Monday, September 26, 2011

What Should Kester Be Reading?

    Do you know Cole? If you don't, you should, he's great. If that isn't feasible, you should read his blog, Vitagraph American. Full of engrossing reviews and insightful commentary on the world of film, I find myself often wishing that I had a year to play catch up to Cole by viewing one-tenth the films he has.
    But, the truth is, I'd probably spend that time reading. Not because I don't enjoy films, but because I will always enjoy books a little more.
    Which got me thinking; Cole recently had the idea to have friends choose his queue; what he would watch in a given week, for one week, every month. I liked the idea so much that I swiped it and tweaked it to fit my purposes.
    Once a month, on the first of the month, one of you will choose 5 books for me to be reading that month. I will not be able to read a book of my choosing until I have completed a book of your choosing*. I must finish all five books before month's end. I will then write up reviews as I complete each book.
    Where this gets tricky is in terms of cost. My buddy, Cole, knows the chosen films are available by limiting his queue choosers to what is streaming on Netflix. My options work, as follows:
·      You choose a book that I already own and either haven't read or will re-read. Problem solved.
·      I don't own the book, but would like to and will treat this as an opportunity to purchase it.
·      I'll finally get a fricking library card
·      In rare cases when the book is harder to find**, you will lend me said book. I'm careful.
    Let me know if you want to pick 5 for October. I will begin reading soon. Here we go.
*exceptions to this rule will be the two books required for the book clubs that I host and the Bible, which I am committed to reading every day
**I will assume that this won't attract pranksters that assign me textbooks or untranslated works. I reserve the right to ignore said prankster requests. I doubt it's going to be an issue.


  1. Alright, I'll bite. I want you to read Maus I & II. I own them and can bring them to the next book club.

  2. Love this idea, Kester. Here are my 5 suggestions:

    1. Heart of the World, by Hans Urs von Balthasar
    2. Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer
    3. Real Presences, by George Steiner
    4. A Theology of the Built Environment, by Timothy Gorringe
    5. Sinful Folk, by Ned Hayes (it's not yet published , and I'm including this largely b/c Ned is a friend and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the book.... but if you prefer to restrict the list to published items, replace this with no. 6)
    6. Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman (1854 ed.)

  3. I'm with Alice on Maus I and II. I just read them and they were excellent.

  4. Alice, I need 3 more books from you and we'll make you October. Thanks.

  5. Timothy, you certainly pushed me in the "difficult to find" department. Eating Animals I own and can definitely re-read. Leaves of Grass, ditto. Not sure how I would read an unpublished work, unless you were looking to lend me a copy. 1,3, and 4 might take some doing unless, again, you were looking to lend.

    All that to say, I might save your list for November and give myself a chance to hunt. Or, if I don't get any takers for October, I might combine the current suggestions and read the two Maus books as well as Eating Animals and Leaves of Grass. Which still leaves me with one more...

  6. Kester,

    I can certainly provide a copy of the unpublished book (with permission of the author of course; I can check.... if you're interested). And sure.... I don't mind loaning the others if you don't mind reading through my pencil markings! Just let me know...

  7. Kester, per your request, I'm going to give this a maybe-rocky* go!

    Since graphic novels are in the air a bit, I'm going to start with five of those in addition to Maus that I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on for various reasons. (I may even use this as an excuse to read one or two that have been on my list for a while.)

    1. Blankets, by Craig Thompson [Tempted to offer Habibi as an optional sub. I really couldn't bear to see Blankets go, though.]
    2. Buddha, by Osamu Tezuka [Most recently released in eight vols., I think? So, at least Buddha 1: Kapilavastu]
    3. Essex County, by Jeff Lemire
    4. The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes, by Neil Gaiman
    5. Palestine, by Joe Sacco

    Whew, that was harder than anticipated. Thanks for the opportunity! Initial thoughts? I'd considered compiling a poetry list, too.

    - Sara

    *Why? a) I tend to assume you've read everything, impossible though I know this to be. More to the point, I don't have a feel for where your "blind spots" might lay. (Side question: are there any (sub)genres in which you'd be particularly eager for suggestions?) b) I also tend to feel oddly/eclectically read. Nevertheless, onward!

  8. Sara, this list will be easier to get ready for October 1st, so I am going with it.

    Tim, I will save yours for later, but will come back to it.

    Alice and Amy, since this thing's just getting started and you're the reason, as Sara said, "graphic novels are in the air," and since graphic novels can be read with a bit more speed than the average novel, I'm going to include Maus I and II as well.

    Thanks to all!

  9. Sara-

    There are more than a few graphic novels that I haven't gotten to reading. Not sure I'd call it a blind spot so much as a needs improvement area. I have not read any of your suggestions. Thanks for giving me a push!

  10. Cool -- looking forward to the reviews. I'd also be interested to hear your response to the Last Man series of graphic novels, if you ever need more from the genre...

  11. Okay, Maus I&II, Persepolis 1 & 2, and Bone. That's five. All are graphic novels. I know you were talking about how that was kind of a literary blind spot for you, so I decided to just name off some of my absolute favorites.

  12. Cool. Thanks Alice. I will save Maus I and II for your month.

  13. Actually, I told Alice that if she came up with 3 more, she'd be October. So, I'll do Alice's 5 for October followed up by Sara's for November. Back to back graphic novels. Greatness.

  14. Actually, Dan, Alice has October and Sara November. You can dibs December. Tim, I should be able to track your list down by the new year.

  15. Alice, excellent choices! While eagerly anticipating reviews, I'm going to make a point to get Maus from APL, finally.

  16. I claim next available month!

    Fairy Tale Time!
    1. Once and Future King by T.H. White
    2. Little, Big by John Crowley
    3. Sandman, The Doll's House (graphic novel)
    4. Suzy, Led Zeppelin, and Me by Martin Millar
    5. Fables, Legends In Exile (graphic novel)

  17. Haven't heard from Dan. Sara is November, my co-worker, Danny, has December and Joe, you can have January. Dan, I'll keep February for you until January. Get my your five by then.

  18. A note to myself, more than anything; here are Danny's December picks:

    Lone Wolf and Cub V. 1
    The Neverending Story
    Mr. Vertigo
    The Stars My Destination
    Treasure of the Sierra Madre