- The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin
- The Islanders by Christopher Priest
- Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
- This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by David Foster Wallace
Odd fits and starts in my reading this month, distracted and unattached.
- The Avian Gospels by Adam Novy — started and liked, but didn’t grab my attention and moved on for the time being
- The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life by James Martin — loving this book, as I love the Jesuit philosophy, in preparation for Easter
- The Islanders by Christopher Priest —just started, but very intrigued
- Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace — precious little progress as other shiny things grabbed my attention
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn —I don’t usually like reading “books of the moment,” but I’ll be damned if this book didn’t completely engross me. I haven’t love-hated a book like this in a long time.
- Pavane by Keith Roberts — Perhaps the opposite of Gone Girl, this quiet and intense alternate history is remarkable and sometimes frustrating.
- Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg —Reading this in preparation for undertaking the 28-day Meditation Challenge in February
- The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks —Banks’ newest Culture novel; I just started this a few nights ago.
“Look at it another way. We’re here. We’re nice guys. We’re doing O.K. But we know that in X number of years, we won’t be here, and between now and then something unpleasant is gonna happen, or at least potentially unpleasant and scary. And when we turn to try and understand that, I don’t really think the humanist verities are quite enough. Because that would be crazy if they were. It would be so weird if we knew just as much as we needed to know to answer all the questions of the universe. Wouldn’t that be freaky? Whereas the probability is high that there is a vast reality that we have no way to perceive, that’s actually bearing down on us now and influencing everything. The idea of saying, ‘Well, we can’t see it, therefore we don’t need to see it,’ seems really weird to me.”
George Saunders, “George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year”
I meant to post this closer to New Year’s Day, but so go the resolutions. Here are the books and music I particularly enjoyed last year (no matter when they were released).
I don’t know if these were truly the best books I read, but they are the ones I remember, that particularly enthralled me or have stayed in my mind.
- Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru
- Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway
- 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
- Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Again, these may or may not be the best but the numbers don’t lie. Here are my top 20 most-listened-to artists, tracked by Last.fm. Proving that, while I try to listen to new music as much as possible, most of my musical DNA set fast in my twenties.
Not represented is the music listened to in my car (since Last.fm doesn’t scrobble my old-fashioned mix CDs). If we factor that in, I’m sure you’d see a much higher representation of They Might Be Giants, Tegan & Sara, Fitz & the Tantrums, and Girl Talk.
- The Mountain Goats
- The Beatles
- Sufjan Stevens
- Beastie Boys
- Fucked Up
- Bob Mould
- Yo La Tengo
- Diana Krall
- Grateful Dead
- Group Love
- Brian Eno
- Frank Ocean
Great month of reading.
- Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott —quick read, little that’s new or unique among Lamott’s writing on faith but a solid addition to her canon
- Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan — light and entertaining, loved every page
- Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner — frustrating, at times brilliant, incisive
- Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries by Jon Ronson — ongoing, light, fast-paced and occasionally very witty and insightful essays
- Caught up on almost a year’s worth of Locus Magazine (digital editions) that had been sitting on my drive
Heres to many, many pages of happiness in the new year!
Spent most of the month absorbed in KSR.
- 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson — finished and adored
- Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman — ongoing
- Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett — briefly started re-reading
- Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott — just started last night, ongoing