Saturday, August 1, 2009

Reading List: July 2009

I've spent this month doing only two things: worrying about finances and hating myself for being so unproductive. In this time of economic strife at home and abroad, the former seems justified, yet since I can do little to change my situation at the moment, I should probably just let it go. Yet the latter is so awful, so eroding of the edifice of my soul, that I have no (good) excuse for not making a major change.

Despite the fact that another month has passed, I still have accomplished very little on my thesis. Now I have a delineated outline and a scope of what exactly I am hoping to accomplish, most of that was done over three weeks ago with the help of my adviser. Words are on the page, but I cant seem to get any real work done in one session, and my sessions tend to occur a week or so apart. This month necessitates a reversal, so I am going to try and hit 1000 words five times a week. This seems reasonable.

Dedicated readers will have noticed that I only posted three times of any consequence in the past month, the l
owest total since I started to actually maintain a blog last winter. Again, I hope to change this, but I must say that finishing my degree (for which I have spent enough to buy a decent luxury sedan) must take precedence over a format in which I have yet to earn a dime.

Rather than just making a list this month, I am going to return to an old tradition that I stole from Steve Mollmann. In the month of July, I read 18 books and/or graphic novels:

1. Ultimate Spiderman: Hollywood
by Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley
: The webslinger gets all meta when Sam Raimi begins to film a movie based on news reports of Spiderman's exploits. Sort of fun, but without anything really meaningful to say.

2. Foreskin's Lament by Shalom Auslander: The title made me pick up this book. That said, this memoir is about so much more than growing up in a dysfunctional Jewish Orthodox family; the idea that God is all knowing and all powerful, if used to scare children, can ravage their lives as adults. For example, saying that if you masturbate you will forever burn in hell, submerged in a vat of all the semen you ever ejaculated manually. So it's funny, but there is something not at all humorous about the way such teachings, which one believes as gospel when there is no other influence, can cause so much angst and literal trauma. I really wish I would have written more extensively about this book.

3. Ultimate X-Men: The Most Dangerous Game by Brian K. Vaughan & Stuart Immomen: Mutants accused of capital crimes are sent to an island where they are hunted as a form of execution. But the twist? It's all filmed for the worst reality television ever. Craptacular.

4. Ultimate X-Men: Hard Lessons by Vaughan, et al.: All over the place and not too interesting to boot, this collection suffers from being comprised of storylines that have virtually nothing to do with one another. Also, they kill Gambit and give his powers to Rogue, who now can touch people. She's the most interesting one solely b/c she can never touch anyone! Yawn.

5. Ultimate X-Men: Magnetic North by Vaghan & Immomen: Better, but only relatively. Lorna Dane accidentally commits a terrible crime and the mutants under Emma Frost team up with the X-Men in order to protect her from being sent to superhero-Guantanamo.

6. Losing the Peace by William Leisner: Overall, a book I thought was okay. Read my thoughts here.

7. Ultimate X-Men: Phoenix? by Robert Kirkman, et al.: To be honest, I don't remember much from this, aside from a 'date night gone awry' story.

8. Better by Atul Gawande: Read about my thoughts on this collection of essays by the New Yorker writer here.

9. 52, Volume 2
10. 52, Volume 3

11. 52, Volume 4 by Geoff Johns, et al.
: Probably better as a
n exercise than it was w/r/t story points, I still enjoyed this collection. However, it reminded me how far out of the loop I am in the DC Universe (Barry Allen is alive?!?!?), so I may have to pick up a bunch of collections in the near future.

12. Ultimate Spiderman: Carnage by Bendis & Bagley: One of the most iconic deaths in comics h
istory is interpreted here as a random killing by a bad guy. Bendis should be fucking ashamed of himself. Maybe I'll write more about this, but it's probably already been done.

13. The Echo Maker by Richard Powers: One of the best books I have read this year. I wanted to write about it, but I just couldn't find the words to do it justice. I'm looking forward to making it through the rest of Powers's work in the coming year.

14. Treason by Peter David: Why did I read this book? For what one should expect from a recent New Frontier book, this is as good as any. But it just didn't work for me.

15. Beware of God by Auslander: This collection of short stories is thematically quite similar to the memoir (written afterwards). While the stories were pretty good, I felt I had already read the 'real' account and t
heir effect was subdued.

16. Ultimate Spiderman: Superstars by Bendis & Bagley: Wolverine and Spiderman switch bodies i
n one of the stupidest stories ever told.

17. IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas by Chuck Klosterman: Entertaining collection of Klosterman's journalism over the past decade. He's funny and occasionally says something insightful. I wish I could write like this.

18. Full Circle by Kirsten Beyer: For what this set out to do, tie up Christie Golden's story threads and get Voyager back to the Delta Quadrant, it did well enough I suppose, though the prose is uninspired. And I'm not sure where Chakotay was in this book. Sure, there was a guy named Chakotay, but he was a whiny douchebag who isn't even presented consistently. From now on, Brendan Moody will be responsible for keeping me up to date with Beyer's work so I don't have to read it; he likely will be unable to resist her next novel this fall.

That's it. Perhaps all the time I spend reading might be better served writing. Actually, I'm pretty sure that 'perhaps' should read 'certainly.' Questions, comments, et cetera, ad nauseum.

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