December Reads

Welcome to my reading list for December! I completed three books last month and started a fourth. I’m pretty sure this is the shortest stack there’s been since I started the monthly reads posts. But reflecting on how crazy December was and how tired I was the whole month, I’m surprised I finished anything at all.

For those of you new to the nest, I have a neurotic reading process. Each month I read at least part of a non-fiction book, a book about reading/writing/editing/language, and as many books from my color stacks as I can (my books are organized by spine color and I’m going through each color stack, reading every book I haven’t yet read).

December Reads

Here’s December’s Reads:

The Polysyllabic Spree

The Polysyllabic Spree (2004) by Nick Hornby

What you need to know: I bet you never thought that book reviews could be interesting. Boy, sir, are you ever wrong.

Spree is my word book for the month. Again, every month I read a book about words/writing/editing, etc. (which, in theory, improves my writing skills), but this may be the first book I’ve ever read about READING. It is comprised of a year’s worth of articles Horby, who is one of my favorite contemporary authors and is the creator of great works such as High Fidelity and About a Boy, wrote for the literary magazine Believer. The full title of the book sums up what the book is about: The Polysyllabic Spree: A Hilarious and True Account of One Man’s Struggle with the Monthly Tide of the Books He’s Bought and the Books He’s Been Meaning to Read. That sums it up well.

Just like reading Kurt Vonnegut kills my urge to work on my novel for weeks (I think things like: What’s the point? Everything I do is crap. Nothing will ever compare to this. I should just burn all my work and get a boring day job in a cubicle.), this book made me feel like I should just go through and delete all of the monthly reads posts. What I write about books isn’t worth binding into a mass market paperback for sure – but this! Everything Hornby writes is witty, hilarious, and has a deep underlying truth about it. This is no exception.

This book is also going to be very bad for my book budget. (In fact, I need to stop buying books all together. I’ve already proved that I own more unread books than I could possibly read in a year.) Hornby convinced me to buy a boatload of books (I’m most excited about George & Sam: Two Boys, One Family, and Autism. There’s an excerpt in this book. I loved it so much that I read it aloud to Jake. We were both in a fit of giggles.) Also, there are apparently two more follow up books to this one with the other articles he’s written for Believer Magazine. Which I of course will end up buying sometime this year.

And now for a quote: “And don’t waste your breath trying to tell me that I’m showing off This month, maybe, I’m showing off a little. (Or am I? Shouldn’t I have read some of these books decades ago? Franny and Zooey? Jesus. Maybe I’m doing the opposite: maybe I’m humiliating myself. And maybe you have read all of these and loads of others, in the last fortnight. I don’t know you. What’s–ahem–a normal amount, for someone with a job and kids, who watches TV?)”

P.S. I love the cover so much. I’m going to use it as inspiration for something cool, I’m just not sure what yet.


Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale (2010) by Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, and Chris Samnee

What you need to know: If you’re a Firefly fan (and you should be – the entire series is on Netflix AND Hulu, so US residents have no excuse) then this is a must read.

This graphic novel gives the backstory for one of the most interesting characters in the Firefly crew line-up: Shepherd Book. The Shepherd was seeped in mystery throughout the series; he obviously lived a past very different than the life he lived in the show. The storyline of the graphic novel answers all the questions about Book that the show leaves unanswered; it jumps backwards in a very interesting experimental manner to reveal surprise after surprise and the many twists and turns of the Shepherd’s life.

I bought this for Jake for Christmas because he was always very curious about Shepherd whenever the show alluded to his past. The book didn’t make it under the tree: we both read it as soon as it arrived in the mail.

As with the other graphic novel adaptations of Joss Whedon’s shows (Buffy, Angel), I’m not loving the artwork on the material. The cover is awesome though.

And now for a quote: Kaylee: “How com water always looks s’much better when you’re drinking it?” Shepherd Book: “I appreciate it is all. This is life’s foundation and its fuel. The most important substance in the ‘verse and it flows from every mountaintop. It is truly divine.”

The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep (1939) by Raymond Chandler

What you need to know: A classic detective novel with a complex plot and interesting twists. A little risqué for 1939.

The Big Sleep is the final book I read in the mystery collection of 10 novels I picked up last summer. It also wraps up the red book stack. Triumph!

This book had more interesting characters and plot twists than the other mystery novels I’ve read this year, but after reading this many I’m sick of the detectives. They’re all pretty much interchangeable, no matter the author. I probably would have been more excited about this one if it had been one of the first classic mysteries I read. At least the slang was more interesting.

I liked it, but not enough to track down the other books in the series starring private eye Philip Marlowe. I do, however, really want to see the 1949 version of the film. Just one look at the Google images for the movie gets me all excited and inspired. Fact: I need to watch more movies from the ’40s.

And now for a quote: “The blond flicked a short-barreled gun out and stood pointing it at me. The pug sidled over flatfooted and felt my pockets with care. I turned around for him like a bored beauty modeling an evening gown.”

December Reads

In December I also started A Beautiful Mind, my monthly non-fiction. I only got about 1/3 of the way through though, so this one’s going in the January 2012 reads post.

Come back tomorrow for a post reviewing my reads for the whole year of 2011!

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? What have you been reading lately?