The OF Blog: May 2012 Reads

Sunday, July 01, 2012

May 2012 Reads

Because there were only 30 days in June that I could procrastinate posting this...

39 books read, but 9 of those were read during the return trip from Kansas City May 5 or just after returning home.  As the temperatures climbing, my desire to read dropped (that and I wasn't reading e-books much due to switching to walking instead of riding the exercise bike at the gym for 30-40 minutes 4x/week).  When I post the June figures, that number has continued to dip, minus a rally the past three days that pushed me to 25 for that month.

Anyways, the list, with very brief comments:

164  Enrique Vila-Matas, Paris no se acaba nunca (Spanish; very good)

165  Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station (very good)

166  Howard Monnett, Action Before Westport, 1864 (non-fiction; picked up at a Kansas City Civil War battlefield museum; very informative about a battle I knew nothing about – it was the largest Civil War battle west of the Mississippi River – before the trip)

167  Mario Vargas Llosa, La civilización del espectáculo (okay, but disappointing, considering the author; non-fiction)

168  Imre Kertész, Fatelessness (excellent fiction from a Nobel literature laureate)

169  Bjornstjerne Bjornson, The Bridal March (so-so effort from another Nobel laureate)

170  Nalo Hopkinson, Chaos (very good YA novel)

171  Gwyneth Jones, The Universe of Things (good-to-very-good story collection)

172  Jain Sen and Rizky Wasito Edi, Garlands of Moonlight (graphic novel based on Malaysian legends; very good)

173  Jai Sen and Eric Bryden, The Ghost of Silver Cliff (graphic novel; good, but not as good as the first volume)

174  Isaak Dinesan, Out of Africa (non-fiction; despite some questionable commentary on the Kenyans, an interesting memoir)

175  Isaak Dinesan, Seven Gothic Tales (hit-or-miss for me; didn't help I was reading this while awaiting news if my brother and sister-in-law were having a boy or girl; it was a girl, by the way)

176  Mario Benedetti, La Tregua (Spanish; good)

177  Erri de Luca, Montedidio (Italian; a very moving tale)

178  Erri de Luca, God's Mountain (the English translation)

179  Machado de Assis, Mémorias Póstumas de Brás Cubas (one of Brazil's finest 19th century writers; Portuguese; very good)

180  Davis Soares, Batalha (Portuguese; I want to comment more on this animal fable later, but this short novel only confirms that he is one of the best writers in the world today, at least in my inflated opinion ;)

181  Nathan Englander, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank (story collection; I chose it as a mid-year Best of 2012 candidate)

182  Helen Oyeyemi, The Icarus Girl (very good debut effort from a very talented writer)

183  Helen Oyeyemi, White is for Witching (Oyeyemi's third novel just confirms my high opinion of her; excellent)

184  Machado de Assis, Papéis Avulsos (Portuguese; very good)

185  Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog (very moving tale; very good)

186  Cory Doctorow, The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (non-fiction; well-presented overview of Doctorow's thoughts on technology, writing, and civil liberties)

187  Cynthia Robinson, The Will of Venus (average)

188  Jane Rogers, The Testament of Jesse Lamb (already reviewed)

189  Colette, La Maison de Claudine (French; very good)

190  Sigrid Undset, Jenny (decent but dated novel from another Nobel laureate)

191  Selma Lagerlöf, Jerusalem (this Nobel literature laureate's novel felt much "fresher" than most pre-1940 efforts; very good)

192  Banana Yoshimoto, N.P. (I have yet to have read a Yoshimoto novel that didn't grasp my attention; very good)

193  Tupelo Hassman, Girlchild (one of the best debuts I've read this year; discussed more in my mid-year Best of 2012 post)

194  Joyce Carol Oates, Mudwoman (the confused, abrupt ending almost destroyed what until then had been a very solid novel)

195  Dana Spiotta, Eat the Document (Spiotta is an outstanding talent and this was an outstanding novel that was a finalist several years ago for the National Book Award in Fiction)

196  Monica Ali, Brick Lane (Ali's debut novel, which earned her mention in Granta's list of Young British Writers.  Deserving of high praise)

197  Jamaica Kincaid, My Brother (non-fiction; moving, devastating, but a read I think most should do in the very near future.  Kincaid laid it all out here in this semi-autobiographical account of a dead brother)

198  Monica Ali, Alentejo Blue (good, but not as good as her debut)

199  N.K. Jemisin, The Killing Moon (mediocre)

200  Kathy Acker, Literal Madness (I need to re-read this before having a firmer opinion, but this was some trippy/weirdness on display)

201  Charles M. Shultz, Screća je...toplo kučence (re-read; Serbian; translation of one of my favorite childhood books, Happiness is a Warm Puppy; moved me even in translation, most of which I understood without need of a dictionary!)

202  Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place (non-fiction;  excellent essays on the perniciousness of tourism on a Caribbean society, among other topics of discussion)

The June list will be up later today or tomorrow.  That one, like I said above, is shorter at only 25.  Feel free to weigh in on books listed here that you've read or if you have questions about any title listed.

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