• Book One

    Chip Kidd

    One of the great advantages to designing book covers is that you don’t ever have to have an idea, much less a thought, ever, in your head. That is the author’s job. Through a manuscript, he or she will give you all the ideas and thoughts that you could possibly need to design a jacket.

  • Stranger Things Happen

    Kelly Link

    Once again, unable to finish a book before its due date back at the library. Part of it might have been that I liked some of these stories a whole lot better than others. The pseudo-modern-fairy-tale/mythology-retellings weren’t heavy on the clever for me. But I did enjoy the creepier stories, like the librarian in love with a lady whose family shares a serious sense of loss,...

  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

    Carson McCullers

    I thought it was just last spring when I started reading this book and didn’t get past the first section before it was due back at the library, but now I can see it was actually more like a year and a half ago — where does the time go? I’m glad I revisited this, as this is certainly sure to keep a place as one of my favorite...

  • The Year of Magical Thinking

    Joan Didion

    Not having it in front of me now, I can’t skim through and remember the precise points that caught me when I was reading this. I can recall that I appreciated the elements that returned throughout the book, waves washing back over, appropriate for a memoir of grief. I poke through a few reviews to jog the memories, noticing that a few describe a lack of “inwardness” or distance from emotions...

  • Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

    Haruki Murakami

    I waited for months on the hold list from the library, only to be unable to finish all these stories before going out of town. Perhaps I should have just paid the few days of late fees I would have received if I’d taken it with me on my trip and returned it afterwards. I only got through half the book, but I might have gotten through more if I hadn’t been unable to resist re-...

  • Coraline

    Neil Gaiman

    This girl Coraline is bored in her new house, her parents are too busy for her, and all the neighbors call her Caroline. But there is an old door to the flat next door that has been bricked up; when no one is around, it brings her into a parallel world which has all the things she might want, but in messed up, creepy ways. And all the people have buttons for eyes.


  • The End

    Lemony Snicket

    I couldn’t decide while reading this whether it was a good ending for the Baudelaires, being stuck on some island rather than somehow encompassing all the books in one. But the ending does deliver pretty well. A lot of us had our suspicious anyhow.

    I still think it would have been better to wait until all the books were published, having only read...

  • The Jungle

    Upton Sinclair

    I never was assigned this book in high school and probably only read it now because it happened to coincide with some curiosity about Lithuanian ancestors we know nothing about and a casual mention of this to a friend who happened to reading this book at the time. While this book is well-known for its effect on the meatpacking industry, it’s primarily an argument for support of socialism, by...

  • The Crooked Mirror and other stories

    Anton Chekhov

    I tried reading some Chekhov three years ago after a long stretch of short stories and just couldn’t do it. Being that I read with much less density these days, what I read has less to do with what I’ve read before it. And I guess not having read much short fiction lately at all gave me a prime opportunity to try again.

    Chekhov’s stories are pretty clever,...

  • By Its Cover

    Ned Drew & Paul Sternberger

    Looking back through all the covers reproduced in this book, subtitled Modern American Book Cover Design, I love Alvin Lustig and Paul Rand’s covers from the 1950s, a few things here and there from the 1960s, and then nothing much else until the last chapter, looking at the late 1990s with a section focusing on various Knopf designers.

  • In Cold Blood

    Truman Capote

    I wanted to like the movie Capote but in truth I found myself bored through large stretches. Aesthetically it was pretty well-done, but the story maybe needed some extra editing. This isn’t one of those straight-up book vs. movies cases, as the stories are from the same source but different perspectives — the movie a story...

  • The Madame Paul Affair

    Julie Doucet

    This story about the bizarre events surrounding a Montreal apartment Doucet lived in ended kind of weird and anti-climactic after all the suspense. It was originally printed serially in a newspaper, and I think that would be the best way to read it, slowly and over time.

  • My New York Diary

    Julie Doucet

    I used to read a lot of comics years ago but I don’t think I’d ever read any of Julie Doucet’s, not even holed up in a comic shop, pretending it was a library. Her drawing style is pretty dense; it took awhile for me to adjust to it, and then I was surprised I never stumbled on her largely autobiographical work before now. This one opens with some back story in her early sexual and romantic...

  • American Pie

    Pascale Le Draoulec

    A roadtrip centered around a pie quest, Le Draoulec and her travel partners stay off the interstates and hit mostly small towns, asking the locals, “Where do you go for pie around here?” Worth reading if anything for all the recipes. Maybe it’s because I know so many people who enjoy baking and cooking, but I found the direness of the homemade pie situation a bit overstated. I don...

  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

    Jonathan Safran Foer

    I heard mixed things about this book, so I approached it with what turned out to be an appropriate amount of expectation. It may also help that the themes of loss and the profound sense of absence in the aftermath of loss are things that have been on my mind lately.

    While I haven’t read much literature centered around September 11th, most of what I can remember reading at the moment...

  • La Perdida

    Jessica Abel

    Originally published serially by Fantagraphics between 2001 and 2005, this volume presents the complete story of an American girl who arrives in Mexico City with an idealized vision of the country and its culture. Eager to embrace her Mexican background, though she has long resented her “disappearing Mexican dad” while growing up, she defiantly...

  • Penguin by Design

    Phil Baines

    This is an image-rich overview of Penguin cover designs from 1935–2005. I’ve been thinking a lot about book design lately, and there is something oddly fresh about some of the older cover designs. Or perhaps it is just refreshing to see a limited palette when compared to the attention-getting standards of today....

  • Lolita

    Vladimir Nabokov

    For a long time I never had any intention of reading this book because it just seemed too creepy. But several friends have mentioned reading it lately, so it found its way on my list. While the subject is pretty creepy, the writing is beautiful. I think one of my favorite lines ever follows the foreword’s update on all of the involved characters:

    The caretakers of...

  • Copia

    Casey Kwang

    It’s been well over a year since I last read a book of poetry in its entirety. There have been a few attempts that went undocumented, since I barely even imposed any stress to the bindings.

    This is one of those books that’s easy to just breeze through without really hearing...

  • The Devil in the White City

    Erik Larson

    There’s something a little uneven about this story which simultaneously travels behind architect Daniel Burnham as he works towards organizing the realization of the Chicago World’s Fair and Dr. H H...