I'm only five books shy of being on target. Not bad...
5. Free: The Future of a Radical Priceby Chris Anderson
My friend often talks about how much the internet loves him because it gives him all this free stuff. Ha ha, I would say, not actually understanding the real explanation. Now, thanks to Chris Anderson and his concise explanation of the multiple "free" models that structure much web commerce, I get it. I know there was some controversy when this book was published, but I don't remember what it was.
6. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
When I first started reading this short story collection, I was taken aback that it had won so many awards because three of the first four stories have basically the same plot. A pretty, poor girl is taken in by a more wealthy landowner/official who denies/abandons her shortly before his death. It was startling and a little surreal. However, the plots and characters vary much more as the collection continues and no doubt, Mueenuddin is a writer to watch.
7. A Dark Matterby Peter Straub
About once a year, I break from my typical reading material and pick up a popular, recently released horror novel with great hopes for spooking. Last year, I read Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box, which was pretty entertaining. This year, it was Straub and I sadly, snobbily found the whole production a little silly. I was not spooked and thought all the characters - especially this Eel chick - were a bit insufferable.
8. We Have Always Lived in the Castleby Shirley Jackson
Now, this was spooky and great fun. Just look at the cover of this recent edition! Creepy! Jackson's classic tale of these recluse sisters - whose family was taken by arsenic poisoning years before, for which the oldest sister was tried and acquitted - is suspenseful and richly drawn. The narrator is delightfully unreliable. When their cad of a cousin arrives on the scene, all hell breaks loose.
9. The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University by Louis Menand
I'm not sure who the audience is for this book. I would think it would be me, but I felt I was hearing a lot of what I already knew/could guess. So if it was written for a more non-academic audience, I'm just not sure they'd be all that interested. Beyond that, it's a brief, accessible overview of four different aspects of the current university climate.
10. Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life: A Book by and for the Fanatics Among Us (with Bitchin' Soundtrack)by Steve Almond
I reviewed this for the LA Times on April 29th. Check it out here.
11. Just Kidsby Patti Smith
I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. I thought I'd like to support Smith's writing and learn more about Mapplethorpe. I did not suspect that I would not be able to put this book down, reading every evocative detail with a hunger for that time period in New York that I didn't know I had. I certainly did not know I would finish the book sobbing. Beautiful and moving.
12. Fun with Problemsby Robert Stone
I'm still hungover from Stone's latest story collection. It took me about four attempts to get into the title story, but once I got past that, the remaining stories were lively and pleasantly uncomfortable - full of messy drunks causing messes.
13. Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived in That House by Meghan Daum
I reviewed this for the LA Times on May 9th (yes, in the future). Check it out here.