Ambitious Summer Reading List 2015

ambitious summer reading list 2015The other day I was cleaning out the garage and came across a few boxes of unread books that I was able to combine, but only if I pulled a few out. I figured that was as good a reason as any to try my hand (and eyes) at another Ambitious Summer Reading list. There’s just something about the warm weather that makes me want to stay inside and read, I guess.

As usual, I’ve got a pretty eclectic selection here. From the top, Ghosts And Things is a spooky anthology from 1962 that includes stories by Henry James, Ambrose Bierce and others. I’m thinking about reading these stories in between other books, but the James story was SUPER boring, so I’m not sure if I’ll stick with that plan.

Below that is the 1979 Avengers novel The Man Who Stole Tomorrow by the awesome David Micheline. In the 90s I read a lot of superhero novels and am curious to see how this early example is. Then there’s Freddy Krueger’s Tales Of Terror #2: Fatal Games. My buddy Jesse sent me this and I’m pretty excited to read it because I love Freddy and this looks like the Christopher Pike novels I read in grade school.

You can also see Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. I’ve heard a lot of different things about this series over the years and made sure to get the pre-revised version of this book, so we’ll see how this goes. Switching gears completely, I’ve also got Chuck Klosterman’s Fargo Rock City. I listened to the audiobook version of Klosterman’s IV a few years back and picked this up not long after. I’m a sucker for music related autobios, so I’m sure this will be awesome.

I know absolutely nothing about Twilight Of The Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg other than the fact that it was like a dollar at one of all time favorite discount stores that’s no longer around. But, hey, it’s about superheroes, so it should be in my wheelhouse (I hope). At the bottom of the pile you’ll see another comic-related book, this one Mark Evanier’s column collection Comic Books And Other Necessities Of Life. For some reason I thought this was a collection of interviews, but I must be thinking of ANOTHER book in one of my boxes. Evanier’s one of the best comic historians around, so I’m sure this will be an interesting read.

That brings us to the last three books. Trevanian’s The Loo Sanction is the sequel to The Eiger Sanction, a book I read last year and really enjoyed. There’s also my first Raymond Chandler book Farewell, My Lovely and The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. I must have read about that last one ten years ago and always wanted to check it out, but haven’t gotten around to it until now!

As you can probably tell, there wasn’t much rhyme or reason to these selections. I tried to balance out longer books with shorter ones just to take it a little easy on myself. I haven’t been taking much time to read actual books lately, but I’m hoping that this will push me in that direction. I’m kicking off with The Loo Sanction because I actually started it like six months ago and want to finish it. I’m about halfway through and trying to spend more time with good books, so I’ll hopefully be posting about that one soon!

Audiobook Review: IV By Chuck Klosterman, Read By The Author

Chuck Klosterman is one of those writers who I’ve heard a lot about, but never read, so when I saw the audiobook version of his book IV at a discount store, I couldn’t pass up the chance to grab it. This was quite a while ago, but I just got around to listening to the book recently after a renewed interest in the audiobook form. IV is broken up into three sections, the first of which is a series of articles Klosterman wrote for magazines like Esquire and Spin and recap his adventures with celebrities like Britney Spears and Val Kilmer, the second is a series of essays written by the author on topics ranging from music to enemies and the third consists of an unfinished novel of fiction Klosterman started when he was living in Akron.

Unlike the rest of the audiobooks I’ve listened to, I think I’ll be keeping this one around for a while. This is my first foray into the world of essays being read to me and, unlike a novel where you want to get more and more details before finally getting to the finale, this time the details come fast and furious and take some time to be absorbed. I think I’ll give it a few weeks and give this five-disc set another listen. I found the author’s takes on Spears and Kilmer to be very interesting. He doesn’t savagely attack them like some smarmier writers might be inclined to do so. Sure he points out some of their more interesting traits like Spears’ seeming denial that her sex appeal has an effect on her career and Kilmer’s belief that he knows what it’s like to kill someone better than a person who has actually killed someone in war, but the accounts come off as fair and balanced.

But the real reason I dig the book is that I agree with his takes on so many elements of modern life. Americans do care way too much about what other people and countries think, lovers of art and music get way too wrapped up in how well or poorly received their favorite artists are by the general populace and getting worked up about corporations trying to further their own financial agendas when they’re not actively hurting anyone is ridiculous. I didn’t quite get his theories on musical advancement or the difference between an arch enemy and a nemesis, but I think that’s just because Klosterman seemed to get excited and ripped through those sections. That’s why I’m keeping this one aroudn to give it another listen.

I almost didn’t bother with the last section of the audiobook, the one with the unfinished novel because I don’t like things without endings. But, I was enjoying hearing this many telling stories and since the novel was heavily based on himself (the character he presents of himself in the essays and through his words seems nearly identical to the one in the novel minus all the angel dust), so I went along with it. The story follows a movie reviewer for a newspaper in Akron going about his life when a woman falls out of the sky and lands on his car. I was hooked, but of course, the novel just stops without ending and we never find out where the woman came from. Even so, I enjoyed hearing this extension of Klosterman’s larger works.

While I think lots of people would dig the ideas in this book, Klosterman’s voice might be a turn off to some folks. His voice has a nerdy hipster quality to it that reminds me of people who want to tell you about the new band no one else has ever heard of more so so you know they know about it instead of actually wanting to spread the word on something new and cool. But, that’s just the timber of his voice, not the things he’s actually saying. It got annoying at times, but never TOO annoying. He also has a tendency to turn his sentences up just before finishing them. I wound up listening to the whole book in a few chunks and never got completely annoyed with the man’s voice, which you can’t blame him for, I’m sure I would annoy the hell out of someone if they were to listen to me talk for more than a minute or two.

Up next I think I’ll be listening to Clive Barker’s Mister B. Gone which will be the first non-film work of Barker’s I’ve ever experienced.

New Hampshire Haul

Last weekend the missus and I traveled to New Hampshire so she could go to a family bridal shower with her mom. It was nice to go someplace different, especially a much cooler place. Anyway, we hit up a deep discount place called Building 19 and also the Londonderry Flea Market…twice and I got all kinds of rad stuff. Continue reading New Hampshire Haul