Book Log – More Baths Less Talking

More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby

Somewhere, a few months back, I discovered that Nick Hornby had restarted his “Stuff I’m Reading” column in the Believer magazine. I had loved his column so much that I had bought all three collections, and subscribed to the Believer magazine, even though I couldn’t slog through a single other article in any of the issues.

I felt, though, that someone should have told me the column was back. I mean, it restarted FOUR years ago. If Amazon hadn’t recommended the latest compilation (May 2010-Dec 2011), it would have slipped by.

Which leads me to a sort-of-anxiety attack… what ELSE is there out there that I’m missing? I’ve mentioned before that I’m overwhelmed by the vast number of books out there, the smallish percentage that are worthwhile reads, and the even tinier percentage that I would be blown away by– how am I going to find them? I have neither the time nor money to read the first chapters of thousands of books and toss them away if they don’t meet standards. It just seems hopeless.

But, ironically, the cause of my distress is also a cure, or at least a treatment. I’ve got a list of books that Nick Hornby likes, and if history is any guide, I shall find a great deal of them enjoyable as well. True, he’s never pushed Cryptonomicon, and I don’t think I got The Lonely Protagonist from him. Or did I? Looking back at my log, I see I don’t know where Polygamist comes from… it just showed up on my Amazon Wish List.

But, he did get me into Charles Dickens. Granted, the whole world tells us to get into Dickens all the time, but it took the author of High Fidelity to take the recommendation seriously.

Most amazingly, several of his recommendations are book that I, via Stacey, already owned. Let the Great World Spin, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks… Not things I would have picked up on my own. Nor would Stacey, in fact, but thank goodness for her book club. And Nick Hornby.

Apparently, I need to check in on Muriel Sparks, and also a biography of Dickens by Claire Tomalin. So, I’ve got all that to look forward to.

In honor of the “Stuff I’m Reading” column:

Books Bought:
The Blood of Flowers: A Novel by Amirrezvani, Anita
Peter and the Shadow Thieves (Peter and the Starcatchers) by Barry, Dave
The Wee Free Men: A Story of Discworld by Terry Pratchett (repurchase)

Books Reading:
Blink by Malcom Gladwell
Doctor Who: Who-ology by Cavan Scott
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Omnibus, Vol. 1 by Joss Whedon

Book Log – Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase

Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

I’m a big fan of Stroud’s Bartimaeus series, and he doesn’t disappoint with this new one.

Yes, yes, it’s a young adult novel. In my defense, I bought it at Little Shop of Stories as a bedtime read-aloud that both kids might enjoy, but then read a little bit to see if it was any good… and never put it down.

Stroud is a sharp writer with a sense of humor and a talent for character and atmosphere. Picture this book as a kind of dark Encyclopedia Brown meets Ghostbusters.

The story takes place in an alternate history where 40 years previously, ghosts suddenly became prevalent and dangerous. The only people who can detect, track and therefore bust the ghosts are certain children with abilities. Ghost extermination agencies have cropped up, typically led by an adult who used to have the gift and staffed by children agents.

Lockwood & Co are different, in that they are an independent agency run by three kids, two boys and a girl. You might roll your eyes at the Harry Potter/Percy Jackson 2-boys-and-a-girl-against-the-supernatural-without-much-adult-assistance, but the story and style is so different and well done that neither of my eyes ever rolled once throughout.

The Screaming Staircase is the first of a series… I plan to be on line as each installment comes out.