Christmas books

I hope everyone is having a great weekend, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. I’ve had a wonderful time lazing around, reading, eating, and watching The Thin Man (lots of fun, and After the Thin Man is up next). I got a short bike ride in yesterday, but now the ground is covered with snow, and tons more is on the way. Sigh. I love riding outdoors, even in winter, but deep snow is the one thing that keeps me inside. I’m eagerly awaiting the 40-degree temperatures promised for next weekend.

Now, of course I have to tell you about my Christmas books, of which I got a nice stack:

  1. Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, sent to me by a friend. I’ve been hearing about Shirley Jackson on various blogs for a long time, but the only thing of hers I’ve read is her famous story “The Lottery.” I’m excited to read a novel of hers, and I’ve heard this one is great.
  2. Lynda Barry’s What It Is, also sent to me by a friend. I had never heard of this book before, and it looks fabulous, full of drawings and pictures, as well as text. The book’s pages are a lot like what you see on the cover. It’s about writing and creativity, and has some exercises that might be useful for my creativity class.
  3. From my parents, I got a copy of Orhan Pamuk’s The Naive and Sentimental Novelist. I wondered how they did such a great job picking out the perfect book for me, until I learned they found it on my Book Mooch wishlist. Oh, yeah. It’s useful having that list up!
  4. The rest of the list comes from Hobgoblin. Sarah Bakewell’s How to Live: or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer is the book for me this year, because shortly before Christmas, I found out I would be getting a copy to review, and then the gift-giving friend above told me she had a copy for me, and then Hobgoblin got me one. Clearly, I am destined to read this book.
  5. Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad. I checked this one out from the library a while back but didn’t have time to read it, and so I’m glad to have it now to read at my leisure. I’ve heard such great things about it, and I just read a brief discussion of it in David Ulin’s The Lost Art of Reading, so I think I need to pick it up soon.
  6. David Markson’s The Ballad of Dingus Magee. I enjoyed Markson’s mystery novels so much that Hobgoblin thought I might like his other venture into genre fiction. This one is a western. Perhaps after this, I will have to try another of his experimental novels. What a range this guy has!
  7. David Foster Wallace’s Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will. This is one of Wallace’s undergraduate theses, and along with the thesis itself is included a number of essays by various philosophers on free will and a memoir about Wallace as a student. This is a great addition to my growing collection of Wallace’s work.

And now to get reading!


Filed under Books, Lists

9 responses to “Christmas books

  1. So funny – I got a copy of the Bakewell book for Christmas, too! In my case it’s very fitting because David & I will hopefully be visiting Montaigne’s former home when we’re in France next Spring, and as I love the essays it will be fun to read about their composition & locale. I hope for both our sakes the book is good. 🙂

    Love Jackson & it looks like the rest of your haul is lovely & intriguing.


  2. Wonderful stack! Maybe taking up snow shoeing? Though personally I like ice skating.


  3. We’ve been really lucky (knock on wood) and have had very little snow this year–needless to say I am not unhappy about that. And we’re also forecast for upper 40s temps later this week, too. Hopefully it will melt some of your snow! I didn’t get a single book (well a cookbook but that doesn’t really count), but I did get some gift cards which I am contemplating how to spend. The Montaigne book sounds like the perfect gift for you–how funny (but maybe not surprising that you received three copies!). And I’d like to read the Egan as well–I read one of her earlier novels and enjoyed it. Have fun reading your new books!


  4. Cam

    The Barry book is great and I’m sure that you will get some great ideas for your class. So many wonderful nuggets, like “say your phone number. Now say your first phone number” as an example of difference between thought and images.

    Happy reading!


  5. Nice new books! You’re going to really enjoy Shirley Jackson. I so want How to Live! But with my holiday gift cards I opted for the Library of America’s new two volumes of Emerson’s journals instead. I hope you get to stay indoors and be warm and snug and read, read, read with all the snow you got!


  6. I love the look of the Montaigne book and the Pamuk novel. I shall have to keep my eyes open for both of those. What a lovely Christmas haul. We have had twelve inches of snow for the last ten days, but today, thank goodness, it’s begun to melt. I just hope what the US has had over the past twenty-four hours isn’t about to make its way across the Atlantic and that you have missed the worst of it.


  7. Lovely Christmas books! I am waiting for my copy of the Montaigne book to arrive, and will look forward to hearing your thoughts on it!


  8. You got some great books there! I hope you enjoy Lynda Barry’s book. I loved it. It’s one of those books that’s really hard to describe and you just have to see it over and over again to capture all the little things.


  9. Emily — oh, how wonderful to get to visit Montaigne’s home! I will have to do that one day, definitely. I’m looking forward to diving into the Bakewell soon — I also hope we both enjoy it!

    Lilian — snow shoeing is an excellent idea. I’m just reluctant to buy more gear and learn something new, when all I want to be doing is riding my bike! But still, I should definitely get snow shoes at some point.

    Danielle — I’ve really been enjoying the Egan book (and I didn’t like an earlier book of hers I listened to, The Keep). Have fun spending your gift cards! It’s starting to warm up a bit here, but there’s tons of snow, and it will probably take until spring to melt it all. But the roads are slowly clearing up, and that’s what matters for me.

    Cam — I’m so glad you like the Barry book! I’m looking forward to exporing it more.

    Stefanie — I definitely have had lots of time to read! It’s been nice. Perhaps you will be able to get the How to Live later, or from the library or something. I imagine it’s something you might like to read, with all your Montaigne reading!

    Annie — I sure hope none of our snow made it your way! Fortunately, it’s begun to clear up a bit, and there’s no snow in the forecast. I’m very grateful for that.

    Litlove — how fun that you are getting the Montaigne book too! I hope we all enjoy it 🙂

    Iliana — I’m glad to hear you really like the Barry book too. It sure looks like a memorable book!


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