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Cruel to be Kind - in the right measure.

Book I'm Reading: The Road
Last Movie Watched: Sunshine Cleaners
Beverage: Coffee

I keep meaning start a new blog, and I get too lazy to set it up... So here we are.

It's been awhile, so I'm not sure where to start...
I've been trying really hard to remove everything that is negative from my life. I know that is impossible but there is so much that is out of my control (like the pretty serious health problems that I have been battling), that their just simply no more room for external, unnecessary pressures.

So I sat down here and I started to write them out in bullet point form, all of these changes, and it just felt like I was whining. It made me not like myself in that moment to be honest and it felt super counter productive to my eventual goal. I also realized ultimately it doesn't matter. For all of these changes I am trying to enact in my life, I'm still standing in the same exact place. Mentally, emotionally I'm making strides but circumstances are remarkably similar/annoying. So I erased the entire post. I'm sure certain things will come out here and there in dribs and drabs because they are pretty major "Oh my god are you serious?!" life altering changes. I'm just not going to invest the energy in a laundry list of negative things I'm struggling to remove. It feels very self indulgent. Like I'm a rat and this is my skinner box and I'm pressing these keys hoping you guys throw me an reward in the form of empathy. Does that make any sense?

Please, don't get me wrong. I'm not hating on a blog as a means of catharsis. I'm sure I will have many many more whiny posts. I just didn't want to come out of the gate after a long hiatus slamming my emotional backwash down people's throats.

AND also because the reasons that I have been absent (besides health issues) are pretty wonderful. I felt to come back with nothing but negativity would somehow tint this journal. It's not a dumping ground. It's supposed to be a creative outlet and a platform...

One of the things that is bringing me back TODAY is a promise I made to myself a year ago to read 75 books all from the library in one year. March 12th, Joe's birthday was set to be the jumping off point because I knew I would remember it. The good news is, I kept my promise to myself and I didn't buy myself a single book in the past year. A really big deal for me. My addiction is not kicked, but it is under control. The bad news is, I didn't read the 75 books. I thought that because most every other year I do this I read 100 books that 75 was a conservative estimate, especially when you consider that I went almost the entire year without cable or internet in the house. However, my health problems and the time, energy and attention a toddler need and the amount of time I WANT to spend with her, well, I under estimated that. I also kind of shot myself in the foot because I promised myself I wouldn't read anything super trashy or mind numbing. I tried to read ALMOST equal parts fiction and non-fiction. The point of setting that goal was to exercise my brain. At the time I set it I was going through some pretty harrowing stuff physically, it was the start of this "nightmare health" year and I guess I was looking for a life line so at least while my body was rotting away and betraying me my brain wouldn't. I guess in a sense mission accomplished, I read a lot of great books and when I was laid up in hospitals/hotels and Doctors offices at least I still had my library around me. Like Linus with a security blanket.

I just missed my goal number. Which is a let down. Maybe next year... because I plan on repeating the "challenge"... So below, for anyone out there who may be interested is my reading list for the past year, with super short opinions on each.



1) Nickel and Dimed - Barbara Ehrenreich - Non Fiction - already wrote about
2) Waiting for The Barbarians - J. M. Coetzee - already wrote about
3) Anthem of the Reluctant Prophet - Joanne Prolux - already wrote about it.
4) The Devil in the White City - Erik Larson - Non Fiction - already wrote about it.
5) Average American Male - Chad Kultgen - already wrote about it

6) The Year of Living Biblically - A.J. Jacobs - Non Fiction This book really gave me a new found respect for Judaism. Raised Catholic I don't think I had an accurate understanding of the religion. It was enlightening to say the least.

7) Who The Hell Is Pansy O'hara - Jenny Bond and Chris Sheedy - Non Fiction - The book claims to be "The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World's Best-Loved Books" some of them?... eh... not so fascinating.

8) Lewis Carroll in Numberland - Robin Wilson - Non Fiction - awesome read for any logic/statistic nerds

9) Exile in the Kingdom - Albert Camus - First published in 1957, the same year Camus won the Noble Peace Prize. This collection strays from his typical "philosophy of the absurd" and delves into the dark waters of people at painful odds with the world around them. I really enjoyed it.

10) Still Life With Woodpecker - Tom Robbins - What can be said? You either love Tom Robbins or you don't. I do.

11) Black Coffee Blues - Henry Rollins - Non fiction (?) - I love Henry Rollins, the same way I love Liza Minnelli. It's not a testament to their talent. Something about him, every time I see his stumpy little chode of a body, I don't know I just can't wait to see what he is going to do next! I will say though, I do really enjoy his writing. He's a well spoken guy. His intensity, like Liza's is just something that baffles me.

12) The Last of the Savages - Jay McInerney (one of my favorite books from the past year). I really fell in love with his writing style.

13) The Heroin Diaries - Nikki Sixx - Non fiction - You can't go wrong with the Crue, but it was not nearly as good as Dirt. I will go on record saying that I think Dirt is one of the best rock "memoirs" of all time. Certainly one of the most honest. So if you are only going to read one book on Motley Crue, do yourself a favor and read Dirt. HOWEVER, I don't know why a person would WANT to limit themselves to just one book about Motley Crue.

14) From A Name To A Number - Alter Wiener - Non Fiction - Strange to go from Heroin Diaries which was pure Hedonism to a Holocaust Memoir but it made it made what was already powerful material, explosive to the psyche.

15) Kill Your Idols - Jim DeRogatis - Non Fiction - I needed to give my brain a detente after "From a Name..."

16) The World According to Garp - John Irving - LOVE IT! LOVE IRVING! Another favorite from the year.

17) Under the Banner of Heaven - Jon Krakauer - Non Fiction - An amazing and I feel important book about the dangerous nature of religious zealots, dogma and the power a church can wield. Mormons are not as cute and cuddly as big love would have you believe... but they have also certainly faced persecution.

18) Perfect from Now On: How Indie Rock Saved My Life - John Sellers - Non Fiction- I get it. You like hip bands.

19) Bright Lights, Big City - Jay McInerney - A perfect little 80's time capsule.

20) Less Than Zero - Brett Easton Ellis - I had always heard that this was the book end to Bright Lights. Same time, the two different coasts. Of the two I liked this one so much more. Darker subtext below it's neon pomp, every page was like getting a post card from an ex you never wanted to hear from again.

21 ) The Informers - Brett Easton Ellis - I was on an Ellis kick. I didn't enjoy this as much as "Less than Zero"

22) The Bad Guys Won - Jeff Pearlman - Non-fiction- I recommend this book to NY Mets fans who lived through the 86 season

23) Glacial Peroid - Nicholas De Crecey - Graphic Novel -the only comic I included on my list. Disappointing.

24) The Stranger - Albert Camus - Classic. You don't need my 2 cents.

25) Great Dreams of Heaven - Sam Shepard - one of my all-time favorite authors. Awesome.

26) Columbine - Dave Cullen - Non Fiction - A really detailed and emotional piece of investigative journalism. I think it's the best True Crime book written since In Cold Blood.

27) Dream Catchers: A Memoir - Non Fiction - J.D. Salinger gets sold out by his mentally unstable daughter.

28) Nausea - Jean Paul Sartre- I wanted to see if I would enjoy it more when it was non required reading. I did but I have to revisit it again. It's kind of hard to get into when chasing after a toddler/

29) At Home in the World - Joyce Maynard - Non Fiction - Salinger gets RIGHTFULLY sold out by teen mistress. Her struggle to over come his abuse, mental illness, early success and motherhood.

30) Desolation Angels - Jack Kerouac - One of my favorite books. I try to read it once a year

31) Guinea Pig Experiments - A.J. Jacobs - Non Fiction - Hilarious. He can do no wrong in my eyes.

32) The Elegant Universe - Brian Greene - Non Fiction - kind of like string theory for dummies. Still too advanced for the likes of me.

33) The Big Rewind - Nathan Rabin - Non Fiction - pop culture coming of age from the editor of the A.V. Club

34) Where Men Win Glory - Jon Krakauer - Non fiction - unsettling story of a senseless loss in a senseless war.

35) Where the Money Went - Kevin Canty - New collection of short stories from my ALL-TIME favorite writer.

36) Brief Interviews With Hideous Men - David Foster Wallace - To displace guilt over not reading Infinte Jest.

37) The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen - I did not like it.

38) Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher - Non Fiction - Reading it only intensified my crush on Gold Bikini Leia.
39) Facing The Music - Larry Brown - I liked his stark sparse style. I plan on reading a lot more of his work.

40) Post Office - Charles Bukowski

41) Women - Charles Bukowski - Again you don't need my two cents on Bukowski. Either you love him or you don't. Again, I do.

42) Tinkers - Paul Harding - Amazing, just amazing. I don't even have the words. I wrote a review of this for Goodreads, that I can't seem to find now.

43) Sinners Welcome - Mary Karr - I'm not usually a big poetry fan, but I like Mary Karr a lot.

44) Good Blonde - Jack Kerouac - I suggest it for Kerouac fans. Others, might not care.

45) The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference: Malcolm Gladwell- Non Fiction

46) Hershey: Milton S. Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams - Michael D'Antonio - Non Fiction - It was a valuable resource before our trip to Hershey Park.

47) Devils Knot:The True Story of the West Memphis Three - Mara Leveritt - Non Fiction Everyone knows this story and is sickened by it. I don't have to explain. Its a huge miscarriage of justice, but it's not shocking to see we live in a country where people are still being persecuted for being different. It's just painful to have it so illustrated.

48) My Custom Van: Essays - Michael Ian Black - One of the funniest books I have read in a long time.

49) Love Will Tear Us Apart: Sarah Rainone - I honestly don't remember the plot. Something about friendship and music and a wedding. I remember a lot of heavy handed cliche musical references. Take that as you will.

50) World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks - Non Fiction... I don't care it's my list I can label it any way that I want. I like Zombies, so of course, I loved this book.

51) It Feels So Good When I Stop - Joseph T. Pernice - Nothing happens. But nothing is described in beautiful detail.

52) The Reader - Bernhard Schlink - I loved it, but this book has Oprah's endorsement. It doesn't need mine.

53) Tattoo Machine - Tall Tales, True Stories About My Life in Ink - Jeff Johnson -Owner of Sea Tramp tattoo writes and obnoxious memoir. Fin

54) Multiple Blessings - Kate Gosselin - Non Fiction - I know I promised myself no "trash" but I like the rest of the nation was captivated and really saddened by their imploding family. People can call her a bitch, say that she is diva. I don't care. I know how hard it is to raise ONE baby, and I have a partner who is AMAZING. I can't imagine the frustration of trying to raise eight small children and one immature, selfish idiot man-child. It comes to a point where, things just HAVE to get done, and you can't always be sunshine and roses about it either. Sometimes you have to flip the bitch switch.

55) Geek Love - Katherine Dunn - Another All-time favorite that I try to revisit every so often.

56) Mysteries of Pittsburgh - Michael Chabon - a really sensitive coming-of- age story where the main character battles to make sense of his past, his future and his sexuality.

57) Yard Dogs - Sheldon Russell - I don't normally read mysteries, but I'm a sucker for any book where people ride the rails during the depression because that's how my grandfather spent his adolescence. Good. Not Great.

58) Franny and Zoey - J.D. Salinger -

59) Nine Stories - J.D. Salinger - I had read two Salinger Biographies earlier in the year and they only illustrated what a controlling prick he was. That didn't change the fact that his work had impacted me deeply when I first read it. Reading his obituary, painted a picture of not just a cultural icon but a hero, which was a direct conflict to the two memoirs I had read. I decided to reread some of his work after he died to see them through a different set of eyes, more informed (biased) of context.

60) Friends Like These: Friends Like These: My Worldwide Quest to Find My Best Childhood Friends, Knock on Their Doors, and Ask Them to Come Out and Play - Danny Wallace - I guess the title says it all. It was just "okay"

61) The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka - This is another required reading book that I have once again revisited. I have to be honest, I find this book completely unsettling. Which I guess is the objective. I need to stop reading books where the dominant themes all relate to society's treatment of those who are different, the bleak loneliness of isolation that comes with it. I'm already depressed enough and they are not helping me stay focused on the positive aspects of life. I need to start reading things that are more uplifting.

62) Cornflakes With John Lennon - Robert Hilburn - Non Fiction - I don't buy Hilburn's title as the "greatest rock critic of all-time." I think that title belongs to Lester Bangs who not only deconstructed the material he was writing about, but was a true poet and rock visionary. He called it like he saw it. Hilburn, comes across and a frothing at the mouth fan. A yes man who gained intimate access to big names because he stroked their egos.

63) Eating The Dinosaur - Chuck Kloserman - Non Fiction - Another one of my favorite authors. I wasn't as thrilled with this collection of essays as I was with some of his other ones. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. Then again few are.

So if anyone took the time to actually take a look at that... thank you!
If not, I 100 percent understand... I'm sure it's of little interest to anyone but me. I just wanted to make sure I documented it.

It felt good to go back over this list today. Think about the past year, where I was when I read these books. Why I chose the books that I did. It's something that even when I was at my darkest, most depressed, or sickest state I could work towards. I may not be able to read as much as I used to, but I know I made an effort to read everyday no matter what the circumstances surrounding me were it was something positive I was doing in the hopes of bettering myself.

I feel pretty good about that...

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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
sunnycrittenden
Mar. 14th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
I LOVED Under the Banner of Heaven. Fundamentalist Mormons are some crazy crazy folk and Warren Jeffs, I think, is a menace.

This is absolutely none of my business, but what health problems are you having? I've seen a lot of mentions on Facebook about hospitals and hotels and doctors, but I never heard what was actually wrong. Whatever it is, I hope it's getting better.
sunnycrittenden
Mar. 14th, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
Also, post moar.
golfshirt6
Mar. 15th, 2010 01:31 am (UTC)
I wull post moar!
golfshirt6
Mar. 15th, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
I agree. Under the Banner of Heaven was kind of amazing...

I think it painted kind of a sympathetic or at least TRIED to paint an impartial view of the Mormon church... but then pointed out how there were Zealots and extremists that were "ruining it for the rest of them" and preventing them from being able to practice their faith accurately because they make it so unappealing to the rest of the world.

(Like all the psycho zealots in Juniper Creek, in Big Love)

Health problems are not under control, but I'm working hard with my doctors to manage them. It's a very long story that goes back to the seizure I had last Feb... I was actually going to type it out but it just got to be "too much".

I'll post about it soon, Thank you for your concern though!
checkingmypulse
Mar. 15th, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
Good for you! I've been meaning to read Geek Love foreverrrrrrrrrr
golfshirt6
Mar. 15th, 2010 01:34 am (UTC)
Ah you HAVE to read it. It's so good. A little creepy, but really so good!
agent_999
Mar. 15th, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
Thanks for the inspiration!
golfshirt6
Mar. 15th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I was just looking at your journal and I saw your ipod repair. Mine has been broken for about six months and it is driving me crazy. I think you may have inspired me to take matters into my own hands.

Cheers!
(Anonymous)
Mar. 15th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks, on COLUMBINE
Thanks for the shout-out on my book, Columbine (http://davecullen.com/columbine.htm).

That was very nice of you to say it was the best since In Cold Blood--a book I truly admire.

An expanded paperback edition of mine is just out this week. I spent a lot of time on the new material, so I hope it's OK to mention what we added:

— A 12-page afterword: “Forgiveness.” It includes startling new revelations on the killers' parents. The purpose, though, was to look at three victims in very different places 11 years later, and how forgiving played a pivotal role in their grief. I discovered the secret meetings with the killers' parents in the process.

— Actual journal pages from Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold.

— Book Club Discussion Questions (also available at Oprah.com).

— Diagram of Columbine High School and environs.

— A large-print edition is also now available.

Thanks again.
golfshirt6
Mar. 16th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
Re: Thanks, on COLUMBINE

It's perfectly fine to mention the new edition coming out and I am happy to promote the book in any way that I can. I'm flattered you took the time out to leave a comment on this blog.

I really enjoyed reading your book and I look forward to checking out the expanded paperback edition.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )