about it! But it was on the ‘lists’ all year long.
  • John Heileman and Robert Halperin, Game Change (2010) – I read this in just two days or something in January. It was hardly there at all. From PulpFiction on Main.

1 Comment

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One response to “New books, Spring 2011

  1. That’s some list, you are a Reader’ s reader – what alot of writing you will do at 30

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