Wrapped up in Books 2007, Part II

You can read Wrapped up in Books 2007, Part I, where I talked about books with a Twin Cities connection and the best short story collections. Here I am gonna tell you about a few more kickass books and a few books you should only read if you’re kidnapped at gun point, chained to a radiator and forced to read the books or die. Are you so excited? I thought so.

A few more good things for you to read

An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, Brock Clarke
Now that 2007 is over I can say with all certainty that An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England was my favorite novel of the year. I thought it would be. People who don’t have the impeccable taste that I have are puzzled when I rave about how much I love this book. They just couldn’t see it. But I guess if you’re not the type of person who can find humor in books, publishing, bookclubs, the suburbs and the absurdity of life, well then yeah this book totally isn’t for you. Or your funnybone is broken.

Love is a Mixtape, Rob Sheffield
If that damn Replacements’ book hadn’t been released this year, Love is a Mix Tape would have totally stolen the prize for my favorite non-fiction book of the year. What’s not to love? Young love, rock and roll, poetry, death, fuuuuccck. It was so awesome. I don’t think there’s a woman alive who after reading Love is a Mix Tape wasn’t a little in love with Rob Sheffield. I don’t know, but the dudes probably were too.

Foreskin’s Lament, Shalom Auslander
I’m generally not a fan of the memoir. It rides this weird line between truth and not-so-truthy (see Laurie Lindeen’s Petal Pusher. Memoirs in habit that weird land of “creative non-fiction” which I tend to call total bullshit, because it makes me uncomfortable and cannot be properly defined to my liking. Then along comes Auslander and Foreskin’s Lament and blows it all out of the water with a memoir that’s so painfully honest it hurts to read, and yet it’s so damn funny you can’t stop. Nice work.

Books you should avoid at all costs

Sammy’s Hill, Kristin Gore: boring, poorly-written, predictable, and yet totally unbelievable chicklit bullshit. Seriously what kind of person would ever leave the house wearing a sneaker and a pump? The main character in this piece of crap.

The Boy Who Cried Freebird, Mitch Meyers: This book was so bad, made so little sense that I closed the book in disgust after 40 pages and immediately listed it on bookmooch as “barely read.”

Undead and Unwed, Mary Janice Davidson: My 10-year-old niece’s stories about slumber parties are more entertaining and easier-to-follow than this book about a vampire queen who comes to save the vampire world with her magical vagina. Or something.

The Road, Cormac McCarthy: Dear world, this book sucked. You know it. I know it. Now quit pretending like this boring, repetitive, and bleak book was some sort of moving statement about the human race. It wasn’t.

Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris: I am still not over the trauma caused by my dislike of this book. Therapy, I am on my way!

Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngart: Should be renamed crapstackistan.

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11 Comments

  1. christa 02.Jan.08 at 9:51 pm

    did you read the russian debutante’s handbook? i don’t remember anything about it, but i remember really liking it. i totally would have fallen into the trap of reading crapstackistan …

    Reply
  2. Jodi 02.Jan.08 at 9:55 pm

    No, I haven’t read it. Crapstackistan was the first book I’d read by Shteyngart. I’d give him another shot. He has potential. I’ll see if I can mooch the Russian book.

    Reply
  3. Tony 03.Jan.08 at 7:47 am

    Question: How long do you give a seemingly bad book to redeem itself? I was previously working under the 1/3 rule (at least read a third of the book, and if it doesn’t grab you by then, then you are OK to give it up). Yet recently I’ve found that 1/3 is just too much, and I’ve been wanting to dump a book much earlier. Is that wrong? Am I a bad person?

    Reply
  4. bakiwop 03.Jan.08 at 9:15 am

    “An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, Brock Clarke” – don’t do it man! just don’t do it! won’t anybody think of the children! for all that is good and decent in this world, put…the book…down, and slowly walk away. and keep your hands where I can see them!

    Reply
  5. Jodi 03.Jan.08 at 9:31 am

    Bakiwop, you’d better be giving thanks to the US Constitution right about now.

    And Tony, I think 100 pages is sufficient. Unless, of course, it’s unreadable gobbledy gook like The Boy Who Cried Freebird, then 40 pages is plenty.

    Reply
  6. bakiwop 03.Jan.08 at 11:12 am

    i am, i am. however, since this is /your/ website i will of course surrender to most any punishment you deem fit – except for changing my mind about that book!

    Reply
  7. Jodi 03.Jan.08 at 11:15 am

    Did you even finish the book?

    Reply
  8. bakiwop 03.Jan.08 at 5:33 pm

    i think so, but for the life of me i can’t remember the ending.

    Reply
  9. david 05.Jan.08 at 9:55 am

    I agree on most counts, except for The Road (which I enjoyed) and Love Is a Mixtape (enjoyable in a mushy, music nerd type of way, but hardly one of my favorite non-fiction books of the year).

    Thanks for the list, and as always, for the book recommendations.

    Reply
  10. Walker Weede 08.Jan.08 at 3:49 am

    An Arsonists Guide… I bloody loved this book! I thank Jags for puting me hip to it. As she’s done with many great short stories. (Sea Oak…) And how cool was it that Joshua Furst took us up on our offer to hang with us at Grumpys ? I have yet to finish his book but it’s not for lack of interest. See Ya…

    Reply

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