Tuesday, January 04, 2005


"The Corrections," by Jonathen Franzen
I started this book in an airport holding pen (er, "passenger lounge") and it kept me reasonably entertained through the flight. However, when I got home, I found that I just couldn't finish it. I can't say why, maybe I got frustrated with all the talking talking talking and absolutely nothing happening. Yes, the dad has Parkinson's, the kids are maladjusted, but...then what? I can't explain why I can race through some books and other books (like this one) just draaaaag oooooon. So I'll try and give this one another shot later.

"Bridget Jones's Diary," by Helen Fielding
This was a desparation move on my part, because I was getting a ride into work almost every day this month (and on many days, a ride back from work too), so my reading time was severely curtailed and I found that the only thing I was managing to read were magazines and newspapers and breezy little books like this one. I do like this book though, even though I think it helped to spawn the most unfortunate genre of literature ever to hit the bookshelves: "Chick Lit." (See: Any book with a cover featuring 1.) a predominantly pink color scheme 2) a picture of legs in high heels on the cover 3.) or a shapely woman's torso 3.) or giant red lips 4.) or some faceless woman carrying some shitload of shopping bags from designer stores. That's "Chick Lit." Also, thanks a lot for your nefarious influence on this trend, "Sex and the City.") I think Bridget is a funny, sympathetic character, even though she is a bit pathetic at times. Also, what are these salmon pinwheels they keep talking about? I must try them!

"The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2004," by Dave Eggers
This is a book that breaks off into nice, bite-sized chunks, though as I noted, I wish they included more non-fiction pieces like in their previous collections. I do applaud their decision to include at least one graphic story a year, though, and I thought this year's "Poor Sailor" was an especially fine choice.

"Geisha: A Life," by Mineko Iwasaki
Reading this book, you can see where Arthur Golden got a lot of his source material for "Memoirs of a Geisha." So maybe reading those two books back to back is a tad repetitive. But this book is non-fiction, and therefore devoid of all that drama in "Memoirs" if you don't like that kind of thing, what with the Chairman and her sister running away and Hatsumomo going ballistic all the time.

"Salt: A World History," by Mark Kurlansky
This is a fairly interesting read, in that History Channel kind of way. I would classify it as an excellent gift for the foodie in your life--I gave a copy of it to my dad for Christmas, along with the companion piece "Cod: The Biography of the Fish That Changed the World." (That, as you can imagine, is a book about the history of codfish, also by the same author.) But maybe it's telling that while I enjoyed "Salt," I didn't actually rush out and buy a copy of "Cod" for myself. There's only so much I can read about the ancient Chinese dredging up salt ponds and the history of pickled foods.