One of my favorite things about living in New York City is the public transportation, because one of my favorite pastimes is reading, which obviously you can do anytime you’re on a train, so commutes never feel like they’re a waste of time. You’ve probably heard of Kelly Oxford. She’s super Twitter famous due to the hilarity of her Tweets, so when she came out with a collection of personal essays I picked it up. And it did not disappoint at all. It was kind of a cross between Julie Klausner and Sloane Crosley’s essays, and they’re very easy and fun to read through. One day I was on my way home from work, reading Oxford’s book. I got so into it that I missed my stop. The stop I get off every single day. To go to my home.
I think it was 4th or 5th grade when I read this book and I remember being so immersed with the storyline that I read it through recess and parts of class and ended up finishing the book a day or two later. Then I stole it. I still have it. I go back to it from time to time!
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is the kind of book that grabs your
attention with its whip-fast prose—”overcaffeinated tag teams of
grateful citizens trampolined right down the middle of his hangover”
reads the introduction to our Iraq War hero’s arrival in Dallas, there
for a victory tour—and this immediacy drove me to read it all in an
afternoon, which is cool, because the events of the book take place
over just one gameday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium.
But that literary trick isn’t really why you should read Billy Lynn.
We’ve all read the old, musty volumes on long-gone wars—All Quiet on
the Western Front, A Call to Arms, Catch-22. But this is a satirical,
often-hilarious read of a war that’s played out on TV screens and
halftime intermissions. It’s about America in ALL-CAPS, and it will
probably make you think on just how far removed we are now from the
lives of guys like Billy Lynn.
The synopsis of this book is as bleak as any synopsis could get, but it was the best book I’ve read this year. It’s heartbreaking, harrowing, and, most of all, something you’ll want to stay up until 3am reading.
I couldn’t put down The Way of Zen by Alan Watts until I was finished. I read it during a particularly dull semester in journalism school. Having grown up Catholic, I was used to the idea of a pissed-off God who created humans who were always pissing him off, and then when it came time to do something about the mess he’d created, he punked out and sent his own fucking son down to die in his stead. But the zen book made me realize that the Eastern religions were light years ahead of Western monotheism, especially in regards to things such as physics and relativity.
Alright, so its young adult fiction, but it contains one of my favorite characters of all time; Eugenides. A thief, a liar, a trickster, and all around hilarious guy who manages to trick his way into the one situation he can’t get himself out of; marriage and being a King. Told from the perspective of one of the Queen’s Guard Costis, it shows how Eugenides goes about convincing an entire nation to let go of past hatreds and give their reluctant new King a fighting chance. Sword fights, intrigue, comedy, romance; the kind of book you’d want your grandpa to read to you when you’re home sick- cheek pinches and all. This book is incredibly clever and entertaining and still manages to be a page turner on the 2nd, 3rd and 20th read.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander was definitely that book for me. I also was quite animated while reading it (always shaking my head) so I’m pretty sure anyone who saw me reading it in public thought I had issues. Good book though.
Much like Dennis Leary or midterm elections, back covers on books are not for me. I preface with this because when I first laid eyes on this front cover, adorned with a tyrannosaurs, caped warrior, and the title Moonwalking with Einstein, I was completely sold. I saw no need to further investigate. This was undoubtedly a contemporary fable featuring either Neil Armstrong or Michael Jackson teaming with Albert Einstein to utilize rocket science, modern dance, or physics, calibrating their thrusts and gyrations, to time travel to battle dinosaurs and ancient armies.
There are no mentions of flux capacitors or any of the aforementioned personalities in the opening chapters. It’s just a narrative about the author attending the 2005 U.S. Memory Championships that’s peppered with incredible histories. Then, instead of abruptly transitioning into the anticipated dinosaur-y plotline, Joshua Foer just keeps engaging the reader, delving deeper into memory culture while teaching countless easy-to-master recollection methods. From Mind Mapping to other mnemonics, Foer breaks down exactly how to train and how he’s training and sculpting his memory in preparation for the 2006 U.S. Memory Championships.
Refreshing and engrossing, I was completely fascinated once I started and unable to ditch it for a more chrononaut-heavy book.
I’m currently reading Thrown, by Kerry Howley, and the only reason I’m not literally reading it now is because my coworkers can see my monitor. An incredibly well written examination of violence, modern rituals, and yah, I’ll say it, the American Dream, Thrown is a contender for my favorite book of the year.
I just read “What In God’s Name” by Simon Rich. It’s about an impending apocalypse, in which God ditches being the CEO of Heaven in order to open up an Asian fusion restaurant. As it turns out, the only way the earth could be saved is if two awkward 23-year olds living on the Lower East Side get together. It’s laugh out loud funny, and a brilliant satire on how difficult us humans can oftentimes be.