Let’s Discuss Books

Since I’m not generating much polished work product these days, I thought we might try tackling the subject of books. I’m thinking I’ll start a series of posts about the books I’m enjoying. Also, links to booktube channels on YouTube where I find great recommendations.

I read more than I write. I’ve read a number of good books so far this year, and I’m currently reading a lot more. My current reading list has gotten way out of control, but it’s all so good that I don’t want to move any of these down to my reading later list.

I guess I’m what people call a mood reader. I don’t stick with one thing and finish it; I read whatever I’m in the mood to read. Also, some books seem to fit into a certain general time of day. For example, Great Expectations is a prime time book. I read it in the evening sometimes, instead of streaming video for a while. The Book of Disquiet, Collected Fictions, and Decreation aren’t novels and they’re better closer to bedtime.

This is my current list of books for 2022. This isn’t my collection, just what what I’m reading now, expect to read this year, and what I’ve recently completed.

I’m currently reading:

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
The Book of Disquiet – Fernando Pessoa
Season of Migration to the North -Tayeb Salih
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley (1818)
Collected Fictions – Borges
Decreation – Anne Carson
The Iliac Crest – Cristina Rivera Garza
Dowry of Blood – S.T. Gibson
Cathedral of Mist – Paul Willems
Seeking Slow – Melanie Barnes
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
Journal of a Novel – John Steinbeck

Recently Completed Books

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle – Murakami
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Snow Country – Yasunari Kawabata
Snow – Orhan Pamuk
The Book Thief – Marjus Zusak
Pedro Paramo – Juan Rulfo
Autobiography of Red – Anne Carson
Piranesi – Susanna Clarke
Untold Night and Day – Bae Suah
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Sense of an Ending
The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter

Books Waiting on My Shelves

1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
Letters to a young Poet – Rilke
The Remains of the Day – Ishiguro
When we were Orphans – Ishiguro
The Anthropocene Reviewed – John Green
The Alienist – Machado de Assis
The Waves – Virginia Wolf
Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
Things Fall Apart – Achebe, Chinua
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
The House of Spirits – Isabel Allende
The Memory Police – Yogo Ogawa
Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
Dark Tales – Shirley Jackson
The Legend of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
The Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
Ghostwritten – David Mitchell
Quiet – Susan Cain
The Unconsoled – Kazuo Ishiguro
Beloved – Toni Morrison
The Count of Monte Christo – Alexandre Dumas
The Best of Richard Matheson
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas – Machado de Assis
Collected Stories of William Faulkner
Absalom! Absalom – William Faulkner
Sixty Stories – Donald Barthelme
Emma – Jane Austen
Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
Eugene Onegin – Pushkin
Frankenstein in Baghdad -Ahmed Saadawi
The Phantom of the Opera – Gaston Leroux
The Snow Leopard – Matheson
Don Quixote – Cervantes
A Gentleman in Moscow –
Where the Crawdads Sing
East of Eden – John Steinbeck
Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Dark Interval – Rilke

how much I feel all this joy

Tonight we have a guest poet on Metaphor. It’s our dog, Brookie. I asked her to share a poem in honor or her one year anniversary with our family. She was adopted July 23, 2012. She’ll be two years old in October.

2013-07-19 17.29.58-1

Joyful Noise

I bark because of the birds
in the grass and above on the wires
and how they dance away
or fly and disappear
when I want to be close

I bark because of the people
and the dogs I can smell
going by on the street
and how they keep moving past
always do not stop and play

So I bark being so often
acquainted with disappointment
but also because of the sunshine
and my good food and my toys
and how much I feel all this joy

by Brookie

Brookie composes with a #2 pencil on a yellow legal pad. She blogs at http://brookiestrials.blogspot.com/
and she’s on Tumblr at

I’ve suggested she cut the cord with Blogger and go with Tumblr full time. It’s really more her style. I guess she’s thinking about it.

The names of her blog and tumblr site were inspired by the title of a book, Nop’s Trials by Donald McCaig, and by the lyrics of the old hymn What A Friend We Have in Jesus. The term trials, in dog circles, refers to competitions for herding dogs, obedience competitions, and similar events. Obviously, it’s a metaphor.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Creative Commons License
Joyful Noise by Kyle Kimberlin is licensed
under a Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

No Accounting For It

Ah, good taste, what a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.

– Pablo Picasso

Boy, that’s the truth, isn’t it? And who jumps to mind among the worthies of literature? I mean, you don’t even have to wander off toward Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson or William S. Burroughs.

We’re talkin’ D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Mark Twain. Among those three there are banning, prosecution, and attempts to expunge their work from from libraries.

How can it be? Well, in the words of Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.”

that’s memory?

If you asked me what my novel is going to be about, I’d probably give you a synopsis of the plot. But if you responded, quite rightly, “No, that’s what seems to happen. What’s it really about?” I’d say it’s about memory.

For years, I’ve been mulling over the idea of what memory is and how we hold it, and what there is in our lives and families that is common to the experience of memory. It’s a little like trying to get a grip on a very annoyed trout in a bucket of baby oil.

Now comes the novelist Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried, trying to get his own fists on the fish. In this brief and thoughtful video, he does it quite eloquently.


Humans think they are smarter than dolphins because we build cars and buildings and start wars etc., and all that dolphins do is swim in the water, eat fish and play around. Dolphins believe that they are smarter for exactly the same reasons.

– Douglas Adams

Adams was a writer and musician who lived from 1952-2001; a phenomenon which, if I live to be 100, I will never understand. I mean dying young. But I’m saying you should read his books, because they’re smart and funny. Maybe not great literature, not Faulkner’s Cow funny, but Oh so readable. The best laughs I ever got while reading anything not babbled forth by Bush-Cheney came while reading Douglas Adams.

Douglas Adams Web site, on which I found this:

How should prospective writers go about becoming an author?

First of all, realize that it’s very hard, and that writing is a grueling and lonely business and, unless you are extremely lucky, badly paid as well. You had better really, really, really want to do it. Next you have to write something.

But he did die much too young, didn’t he? Therefore, I think we need to see something funny.


click for full size

Digital Storytelling

“With digital storytelling, we have a much wider platform and a much better chance of being remembered. The number of people it’s possible to reach with digital storytelling is near-unlimited.”

Digital Storytelling and Collaborative Stories | Men With Pens

Now that’s what I’m talkin about. Great post.

Books don’t have to die, because we love them, and they nurture us. At the same time, it is time to move on, boldly go.

Judging By The Covers

Study Shows E-books the Greener Choice | Poets & Writers:

“Given that paper accounts for a quarter of all landfill volume, it should probably come as no surprise that a recent study touted e-books as more environmentally friendly than traditional publishing. A report released this month by the San Francisco-based Cleantech Group found that Amazon’s Kindle device could generate a net savings in carbon emissions—a savings that increases as print consumption is displaced.”

Now wait just a doggone minute. No one is going to believe that books account for a quarter of landfill volume, but as the article plays out, that’s what is implied. It implies that the printing of books is putting paper in landfills.  Baloney.

I have worked in corporate offices, and that’s where a lot of this comes from. Companies print vast tracts of documents – reports, spreadsheets, memos, e-mails – God only knows what – that is actually readable on computer screens. Then they throw it away. Seriously, people print out e-mails, then sit there, at the desk, and read them. This is analogous to packing your dinner in Styrofoam at home, then sitting down and eating it.

And how much of that paper in landfills is junk mail? The amount that I alone receive is enough to make me angry. I pull it out of the mailbox, and before I even climb the stairs, I walk down the alley and toss it in the recycle bin. How many millions of people are tossing it in the garbage instead, and sending it straight to the landfill?

Seriously, how much of the paper in the landfills is books, or even magazines that people paid hard cash for? And how much of what is could be reduced by pounding harder on people’s skulls to get them to recycle?

The article goes on to explore the benefits of using Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader, including the carbon impacts of its manufacture, as compared to the environmental impacts of book and newspaper manufacture. And I’m sure that the Kindle is a nice toy. But as the article says, the study assumes that people who use the Kindle would otherwise be buying a lot more books than I do, or anyone I know. Add to this the fact that at least some people who buy books like to keep them, not throw them away, and that a book can be shared in ways that the content of a Kindle cannot, and we have a different conversation.

The article continues:

As the figures suggest, the study relies on the theory that Kindle owners are reducing an already higher-than-average consumption of printed matter in favor of digital substitutes. “A user that purchasers fewer than 22.5 books per year would take longer to neutralize the emissions resulting from the e-reader,” Ritch wrote, “and even longer to help reduce emissions attributed to the publishing industry.” The report also rests on the probably unrealistic assumption that users will hang on to their Kindles for a full four years before adding them to the growing accumulation of technological waste.

Right. Only people who otherwise read and discard a lot of books could make a meaningful impact by switching to e-books, and they need to keep at it for a long time before throwing the device itself in the trash.

I think if we want to reduce the paper in the landfills, we should slash the amount of unmitigated crap that’s printed out, but which never needed to be stored on sheets of tree in the first place. And by raising public awareness of books as generally contributing positively to culture and personal quality of life. A book can be a worthy, illuminating thing, worth keeping and passing along. Or not.

Finally, it bears noting that if I have three books on my desk at a given moment, at least one very likely came from the local library, and chances are it’s going back. They may have to send someone to pry it from my obstinate clutches; especially since, right now, I’m reading this. Slowly.

my good luck book

I have a lot of books in my house. This is nothing special and neither am I. I’m just saying, I have some books. And then I have some special books, which have certain properties by means of which I might give my mind a jump start, on days when its energy is drained by life’s more pedestrian concerns. Books which impart creative inspiration, is my point.

Among these special books are any of several by William Faulkner, Plainsong by Kent Haruf, The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and the somewhat more obscure Omensetter’s Luck by William H. Gass.

The latter is not well known, but I would contend that it is a work of sublime inventiveness. I mean this guy filled his writing table with helium and took off, and went strange places in his mind and mine, and did not give a damn – we can presume – for marketing.

The book came out in 1966, and I picked up my copy in Chico about 20 years later, and have kept it close to hand ever since. It reminds me that the rules of writing were – despite all contradictory evidence in my work – made to be bent by lesser writers than myself. I was born to shatter them. Someday.

Upon the beach Henry Pimber rested, passing five white carefully gathered stones from hand to hand. He could not see his face where it had fallen in the water. Omensetter’s darkened house stood in his head amid clipped grass. Cold dew struck him and the sound of water in the dusk, soft and distant, like slow steps that reach through sleep, possessed him. The man was more than a model. He was a dream you might enter. From the well, in such a dream, you could easily swing two brimming buckets. In such water an image of the strength of your arms would fly up like the lark to its singing. Such birds, in such a dream, would speed with the speed of your spirit through its body where, in imitation of the air, flesh has turned itself to meadow. The pebbles fell, one by one, to the sand. Henry struggled with the urge to turn his head. Instead he bent and picked the pebbles up. The moon appeared. The pebbles were the softest pearls — like sweetest teeth. And Lucy’s lamp went through his house and climbed the stairs. He flung the stones. They circled out, taking the light. One sank in the water’s edge; one clicked on a greater stone; one found the sand; another brushed the marsh weeds. The last lay at his feet like a dead moth. He drove home slowly for a clouding moon.