Thursday, November 11, 2004


"1984" by George Orwell
This is another one in my roster of all-time favorites, a book I will have to read at least twice a year every year--some might say compulsively. Especially chilling and applicable during these scary political times. War in Iraq's going great, you say? I suppose they're increasing our chocolate rations as well.

"House of Leaves" by Mark Z. Danielewski
I have to split this books into two parts--the first part, which is written in a relatively normal narrative (well, a split narrative, with the footnotes), and the second part, where the book goes crazy. I liked the first part a lot, I thought it was spooky and atmospheric, and I liked the premise. But the book kind of lost me in the second part. Most of the reading I do is on the subway, I don't have the patience or ability to read a book with only one word on each page, or printed upside-down, or which requires me to hold up the text to a mirror in order to decipher what's written. My sister (who gave me the book as a birthday present), says that there are whole college classes dedicated to just getting through the book. I could have used one of those classes, I think.

"Iron Wok Jan! Vol. 1 - 9" by Shinji Saijo
I gave a rather full review of "Iron Wok Jan" in this entry. Suffice it to say, I love this comic, and can't wait until they translate further volumes into English. Apparently, there are whole libraries of Japanese comics about food and cooking, although this is the only one available not in either Chinese or Japanese. There are even whole multiple volume comic series written about one specific type of food--fish, for example, or noodles, or sushi. The Japanese love their food.

"Complications" by Atul Gawande
More medical non-fiction, this time written by a surgeon surprisingly unabashed about admitting how much of what he does is guesswork or blind luck. Very well written, as you would expect--he's a regular contributor to The New Yorker.

"Dry" by Augusten Burroughs
I think this book is probably his best. I liked it better than "Running with Scissors" because it seemed more grounded in real life, like something that could happen to anyone. ("Running with Scissors" was so bizarre and grotesque that it made me itch.) And interesting from a health care practitioner point of view, into the psychology of substance abuse.

"Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs
I guess I re-read this one after "Dry" as sort of a compendium piece. See what I just wrote above. I did like it in the end, though--it's fascinating and horrible, like a traffic accident. Some of those stories were so outlandish I almost had to wonder if he was making them up. I know I've said in the past that he's a poor man's David Sedaris, but at this rate (with all three of his books prominently displayed next to the door at every Barnes and Noble in Manhattan) he may become the rich man's David Sedaris.


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