Sunday, November 15, 2015

100 BOOKS | 100 Books to Read 2015

This is the list in progress for my readings in 2015.
  1. If the Oceans Were Ink • Carla Power
    [ 15/08/2015 ~
  2. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl • Carrie Brownstein
    [ 14/11/2015 ~
  3. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books • Azar Nafisi
    [ 27/09/2015 ~
  4. The Passion According to G.H. • Clarice Lispector
  5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks • Rebecca Skloot
  6. Authority: Book 2 of the Southern Reach Trilogy • Jeff VanderMeer
    [ 30/08/2015 ~
  7. Acceptance: Book 3 of the Southern Reach Trilogy • Jeff VanderMeer
  8. Girl in a Band: A Memoir • Kim Gordon
    [ 02/08/2015 ~
  9. Loitering: New & Collected Essays • Charles D'Ambrosio
    [ 21/07/2015 ~
  10. The Argonauts • Maggie Nelson
    [ 28/05/2015 ~
  11. H is for Hawk • Helen Macdonald
    [ 18/05/2015 ~
  12. I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen • Sylvie Simmons
    [ 25/04/2015 ~
  13. The Empathy Exams • Leslie Jamison
    [ 22/04/2015 ~
  14. The Buried Giant • Kazuo Ishiguro
    [ 07/03/2015 ~
  15. The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio: The True Story of a Convent in Scandal • Hubert Wolf
    [Translated by Ruth Martin]
    [ 16/03/2015 ~
  16. Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace • Anne Lamott
    [ 04/12/2014 ~
  17. What Days Are For: A Memoir • Robert Dessaix
    [ 20/11/2014 ~
  18. A History of the World in Twelve Maps • Jerry Brotton
  19. Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence • Rick Hanson
  20. Running and Being • Dr George Sheehan
  21. Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom • Rick Hanson
  22. The Wisdom of Yoga: A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living • Stephen Cope
  23. The Sanity We Are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology • Chogyam Trungpa
  24. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism • Chogyam Trungpa
  25. Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery • Chogyam Trungpa
  26. The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them • Richard J. Davidson & Sharon Begley
  27. Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers • David Perlmutter & Kristin Loberg
  28. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West • Dee Brown
  29. Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites • Kate Christensen
  30. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals • Michael Pollan
  31. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto • Michael Pollan
  32. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation • Michael Pollan
  33. Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History • S. C. Gwynne
  34. Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child • Bob Spitz
  35. Love Your Enemies: How to Break the Anger Habit & Be a Whole Lot Happier • Sharon Salzberg
  36. Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste • Luke Barr
  37. Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and the University of Colorado Men's Cross Country Team • Chris Lear
  38. The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present • Eric Kandel
  39. The Source of All Things: A Memoir • Tracy Ross
  40. No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Way of the Bodhisattva •  Pema Chodron
  41. Quiet: The Power of Introverts • Susan Cain
  42. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot • Robert MacFarlane
  43. A Tale for the Time Being • Ruth Ozeki
  44. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants • Malcolm Gladwell
  45. When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice • Terry Tempest Williams
  46. Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation • Sharon Salzberg
  47. Hild • Nicola Griffith
  48. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind • Shunryu Suzuki
  49. Lady Audley's Secret • Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  50. The Names of the Rose • Umberto Eco
  51. Dune • Frank Herbert
  52. The Stars My Destination • Alfred Bester
  53. Jane Eyre • Charlotte Bronte
  54. The Windup Girl • Paolo Bacigalupi
  55. Regenesis • C.J. Cherryh
  56. Among Others • Jo Walton
  57. The City & The City • China MiĆ©ville
  58. Baghdad Sketches (1932) • Freya Stark
  59. The Valleys of the Assassins and Other Persian Travels (1934) [On Mazandaran, Iran]• Freya Stark
  60. The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut (1936)• 
  61. A Winter in Arabia (1940) [On Hadhramaut] • 
  62. Perseus in the Wind (1948). [Essays on philosophy and literature] • 
  63. Ionia, A Quest (1954) • Freya Stark
  64. The Lycian Shore (1956) [On Turkey] • Freya Stark
  65. Alexander's Path: From Caria to Cilicia (1958) [On Turkey] • Freya Stark
  66. The Zodiac Arch (1968) [Miscellaneous essays] • Freya Stark
  67. The Minaret of Djam: An Excursion into Afghanistan (1970) • Freya Stark
  68. Where the Stress Falls • Susan Sontag
  69. On Photography • Susan Sontag
  70. Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963 • Susan Sontag
  71. Against Interpretation: And Other Essays • Susan Sontag
  72. As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 • Susan Sontag
  73. The Histories • Herodotus
  74. Shantaram • Gregory David Roberts
  75. The Magicians • Lev Grossman
  76. The Magician King • Lev Grossman
  77. The Magician's Land • Lev Grossman
  78. Their Eyes Were Watching God • Zora Neale Hurston
  79. A Fine Balance • Rohinton Mistry
  80. Ancillary Justice • Ann Leckie
  81. Ancillary Sword • Ann Leckie
  82. The Little Stranger • Sarah Waters
  83. The Paying Guests • Sarah Waters
  84. The Trauma of Everyday Life • Mark Epstein
    [ 15/09/2014 ~
  85. Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness • Rebecca Solnit
    [ 26/11/2014 ~ 18/01/2015 ]
  86. The Outsider • Albert Camus
    Translated from the French by Sandra Smith
    [ 01/10/2014 ~ 19/01/2015 ]
  87. The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere • Pico Iyer
    [ 19/01/2015 ~ 25/01/2015 ]
  88. Station Eleven: A Novel • Emily St. John Mandel
    [ 23/11/2014 ~ 04/02/2015 ]
  89. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith • Anne Lamott
    [ 15/10/2013 ~ 09/02/2015 ]
  90. Travels with Herodotus • Ryszard Kapuscinski
    translated from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska
    [ 05/02/2015 ~ 15/02/2015 ]
  91. Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found • Cheryl Strayed
    [ 25/01/2015 ~ 14/03/2015 ]
  92. Bluets • Maggie Nelson
    [ 09/06/2015 ~ 17/06/2015 ]
  93. My Fight/Your Fight • Ronda Rousey
    [ 27/06/2015 ~ 13/08/2015 ]
  94. The Shepherd's Crown • Terry Pratchett
    [ 28/08/2015 ~ 29/08/2015 ]
  95. Annihilation: Book 1 of the Southern Reach Trilogy • Jeff VanderMeer
    [ 28/08/2015 ~ 30/08/2015 ]
  96. The Inheritance Trilogy • N. K. Jemisin
  97. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
    [ 06/09/2015 ~ 13/09/2015 ]
  98. The Broken Kingdoms
    [ 13/09/2015 ~ 26/09/2015 ]
  99. The Kingdom of Gods
    [ 26/09/2015 ~ 17/10/2015 ]
  100. Fail Fail Again Fail Better • Pema Chodron
    [ 31/10/2015 ~ 02/11/2015 ]
  101. M Train • Patti Smith
    [ 13/10/2015 ~ 16/11/2015 ]

Monday, November 09, 2015

NYPL Podcast: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith

I love the series of podcast available from the New York Public Library. Last week I listened to this dialogue between Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith. Chimamanda in particular blew me away with her humour, her groundedness, her intelligence.

"When I was 25 I didn’t think in those terms. I didn’t think in that language of ‘I want to find my purpose’. I would advise very strongly that you not think in those terms. It just clouds your head, and you start thinking ‘I have to find my purpose’. I think you should just live. Life is short, do your thing, you just never know, follow what you love… follow what can give you a job so you can eat. There’s something about our culture, everywhere in the world, that makes people think about ‘find your purpose’ and it’s just – why?"

[Listen to the full podcast here]

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Guardian interviews Carrie Brownstein

Interview with Carrie Brownstein from The Guardian. This interview tries to get a little more behind the person, but it seems the real Carrie Brownstein is elusive and revealing at the same time - but isn't this exactly why fans want to read the memoirs?

New York Times reviews Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

New York Times reviews Carrie Brownstein's Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl. I'm still waiting for the title to reach our side of the ocean.

In an interview with Bust magazine last year, she talked about some of her younger fans: “They just see me as this person they know from television, and then they listen to Sleater-Kinney, and they think: ‘What is this scary music? You seem so happy on the show. What’s wrong? Why are you so upset?’ ”

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Patti Smith Interview with Harper's Bazaar

JJB: I have too many books.

PS: I gave away 20 boxes, but it didn't make a dent. It's terrible. I'll have a whole library to write one song. Sometimes there's a jewel, a bit in one book and a bit in another .… It's like an unfolding screen of the four seasons. You say, "If I get rid of that, then there's no more autumn." I remember when my mother was my age. She'd collected a lot of stuff she bought in thrift stores, at flea markets. Then one day I came to visit her, and the house looked very empty. I said, "Mommy, where are your dolls? Where are the plates?" She'd packed them away. I said, "Are you all right? You're not sick …" She said, "No, I'm keeping the things I like the best. You get to a certain time in your life where you don't want to be fettered by all of your things. You want to have some lightness." Now I understand. This year I put everything into my little house in Rockaway, and now I want to keep my life as unfettered as possible. So maybe I'll just pretend to get rare books from my catalogue, and not really get them.

Harper's Bazaar interview with Patti Smith. [ full interview ]

Gaiman, on Terry Pratchett

Neil Gaiman sharing his memories of Terry Pratchett and writing, with Michael Chabon. It's funny, and touching, and makes me want to re-read Good Omens.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

PATTI SMITH | Reading M Train

I'm reading Patti Smith's M Train slowly, allowing her voice to flow through me. This is what happens when the writer has a distinct "voice" in their writing. I stop, and I want to "listen" to that voice in my head. I want the process to be comfortable, and allow it as much time as it needs. That's how I feel right now as I'm reading M Train.

My bias for travel makes me think of this book as travel writing. Yes, in this book, she writes about the various places she had been. She doesn't quite do the usual tourist destinations. There is a method to her journeys, and it is usually to follow the footsteps of a writer, or an artist. She took a photo of Frida Kahlo's bed, she took a photo of the chair Robert Bolano sat in. She traveled to laid stones on Jean Genet's grave.

I am reminded of how someone asked me last year, after my trip to Paris - Did you visit the Eiffel Tower? No, I did not. And there was a questioning look. Who goes to Paris and not go see the Eiffel Tower?

But why do I need to? Our journey is ours, and all we truly need to do, is to listen to the whispers in our hearts. To follow that voice that tells us where to go, and what to see. Who cares what is written in the guide books or tripadvisor? Your own yearning should be the true compass.

This is why I enjoy this series of Patti Smith's journeys. She is guided by her own yearnings, her own idiosyncrasies. There is not greater testimony to a life lived true to oneself.

2014 Interview with Carrie Brownstein

I'm waiting for Carrie Brownstein's memoir to arrive at the local bookstores. As the publicity rolls out for the book, I found this 2014 interview with Carrie - it's great to see her articulate, witty, and very, very funny.

She just makes you want to pack up and move to Portland:

Interviewer: “Do you have a distinct impression of Portland when you were growing up?”

Carrie: “No, I didn’t even know it existed.”

Carrie: “Portland is a city, seems like it’s designed by an eight year old. If you imagine asking a kid like, ‘What do you want for your city?’

‘Well, I want my house to painted blue. With a yellow trim. And all the buildings will look like Lego. All the people will wait in line. To vote? No, for ice cream. And, you know what? I’ll never have to dress up. I’ll never have to put on a suit. All the adults will play bass guitars. And have a donut shop. What will the donuts be shaped like? Like penises’.”

And I have not met many people who truly use 'flummoxed' in conversation. Well played.

Friday, October 02, 2015

New York Times, on Patti Smith's M Train

Michiko Kakutani, on Patti Smith's M Train:

“M Train” feels more like a look at the past through a rearview mirror. Ms. Smith writes of feeling “a longing for the way things were.” She writes about ghosts drawing us away from the present. She writes about singing “What a Wonderful World” for Fred at his memorial service and she writes about realizing that she is now older than Fred when he died — and older than many of her departed friends.

“I’m going to remember everything,” she thinks, “and then I’m going to write it all down. An aria to a coat. A requiem for a cafe.” An eloquent — and a deeply moving — elegy for what she has “lost and cannot find” but can remember in words.

[ Full essay ]

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Finished Michael Dirda's "Browsings"

I just finished Michael Dirda's Browsings. While I enjoyed his previous books on books, the reading of books, and the life of books - this one didn't quite hit me with the same enthusiasm. I am trying to put my finger on why this is so - although it is unfair to expect to love every single book written by an author. There will always be some books that we prefer over others.

My preliminary guess would be that I find it hard to relate to some of the things he wrote about. It's not so much his themes, but more of the authors and books he mentioned. He reads a lot, and he reads a lot of unknown, out-of-print, obscure authors - which you wouldn't quite find them so readily in a modern library. Which is a real shame this time.