January 4th, 2005


books I read, 4th quarter 2004


1) Basket Case - Carl Hiaasen (audio)
2) Double Whammy Carl Hiaasen (audio)
3) Lucky You - Carl Hiaasen (audio) - Florida fiction with dark humor. Haven't read a bad one of his yet.
4) Whisker of Evil -Rita Mae Brown (audio) - Silly cat mystery in a series I'm ashamed to keep reading. One of 2 fiction books I read this quarter where a human is killed by rabies.
5) The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 11)- Lemony Snicket - Series still good.
6) No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency- Alexander McCall Smith trendy series, but good. Interesting take on modern life in Africa (Botswana, specifically).
7) Hellfire- Diana Gabaldon (audio) Short "novella" I tried to see if I want to read her any of her long-ass Outlander series that other people have recommended to me. This one cassette length story didn't hold me, so I'll pass on Outlander.
8) Their Eyes Were Watching God-  Zora Neale Hurston (audio) Classic African American novel from Harlem Renaissance chick that died in obscurity. So-so. Probably better on audio as is full of "po' black folk" dialect. 2nd book of quarter that features a human's death from rabies. Quick, lit grad students, "Rabies in 20th century American Fiction"- it's a dissertation that practically writes itself!
9) The Kill-Off- Jim Thompson- Thompson can do no wrong. Good as usual.
10) Tears of the Giraffe (No.1 Ladies Detective Agency) - Alexander McCall Smith- Second in series. characters interesting enough to want to keep up with series.
11) Somehow Form a Family: Stories That Are Mostly True -Tony Earley (audio)- Short stories by the author of "Jim the Boy". good.

non fiction
1) Stranger Than Fiction : True Stories- Chuck Palahnuik Assorted magazine pieces. okay, forgetable after a few months.

2) Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy,- Krist Novoselic He's so good-natured and earnest it's hard to hate his book. But not impossible.
3) Naked Pictures of Famous People- Jon Stewart From 1999, typical "stand-up comedian writes humorous musings" book. okay but forgettable.
4) Lads: A Memoir of manhood- Dave Itzkoff - Princeton grad gets job writing for start-up men's magazine called Maxim. Turns out, people in publishing can be awful! Who knew?! Seriously though, fun read.
5) Interior Desecrations : Hideous Homes from the Horrible '70s - James Lileks mostly photos but still the funniest thing I read this quarter...
6) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction -- funniest thing I read this quarter that requires a liberal arts education to get all the jokes.
7) The Explainer- the Writers at Slate Magazine. A Cecil Adams/"straight dope" type of thing. good.
8) How to Run for Local Office : A Complete, Step-By-Step Guide that Will Take You Through the Entire Process of Running and Winning a Local Election - Robert J. Thomas preliminary research.
9) Poplorica : A Popular History of the Fads, Mavericks, Inventions, and Lore that Shaped Modern America -- by Martin J. Smith Great! learn all about the importance of air conditioning, Gorgeous George, and Dogs Playing Poker on today's pop culture.
10) The Curse of the Singles Table : A True Story of 1001 Nights Without Sex- Suzanne Schlosberg Every unmarried woman over 30 will like this, even if she hasn't gone 3 years without getting any.
11) Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation- Lynne Truss- One of the best book's its' been my "pleasure" to have read this or indeed any year. If that sentence made your head hurt, you will like this book.

Dishonorable mention: 2 books I started (both on audio) and couldn't will myself to get a new copy of to finish after the tape malfunctioned:

The Hours- Michael Cunningham
The Fortress of Solitude- Jonathan Lethem

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Speaking of book reviews:

A Million Random Digits With 100,000 Normal Deviates by Rand Corporation

Back before computers could easily generate them, a statistician might want a 600 page book with pages of random numbers, arranged in no order. (use the amazon "look inside this book" feature to see an example). Why this book was reprinted (the original is copyright 1955) in 2002 is curious, but the customer book reviews made me smile. Go see before amazon pulls them.

What is WRONG with you people?!

Got an unexpected amazon package today, addressed to "Master Rohan (last name of guy I bought this house from)". Inside- baby stuff (not sure what- didn't open the bags, but the invoice has words like "Hug & learn" and "play & grow") from Denise in Chicago. I opened it hoping it would say who it was from and have a phone number. Last time this happened,
someone sent flowers to this address (in the name of the guy, his wife, and "Rohan" who I assumed was a new kid) but didn't sign it.

So Denise M's cards say "A belated welcome to personhood. Can't wait to meet you. Hugs, Aaron M" and "Merry New Year! More Hugs, Aaron", which makes me think Denise is sending Rohan gifts from her child, who presumably is too young to have his own amazon account and is likely also an infant.

I wonder if Denise sent the flowers back in August as well. I still wonder how the hell you can know that someone had a baby AND know the baby's name and like the parents well enough to send baby/Xmas gifts but NOT know that they sold this house ALMOST 2 YEARS AGO and don't live here anymore! Have they never talked on the phone or exchanged emails where Les says something like "Yeah, we're putting in carpet because these floors are icky" and Denise says "but you already have carpet" or something?

Les is of course not listed in the phone book, so tomorrow I call the realtor he used to sell me this house and see if he can tell Les to come get this stuff and remind him to tell everyone he's moved. Having baby stuff in the house just kinda creeps me out and I want it gone (as well as wanting it to go to its intended recipient).

Also- "Master" rohan? What, does he have slaves and a mammy?