I Like Books, September 2012

After last months’ review-dump, I’ll be sticking to a monthly format, as it’ll be a little clearer what things I’m thinking and reading about. September has been an interesting month for reading, as well as other things (such as ‘getting married’). The month started out with finding the three A.J. Jacobs books for sale at the library, followed by getting a whole bunch of books from the library sooner than I thought. Deadlines always make me read faster...

  • Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Michael Pollan
  • Live Green, Calgary: Local Programs, Products and Services to Green Your Life and Save You Money, Lauren Maris
  • Blockade Billy, Stephen King
  • The Manga Guide to Statistics, Takahashi Shin
  • My Life as an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself by Living As a Woman, Becoming George Washington, Telling No Lies, and Other Radical Tests, A.J. Jacobs
  • The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, A.J Jacobs
  • Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, A.J Jacobs
  • Shakespeare Wrote for Money, Nick Hornby
  • Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris
  • Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid, Simon Pegg
  • The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories, Nicholas Gurewitch
  • Ghost World, Daniel Clowes
  • Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art, Christopher Moore
  • The Power of Less, Leo Babauta
  • The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle
  • American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang

Sacre Bleu is Christopher Moore’s creative retelling of the lives of the French Impressionists, with a supernatural plot where painters fall under the spell of a blue paint. It was slow-going in the first-half, only picking up steam in the second half. The only other Moore I’ve read was Lamb, which was a much different book in tempo and humour. There’s certainly worse fiction out there (wow, that’s a stunning recommendation, Dave), so it’s a good library pick.

I grabbed Blockade Billy when I saw it on the shelf, as, like Stephen King, I’m a big Red Sox fan. While the book wasn’t about the Sox, it didn’t disappoint, with a tale of a deranged ball player as told by the old manager. I’ve always been jealous of King’s effortless writing, and this book just makes me want more.

Nerd Do Well was a surprising disappointment. I’ve enjoyed Simon Pegg’s film work, but his memoir is half-baked. The problem is that he doesn’t get past his teenage years until 2/3rds of the way into the book. It could have been a lot shorter and been just as good.

Fortunately, Sedaris’ collection of essays Holidays on Ice made for some pretty good reading. The first essay, where he recounts his time as a Christmas elf for Macy’s, is the strongest, but the rest of the book is pretty enjoyable as well.

There was a lot of nonfiction/self-help books this month, which, while these were interesting reads, looking at the aggregate perhaps means I should look for some more soul-enriching books. A.J. Jacobs is like self-help candy, insofar that you really enjoyed what you read, but it doesn’t feel like you’re trying to ‘grow’ by reading his stuff. The Power of Less was a bit of a let-down, but only because it basically echoed Babauta’s Zen Habits blog. If you’re a hoarder whose life is a stressful mess, give it a read! The real highlight of the month was The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, which explains how the human brain reinforces skill with myelin, which the brain uses when you’re in “deep practice”.