Do or Do Not.

Help feed my head!

with 6 comments

I foolishly stayed up until 2:30 last night (ugh sleepy ow) finishing Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, meaning I’m now stuck in the same boat with the millions of Potter addicts counting down the days until that last fix comes out (which probably won’t be until at least 2007). But that withdrawl isn’t the biggest problem I’ve got about being done with all of the extant Potters.

The real crisis lies in the fact that I don’t know what to read next.

It took me about five months to work through the six Harry Potter books. [1] Would’ve been a lot quicker, I’m sure, if the first five hundred pages of The Order of the Phoenix hadn’t been quite such a chore to get through. [2,3] That means that for the last five months, I haven’t had to decide on a book to read. Now I do, and I have nothing lined up. Oh, sure, I’ve got plenty of books sitting around the house that I haven’t read, but if I really wanted to read any of those, I’d have done so already.

So this, my friends, is where all’a y’all come in: I’d like some suggestions for new reading material.

A couple of pretty loose guidelines:

  • Fiction preferred, but certainly not required. I tend to go for crime fiction (usually with a healthy sprinking of humor), contemporary fantasy and straight-up bestseller mainstream fiction, but by no means is that all I’m looking for.
  • I’m looking for something a little bit more intellectually challenging after the mental popcorn of the Harry Potter series. Mindless entertainment is fun from time to time, but sometimes I actually do like to use my brain when I’m reading.
  • That said, if you have some empty-calorie suggestions you think I’d like if I dug the Harry Potter books (which I did), bring ‘em on.
  • Pop culture commentary works well for me–know any good books about movies, television, music, sports? Or the mechanics behind pop culture–know any good books about what goes on behind the scenes in those industries?
  • I’m always up for good graphic novels or comic book collections. Always.
  • Guidelines aside, suggest anything you think I might like–the worst I’ll do is not read whatever you recommend, which wouldn’t be any different than if you hadn’t said anything at all.

So…what’cha got for me?

[1] Just to make myself feel less lame for taking five months to read six books which were really pretty easy reads, I’d like to note that I also read two other books during that time (Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman and The Midnighters, Vol. 1: The Secret Hour, Scott Westerfeld). Hmm, y’know, that really doesn’t make me feel that much less lame. [2] Yes, OK, Ms. Rowling, fine, we get the picture–Harry’s angry. I think most of us got it after the first two-hundred pissy outbursts at his best friends. [3] Admittedly, the last three hundred pages kicked it into gear pretty well–I hope David Yates, the director of the movie version, focuses most of his attention on the book’s back end. Or man will that movie be whiny.

Written by Allen

December 19th, 2005 at 6:31 pm

Posted in Books,Pop Culture

6 Responses to 'Help feed my head!'

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  1. Try Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. I just started it. Good Lord. Just . . . Good God what a book.

    Also:

    Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian is very good.

    Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomasen’s The Rule of Four

    Michael Connelly’s The Poet (chilling, just chilling)

    Now–do me a fave. I want to read a graphic novel. Yes. There, I’ve said it and I feel better. A friend suggested The Dark Knight Returns (at least I think that’s the name). Do you have any other suggestions?

    Jeff Newberry

    20 Dec 05 at 3:18 pm

  2. Oooh, I’ve actually been wanting to try House of Leaves for a couple of years…but man, that might be too much work for me right now. I need to have time to really, really, really pay attention to that book. It’s on my “Someday” list, though!

    I’ve also been thinking about The Rule of Four…I’m adding that to the Reading List right now. I’ll look up the other two and see if I should add them, too. Thanks for the recommendations!

    And to repay the favor: the granddaddy of all comics graphic novels is Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. That’s a good one to read because not only is it probably the single best long-form comic-book story ever crafted, but it’s a great value–because you’ll have to/want to read it several times.

    The Dark Knight Returns, which is kind of a brother-in-arms to Watchmen (they’re frequently referenced together–more on why some other time), is also a fantastic read. Just please please please make sure you don’t accidentally pick up the sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Back. It’s absolute wretchedness would turn you off ever opening another comic again. Seriously.

    Let me know if you want more suggestions…I’m full of ‘em. :)

    Allen

    20 Dec 05 at 5:06 pm

  3. Man, House of Leaves has been on my radar for awhile now, too, and I haven’t started it for the same reason. I’d really like to read it someday soon, though.

    I’m suggesting for fiction anything by Richard Russo except his short stories. I think I mentioned him to you? Don’t remember–I’ve been telling everyone I know to read his stuff. And no, don’t start with Empire Falls. Doesn’t live up to the hype. My favorite is Nobody’s Fool for overall quality, but Straight Man is absolutely hysterical and can be particularly appreciated by anyone who’s gone through a university English program.

    A nonfiction book I read recently that blew my mind is And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts’ book on the AIDS epidemic and American politics. If you want a book to truly scare you and make you lose faith in the U.S. government’s treatment of its citizens(not that anyone has much faith left, considering the current administration’s politics), read this book. It came out in the late 80′s and you may have seen the HBO movie based on it.

    It is the first major book written on the AIDS epidemic, and it is a phenomenal read. The government’s willful ignorance and undertreatment of the new disease will break your heart, but the book is also full of faith-restoring stories of ordinary people setting up support groups and AIDS networks, helping all the victims failed and ignored by their politicians, their community, and sometimes even their families. I think every U.S. citizen should read this book.

    amy

    21 Dec 05 at 2:08 pm

  4. A report on House of Leaves:

    I was lying awake in bed last night, reading this thing. Heather lay sleeping beside me.

    At a certain point in the story, the narrator begins to describe what it’s like to feel scared, the way that he does.

    I seriously, no lying, not-making-this-up, had to get out of the bed. I was that scared. I put the book down and went to the kitchen, had a glass of merlot while I watched David Letterman, and told myself what a fool I am.

    I awoke this morning, took the dog for a walk of about a mile, did laundry–but I’ll tell you one thing.

    I’ve not read that book today.

    Read it. You won’t be disappointed.

    Jeff Newberry

    21 Dec 05 at 2:51 pm

  5. “Under the Banner of Heaven”

    Excellent, excellent book. Here’s the synopsis (stolen right from amazon)

    Using as a focal point the chilling story of offshoot Mormon fundamentalist brothers Dan and Ron Lafferty, who in 1984 brutally butchered their sister-in-law and 15-month-old niece in the name of a divine revelation, Krakauer explores what he sees as the nature of radical Mormon sects with Svengali-like leaders. Using mostly secondary historical texts and some contemporary primary sources, Krakauer compellingly details the history of the Mormon church from its early 19th-century creation by Joseph Smith (whom Krakauer describes as a convicted con man) to its violent journey from upstate New York to the Midwest and finally Utah, where, after the 1890 renunciation of the church’s holy doctrine sanctioning multiple marriages, it transformed itself into one of the world’s fastest-growing religions. Through interviews with family members and an unremorseful Dan Lafferty (who is currently serving a life sentence), Krakauer chronologically tracks what led to the double murder, from the brothers’ theological misgivings about the Mormon church to starting their own fundamentalist sect that relies on their direct communications with God to guide their actions. According to Dan’s chilling step-by-step account, when their new religion led to Ron’s divorce and both men’s excommunication from the Mormon church, the brothers followed divine revelations and sought to kill, starting with their sister-in-law, those who stood in the way of their new beliefs. Relying on his strong journalistic and storytelling skills, Krakauer peppers the book with an array of disturbing firsthand accounts and news stories (such as the recent kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart) of physical and sexual brutality, which he sees as an outgrowth of some fundamentalists’ belief in polygamy and the notion that every male speaks to God and can do God’s bidding. While Krakauer demonstrates that most nonfundamentalist Mormons are community oriented, industrious and law-abiding, he poses some striking questions about the closed-minded, closed-door policies of the religion-and many religions in general.

    Lisa Ann

    21 Dec 05 at 5:38 pm

  6. if you haven’t read the Ender’s Game series, you should. intense sci-fi, but the story is fantastic. also, the Adult Ender follow-on trilogy (Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind) is excellent, and i’ve heard good things about the Shadow follow-on series (starts with Ender’s Shadow).

    for pop culture stuff, i loved Douglas Copeland’s books. Microserfs was a personal favorite though it’s a little bit on the light side.

    and of course if you’re of a musical bent and want to get your Non-Fic on, Bob Dylan’s memoirs (Chronicles Vol. I) are definitely worth reading as well.

    Orion

    23 Dec 05 at 12:49 pm

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