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What I'm Reading
  • Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
    Cold Days: A Novel of the Dresden Files
    by Jim Butcher

    Butcher has done it again. After 14 books, the Dresden Files is still my favorite book series. If you’re a fan, you know why you’re a fan. If you’ve never read any of this series, start with book one, Storm Front. This is not one of those series where you can pick and choose which ones you want to read. Well, you could, but it would suck.

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Thursday
Nov032011

Happiness is a New Book

There are few things that I love more in this world than books.

I love old, beaten-up paperbacks. Especially when I am the one who has done the beating up. I’ve got a few that are so worn out, with their torn covers and bent, stained pages, that they defy the laws of physics by staying in one piece.

For example, my copies of The Godfather and Fletch Won have been read so many times, you can lay them flat on the table, and they will stay open to any page you choose. Those pages should start falling out any day now.

And, of course, there’s my copy of Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. This book means a lot to me. It is a cherished birthday gift from a cherished friend. Shortly after I got it, Parker the Wonder Dog – just a puppy at the time – tore a tasty chunk off of the front cover. I was so pissed off at the time. Now, when I pull that book from the shelf, not only am I reminded of where my friend and I were in our respective lives at that time, but also of Parker as an out-of-control puppy, and it makes me smile every time. Books are memories.

I love cloth-bound books, whatever that cloth may be. The cover of my copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, which is sitting on my nightstand, has a cover that appears to be made of linen. Many cloth-bound books are also bound with a thin little ribbon bookmark. I love these. A sewn-in bookmark tells you that somebody thinks this is good stuff, worthy of a little something extra. I’d like to read up on the history of the sewn-in bookmark, but I’m not quite sure where to start. Funny, I love these little ribbons for what they tell me about the care that went into the book’s production, but I rarely use them.[1]

I love comic books. I quit reading them regularly a couple of years ago because they have gotten ridiculously expensive and I have poor impulse control. Like an alcoholic who has trouble understanding the very concept of “just one drink,” I have had to give up comics cold turkey.[2] Hopefully, this hiatus is temporary, because a good comic book or graphic novel is magic. There is nothing like it when a great comic team of writer, penciler, inker, colorist and letterer are all on the same page, firing on all cylinders. I could easily list a dozen examples of terrific stories told by amazing teams, but the first two that come to mind are Joss Whedon and John Cassaday on Astonishing X-Men[3] (especially the first six issues) and Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee on Batman: Hush[4].

There are comics that have made me bite my nails as I squirm in suspense, many that have made me laugh – sometimes a surprised HA!, other times a prolonged fit of laughter that comes from somewhere deep inside – and there have been comics that have made me cry. I didn’t realize until I started writing this just how terribly I miss comic books. I feel an Amazon shopping spree coming soon.

I also love bad books, if I can figure out early enough that I don’t like them. It’s very much like when I find out at the last minute that a meeting at work has been canceled, and I have been given the precious gift of two hours of my life back to do with what I will. Discovering that the book I’m currently reading sucks allows me to stop reading it without guilt and move on to another book that I may find more enjoyable. I have no shortage of books on deck, waiting to be read. I could easily name you a dozen books off the top of my head that I’m ready to pick up and read right now. If I actually looked at my bookshelves, that number would triple. A trip to the bookstore or library, and that number easily grows ten-fold. So thank you to terrible books for being bad enough for me to put down. I could use the extra reading time.


  1. These cloth-bound books also usually come with dust jackets, which, ironically, I hate. They just get in my way.  ↩

  2. OK, not quite cold turkey. I still buy the occasional trade paperback or hardback collection. Though I’m behind, I still plan on filling my bookshelves with special volumes, like the Starman Omnibuses and the Invincible hardcover editions.  ↩

  3. This run of Astonishing X-Men was written by Joss Whedon (one of my creative heroes) with pencils and inks by John Cassaday, lettering by cartoonist Chris Eliopoulos and colors by the incomparable Laura Martin. This run demonstrated to me just how much a colorist could add to the storytelling process.  ↩

  4. This amazing story was written by Jeph Loeb (who also wrote the screenplay to the 1985 Academy Award-winning Teen Wolf), penciled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams, colored by Alex Sinclair and lettered by Comicraft’s Richard Starkings.  ↩

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