60 books
  • The Remains of the Day

    Kazuo Ishiguro

    i love the format of this narrative, it reads like a journal or a letter but it’s unclear what audience either possibility might have been written for. the narrator is an old butler in a distinguished house which is now owned by a younger american. he reminisces about the days past while driving out to the country for a rare vacation, pausing now and then to collect his thoughts on paper. he philosophizes on the essence of being a great butler and pulls out old memories which he tends to feel are disconnected from his thoughts, even though they rarely are. a picture emerges of how much he suppressed in order to attain this sense of dignity he deems integral...more

  • Cinnamon Gardens

    Shyam Selvadurai

    laura sent me this book saying that she had read another book by this author but not this one. Funny Boy, probably? another friend told me that one is “really good” and this one is just “okay,” so it took some effort to get into it with that context. but last night i read the last half of it in one sitting. the story is compelling, set in 1920s Ceylon (Sri Lanka), concerning mostly a young schoolteacher who is uncertain if she wants to continue her career or get married and her uncle who is the son of a prominent man and puts his privileged life into context when his boyfriend from his college days shows up in town....more

  • Palestine

    Joe Sacco

    Joe Sacco spent two months in the occupied territories in 1991–1992 interviewing people and gathering stories. like Persepolis this book shows how powerful graphic novels can be with historical and political subjects. Palestine is a direct chronicle of his time there, a comic of him making the comic basically. it seems like the best way for this work to be presented as, unlike Persepolis, his is an outsider experience. that distinction is important as people occasionally turn the tables and question him about what the good is of them talking to him and other journalists, has media attention done anything for them? in Sacco’s 2001 foreword he acknowledges, “While Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded, no major outstanding issues...more

  • The Waste Land and other poems

    T.S. Eliot

    one of those used books that has been sitting on my shelf forever, pulled it out finally and loved the way the words tumbled out. even when the subject doesn’t appeal exactly or the allusions and images are too deeply symbolic for uneducated reading (i.e., not in a class), the language is beautiful, images stirring, and rhythm tight.more

  • Interpreter of Maladies

    Jhumpa Lahiri

    it’s been a little while since i read any short stories (for me, at least). this is a great collection set mostly in boston/new england or india. my favorite was the first one, “A Temporary Matter,” where a couple reveal secrets during nightly planned power outages. they are all pretty excellent though.more

  • Persepolis

    Marjane Satrapi

    amazing memoir of growing up in iran during the islamic revolution — i was unfamiliar with iran’s history and this gives a good overview from the perspective of being a girl from a resistant family, growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s. the drawings are stark black and white, there is a lot of humor amid the painful parts. i really loved this.more

  • Valencia

    Michelle Tea

    well. another book i meant to read several years ago. this gave me a better perspective on The Intuitionist—i appreciate more the ways that book is put together well now.

    supposedly Valencia is fiction, but it reads more like an online diary. and i don’t know how much of it is really fictionalized as it’s about Tea’s life as a “social dyke” in san francisco. it’s entertaining, pretty funny for the most part; even when she is all sad and brokenhearted, she is still making cracks. but when the thread running through a book is “all the girls i dated in a year,” it just gets a little boring to me. i felt like the narrative could have been smoothed...more

  • The Intuitionist

    Colson Whitehead

    this is a really smart novel, exploring race in a parallel time where elevator inspectors have great influence. i like a lot of technical aspects of the story, like the implied setting of new york city and the indeterminate time period; but i felt like i should have enjoyed it more than i did. maybe it was just the staggered flashbacks in the middle of the most exciting part of the book that frustrated me—they are entirely relevant where they come in, but messed with the momentum. also Whitehead’s writing style seems almost too clever at times, borderline “funny,” but he is obviously not trying to be funny.

    i might have just gotten distracted though. there are a lot of truly...more

  • Evidence

    Candy Jernigan

    i kept thinking about this book lately and pulled it out today to look through — this retrospective of Candy Jernigan’s work never fails to inspire me, and there are so many aspects of it that feel timely right now.

    Jernigan died in 1991 of liver cancer, and eight years later this book was released as a collection of her work and almost as a memorial to her personality. it showcases scavenged collages, installation pieces, paintings, and drawings. there are scientific, specifically forensic, archeological, and mathematical, natures to her work. like her collections of various things found on the streets of nyc include two pieces called “Found Dope” I and II, wherein she collected discarded drug paraphernalia; one of them is accompanied...more

  • Illuminations

    Arthur Rimbaud

    i bought a used copy of the Louise Varése translation a few years ago. it’s been kicking around, never read, like a few other books of poetry. supposedly Jim Carroll is reminiscent of Rimbaud, but maybe it is his better known book A Season in Hell. this one seems so rich in allusions with a classical feel and a visionary nature.

    the plus of buying used books is finding things like this makeshift bookmark. potentially this book has traveled much further than i have.more