• Scrapbook

    Adrian Tomine

    This collection of Tomine’s “uncollected work” from 1990–2004 is divided into three sections: miscellaneous comics — either unpublished, drafts, or work that appeared in places other than Optic Nerve; (mostly commissioned) illustrations; and selections from his sketchbook. While these represent distinctly separate aspects of his work, they blend together nicely and given a well-rounded...

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  • Abandon the Old in Tokyo

    Yoshihiro Tatsumi

    I haven’t been keeping up with Adrian Tomine, or the last few issues of Optic Nerve for that matter. So that might be why I also missed hearing about this series of translations of Tatsumi’s work, which Tomine is editing/designing/lettering. This book represents work originally published in 1970 and the...

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  • After Dark

    Haruki Murakami

    This reads like it could have been a screenplay, and I spent most of the book thinking what a great movie it would be — a little David Lynch in all the good ways.


    As a novel it’s a little bit flat, but I still enjoyed the experiment in perspective. It seems as if there are a lot more characters interacting on one storyline, so while...

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  • The Passion

    Jeanette Winterson

    After reading Lighthousekeeping back in March, I had a feeling I’d come back to this again. Sure enough I was waiting for some things from the library and pulled my copy out — the top spine corner of the paperback is bent in from being shoved into boxes each of the five hundred times I’ve moved. This is probably one of the few books I’ve had since...

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  • We need to talk about Kevin

    Lionel Shriver

    This is the sort of book I can’t really talk about, the way I’d like to talk about it, as then if you wanted to read it, there would be little point. It’s written as a series of letters from the mother of a teenager who murdered several classmates and school faculty/staff to her husband (and his father). It’s the sort of book that carefully reveals information...

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  • No one belongs here more than you

    Miranda July

    It was a small thing, but it was a thing, and things have a way of either dying or growing, and it wasn’t dying. Years went by. This thing grew, like a child, microscopically, every day. And since they were a team, and all teams want to win, they continuously adjusted their vision to keep its growth invisible. They wordlessly excused each other for not loving each other as much as...

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  • My Life in France

    Julia Child

    I mentioned when I read Julie and Julia that I felt this book might be more up my alley. Indeed, I sped through this in a matter of days. While the book is focused on Julia and Paul’s time in Paris and France and later time spent in Provence, it oversees the entirety of their life together, with just enough background on the non-France parts to...

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  • Poems for Architects

    Jill Stoner

    The best parts of this anthology are the overlays of drawings that interpret the certain poems’ structures. Being that Stoner chose the poems based on her own collection, it’s not necessarily a comprehensive look at poetry that tackles themes of space, like domesticity, urbanism, and form. But it is an interesting concept — how poetry can influence architecture.


    I...

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  • Anna Karenina

    Leo Tolstoy

    I started reading this novel in the fall, got halfway through by mid-December, and then wound up abandoning it when I decided not to lug 800 pages with me while going out of town for the holidays. Luckily last month I had a lull in novels and a bit of insomnia and hadn’t yet forgotten who all the characters were.


    Shortly after starting the book I got two spoilers about the dramatic...

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  • Inside the Yellow Dress

    Mary Ann Samyn

    Wish You Were Here

    Postcard of time, stolen time. And I have such wide need. How can I tell you of all the birds visiting me? First, geese at night — just as you said — flying by the light of the river. No, I mean by the absence of the light of the river. Then, cranes, three: a dream, a painting, a photograph. Also, this paper if you fold it: origami sign of — what?...

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  • Prep

    Curtis Sittenfeld

    Despite the length of this book, I breezed through it in a couple of days, often unable to stop reading until reaching the end of a long chapter. It’s a coming-of-age story of a Midwestern, middle-class girl who decides she wants to go to boarding school, gets some scholarships, and ends up in New England. Once there Lee realizes the class divide is more striking than she anticipated and...

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  • Perfect Disappearance

    Martha Rhodes


    Elegy

    My body given away, parts

    flown to other parts — a child

    receives my eyes, another

    my heart, the diseased organs

    remain, benign now.


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  • Fun Home

    Alison Bechdel

    The graphic novel memoir seems such an ideal form, especially as demonstrated in this “family tragicomic” where Bechdel uses snippets of journals and letters to flesh out the story of her relationship with her father, who is suspiciously killed by a truck four months after she comes out to her parents via a letter while she is away at college and two weeks after her mother asked him for...

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  • Geography of Home : writings on where we live

    Akiko Busch

    This collection of personal essays dissects the house as home, meandering from room to room while simultaneously shifting between Busch’s personal experiences and more general ideas gleaned from history and literature. She doesn’t really succeed in placing her experiences into a comprehensive context, yet the book isn’t presented entirely in an anecdotal manner.


    At times she seems to...

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  • Fatal Distraction

    Sonja Ahlers

    I loved Sonja’s first book Temper, Temper, though I never tried reading it straight through. I did so with this one, and it was most rewarding. While it feels a bit square to page-by-page, as it’...

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  • The Three Incestuous Sisters

    Audrey Niffenegger

    From the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, she calls this a “visual novel” and/or “a silent film made from Japanese prints.” The story is of three sisters torn apart when two fall for the same dude, told in aquatints and spare text. Some of my favorite pages are those that don’t obviously pull the story along—...

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  • Mariette in Ecstasy

    Ron Hansen

    Elissa told me she’s bought several copies of this book, as she did once again while in town last week, leaving it with me to read when she left. An appropriate choice for Easter weekend, it follows the story of Mariette, a young postulant of the Sisters of the Crucifixion in the early 1900s. Shortly after arriving at the priory, she begins experiencing ecstasies — or perhaps is...

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  • The Future of Nostalgia

    Svetlana Boym

    I loved the concept of this book but eventually had to accept that it was a bit more academic than I wanted it to be. But that enabled me to just skip to the parts I wanted to read instead of feeling like I had to read every word. That may sound like a lackluster recommendation, but I’m sure to return to this book and skim again.

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  • Before the War: poems as they happened

    Lawson Fusao Inada

    We are all the loves we ever lost.


    I can’t for the life of me remember how this wound up on my hold list at the library, but there must have been some reason. The poems in this book span ten years, themes of jazz, WWII internment camps, and banalities set in several distinct locales around the US. A...

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  • Lighthousekeeping

    Jeanette Winterson

    I used to read books so quickly, it was disturbing to some friends of mine. But these days I plod through books and leave them half-read all the time. It was especially sad to open this book and feel some excitement because the type is so big. Yes! A quick read. Maybe I should just embrace it and dedicate myself to YA novels for a while.

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