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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • February 17, 2006

     

    Ongoing effort to find more good books

    An entry titled An Attempt to Find Yet More Good Books from A Work in Progress eggs me on babbling about how I go about book hunting. Tayari Jones' guidelines in culling books would be a nice idea for the unhabitual readers who don't know where to start. But more experienced readers who have cultivated taste for certain genres or authors, literary magazines like Pages and Bookmarks Magazine brief a variety of new books, although they tend to emphasize on books by major publishers. The New York Times Book Review also discusses the note-worthy new releases but again, like any mass media, it focuses on the mainstream crowd pleasers, books that are most likely to make the bestseller list.

    I follow my heart and the instant mood. Last summer I found myself to be on a binge for Shakespearean comedies. So I dug out The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night and Comedy of the Error and read them all. Then a blooming desire to fulfill a dream since I was a kid told hold of me: to read the unabridged The Dream of the Red Chamber, a 5-volume novel hailed as one of the most significant works ever written in Chinese literature. I spent almost three months perusing the original Chinese texts and the Penguins English translation.

    Readers of this blog will notice my attachment to Russian literature especially the works of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. I manage to re-read major works of these authors and thrive to compare the various available translations to the same title. Several Amazon reviewers whose reviews I scrupulously follow, like Grady Harp, Mary Whipple, and A.J., point me to many great reads over the years. Their insightful and thorough opinions have helped shape my reading habit.

    I'm blessed to be in San Francisco, a city so well-read and is endowed with a number of great bookstores. A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books is the grand central joint for book readings and literary events with an incredibly savvy staff. I often look into their staff recommendations for my next reads. Cody's is another of my favorite hangout spot and book hunting ground. The newest store in downtown becomes my daily quickstop on the way home. City Lights Bookstore is probably the most well-known bookshop in the city. Despise its somewhat snooty staff, City Lights offers the widest selection of books published by small presses. It houses sections devoting to European literature and the beat generation. Online vendor Powell's Books is thoughtful enough to devote a section on literary works published by small presses.

    I make it a habit to scour local bookstore at least once a week, browsing through the fiction and literature, history, and philosophy sections. A neat hand-written list of possible acquisitions accompanies me through the stacks. Sometimes I'm in for a specific theme like 20th century Chinese literature, or contemporary gay literature (not erotica), or whatever that appeals to me at the time. Usually I'll search out related titles and seek out authors with similar styles. This book hunting, like having lunch and dinner and doing laundry, is an ongoing effort that bears the ambitious mission to find the good books.

    So many books, so little time!

    3 Comments:

    Blogger Greg said...

    With regards to bookhunting: I have some specific genres that I always enjoy reading so I immediately head for those sections in bookstores. I alos enjoy simply browsing and will pick up a book if I find the title interesting. My latest choices (which I still need to find time to read) are The Town That Forgot How To Breathe by Kenneth Harvey and The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts by Louis de Bernieres. With both, the titles caught my attention, encouraging me to read the the spiels on the back nd purchase the books. (That, and I jut like to say nether parts.)

    I tend to rread a lot of World and GLBTQ literature and like to run the gamut between classic books and newer fare.

    2/17/2006 9:54 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    The spiels, or the blurbs are major factors of whether I'll buy the books or not. Sometimes I read a few random pages and see for the writing style. I tend to like descriptive, embellished prose!

    I immediately head for literature section, then maybe classics, history, and philosophy. Many of the bookstores here in SF are endowed with GLT sections and I'd check out as well.

    Sometimes bookstores (maybe the catalogers) do not make clear distinction on which sections an author belong. Alan Hollinghurst is shelved in Literature section at Borders even though Borders has a GLT section.

    I almost never pay attention to new book table - hardbounds are too expensive and bulky to carry around.

    2/17/2006 11:19 AM  
    Blogger Amelia said...

    Wow - after reading your entry, I feel an intense desire to head out to San Fransisco. You are so lucky to have so many great bookstores near you! I used to live in NYC up until a year ago. I had everything that I could ever want at my fingertips. Life was good! Now I live in Arizona and I am seriously dying to find a good independent bookstore. A place where, as soon as you step inside, you know you never want to leave.
    When I do go to a bookstore, I just walk all the way through, looking at everything in sight. Everything always looks so good!
    I agree - hardbacks are very expensive. I still crack them open, though. Then I focus on paperbacks and start calculating which bills I can push to the side as the books pile up in my hand. My husband thinks it's odd (he's not a reader). I feel like I'm at home.

    Very nice blog :)

    2/17/2006 1:26 PM  

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