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winterLAND book journal #20 - WinterLAND - Sep. 25, 2013 to Jan. 27, 2014
     also journals:
- #18 - #19 - #21 - #22

We've doing our Northern California being-with-and-helping-family thing — a few days in Oakland and a few days in Winters every week. During the summer the contrast between the intense heat of the Central Valley and the cool dampness of the East Bay is fascinatingly different. 

   more book journals      what's John reading NOW?      Vicky's Page
crowingbook to crow about   not the best or the worst   special type of book special creative design/execution   p no enjoyment, but no warts





crow Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson (F/309p) $25.95, Penguin - finished reading 1.27.14  


book Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson (F/306p) $15.00, Penguin - finished reading 1.23.14    


book The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson (F/318p) $15.00, Penguin - finished reading 1.21.14  


crow Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore (F/403p) $26.99, William Morrow - finished reading 1.17.14  


crow This is the Story of A Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (NF/305p) $27.99, Harper - finished reading 1.15.14  


book Another Man's Moccasins by Craig Johnson (F/290p) $15.00, Penguin - finished reading 1.11.14




book Kindness Goes Unpunished by Craig Johnson (F/288p) $15.00, Penguin - finished reading 1.8.14  


crow Almost Invisible by Mark Strand (F/50p) $16.00, Knopf - finished reading 1.6.14  


book Death Without Company by Craig Johnson (F/271p) $15.00, Penguin - finished reading 1.3.14  



2013 Final Book Nerd Numbers — on the books I read last year

A total of 94 books (68 fiction, 26 nonfiction) 28,386 pages, average book was 302 pages



book The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson (F/354p) $15.00, Penguin - finished reading 12.31.13  


book The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell (F/454p) $15.00, Vintage - finished reading 12.28.13  


book Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon (F/368p) $15.00, Random House - finished reading 12.24.13  



inventiontenth  trouble   bothmotherzazen


book The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (F/368p) $27.95, Viking - finished reading ARC 12.19.13    


book Tenth of December by George Saunders (F/272p) $26.00, Random House - finished reading 12.13.13  


book The Trouble With Poetry by Billy Collins (F/85p) $13.95, Random House - finished reading 12.14.13  


crow Both Flesh and Not by David Foster Wallace (NF/323p) $17.00, Back Bay Books - finished reading 12.8.13   

Essays from the late, great David Foster Wallace. Well, sure, they aren't all great, but when he shines — it's brilliant!  


book Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas (F/360p) $15.00 Broadway Books - finished reading 12.5.13   

   Oh say can you see, a more dysfunctional family? I doubt it. This was a slow-building trip on a madly twisting road of anger, violence, and some bizarre family dynamics. It was very entertaining, a little unsettling, and I loved it.  


book Zazen by Vanessa Veselka (F/257p) $15.95, Red Lemonade - finished reading 12.1.13   

   I just finished this quite clever bit of writing and I'm still collecting my thoughts.




book Ratlines by Stuart Neville (F/352p) $15.95, Soho Crime - finished reading 11.30.13   

   Once again, I went to an area of writing — mysteries and crime writing — that I avoid. Once again, I was left finishing a book and wondering why I read to the end. I jumped in because of heaps of praise from professional reviewers, bloggers, and friends. Oh, and the fact that it had Nazis, love to read about those evil Nazis. I finished it, but I wasn't turning those page quickly, and I wasn't searching for answers and conclusions.   

The style is very sparse and the writing and plotline didn't take me much of anywhere.                                                              

- signed someone UNMOVED and ONE WHO DID NOT GET IT ... me bad.  


book The Dinner by Herman Koch (F/304p) $14.00, Hogarth - finished reading 11.25.13   

   This was given to me by someone who reads a great deal, and she thought "I might like it" — so I read. Turns out, she was right. It's a fascinating and dark book that is done in a very curious style. Part of the book follows two couples through a dinner at an exclusive restaurant. It follows them course by course. Now that's not much of a grabber for me, but there is so much more.   

   Through flashbacks, dinner conversation and action, and some other disturbing side events, it turns into a most interesting story. There is some violence, intrigue, politics, resentment, family issues, and much more, but it was the relationships between these well-drawn characters that always rang true and real. The plot gets most involved, but the book's characters involvement with each other, always seem human and believable.   

   This was a fine meal of a book, and, while there was upset and spice to The Dinner, the flavor of the writing was very satisfying.  


crow Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III (F/292p) $25.95, W.W. Norton - finished reading 11.23.13   

   On reflecting about these casually related stories, I find myself wishing that he had written one story, one novel. As a singular story, I would have been able to spend more quality time with these people, these truly Dubus characters, without repeatedly having to learn a new story structure for them to inhabit. The framework of these stories, with some one story's characters casually walking into another, was well done, and didn't seem contrived, but I wanted a bigger, singular canvas. Enough.   

   With that said, I was very taken with this collection. It was only the last, the title story, that took me a little time to be immersed and thrilled with. His characters are rough many times. Some have been knocked around, some have knocked others around. Spouses cheat, and the title of Dirty Love was perfect for how these people interacted many times. It rand true and I hope to write more soon.  


book Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart (NF/349p) $27.00, Random House - finished reading ARC 11.18.13   

    This is one very funny bit of writing about Gary's first seven years living in the Soviet Union, Leningrad specifically, and the massive change of then eventually moving to the United States. His novel, Super Sad True Love, didn't move or amuse me much, but I found Little Failure quite engaging and hilarious. His relationship with his parents and his grandmother are just fascinating. The style in which he chooses to tell the reader about his early years — is a hoot.    


crow Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield (F/337p) $26.99, Atria/Emily Bestler Books - finished reading ARC 11.10.13   

   This book is so superbly dark, I was quickly in love with the mood her writing. A young boy kills a rook (crow) with a rock and lives the rest of his life with some eerie consequences. Crows and ravens have always fascinated me — I did have a bookstore named Raven's Tale, decorated with a vast array of crow art — and these special birds play a wonderful role throughout this book. The atmosphere was just spot on.    


crow Cathedral by Raymond Carver (F/228p) $15.00, Vintage Random House - finished reading 11.6.13    

   I've lost count of how many times that I've read this masterful collection of short stories, but I've fallen in love with it each and every time.




book The Paris Review


book The Holy City by Patrick McCabe (F/212p) $15.00, Bloomsbury USA - finished reading 11.2.13  


book The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (F/178p) $25.99, William Morrow - finished reading 10.30.13   

   My first thought is that he's such a fine writer ... just too bad that he goes to the fantasy world and doesn't write an adult style book about just real people. He has such great skill with description, creativity, setting, mood, and characters, but — especially to people like me — it starts to go south when he takes the reader off on some ride through a world of fantasy. What do I know, other than my preference, and what I like.  


book Report From the Interior by Paul Auster (NF/271p) $27.00, Henry Holt - finished reading ARC 10.28.13  


crow The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri (F/340p) $27.95, Knopf - finished reading 10.23.13 Simple fact, I loved this book.  


crow Levels of Life by Julian Barnes (NF/144p) $22.95, Knopf - finished reading 10.18.13   

   I enjoyed these so much, that I read it once ... and then I read it all over again. When he writes about his wife's death it is very powerful, an articulate man has such a rich way to express himself.




book Big Fish by Daniel Wallace (F/191p) $13.95, Algonquin - finished reading 10.12.13   

   Fables and wild stories abound around this man who lived a bigger-than-reality life. The heart of this book, in amongst all these grand tales, is as simple as a son and his relationship with his father. All the spectacular storytelling keeps the two of them from getting to know each other as real people. Not a new story, but this telling really has heart. Reading the book after seeing the Tim Burton movie makes it hard to separate them, but they are each a treat.  


book Train Dreams by Denis Johnson [2nd reading] (F/116p) $12, Picador - finished reading 10.9.13   

   I hadn't read this fabulous little book in some time, but I have always kept it handy. Walking past it the other day, I knew it was time to reread. Yet, always, in the back of my mind there's a little voice saying over and over, will it be as good this time? and it truly was, in a major way. I marvel at how well this is written, just how much he can do, can express, with a few words ... it's masterful.  


book Life Sentences by William Gass (NF/349p) $28.95, Knopf - finished reading 10.7.13   

   William Gass is most active when it comes to essays ... I think that this is his eighth collection. He keeps me on my toes and covers so many topics, but I feel that this is the last time that I'll reach for a Gass book. There are simply too many topics that he can right so learnedly about, that I don't have any interest in. To each his own.  


crow The Death of King Arthur retold by Peter Ackroyd (F/316p) $26.95 Penguin - finished reading 10.4.13   

   This was a fantastic retelling of these immense tales of old. I was captivated by the characters and their motivations, but, at the same time, there are so many contradictions in how these knights of the Round Table broke their oaths time and time again — all the time they were held high as more than mere humans. A collection of stories about honorable men interacting in a brutal and complicated world. Maybe it all comes down to the fact that little is as simple and pure as some want you to think.  


book The Collini Case by Ferinand von Schirach (F/187p) $25.95, Viking - finished reading ARC 9.28.13   

   I hadn't been that excited about this ARC when I ordered it, but I was quickly sucked into the story and there were some nice touches alone the way. It had been quite a while since I have read a true page-turner, it's thrilling at times.  


crow How Literature Saved My Life by David Shields (NF/207p) $25.95, Knopf - finished reading 9.25.13  



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