Friday, July 31, 2015

The Month in Books: July

Last month, I vowed not to buy more books until I removed a minimum of 25 books from my apartment. I added a rule that cleaning books off of the bookshelves doesn't count. Those are bonus books. I have to remove 25 books from the "to be read" piles, and so far I am at 8 counting the ones from June that I took to the used bookstore. Maybe August will slow down (doubtful, but maybe), and I can make some more progress.

I chipped away at it a little bit in July, but one of the books I finished this month was a Kindle book and one is a book I felt like keeping for a while, so all of the books I read this month don't figure into the total. I do have a theme this month, since that's something I randomly started doing in June and May, and decided to read memoirs or books where people write about themselves.

Here's how I did:

1) Emily Spivack's Worn Stories was interesting. Spivack gathered sixty mini-memoirs from people both famous and not, told in the form of clothing. Each story featured a photo and then a page or two of why it was important to that person, and the stories ranged from lighthearted to very serious. I don't usually notice book design, but I liked that rather than a glossy cover the whole book was covered in fabric, so that it felt like the clothing featured within.

One of the things I liked about this book was looking through my own closet and trying to figure out which piece of clothing I would want to represent me. Shoes? A tie? The shirt on my wall from 2004 that I've never been able to wear but remain hopeful about? I don't know, but I guess I don't really have to. I might send something in to the Worn Stories website someday, but it doesn't have to be today.

2) Judy Greer's I Don't Know What You Know Me From was funny, but seemed to go on a shade too long at the end. It was a good read, though, and is one of the two books I read this month that made me laugh out loud in a restaurant while I was eating alone and reading. It also made me want to watch a Judy Greer movie, and as I started picking through my DVD collection to narrow one down I found out that even though I don't deliberately collect films with her in them I have almost as many movies starring Judy Greer as I do starring Lana Turner, and I like Lana Turner.

Judy Greer, as she said in her book, really has been in everything with everyone. In my own DVD collection alone she stars in:

13 Going On 30
27 Dresses

and a ton of stuff that I've seen and don't own. You go, Judy Greer.

3) Remember when you watched Clerks and you thought, "Wow, this is different. Kevin Smith has something different and interesting to say and I would like to see more of his work," but then you watched Clerks 2 and you thought, "Wow, Kevin Smith is really invested in being Kevin Smith more than he is in actually saying anything new, different, or groundbreaking"? Maybe you didn't think that and it was just me who did, but reading Kevin Smith's Tough Sh*t was a lot like watching "Clerks 2". There was some funny stuff in here, and some interesting thoughts about movies, comic books, and life in general, but there was also a lot of stuff where it felt like he was just trying to be edgy, irreverent, and vulgar just for the sake of being able to do so, not for any reason that actually served the book. For example, the entire chapter devoted to his father's testicles and how powerful his ejaculate must be and how awesome those testicles are because they spawned Kevin Smith is just too much and feels like it's trying too hard, especially as the first chapter of the book.

4) Chris Kluwe's Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies was also a bit of a letdown. I've enjoyed reading Kluwe's articles in various places over the past few years, as he speaks bluntly but truthfully about equality, football, greed, and life in general, so I thought I would enjoy reading a whole bunch of his writing at once. Unfortunately, it turns out that I only like Kluwe's writing in small doses, and by the end of this sometimes funny book I felt like I'd had enough of Chris Kluwe's thoughts for a while.

5) Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid was an amusing, but not laugh out loud funny, look back at growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, in the 1950's. The stories were cute, and juxtaposing them against national events taking place at the same time gave them a weightier context, but after reading this the main thing I wanted to know more than anything was whether or not peeing on a Lincoln Log actually will turn it white.

Unfortunately, I will never know, because the book said you had to pee on it more than once, and I feel like people would really strongly judge me if I added "keeping a urine-soaked Lincoln Log in the spare bathroom" to the list of weird hermit behaviors that already take place in my apartment.

6) Rebecca Harrington's I'll Have What She's Having was hands-down the best book that I read this month. I laughed over and over, once even snort laughing so loud that people around me at lunch heard me and stared, but I don't care because her talking about being dizzy from hunger on Posh Spice's "5 Hands" diet was killing me. She got dizzy and hungry on a lot of the diets in this book, which was her account of trying out different celebrity diets for a week. Another highlight is her account of the jittery caffeine overload caused by drinking ten Diet Cokes a day on Karl Lagerfeld's diet plan (Karl Lagerfeld has published a diet plan? Who knew?), and trying to follow the workout videos from Madonna's trainer while following Madonna's diet. There wasn't a lot of substance to this, but Gwyneth Paltrow's sesame pancakes (which actually sound more like crepes) sound like something I actually want to try, and I'm concerned that Dolly Parton's account of how she chews food just for the flavor and then spits it out is actually an eating disorder. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

This leaves me 13 books to get through in August in order to be able to buy books again in September.

We'll see how that goes.

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