• The Learners

    Chip Kidd

    Back in 2002 I wasn’t yet officially, or perhaps consciously, interested in graphic design, but heard about Chip Kidd’s first novel The Cheese Monkeys somewhere random and put it on my Christmas list. That one is about a guy who goes to a university to study art and ends up in an intense design class that involves lots...

  • Bonjour Tristesse

    Françoise Sagan

    French and emo naïveté turned coquette frolicking around a rented villa on the Riviera — thematic pairings for an ideal summer read? Narrated by the precocious teenager not long after the events happened, it dramatizes her meddling in her “affectionate rogue” father’s love life while pursuing her own sexual conquest on the side. There’s something about Cécile’s voice...

  • Wanderlust

    Rebecca Solnit

    I loved A Field Guide to Getting Lost, so it was only a matter of time before something else by Rebecca Solnit wound up on my hold list. This one is a pretty impressive history of walking, which has a rather left-leaning gait at times.

  • The Russian Avant-Garde Book 1910–1934

    Margit Rowell & Deborah Wye

    I noticed this on my friend Leslie’s goodreads page and put it on my to-read list more to remember it as a potential resource. But I wound up with some time to kill in NYC and the Mid-Manhattan library has it for reference use only, so I went to visit. The book went with the 2002 exhibit that came out of a gift of 1,100 illustrated books from the Judith Rothschild...

  • The Mother Garden

    Robin Romm

    Elissa was returning this at the library and told me I should read it, so I checked it out. This collection could be subtitled something like”variations on grief,” as all of them involve a core theme of loss, whether imminent or realized. Most of the deaths involve sickness, especially cancer, mostly parents. Somehow they all capture something...

  • Difficult Loves

    Italo Calvino

    I’d only ever read Calvino’s amazing Invisible Cities, but I wandered into the FICTION C aisle the day I got my NYPL card and grabbed this collection. I guess I’ve always been worried of treading beyond Invisible Cities since it struck me so deeply. It’s kind of a...

  • The History of Love

    Nicole Krauss

    I kept hearing people talk about this book saying that Krauss wrote the same book as Jonathan Safran Foer (her husband), but she wrote it better. It’s somewhat true, being a multilinear story steeped in the Holocaust and its lost histories and secrets, driven by clever, young people who go through great lengths to reveal them. But in Krauss’s...

  • Patrol : an American soldier in Vietnam

    Walter Dean Myers

    I often forget to post books like this that I read in passing, but I already know I’ll want to recall this one later, so luckily I remembered enough to find it easily. Though it probably wouldn’t be too hard to find, as there aren’t many other picture books about soldiers in Vietnam (if any). Unfolding measuredly like a poem, the story follows a soldier on patrol in the forest who comes across a...

  • The Children of Green Knowe

    Lucy M. Boston

    Elissa sent me this book a while back and I finally cleaned all my piles and found it again. It’s a good Sunday afternoon read about a young boy Tolly who is at boarding school while his father and stepmother are in Burma. He usually spends his holidays at the school, but this year is sent to his great-grandmother, who lives in a castle-like...

  • The Seas

    Samantha Hunt

    Early on something about this book reminded me of Among other things, I’ve taken up smoking, I think because both are set around the ocean in the northeastern part of the US. But any notion of similarities beyond setting dissipated quickly.

  • The World Without Us

    Alan Weisman

    I feel as if I’ve been reading this book forever but it’s actually just been a month or so. The scope of Weisman’s imagining of the entire world suddenly depopulated of humans is so broad that inevitably some parts feel leggy. But the scenario may give the best look at our overall impact on the planet.

  • Tony Takitani

    Haruki Murakami

    A friend told me about Cloverfield Press a while back — short fiction paired with art and letterpress-printed covers. Since I missed this Murakami story in The New Yorker (it’s only online in a terrible, abbreviated version) and never finished Blind Willow Sleeping...

  • Print is Dead : Books in our digital age

    Jeff Gomez

    I have to preface this by saying that I haven’t actually read this whole book yet, but rather listened to some excerpts. I will appreciate the irony (noted by Gomez) that I will be reading a book about how reading paper books is dead when the time comes, but I wanted to put down some thoughts before I lost them.

    Gomez submits here that the debate over the coming demise of printed books...

  • Get Down

    Asali Solomon

    This is probably my favorite short story collection that I’ve read all year. I find the collections I enjoy the most are those where all of the stories are rooted in certain commonalities while each one retains a distinctive feel and focus, as if the collection constitutes an exercise in working out all the possibilities of those few specific themes.

    These are all...

  • Tolstoy Lied

    Rachel Kadish

    This is kind of the academic version of Sex and the City, and I kept finding myself using the words “it’s kind of a ‘chick lit’ novel” in describing it. But it’s more than just a quirky novel about dating.

  • One Hundred Demons

    Lynda Barry

    I came across a mention of this book after I finished Cruddy, more specifically a mention of the story about Barry’s relationship with Ira Glass entitled “Head Lice and My Worst Boyfriend.” The hilarity potential was irresistible.

    One Hundred Demons was inspired by a Zen painting...

  • Among other things, I’ve taken up smoking

    Aoibheann Sweeney

    There’s something strangely straightforward and matter-of-fact about this story of a girl who grows up on an island in Maine and then takes an internship in New York where she experiences her “sexual awakening” (as a back-cover quote describes it). In many books there are moments that feel vaguely out of context for either the character or the progression of the storyline, but this book seems...

  • Scrapbook

    Henri Cartier-Bresson

    In my attempts to make full use of the library, I often forget to hunt out the nice art books I’d buy if I had that much money to throw around and the strength to haul the hefty tomes around every time I move house. Cartier-Bresson is perhaps the photographer I am most likely to...

  • Cruddy

    Lynda Barry

    I didn’t expect this book to be quite as violent as it is. Yet somehow the teenage heroine’s strange sense of humor and the dark, smudgy illustrations make it seem like no big deal. This is one of those stories that progresses in the present while skipping back to the past, maintaining two plot lines that come together near the end seamlessly.

  • In the Sweet Bye & Bye

    Margaret Kilgallen

    I first came across Kilgallen’s work in the 2002 Whitney Biennial, though I didn’t note her name at the time. It was a somewhat unexciting show, and the Village Voice referred to her piece as “a rare high point.”