Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, July 10, 2018
From My Shelf
The Writer's Life
Reading With... Michael Ian Black
|photo: Natalie Brasington|
Michael Ian Black is a writer, comedian and actor (most recently the Jim Gaffigan Show; Another Period; Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later). He created and starred in many TV series, including Michael and Michael Have Issues, Stella and The State. He wrote the screenplay for the film Run, Fatboy, Run and wrote and directed the film Wedding Daze. Black regularly tours the country as a stand-up comedian and is the author of My Custom Van (and 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays That Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face), the memoir You're Not Doing It Right and several children's books, including Chicken Cheeks, The Purple Kangaroo and Cock-a-Doodle-Doo-Bop. His newest book for children, I'm Sad (Simon & Schuster), is available now. Black lives in Connecticut with his wife and two children.
On your nightstand now:
This is a difficult question because I have about 40 books there, as I have a terrible habit of bringing books upstairs but never bringing them back down. I just finished reading Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein and started Istanbul Passage by Joseph Kanon.
Favorite book when you were a child:
I adored the Great Brain series about a boy genius and his younger brother who couldn't quite measure up. Great books set in the late 1800s about individual strengths and brotherhood and indoor plumbing.
Your top five authors:
Argh. I love individual books more than authors but probably: Michael Chabon, Gary Shteyngart, Tracy Kidder, Jennifer Egan and I love Educated by Tara Westover, which is her first book but what the hell, I'm recommending it.
Book you've faked reading:
I don't think I've ever done this, but I have nodded along as people talk to me about great Russian literature, mistakenly assuming I've read it.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Stephen King's book On Writing is as good a book about the craft of writing as you will ever find.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I didn't buy it because he gave me an advance reader's copy but my favorite cover of the last however long is the cover of John Hodgman's Vacationland (which is also an excellent book).
Book you hid from your parents:
Duh. Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
Book that changed your life:
The World According to Garp by John Irving. Before I read that, I guess I didn't realize how far literature could go in terms of building an expansive, recognizable, absurd world.
Favorite line from a book:
I don't think I know any lines from any books. That's my fault, not the fault of the books.
Five books you'll never part with:
I love my giant old dictionary that I never use, my first edition How I Made $1,000,000 Playing Poker by Doyle Brunson, my autographed copy of Roz Chast's Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? and then I'll use the other two spots to pick any two of my wife's battered paperback classics because they make me think of her.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
I'd be curious to read The Catcher in the Rye for the first time as an adult to see if it would resonate with me. I read it at the perfect time and felt, like millions of teenagers before me, that this was the only guy on Earth who got it. Not sure if I would feel that way again or not.
Top 10 Gangster Books
From The Godfather to L.A. Confidential, author Rod Reynolds picked his top 10 books about gangsters for the Guardian.
Scarlett was originally Pansy. Mental Floss showcased "10 fascinating facts about Gone with the Wind."
"Who is your favorite fictional librarian?" Buzzfeed asked.
"This small-town Connecticut restaurant gives each diner a free book from its vast library," Gastro Obscura reported.
The Köllen bookshelf is "inspired by the Nordic style, in its name, Köllen, which is Swedish for Alps, and the materials and shapes used."
Rediscover: The Lives of a Cell
Between 1971 and 1973, physician Lewis Thomas wrote monthly essays for the New England Journal of Medicine. In 1974, those 29 essays were collected in The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher, a landmark of eloquent, accessible science writing that won the National Book Awards for Arts and Letters and the Sciences in 1975. Thomas (1913-1993) expanded an already impressive career as dean of Yale Medical School and New York University School of Medicine, and president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute, into bestselling author. He went on to publish The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher (1979), which also won the National Book Award for the Sciences, Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler's Ninth Symphony (1983), The Youngest Science: Notes of a Medicine-Watcher (1983), Et Cetera, Et Cetera: Notes of a Word-Watcher (1990) and The Fragile Species (1992).
The Lives of a Cell combines an enormous range of scientific disciplines into a holistic view of Earth and humankind's place on the planet. Each essay uses as much metaphor as hard fact to present a given issue, such as the titular "The Lives of a Cell," in which Thomas compares the symbiotic relationship between us and the mitochondria in ours cells with humanity and the Earth itself, or "Antaeus in Manhattan," which examines the behaviors of groups versus individuals in insect and human societies. The Lives of a Cell is ranked 11th in the Modern Library's 100 Best Nonfiction books of the 20th century, has sold more than 250,000 copies, and is available from Penguin Books ($16, 9780140047431). --Tobias Mutter
The Great Believers
by Rebecca Makkai
Discover: This is a beautifully written novel of love and loss amid the lasting impact of AIDS from the 1980s to the present day.
Follow the Sun
by Edward J. Delaney
Discover: A man forced to deal with the aftermath when his lobsterman brother is lost at sea discovers there may be more to the disappearance than a tragic accident.
The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis
by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, trans. by Margaret Jull Costa, Robin Patterson
Discover: The Collected Stories of Machado de Assis brings all the short works by the Brazilian author together in English for the first time.
Mystery & Thriller
The Good Son
by You-Jeong Jeong, trans. by Chi-Young Kim
Discover: After waking up one morning to find his mother dead and himself covered in blood, a young man seeks the truth about what happened.
Science Fiction & Fantasy
by Jacqueline Carey
Discover: In a standalone fantasy epic spanning deserts and oceans, Carey introduces a world where gods walk the Earth and a young warrior must fight to defend his soul's twin.
A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns
by Archie Bongiovanni, Tristan Jimerson, illus. by Archie Bongiovanni
Discover: A concise, friendly, illustrated guide to gender-neutral pronouns written by a likable pair of friends.
Business & Economics
The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know About Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life
by Hana Schank, Elizabeth Wallace
Discover: This book argues that career satisfaction hinges on being open to adjusting one's level of ambition throughout life.
The Marginalized Majority: Claiming Our Power in a Post-Truth America
by Onnesha Roychoudhuri
Discover: A journalist and activist rallies those discouraged by the American political scene to hope and to engage in positive action.
by David Sedaris
Discover: With his trademark humor, David Sedaris muses on mortality.
Outside the Jukebox: How I Turned My Vintage Music Obsession into My Dream Gig
by Scott Bradlee
Discover: Outside the Jukebox is a feel-good memoir with an inside look at Postmodern Jukebox founder Scott Bradlee's unconventional approach to a career in music.
Children's & Young Adult
Doing It: Let's Talk About Sex
by Hannah Witton
Discover: This honest and funny sex education guide for teens emphasizes deep knowledge, acceptance and respect, addressing topics like consent, sex shaming, body image and sexting.
Mr. Monkey Bakes a Cake
by Jeff Mack
Discover: Jeff Mack takes a page from golden-age Beginner Books with two hilarious early readers starring a good-natured, trouble-beset anthropomorphized monkey.