12 Books, 12 Months: Month 2 Round Up

October was heavy on non-fiction for the 12 Books crew.  We had fewer readers reporting in this month, but a few of those who did post their reviews posted more than one.  On an administrative note, I’ve decided that if you don’t post a review for two months running, you won’t be included in subsequent roundups UNLESS you let me know that you’ve posted.  You can do this by commenting on a 12 Books post here, dropping me an email, or linking back to a 12 Books post from your blog.

The funny:
My favorite part of Jill‘s review of When You are Engulfed in Flames was her observation that David Sedaris is “suffering from ‘successful comedian syndrome’ where there are lots of observations about hotels and airplanes.”  As is often the case with Sedaris, when he’s good, he’s really really good, and when he’s bad, he’s still funny.  Leah had a good giggle at Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog…), though she found its archness a bit trying [review].  Sara will also be reading Three Men in a Boat, so I’ll look forward to seeing if her experience mirrors Leah’s.

The poetic:
Lanea read Possession, a dense and multi-faceted romance that explores “Breton and Scandinavian mythology, poetry, feminist theory, embroidery and knitting, the nature of love, the nature of poetry, [and] the nature of translation and retellings of myths”.  It’s a dense and enthralling work of fiction, and while it could have used a tighter edit, Lanea mostly loved it [review].  A more accessibly layered work might be The Various, which Anj also loved [review].

Mark‘s two reads were poetic in form and content: Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse, which he described as both ancient and postmodern [review], and More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor, “an excellent introduction to how our language and thought processes work” [review].  My read for this month –  The Points of My Compass: Letters from the East, the West, the North, the South – wasn’t so much poetic as it was exquisitely eloquent, opening with an invocation of the world that White, in middle age, loves “as passionately as though I were young” [review].  Glorious.

Mike fell in love with Junot Díaz by way of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, whose lush and vivid prose rendered Santo Domingo so convincingly that he “could almost smell sizzling meat mixed with bus exhaust” [review].   Mike also read Cherry, which he enjoyed with some reservations, some of which resulted from Karr’s habit of interrupting herself [review].

The thought-provoking:
read Sex at Dawn, which challenged her assumptions about sex and intimate relationships.  She had a hard time reconciling her experience of marriage and intimacy with the evolutionary history of those things – and found no easy answers from the authors [review].  Sara wondered if the title of The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ got in the way of the intended experience of the text.  That said, she felt that Pullman “managed to put some realistic human angles into the story of the gospels yet keep some of the original fairy tale aspects, too.” [review]

Angel struggled through Ensayo sobre la ceguera due to the subject matter and the pace of Saramago’s writing.  The novel presented society at its worst, affirming very negative views of humanity [review].  On a more positive note, Out of Yarn enjoyed The Art of War, though she doesn’t seem to have bought into the cult that surrounds this text.  She summarized one of the main tenets, stating that one should “appraise each {action) in terms of what is right or honorable, the larger climate in which one is operating, the immediate local environment, capabilities of self and ”doctrine” [review].  In contrast to both of these, Anj also read The World Without Us, a thought experiment about what might (will?) happen after the end of the human race, which she found fascinating and challenging [review].

The uncategorized:
Heidi read Lord of the Flies, which she somehow missed in her many years of public education.  Her review is short and to the point: “The stick is sharpened at both ends.” Grace was disappointed by Our Bodies, Ourselves and the Work of Writing, which was more about Our Bodies, Ourselves as a text than as a historical source.[review]


0 thoughts on “12 Books, 12 Months: Month 2 Round Up

  1. I should update here that I also read Tropic of Cancer, which was great and deserves a longer review when I have time to write one. And that I started Tristram Shandy and decided after about 10 pages that no way, I am not reading that book. At least not right now.

    Meanwhile, I discovered that for some reason Here Comes Everybody is not even in the Arlington library system, so I’m not going to read it. Therefore I have replaced those two books with David Foster Wallace’s Broom of the System, which I’m now reading. And I think I’ll throw in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, which actually meets the 12/12 requirement that the book already be on my bookshelf.

    That is all.


  2. Actually.. I read The Various as *this* month’s work. Which I will still review on my blog. For October I read: The World Without Us by Weisman. My post is here:


    I still plan on writing about Book 3 (The Various) this month. I could send you a link to the post if it would make it easier on you. 🙂

    Thanks for the links. they are all wonderful. It is a lot of work.. thanks again.


  3. Just finished the second book for my list, and I realized the need to include the roundup. Thanks for putting this together so nicely; I linked to it so my visitors can see what others have been up to as well. There is some good reading going on. Added your blog to my feed reader so I can keep better track.

    Best, and keep on blogging.


  4. Whee! I have a review up. Looking forward to another round-up, but I think you should wait until January, after the holidays. Not JUST because I’m slow, but because there is so much else to do this month!


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