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NaNoReMo 2008: Nominations Are Open

Mail call!

Hi, I'm curious if you'll be hosting a NaNoReMo 2008? I understand if you're not, considering it's only 4.5 days till Nov. 1st and there has been no discussion of it on your blog {not that i found anyway}. If you are and if there was a horrible oversight on my part i'd love to know what book will be discussed this coming November.


Thanks,
V
Uhhh... You know, I've been so busy not blogging and preemptively eating Halloween candy that I plum forgot about National Novel Reading Month. Talk about your horrible oversights.

So what's it gonna be? Right now I'm thinking either The Kite Runner or Lolita. Yes, contemporary fiction is now in the mix. In fact, if there's anything you've been meaning to read--classic, modern, genre fiction, or non-fiction--feel free to nominate it in the comments or email me at matthewbaldwin@gmail.com. We'll hold another vote, and start reading the selected book on November 3.

Update: I'll be listing some of the nominations here. Feel free to second (or third, or seventeenth) any of them in the comments.

Posted on October 27, 2008 to NaNoReMo 2008





Comments

I nominate: _Anathem_ by Neal Stephenson
(yes, he uses lots of made up words, but surely we can get over that?)

Posted by: Jonathan on October 27, 2008 10:05 PM

Read Lolita. It's dense, beautifully written, and its intricate structure will leave you amazed. Much more than the surface narrative of Humbert Humbert's incessant longing for nymphet's, Lolita is simultaneously a loving portrayal and a satire on America, romance, the road novel, and art for art's sake. In fairness, I haven't read The Kite Runner, but Lolita earns its title as a masterpiece of world literature. And who knows--if McCain/Palin win, this may be the first book our VP bans, so read it while you can.

Posted by: Leland Bene on October 27, 2008 10:16 PM

Howsabout A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole?

Posted by: jlp on October 27, 2008 10:18 PM

The Kite Runner please! It's sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. If it gets NaNoReMo status, I'll be sure to get it read (it worked last year for Catch 22!)

Posted by: Candace on October 27, 2008 10:20 PM

Oh, go with LOLITA. it's a classic!

and way more fun to read than Moby-Dick.
or, you know, you could always read some Dickens. you can NEVER go wrong with Dickens.

Posted by: kbryna on October 27, 2008 11:22 PM

i vote lolita! it's one of those i've wanted to read for a while, and wouldn't be opposed to picking up a copy.

Posted by: josh on October 27, 2008 11:44 PM

Oh yes please Lolita. It's on my to-read list, and I believe Oprah recently stated it was a read-or-perish or something like that. So gotta do that Hi.

Posted by: April on October 28, 2008 12:28 AM

I am reading The Corrections Jonathan Franzen and am loving it. I know that it is an older book, circa 2001, but I can completely relate. There is no person in this book that is likable, much like my own family, and I find that pretty sad but realistic. However, I do love Lolita. I will never forget a personal ad in the Seattle Weekly that read "Lolita, daddy's calling". You might wonder why I was reading these ads....it was entertainment with friends after a hard week in the hospital. You need all the relief you can get, even if it comes in the form of pathetic personal ads. This is my first visit to your site, so far so good!

Posted by: Kim on October 28, 2008 12:48 AM

Go with Lolita, you won't regret it.

Right now I'm digging my way through Infinite Jest. I've never gotten beyond the first 200 pages or so. (It's, like, 1200 pages long.)

Posted by: Kathy on October 28, 2008 3:02 AM

Ah, Infinite Jest. Struggling with that myself. Don't forget, it's 1200 pages PLUS 150 pages of notes in the appendix.

Posted by: Mangoat on October 28, 2008 3:54 AM

Ah, Infinite Jest. Struggling with that myself. Don't forget, it's 1200 pages PLUS 150 pages of notes in the appendix.

Posted by: Mangoat on October 28, 2008 3:57 AM

LOLITA! only because I've read the kite runner!

Posted by: sarah on October 28, 2008 4:40 AM

Oh please don't do The Kite Runner. Lolita is a better choice.

Posted by: Janet on October 28, 2008 6:20 AM

As much as I love Infinite Jest, I think if you tried to work your way completely through it in one month while also reporting on it, your wife might leave you, you'd lose your job, and you'd become a sad empty shell of a man.

It's a tall order is all I'm saying.

Lolita would be great.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' on October 28, 2008 6:35 AM

I just started "Accelerando" and I'm really liking it. If you picked that I'd finally be able to follow along with you... Moby Dick? Gah!

Otherwise, I vote for Lolita.

Posted by: Rachel on October 28, 2008 6:48 AM

Lolita. It's yummy.

Posted by: Tal on October 28, 2008 6:55 AM

I vote a Confederacy of Dunces- it is stunningly weird and hilarious.

and I think I'm one of the few people around who hated Lolita. It's well-written, yes, and obviously a cultural landmark, but don't underestimate how disturbing it is- a dude kidnaps his girlfriend's young daughter and rapes her, for months. Nevertheless, it's a still a better choice than The Kite Runner.

Another suggestion: Slaughterhouse-Five.

Posted by: eileen on October 28, 2008 6:55 AM

I vote a Confederacy of Dunces- it is stunningly weird and hilarious.

and I think I'm one of the few people around who hated Lolita. It's well-written, yes, and obviously a cultural landmark, but don't underestimate how disturbing it is- a dude kidnaps his girlfriend's young daughter and rapes her, for months. Nevertheless, it's a still a better choice than The Kite Runner.

Another suggestion: Slaughterhouse-Five.

Posted by: eileen on October 28, 2008 6:57 AM

Lolita, please! I inherited a truck with that name, and I've been meaning to read it ever since.

Posted by: amy on October 28, 2008 7:03 AM

I vote for Infinite Jest.

Posted by: Breakfast on October 28, 2008 7:22 AM

Lo-li-ta.
I suggest the annotated version unless you are up on your French, but even without it, it's one of the most beautiful books written. Sigh. You can even read the Humbert lines in a James Mason voice, which is awesome.

Posted by: Traci on October 28, 2008 7:43 AM

Lo-li-ta.
I suggest the annotated version unless you are up on your French, but even without it, it's one of the most beautiful books written. Sigh. You can even read the Humbert lines in a James Mason voice, which is awesome.

Posted by: Traci on October 28, 2008 7:45 AM

Here are my preferences, range votes with 10 meaning most-preferred:

Lolita: 10
Anathem: 8
Confederacy of Dunces: 7
Kite Runner: 7
Infinite Jest: 1
The Corrections: 5

I've read Infinite Jest. It's disturbing and wonderful and totally worth reading. I think it took me longer than a month to finish it. I had to keep a dictionary handy while reading the damn thing. And you need two bookmarks, one for the main text and one for the endnotes.


Posted by: Fred on October 28, 2008 7:52 AM

Why stretch yourself go with this classic:

The Monster at the End of this Book by Grover.

Get's me everytime.

That or Lolita.

Posted by: PrintsCharming on October 28, 2008 7:53 AM

No argument that Lolita is a great book, but I'm hoping you'll read something I haven't read so I can follow along. ;) How about 100 Years of Solitude?

Posted by: Kate on October 28, 2008 8:05 AM

Oooh! I LOVE The Monster at the End of this Book (by Grover).

it's not really a "novel," though, so I suspect it doesn't meet the stringent specifications of NaNoReMo.

for a mind-bending attempt to slog through a book *I'VE* never been able to read, why not go with Pynchon's *Gravitys Rainbow*?
someday I'll read it.

Posted by: kbryna on October 28, 2008 8:11 AM

I'd vote for Lolita, but I've already read it (not that I wouldn't mind reading it again). So I'll throw my vote in for Infinite Jest or Don Quixote, as I've never started the one and never finished the other.

Posted by: wheat on October 28, 2008 8:24 AM

Lolita is great. That's why it's a classic.

Do yourself a favor and check out Lucky Wander Boy by DB Weiss (assuming you have not already). I'd be willing to bet it's right up your alley.

Posted by: Dick Deadeye on October 28, 2008 8:42 AM

I just finished Lolita about a month ago, and I recommend it. It's a much different story than I expected, and it takes a few very interesting turns throughout. The other commenters have done a better job of selling it, but add my recommendation that you read it. Also, in my opinion, you won't have any problem finishing Lolita in a month-- I found it to be a moderately-fast read. I haven't read The Kite Runner, though.

Posted by: LAN3 on October 28, 2008 8:50 AM

I could go for either Lolita or The Corrections. I've already read the Kite Runner this year and don't want to do it again.

I've been meaning to read The Count of Monte Cristo.

Posted by: Violetkey on October 28, 2008 8:56 AM

The Yiddish Policeman's Union, please! It's the only one I haven't yet read.

Posted by: Betty on October 28, 2008 9:07 AM

Confederacy of Dunces for sure.

Posted by: Jay on October 28, 2008 9:14 AM

Confederacy of Dunces for sure.

Posted by: Jay on October 28, 2008 9:14 AM

Double post -- yes! Does that mean my vote counts twice?

Posted by: Jay on October 28, 2008 9:16 AM

I recommend The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Takes a little getting used to, but it gets there in the end.

Posted by: Jin on October 28, 2008 9:31 AM

Lo-li-ta.
I suggest the annotated version unless you are up on your French, but even without it, it's one of the most beautiful books written. Sigh. You can even read the Humbert lines in a James Mason voice, which is awesome.

Posted by: Traci on October 28, 2008 9:32 AM

Blindness by Jose Saramago. Translated from the Portugese and written in a style with almost no punctuation. It'll take 20-30 pages to get used to it, but a phenomenal book in my opinion.

Posted by: John T. Hoffoss on October 28, 2008 9:40 AM

I've read Kite Runner. I'd like "Life of Pi" (hello, tiger on the cover!). Plus IMDB has it as in preproduction for 2011! But really, anything but Anathem - I love Neal's books, but in hardback? I can't even lift that one!

Posted by: Diane47 on October 28, 2008 9:48 AM

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Though, it seems like the kind of thing that you may have already read.

Posted by: jstar on October 28, 2008 9:59 AM

I'd never come across "The Monster at the End of this Book" before but googled it on the recommendations here and found this: http://smollin.com/michael/tmonstr/mon001.html

I normally wouldn't condone the copyright violation on that webpage, but having laughed my way through it I've now ordered 3 copies of the book for me and friends/family, so I think it actually benefits the publishers!

Posted by: Richard Loxley on October 28, 2008 10:06 AM

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde?
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy?
These are just two on my list of books I have to read before I can consider myself well-read. These seem to fit the purposes of NaNoReMo the best, along with being the most interesting. Although I would love to read along with Lolita, as it's on my list, too. I just have a friend who has been bugging me to read these two so she has someone to 'discuss' them with her.

Posted by: Morgan on October 28, 2008 10:20 AM

OOOHHH I FORGOT!!!
You must add The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It may seem a little long for one month when you pick it up, but I found it impossible to put down.

http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/content/index.asp

Effing amazing.

Posted by: Morgan on October 28, 2008 10:23 AM

I really loved "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao." I really hated "The Confederacy of Dunces" (but I read it a long time ago, so I can't actually remember why I hated it!)
"The Monster at the End of This Book" was one of my faves as a child!
Jennifer

Posted by: Jennifer on October 28, 2008 10:29 AM

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Posted by: Molly on October 28, 2008 10:34 AM

Why is it every child that has the book, "The Monster at the end of this book" has to have that book read to them constantly.

Okay, it's a fun to read that book to a child, about the first 2 or 3 times, but it ususally ends being read to them up 5 to 10 times a week.

I have not read that book for 20 years, and I can still resite it from memory, sigh. My only revenge was to make sure that when the child I was reading it to (my neice) had her first child, the child got that book.

Posted by: Richard S. on October 28, 2008 10:58 AM

Anathem is amazing! You should absolutely pick it. It is long, but a quick read (not nearly so dense as the last book of the Baroque Cycle) -- you'll have no problem finishing in the allotted time.

I just finished it, so I can't read it as part of the challenge, but I heartily recommend it. It's got everything you love about Stephenson, plus super-smart science monks.

Bonus (insignificant spoiler): super-smart science NINJA monks!

How can you say "no" to that?

Posted by: David Nett on October 28, 2008 11:35 AM

seconding (at least) 100 years of solitude, I'm trying to start it. Lolita, as has been much stated, is wonderful, but I have read it too recently... same with Kite Runner, also great.
Confederacy of Dunces, Oscar Wao, Down River --these three sound great
Life of Pi is far too quick a read to stretch over a month IMO.
So glad you are doing this again!

Posted by: Lizzie on October 28, 2008 11:53 AM

i vote for "Lolita"

Posted by: Anonymous on October 28, 2008 12:06 PM

My primary vote goes to:
A Confederacy of Dunces
because it is Artie Lange's favorite book and my secondary vote goes to:
The Yiddish Policemen's Union
because Cory Doctorow seemed to like it.

Posted by: Ian on October 28, 2008 12:10 PM

Both Life of Pi and The Kite Runner are tremendously fantastic books. I would personally recommend Life of Pi over the Kite Runner, but really, you can't lose with either one.

Posted by: Ryan Waddell on October 28, 2008 12:22 PM

Both Life of Pi and The Kite Runner are tremendously fantastic books. I would personally recommend Life of Pi over the Kite Runner, but really, you can't lose with either one. Oh, and I couldn't recommend AGAINST 100 Years of Solitude enough times. I found that book tremendously painful, and came quite close to cockpunching the friend who recommended it to me (I am unable to start a new book until I finish the book I am reading... and I came very close to throwing this book in the fire just to not have to read it anymore).

Posted by: Ryan Waddell on October 28, 2008 12:24 PM

Oh, and I couldn't recommend AGAINST 100 Years of Solitude enough times. I found that book tremendously painful, and came quite close to cockpunching the friend who recommended it to me (I am unable to start a new book until I finish the book I am reading... and I came very close to throwing this book in the fire just to not have to read it anymore).

Posted by: Ryan Waddell on October 28, 2008 12:24 PM

Dude-
I vote "Lolita". If I remember correctly, the White Whale kicked your ass. Maybe you'd fare better against a 14 year old girl. Maybe not.

Posted by: John I on October 28, 2008 1:00 PM

I vote "Lolita."

Posted by: anon on October 28, 2008 1:17 PM

Life of Pi all the way.

Though I would be remiss not to mention the Time Traveler's Wife.

Posted by: Shanathalas on October 28, 2008 3:12 PM

My vote is for Infinite Jest, unless we aren't voting yet, in which case I'd like to flip-flop a few times.

But honestly, who am I kidding. I don't have the time or energy these days to read anything more strenuous than The Monster at the End of This Book.

... can I flip-flop in the same comment?

Posted by: Rick on October 28, 2008 4:19 PM

One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of my top ten, I'd vote for that.

A great read that isn't listed- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Amazingly good.

Posted by: Deborah on October 28, 2008 4:44 PM

Not liking Oscar Wao's brief life very much at all. I didn't like Life of Pi much either. Kite Runner was okay but not great. Lest you think I'm too much of a critic, I loved Time Traveler's Wife, Water for Elephants, and all of Neal Stephensen I've read (though better before his books became suitable as blunt objects).

I do recommend 100 Years of Solitude.

Posted by: Akaba on October 28, 2008 5:12 PM

moby dick! 3rd time's a charm!

Posted by: zach on October 28, 2008 5:44 PM

The Corrections was unreadable in my opinion. It was one of my book club selections and I hated this book so much that twice I drove off having left it on the roof of my car.

A big Gabriel Garcia Marquez fan here but 100 Years of Solitude was my least favorite of his. If I recall correctly almost all the characters have the same name. Of course, I read it in college (or shortly after) and since I was stoned all the time that may account for the confusion.

Life of Pi was an excellent read.

Posted by: beth on October 28, 2008 6:03 PM

Would love to Infinite Jest with you in honor of the late David Foster Wallace. You would love it. And yes, it would need to be Novel Reading Season.

Posted by: Michele on October 28, 2008 6:18 PM

Anathem! I just started it, so can I still play?

And please, no Dunces. It killed me when I tried to read it.

Posted by: Sara on October 28, 2008 6:50 PM

Hmmm...my vote would have to be for kite runner.

I've yet to read lolita though, and i should get on that.

Posted by: Jam on October 28, 2008 6:51 PM

I vote for The Kite Runner or The Yiddish Policeman's Union on the grounds that I have purchased both of them and read neither.

Posted by: Brent on October 28, 2008 6:51 PM

I vote for Oscar Wao or A Hundred Years of Solitude simply because I own both and have been meaning to read them--and this will be great incentive to do so!

Posted by: Kate B. on October 28, 2008 7:16 PM

I am torn. On the one hand, I'd be interested to see you read Lolita, because I think it's awesome. But what if you don't agree? That would make me sad.

On the other hand, I'd like to recommend Confederacy of Dunces, because I loathed that book and maybe you would too, which makes for more amusing reading. But what if you think it's awesome?

Posted by: diablevert on October 28, 2008 7:18 PM

I nominate 100 Years of Solitude - it is a beautiful book.

Posted by: Ariel on October 28, 2008 7:23 PM

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy everyone tells me is a fantastic book, so I feel it's time I finally read it.

Posted by: Rusty on October 28, 2008 7:33 PM

Life of Pi so somebody can explain it to me.

Posted by: Rhonda on October 28, 2008 7:52 PM

I vote for Oscar Wao hands down! Although Confederacy would be an awesome read as well, and I've been meaning to read it.

Posted by: Meagan on October 28, 2008 8:10 PM

OH...I just read The Monster At The End Of This Book to my four month old daughter for the first time a couple of days ago. Yes, she didn't understand a word I said, but I couldn't wait any longer...and I got a smile anyway which is the main thing! Alternatively, I did just discover that there's a book out there called "Goodnight Bush", a parody of "Goodnight Moon". I was amused.... Probably not quite what you're looking for but worth a mention :)

Posted by: Noime on October 28, 2008 8:19 PM

How about Pale Fire? It's by Nabokov as well and I think is even better than Lolita.

Posted by: HeadlessCow on October 28, 2008 9:01 PM

I hated Confederacy of Dunces with the fire of a thousand suns.

On the other hand, I think a Defective Yeti take on Lolita would be a thing of genius.

Posted by: girl in greenwood on October 28, 2008 10:18 PM

Definitely Lolita. I read it awhile ago, but I am receiving the Annotated version in a few days so I can't wait to learn everything I missed.

Which, considering it's Lolita, is probably half the book.

Posted by: Laura on October 28, 2008 11:20 PM

Anathem.

(I've just started it.)

(As to kid lit...
In an old house in Paris
That was covered in vines
Lived 12 little girls
In two straight lines.

In two straight lines
They broke their bread
And brushed their teeth
And went to bed.
...)

Posted by: Andy on October 28, 2008 11:37 PM

Anathema is on my wishlist anyway...
I also always wanted to read "Halting State" by Charles Stross.
Please, no Marquez! While I have the book somewhere I find Marquez incredible Dull!

Posted by: Peer on October 29, 2008 1:50 AM

The Tender Bar by JR Moehringer

Posted by: Lao on October 29, 2008 5:34 AM

Confederacy of Dunces... Hands down.

Posted by: Anonymous on October 29, 2008 5:37 AM

100 yrs of solitude should be renamed "400 pages of beatdown". Kite Runner is decent but definitely not uplifting, Life of Pi is decent but a little weird. I haven't read Confederacy, that's on my list. Another couple options:
World War Z, by Max Brooks - probably the best zombie story I've ever seen/heard. Very well thought out, very well researched, and a fairly quick read (which based on past history, might be wise in this format).
Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden, by Morgan Spurlock - same guy who did "Supersize Me," not sure if it counts as a novel, since it's non-fiction. But it's an entertaining read, and a good overview of why them for'ners "hate our freedoms."

Posted by: Chad W on October 29, 2008 7:03 AM

I would go with Confederacy of Dunces...I thought Lolita was sort of boring. I second another commentors nomination of Accelerando by Stross.

I am currently reading Yiddish Policeman's Union and it is very interesting so far. Very well written!

Posted by: jimf on October 29, 2008 7:14 AM

Lolita. It be some good literature, I can tell you that. I read it in college and it was one hell of a page-turner for me. But whatever you choose, I'll be interested to hear you comments on it.

Posted by: rothbeastie on October 29, 2008 7:23 AM

I've just dug into The Savage Detectives, and I'd love some company. Cons: Not entirely plot-based. Pros: Lots of DIRTY sex.

Otherwise, I second Oscar Wao and Life of Pi as books I've read and enjoyed.

Posted by: Sandor on October 29, 2008 7:28 AM

For Whom the Bell Tolls
Hemmingway.

Posted by: John on October 29, 2008 7:37 AM

Lolita fits the bill. It's a classic, extremely well written, disturbing enough to resonate but doesn't leave you ready to kill yourself. It's a quick and easy read.

I just read Kite Runner and it is very good, but a much denser read. Life of Pi is also quite good - but maybe too light of a read?

100 Years - thought it was OK. Hated Dunces - in my experience, the only people who like it are the ones who enjoy talking about how stupid they think everyone else is. It's a smug and condescending book, IMO.

I had never heard of the Monster book, but having read the link above I have now ordered it to read to my 3 small kids - they'll love it!

Posted by: widdershins on October 29, 2008 7:47 AM

don't waste your time with the Kite Runner. That's all I have to say.

Posted by: R on October 29, 2008 8:03 AM

Stay away from One Hundred Years of Solitude. Trust me - it will make Moby Dick seem like Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Posted by: MelissaInAz on October 29, 2008 9:02 AM

Seeing as I'm currently reading Anna Karenina, I vote for that one! Or something else that I can download on the iPhone's Stanza application. :) Otherwise, I would be interested in 100 yrs of Solitude, or The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which I hadn't heard of before. Sounds like Lolita is winning by a large margin, though. :)

Posted by: Yoshi on October 29, 2008 9:14 AM

Echoing R...please don't waste your time with the Kite Runner. It devolves into the worst kind of melodrama very quickly. Sorry if it's anyone's favorite book, but it's not in a class with the others. Not even Grover.

Posted by: Denise on October 29, 2008 10:38 AM

Dang, I bought Kite Runner and it sits in my reading queue.
Out of the list, I have read Lolita (VERY good) and One Hundred Years of Solitude (again, VERY VERY good. How come no one mentioned that one?) I'd be happy to re-read either one. I read them both in the 80s, so I figure it's been long enough for it to count as a first read, no?
I also heard good things about Confederacy of Dunces.
I'm wading through LOTR now, but I assume everyone here has already read it. I read the Russian translation, back in the 90s, and this is my first time finally reading the original. I'm loving it.

Posted by: Goldie on October 29, 2008 11:36 AM

100 Years of Solitude! All time favorite book.

Also amazing: The God of Small Things.

Posted by: Sloan on October 29, 2008 12:12 PM

Anathem! I am 80% through though, but would love to hear what you all think of it.
I should be free of it by then though, so if its another book I can join in.

Posted by: Jeremy on October 29, 2008 12:28 PM

I suppose I will vote for Life of Pi, since I almost started reading it a few days ago. (On a sudden impulse, I picked up Siddhartha instead.) I'm also eager to read any of the first four on the nominee list.

But who am I kidding? I'm in, whatever the pick. I eagerly await an announcement.

Posted by: Jean on October 29, 2008 2:25 PM

I remember being horribly disappointed by the way The Life of Pi ends, though I "read" it via audiobook, so maybe that's its own problem,

I can't possibly recommend The Name of the Wind enough. I'm not normally an obsessive reader, and I was compelled to finish it in 5 days.

Posted by: Joshua Wehner on October 29, 2008 4:36 PM

I nominate Lolita or The Infinite Jest

Posted by: Meghann on October 29, 2008 5:35 PM

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. I have to read it for a book club and it would be wonderful to have company. So far I have heard nothing but gushing reviews from respected opinions.

Posted by: daisy on October 29, 2008 6:01 PM

Please not Lolita. I vote for Yiddish Policemen's Union.

If nominations are still open, I'd like to nominate To Kill A Mockingbird.

Posted by: Melissa on October 29, 2008 7:04 PM

Problem w/ Infinite Jest is that you have to read and then re-read the first 150 pages to get the hang of reading the damn thing... and you (Mr. Baldwin) don't have that kind of time with a kid, job, etc. (I think I read it childless or unemployed.) You may as well tackle Gravity's Rainbow if you're looking for an exercise in futility.

Life of Pi is quite good, though you will probably get through it in a few days. I want to read 'The Road' by C McCarthy but it may be too bleak.


Feh... make it Lolita. Probably cheap at the used bookstore.


Posted by: Jim in Missoula on October 29, 2008 8:03 PM

I thought 'The Kite Runner' was wonderful, but there is no way you could stretch that book out for a month. I'm a slow reader, and it took me three or four days. My mother read it in one day.

I heartily warn against reading ANY Cormac McCarthy. He's an excellent writer if you enjoy becoming suicidal. And the jerk also makes up meaningless words.

As a follow-up to 'Moby Dick' how about 'Ahab's Wife'? It's one of the best books I've ever read.

Posted by: Mars on October 29, 2008 9:54 PM

Yiddish Policemen's Union was interesting, and I'd love to see your take on it. Except...

1) As a gentile there's plenty of subtext that might get missed. Think of it as a challenge.
2) The afforementioned Yiddish is almost non-existant in the book and the glossary in the back doesn't even come close to covering all the different phrases Chabon uses.
3) How did this win a Hugo? Yes, it's alternate history (a sub-genre of sci-fi, to be sure,) but except for the fall of Israel and the formation of The District of Sitka (the setting of the book) there's nothing particularly "sci-fi"-esque about it. It's much more a mystery novel placed in a fictional setting.
4) You ever "see" the motion-picture version of the book you're reading, in your head, as you're reading the book? Even if there's not a movie version of it or you've never seen one if there is? Yeah, this one was somewhere between Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and Casablanca.

If'n you want sci-fi, how about a classic Sci-Fi like Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers (book is SO totally NOT the crap movie that was made) or David Gerrold's A Matter For Men. Or something a bit more modern like John Scalzi's Old Man's War.

Posted by: Mindar on October 29, 2008 11:38 PM

I listened to the unabridged audio version of the Yiddish Policeman's Union, and thanks to the plethora of yiddish and a talented voice-actor doing the reading, it was really superior to any possible reading of text I could've managed. So if you have any place for the audiobook in your life, A) I can send it to you and B) you must listen. If not, I recommend you give it a read anyway. It's one of the most original alt-histories I've ever read, and Chabon is really a master wordsmith. It's a good mystery set against, what else, a vast conspiracy, to be investigated by a detective whose police authority is in political limbo.

Posted by: LAN3 on October 30, 2008 4:42 PM

Sorry, Mindar, but alt-history is most certainly a subgenre of sci-fi. Sci-fi encompasses most any speculation on the future of society or humanity, even if the point of diversion from reality is in the past.

I wasn't into Heinlein before, but I recently read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," and that was a superb read. Nice mix of politics and spaceships. But that and Old Man's War are both short enough and rapid-enough reads as to be too easy for NaNoReMo, IMO.

As for the unrecommendation of Cormac McCarthy-- read The Road at some point, and I'm enjoying the Border Trilogy (haven't started the third) but they are depressing, depressing, depressing. Them who ain't dead is dying. And yet the lives encountered by the protagonists are amazingly rich ones, and strong characters abound. "The Road" was bleak, but post-apocalyptic books strip away anything that isn't death or survival, and it's a story of loss and mortality. Such books end with death or hope, and I won't tell you which, except that based on McCarthy's previous books, death or hope is a coin-toss. (No election jokes, please.)

Posted by: LAN3 on October 30, 2008 4:58 PM

Please oh please can we read Lolita?

Posted by: hyperzonk on October 30, 2008 9:55 PM

I love The Monster at the End of this Book - always thought it was a great pint-size allegory for much grown-up stuff. Plus kids LOVE to throw Grover under the bus by turning that page. I've never had a kid want to save Grover from himself and just stop turning pages. Never have read Lolita - will now.

Posted by: Chris on October 31, 2008 8:39 AM

A monument of sloth, rant and contempt, a behemoth of fat, flatulence and furious suspicion of anything modern - this is Ignatius J Reilly of New Orleans, noble crusader against a world of dunces. In magnificent revolt against the twentieth century, Ignatius propels his monstrous bulk among the flesh posts of the fallen city, documenting life on his Big Chief tablets as he goes, until his maroon-haired mother decrees that Ignatius must work.

full disclosure: I did not write that, but I heartily second it. This book rocked my world every night on a three week tour of China. The combination of disequilibrium I felt in a foreign country along with the kaleidoscopic prose of John Kennedy Toole made for a delicious and unforgettable read. So, um, in a nutshell--I recommend it.

Posted by: Toni on October 31, 2008 7:54 PM

I'm voting too late, but I think you should have read The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. That book was sheer brilliance. Definitely the most progressive book I've read all year. Lolita is a yawn, way overtaught in college. Can't believe there is anyone who hasn't yet read it.

Posted by: Salome on November 7, 2008 12:12 PM

"The Shipping News" by E. Annie Proulx (Canadian).
"The Transit of Venus" by Shirley Hazzard (Australian).
"Harnessing Peacocks" by Mary Wesley (English), or her "The Camomile Lawn" - brings out the very low key eccentricity of the English, which is fast disappearing.
"Oyster" by Jeanette Turner Hospital (Australian). At the moment I will read anything JTH writes. Even her short stories really grab me, and I dont really like reading short stories. The fragility and bravery of human beings are brought home in her writing - just thinking of it gets me.

Maybe it is something that just resonates for me - I have lived in both Australia and England. And yes, I do realise they are all women writers - I am one.

Posted by: Nimmi on November 10, 2008 9:54 AM

Never even heard of Lolita....crazy, I'm gonna go find it. Anna Karenina...

Posted by: pinklady on November 10, 2008 11:06 AM

Never even heard of Lolita....crazy, I'm gonna go find it. Anna Karenina...

Posted by: pinklady on November 10, 2008 11:06 AM