I’ve gone back and forth internally about posting my reading list for 2015. The most persuasive argument thus far being “Who the fuck cares what I read?” That, however is the central dilemma, native to all writing having to do with one’s self. Where do you get the nerve to think that’s worth writing down? I’ve worked hard to ignore that thought though, because in the end, all writing is an act of narcissistic courage. Look what I have to say! I exist!
On the pro side, last years post – Books I read in 2014 – surprisingly, gets a fair amount of traffic. So the answer to the question above is apparently, 76 people care what I read in 2014.
So while I continue to work on other things to post here, things that I’m excited to show you, I’m going to alter the form a little bit. I’ll still list the books, but I’ll only comment on some of the high and low points, as opposed to posting all of the reviews (which I do as a matter of habit now).
I am still a disappointingly slow reader. I only finished 25 books this past year.
Here are the High Points, the books I liked.
I am apparently, a fan of Andre Dubus III. I really enjoyed both of his books:
The Garden of Last Days and Townie
I was not as hot on his other book Dirty Love
I agreed with everyone else’s “Best of” lists in that Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates was a brave and original work by an exciting author.
I enjoyed the late David Carr’s The Night of the Gun and also James Wambaugh’s crime classic The Onion Field. I am going to seek out the movie on DVD. I had some problems with Jonathan Lethem’s The Fortress of Solitude but overall I was pretty impressed. Good shit.
As much as I might care not to care, I can’t help the fact that I’m a Nirvana groupie. I love/loved Kurt Cobain, thus I really enjoyed reading I Found My Friends: The Oral History of Nirvana by Nick Soulsby. I look forward to his new book on Cobain’s relationship with the media later this year. If you aren’t aware of it his site – http://nirvana-legacy.com/ – there’s a lot of stuff to read there if like me, that’s your thing.
My friend Joseph Naus wrote an extremely engaging memoir about his run in with the law and alcohol/sex addiction called Straight Pepper Diet. It’s definitely worth a read, it’s some high octane shit.
I’m a huge Richard Price fan but wasn’t ecstatic about The Whites, the book Richard Price wrote under the nom de plume Harry Brandt. It’s a fun read but not his finest work.
Oh yeah, I finally caught up with the rest of the world and finally exposed myself to George Saunders’ genius. The Tenth of December just about blew my mind.
I also stumbled across an Irish writer by the name of Colin Barrett, who wrote an impressive book of short stories called Young Skins: Stories that I enjoyed.
I picked up a copy of Jack London’s Sea Wolf on this guy’s recommendation and it was great. There’s a reason they call them classics.
I also finally got around to reading Pimp: The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim. This was something I’ve been meaning to do for about 20 years. I recommend you do so as well. It’s dated but that kind of works in its favor. The humanity shines through.
These are the Books I did not think were worth reading. Don’t waste your time on these.
The last book I read in 2015 was Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein. I like Portlandia and I’m a mediocre Sleater Kinney fan. This book felt like an exercise in dancing around the truth, self-obfuscation and vocabulary showboating.
I try not to negatively review books on Amazon and stick to positive reviews on that site, but when I called Cheetah Chrome a knuckle dragger while reviewing Cheetah Chrome: A Dead Boy’s Tale: From the Front Lines of Punk Rock and it seems to have struck a nerve. A few people took time to recommend the review. It’s fun to call someone a knuckle dragger.
For some unknown reason I forced myself to finish The Circle by Dave Eggers. I’ve liked his work in the past but this one left me bewildered. Why? Just everything about it. Why?
I revisited A Separate Peace by John Knowles. I hated it. Why did somebody make me read this when I was in school? Do they still inflict this outdated relic on kids?
Lastly, time has not been kind to The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I thought that shit was pretentious and dumb.
And finally here are the books I didn’t feel too strongly about one-way or the other. These are the mediocres.
I wanted to like Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon more.
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane was alright, if a bit long. This was my first Lehane. I was hoping for more.
At Last (the final Patrick Melrose novel) by Edward St. Aubyn. I was sad (this) the weakest of the series was the last. Still, in some ways it felt appropriate.
For some reason I wrote a long review of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer.
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss was vaguely interesting. Went on a bit long for my taste.
All Involved by Ryan Gattis was pretty good.
When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead – Useful Stories from a Persuassive Man by Jerry Weintraub with Rich Cohen. I’m not sure if it’s worth the time. Maybe.