Books I read:

The Anthol­o­gist — Nichol­son Baker.
I loved it. You won’t like it. Yeah, that does­n’t make any sense does it? It’s a short nov­el about a poet who is try­ing, and fail­ing, to write the intro­duc­tion to an anthol­o­gy of rhyming poet­ry. He pro­cras­ti­nates, cleans his office, moons over his ex-girlfriend, helps a neigh­bor install a new floor, cuts his fin­gers (repeat­ed­ly), and dis­cuss­es at length the mis­con­cep­tions foist­ed on the English-speaking poet­ry world about the worth of rhyme (lots accord­ing to our nar­ra­tor) and iambic pen­tame­ter (very lit­tle,) along with a lot of oth­er poet­ry geek­i­ness. So if gos­sip about poets and dis­course on the val­ue of struc­ture in poet­ry do it for you. You’ll enjoy this. Oth­er­wise… you’ll be bored.

Girl on the Train — Paula Hawkins.
Meh. All three pro­tag­o­nists are alter­nate­ly bor­ing and unlik­able. There’s an odd lack of descrip­tions of the peo­ple, the places, or even the weath­er… that leaves the whole thing feels very unground­ed. It has a pre­dictable out­come for a thriller. Though, if you ever need to give some­one a clear exam­ple of gas light­ing hand them this book.

I seem to be hav­ing a run of so-so books hav­ing turned down an alley of rec­om­men­da­tions that just aren’t doing it for me. I keep look­ing at the rec­om­men­da­tions based on lik­ing All the Light We Can­not See and being mis­guid­ed into slight nov­els with flat char­ac­ters and only fair to mid­dling language.

The Lit­tle Paris Book Shop — Nina George.
The premise is adorable. A book­shop on barge in the Seine. The book­seller is more of a book apothe­cary than a push­er of mod­ern nov­els. He believes that there is a book for every­one — a book that will cure their ills.
Poor Jean Per­du (yeah, John Lost — not actu­al­ly that clever) His one great love left him 20 years ago and he’s nev­er even tried to recov­er. Then one day he donates an old kitchen table to a new neigh­bor and she finds a let­ter writ­ten by his long-lost love that he refused to open when it arrived 19 years ago. In addi­tion to the lady dumped by her hus­band with­out so much as a kitchen table, oth­er char­ac­ters include a wun­derkind author suf­fer­ing from the sopho­more jinx, a cou­ple of cats, and a lovelorn Ital­ian cook. They jour­ney both through the canals of France and their bruised souls. But the book isn’t dark, it’s warm and sun­ny and full of the scenery of France. Kind of nice for a gloomy day. (Ignore all the two stars reviews. They come from peo­ple who con­sid­er open rela­tion­ships to be evil. A rather dull sort of peo­ple.) Any­way, I liked it but it’s not one that I am going pros­e­ly­tize for.

Bet­ter than Before — Gretchen Rubin.
The lady who wrote the Hap­pi­ness Project writes about habits. She starts by divid­ing the world into four kinds of peo­ple and then pre­scribes for­mu­las and strate­gies for each type to devel­op habits. It’s a trite rehash­ing of all the pre­vi­ous advice you’ve ever heard, with pre­dictable anec­dotes from the writer — who’s a real weirdo. May be use­ful for some peo­ple but I fall into her Rebel cat­e­go­ry and the clear sub­text of this book is Rebels are screwed. They sim­ply lack the basic account­abil­i­ty to oth­ers and will pow­er to devel­op habits.

Audio books this month:

Sta­tion Eleven — Emi­ly St John Man­del — nar­ra­tor Kirsten Potter
I liked this one when I read it. It’s equal­ly good as a lis­ten. The nar­ra­tor makes sense as a lot of the book is told from the point of view of a female character.



Farewell My Love­ly — Ray­mond Chan­dler — nar­ra­tor Ray Porter.
A clas­sic hard-boiled detec­tive nov­el. Chan­dler sounds like a par­o­dy of him­self at this point but I still revis­it him on a irreg­u­lar basis for the crash­ing, brash sen­tences. They read bet­ter than they lis­ten. Not the nar­ra­tor’s fault.


Snow Crash — Neal Stephen­son — nar­ra­tor Jonathan Davis.
Not my favorite Stephen­son but a nice com­par­i­son to Sev­en­Eves which I lis­tened to last month. There’s a huge growth curve between the two. Nice to see even my favorite pros learn as they go. Nar­ra­tor — decent enough.

I have a huge list queued up for next month which includes two weeks of away from home vaca­tion. Includ­ing more Tim O’Brien, Umber­to Eco, Christo­pher Moore, Ernest Cline, and Karen Russel.

What are you reading?