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winterLAND book journal #22 - WinterLAND - Jun. 1, 2014 to Dec. 30, 2014
also journals:
- #18 - #19 - #20 - #21

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      p no enjoyment, but no warts 


crowing The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber (F/512p) $30.00 - Random - finished 12.30.14

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson (F/480p) $15.00 -  Random - finished 12.27.14

All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki (F/432p) $24.95 -  Ecco/Harper - finished 12.20.14

The Thing About December by Donald Ryan (F/208p) $15.00 -  Steerford Press - finished 12.14.14

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (F/288p) $14.95 -  Algonquin Books - finished 12.11.14

winterstrangeannasonlet me be frank with youstation eleven

crowing Winter Morning Walks by Tom Koover (F/120p) $15.95 -  Carnegie Mellon U Press - finished 12.10.14 & 12.11.14

special type of book The Strange Library
by Haruki Murakami (F/96p) $18.00 -  Knopf - finished 12.10.14 & 12.11.14

crowing Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy (F/864p) $17.00 -  Penguin - finished 12.9.14
   I've now joined the ranks of the experienced, as in experienced lovers of one of the world's true touchstones of artistic creation.

The Son by Philip Meyer (F/592p) $16.99 -  Ecco/Harper - finished 11.29.14
   Vicky told me that I would love this, yet, I had my doubts. Let me just say, it will be some time before I doubt her again. If you are thinking that you don't want to read a western, let me ask, how would you feel about reading a stunning, finely-written western? Go for it – and see how rewarding this book can be.

Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford (F/246p) $27.99 Ecco/Harper - finished 11.25.14

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (F/352p) $24.95 Knopf - finished 11.18.14
   This one spectacular book. It is also one spectacularly frightening novel to read when the world (because of the Ebola crisis) was in full batshit-we're-all-gonna-die mode.

dark voyagered goldwidow basquiatflaubert's parrotblue foxwhy read moby-dick?

Dark Voyage by Alan Furst (F/264p) $13.95 Random - finished 11.14.14
   Hey, I just didn't get it ... again. My thinking was I had tried a classic WWII story that happened on the continent, and it missed the mark, so I would try a Furst that took place on the high seas. For me – and that's all I can speak for – land or sea, it made no difference. I found myself just waiting to see if the story would get any better or come together in any satisfactory way at the end of the book. Sadly, my answer is ... it did not.
   In conclusion, Furst doesn't ring my bells. It will take a lot to get me to try another ... not even one that takes place in a box, or with a fox.

Red Gold
by Alan Furst (F/256p) $12.95 Random - finished reading 11.13.14
   The more you read, the more you want to read, and the more books are out there that people will tell you, you must read. I finally gave into to those voices and it was so profoundly disappointing. I have no doubts that Mr. Furst does a great deal of research for each and every one of his very-popular novels, and that he has skills at description, but this book just never engaged me within its covers. I liked some of his characters, I learned facts about the book's time period, but I was never driven to keep reading ... it prompted no late night, I-gotta-see-what happens page-turner excitement. I just didn't get it I quess. 
crowing Widow Basquiat by Jennifer Clement (NF/208p) $16.00 Broadway Books - finished reading 11.9.14
Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes (F/192p) $15.00 Vintage - finished reading 11.8.14
The Blue Fox by Sjon (F/128p) $10.00 FSG - finished reading 11.3.14
Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick (NF/144p) $13.00 Penguin - finished reading 11.2.14

furious coolbarkon the edgebest short stories 2014nora websterin search of

Furious Cool by David & Joe Henry (NF/320p) $16.95 Algonquin - finished reading 11.1.14
crowing Bark by Lorrie Moore (F/208p) $15.00 Vintage - finished reading 10.30.14
On the Edge by Edward St. Aubyn (F/272p) $16.00 Picador - finished reading 10.29.14
The Best American Short Stories 2014 edited by Jennifer Egan (F/384p) $14.95 Houghton Mifflin - finished reading 10.25.14
  Nora Webster by Colm Tóbin (F/384p) $27.00 Simon & Schuster - finished reading 10.21.14
 crowing The Search for Heinrich Schlögel by Martha Baillie (F/352p) $15.95 Tin House Books - finished reading 10.17.14

command & controlend

crowing Command and Control by Eric Schlosser (NF/499p) $18.00 Penguin - finished reading 10.13.14

ten years in the tubtolstoy and the purple chairchildren acttrueeyriecalifornia

crowing Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby (NF/464p) $20.00 Believer - finished reading 10.9.14
crowing Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch (NF/424p) $14.99 FSG - finished reading 10.1.14
crowing The Children Act by Ian McEwan (F/221p) $25.00 Doubleday - finished reading 9.24.14
True Stories, Well Told by Lee Gutkind & Hattie Fletcher (NF/342) $15.95 In Fact - finished reading 9.21.14
Eyrie by Tim Winton (F/424p) $27.00 FSG - finished reading 9.17.14
To know this writer is to love him. Now I will see where he takes me this time.
crowing California by Edan Lepucki (F/389p) $26.00 Little Brown - finished reading 9.12.14
The book that hit the NYT bestsellers list after Steven Colbert mentioned it as an example of a victim in the negotiating war between Amazon (aka the evil empire) and the good people at Hachette Book Group. I haven't gotten far into it, after I snatched the new Murakami from the shelf at Moe's, but it showed promise BM, before Murakami.

blackboardgood birdupdikecolorlesscolor masteron looking

Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom by Lewis Buzbee (NF/202p) $23.00 Graywolf - finished reading 9.7.14
This was a look back at the author's experiences as a student in California public schools, comparing that to his daughter's present day education at private schools, and he also shares many of his thoughts on education. Lewis worked in bookstores and was a publisher rep, before he became a graduate level writing teacher. at the graduate level
I got to know Lewis back when he visited our bookstores as a publisher rep for Chronicle Books. He was one of our very favorite book reps. Both Vicky and I looked forward to Lewis's visits, because he was always so funny, he was smart enough to know which of Chronicle's books we could sell (a surprisingly rare quality in book reps), and we always wanted to see if he would show us his very white legs—he took some time to stop wearing his San Francisco clothes and switch over to shorts for the Valley's brutal summer heat. Lewis and I shared a little history in that we both lost our fathers at an early age, were about the same age, and we had both worked for the Upstart Crow bookstore chain, him in the Bay area and me down in the San Diego store.
It's always a pleasure to see another book from Lewis, and know that he is doing what he loves. So many of the memories he shares in this book are very close to my own, though mine were in Vermont, and his in California. His writing style is somewhat funny, but he is also very forthcoming with how close he came in school to going off the tracks entirely around the time of his father's death. It was school, teachers and fellow students, that motivated him into becoming a straight A high school student and being able to then head off to college. He states very strongly how very lucky he was to have been going through the California school system at a time that it was the best in the country—before Prop 13.
Lewis makes several suggestions about how to make the Golden State's schools shine again. The key is to, once again, spend the money on our children's, and our state's future, to make our schools something to be proud of, and not a troubled system that begs for money from the state lawmakers, and is constantly having to do fundraisers for everything so basic to education. Mr. Buzbee tells us to read his lips: Raise My Taxes! You tell them, Lewis.
Lewis Buzbee website
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (F/458p) $16.00 Penguin - finished reading 8.31.14
I was waiting for this much-acclaimed novel to make its way to paperback. Years ago, I got a chance to meet James when we hosted him for a booksigning in our bookstore. At that time, he made for a great event, as he was so at ease and really seemed to connect with people. Oh, and I have a "thing" for books about John Brown, and this fits that bill in a major way.
crowing Updike by Adam Begley (NF/489p) $29.99 Harper - finished reading 8.25.14
A large book on one of my favorite writers, it could have been a wonderful time, if only Updike had a more pleasant personality. Still, I learned a lot about someone I've read a great deal about over the decades, and while the writing wasn't unique, Begley did cover a lot of material. After a while, it felt like we were viewing Updike's writings through the lens of where his sex drive took him...oh, and it took him far and wide. The over-sexed (mostly suburban), settings became more autobiographical as the book moved through his life. All in all, I found this book a great source of things Updike, and for a description of the very unique place he held in American letters for such a long time.
crowing special Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (F/386p) $25.95 Knopf - finished reading 8.16.14
I have been waiting for this title ever since I first read about it months ago. The release date came and I had to wait for TWO WHOLE DAYS before I could get into Moe's Books and buy the book. I would describe myself as possessed by the joy of reading this novel. I need to write it up in my book journals, clear out all the Post-it's, and then read it all over again.
The Color Master by Aimee Bender (F/222p) $15.00 Anchor - finished reading 8.15.14
crowing On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz (NF/265p) $27.00 Scribner - finished reading 8.2.14
This takes the concept of walking in another person's moccasins so much further down the road, even includes a dog. Different eyes, different minds, all see the everyday with so much variety. This was a joy to read and ponder.

still writing& sonsrise & fallcarsickmy strugglestay up with me

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro (NF/227p) $14.00 Grove - finished reading 7.28.14
& Sons by David Gilbert (F/434p) $126.00, Random House - finished reading 7.21.14
The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman (F/380p) $27.00, Random House - finished reading 7.8.14
Carsick by John Waters (NF/317p) $26.00, FSG - finished reading 7.3.14
John Waters goes to his publisher with the razor thin proposal of the story of him hitchhiking alone from his home on the east coast to his place in San Francisco. They went for it. He does add quite a bit of material in the first two sections: bizarrely-imagined stories of the worst and best possibilities. It is in the book's third section that he gets down to the actual trip and the stories don't disappoint. Reading his reactions to the road and the good people who picked him up, is to learn that he was almost as thrilled by those "everyday" people and their lives, as they were to have THE John Waters in their vehicle. Near the end, he's on University Ave, in Berkeley, and writes that if he can't get a ride from there to S.F. he doesn't deserve to call himself a hitchhiker. It is a major hoot of a book.
crowing My Struggle: Book Three by Karl Ove Knausgaard (F/427p) $27.00, Archipelago/Random House - finished reading 6.30.14
Would I be reading volumes 4, 5, and 6, if they were available in English, you bet your ass I would. I have developed a serious addiction to these books.
crowing Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash (F/209p) $13.99, HarperCollins - finished reading 6.22.14

my struggle 2my struggleeventideyardplovertibet

crowingMy Struggle: Book 2 by Karl Ove Knausgaard (F/592p) $18.00, FSG - finished reading 6.20.14
I couldn't pick this second volume up fast enough once I'd finished the first book.
crowing My Struggle: Book 1 by Karl Ove Knausgaard (F/441p) $16.00, FSG - finished reading 6.14.14
Life changed for me reading this book. I want to be reading these books all the time. The honesty and openness that he shows in his writing is simply staggering at times. It's all about a man with his name, writing a novel about his life, and this takes him six volumes and nearly 3,600 pages to get it done. Unfortunately, only the first two English volumes are out in paperback, the third in hardcover, while the other three volumes will not be available any time soon. Because of the tedious translation needed, the last volume is estimated to be out in about four years. All of us newly minted Knausgaard addicts will be waiting a long time for another fix...like volume four, out some time next year. Jesus!
Eventide by Kent Haruf (F/300p) $15.00, Vintage - finished reading 6.7.14
The Yard by Alex Grecian (F/422p) $16.00, Penguin - finished reading 6.5.14
Here I am reading another mystery. I really enjoyed this dark tale.
The Plover by Brian Doyle (F/308p) $24.99, St. Martins - finished reading ARC 6.3.14
crowing Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins (NF/362) $27.99, Ecco/Harper - finished reading 6.1.14
To like Mister Tom Robbins is to be immensely amused by his life and opinions. This was a very funny book, with lots of name-dropping and great stories of his life, his writings, and how they all came to be.

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