Saturday, June 23, 2007

Books read in May

I'm sorry it took me so long to get this put together. There's been a lot on my plate this month.

Brown Girl in the Ring - This is a marvelous future-fantasy novel I picked up for my "Genre Fiction: Fantasy" class at the library. It features elements of the Obeah/Voudon religion in a dystopian Toronto where the city center has been cut off from the suburbs and left to rot.
Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone *
Fantastic Four: Books of Doom - mildly interesting "origin of Doctor Doom" story with forgettable art and storytelling.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets *
Monster Island I received an advance copy of Monster Planet (see below) to review for an upcoming issue of Library Journal. I thought it would be good to read the first two books first. All three are available online at the author's website, so I whipped through this one quickly. It's a pretty good zombie novel with an interesting twist. Anyone who died in a situation where their brain continued to receive oxygen until their reanimation is a zombie, but with the intellect of a human being. These uber-zombies have power over their fellow ghouls. Very enjoyable story
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban *
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire *
Monster Nation [abandoned] - This was quite different from Monster Island, so much so that I stopped reading after the first six chapters or so. Island is a relatively straightforward narrative, while Nation is disjointed, jumping all over the map (quite literally) to follow something like a dozen different stories at once. I didn't have enough patience to put up with it.
River Horse [abandoned] - For many years I've been praising William Least Heat Moon's Blue Highways as one of the best books I've ever read. His second book, Prairyerth is different, but equally interesting. This is his third, and I've planned to read it for at least five years. When I finally got around to it, I was disappointed. There's a certain arrogance here that I didn't see in the first two. What a shame.
Rape of the A*P*E* [abandoned] - I gave up on this one not because I didn't like it, but because it was on Interlibrary Loan, and I didn't want to keep it too long. Allan Sherman was a novelty musician of the 1960s, best known for the song "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah". Rape was a book he published in 1973 detailing the view from the front lines of the sexual revolution (the A*P*E* of the title stands for "American Puritan Ethic"). It was amusing, and surprisingly, not as dated as I expected.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix *
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince *
Washed Out Bridges and Other Disasters - This was a little palate-cleanser, a collection of Doonesbury comic strips covering a parody of The Bridges of Madison County and other topics.
Monster Planet - My official review of this should be in the June 1 issue of Library Journal. Just as Nation differed from Island, Planet is distinct from the other two. The world's uber-zombies (now called liches) have begun to band together in factions, with humans caught in the middle. This book read more like a spy novel, with lots of "who's on whose side?" intrigue. It was good, but lacked the breakneck pacing of Island.
Knitting with Balls - I'm a guy who knits, so it was exciting for me to see a book about knitting for guys. Unfortunately, it wasn't a very good book. Introductory explanation was limited, and the project instructions use abbreviations that aren't defined elsewhere in the text.
The Yiddish Policemen's Union - One of the best novels I've read in awhile. I'm a fan of Michael Chabon's work anyway, and this book just confirmed my good opinion.
Birth of Coffee, The - This is a beautifully photographed "coffee-table" book chronicling the places around the earth where coffee comes from. The photos are printed by a method that uses actual coffee to tint the paper. When I read this, though, I had recently seen the Independent Lens documentary Black Gold, and I was keenly aware of the story of poverty, exploitation and greed that the book (sponsored in part by Folgers) wasn't telling.

Read in May: 17. Read in Jan-May 2007: 60

*As you can see, I re-read the first six Harry Potter novels this month, preparing myself for the new one coming out in July. I doubt I could say anything that hasn't already been said about them at this point. They're great!

1 comment:

Bruce said...

Wow, Karl, you read a lot. Wish I could plow through books like that! I also started re-reading the Potter books in mid-May and finished Sorcerer's Stone, and started Chamber of Secrets, finishing it yesterday. I'm now making good progress on Azkaban. Can't wait for Deathly Hallows, but will have to because the Mrs. has dibs. She'll probably finish Goblet and get into Phoenix this week.