Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

Last summer I joined Camp TOB 2022, my first time with the Tournament of Books summer reading game. I’ve enjoyed reading along and voting in the Tournament of Books for the last couple of years, and I’ve even found a few “new favorite books” as a result. So, I thought I’d give the summer reading game a go. I did find a “new favorite book,” … Continue reading Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

A Prayer for the Crown-shy by Becky Chambers

About halfway through Becky Chambers’ A Prayer for the Crown-shy I realized what it was reminding me of: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig’s 1974 novel. I’m not a fan of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Mr. Pirsig’s novel is an autobiographical account of a cross-country trip he took with his young son. Along the way he reviews the history … Continue reading A Prayer for the Crown-shy by Becky Chambers

The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara by David I. Kertzer

A Jewish family sits together peacefully in their home. It is an ordinary night. After dinner. Mother, father, six children, the oldest still under ten years. Suddenly, agents of the Inquisition are at the door, there to take away Edgardo, age six, claiming he was secretly baptized by one of the family servants, therefore a Christian, therefore in need of Christian parents. The panicked family … Continue reading The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara by David I. Kertzer

A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers

The premise of Becky Chamber’s novel A Psalm for the Wild Built really appealed to me. Set in the future or maybe on another planet, a travelling monk leaves his order to go back into nature hoping for time alone. He meets a robot, one of several thousands who left humanity behind generations ago after achieving sentient intelligence. A robot and a monk traveling the … Continue reading A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers

The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky

A child is born during a very cold winter in early 20th century Germany. Her parents, a Catholic father and a Jewish mother, are not in the best of marriages. He is unable to rise above the 11th salary rank at work due to prejudice against his Jewish wife. She has been declared dead by her monied grandfather who actually sat shiva for her because … Continue reading The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky

Wise Children by Angela Carter

I’m going to come out and say it, I think Angela Carter is one of the most under-rated authors of the 20th century. Up to now, I’ve known her work through her wonderful short stories and their various adaptations. Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves based on Ms. Carter’s The Bloody Chamber was rewatched so many times, my VHS copy faded away. Years ago, I … Continue reading Wise Children by Angela Carter

The Emissary by Yoko Tawada translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani

I don’t really understand this book. But I enjoyed it; it touched me; it’s my new favorite book. The story concerns Yoshiro and his great-grandson. They live near Tokyo in the not-too-distant future. Things have gone wrong. Not one big thing, but many small things over a period of generations. Honestly, I can’t tell you what happened to society, but things are a mess. Japan … Continue reading The Emissary by Yoko Tawada translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani

The Road to Los Angeles by John Fante

The narrator in John Fante’s The Road to Los Angeles kept reminding me of Ignatius J. Riley in John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. But without the heart. Both characters are really incapable of functioning in the world. Both live at the bottom of society, relying on the good graces of their mother for support. Both are convinced of their own genius and not … Continue reading The Road to Los Angeles by John Fante

Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition by Nisid Hajari

I bought this book by mistake. I thought it was a collection of essays about Salmon Rushdie’s terrific novel Midnight’s Children, one of my all-time favorites. Midnight’s Furies then sat on my TBR shelf for nearly five years. Five years is the maximum I allow. After that, it’s time to admit I’m just never going to read it and pass it along to a nearby … Continue reading Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition by Nisid Hajari

Cleanness by Garth Greenwell

Cleanness by Garth Greenwell is a very dirty book. I confess, I was a bit shocked. Maybe more surprised than shocked, but still. Mr. Greenwell’s depiction of sex is probably more detailed than what most of us expect to find in a random book from the public library. Which is what Cleanness was for me. Cleanness is not a new book, so I must have … Continue reading Cleanness by Garth Greenwell

Nazis in the Metro by Didier Daeninckx, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis

On May 8, 1945, the day Nazi Germany surrendered, the French government began a massacre of Muslim nationalists in Algeria that ended with the deaths of 15,000 to 20,000 civilians. There were soldiers who fought for France in Germany who returned to Algeria only to find the families dead, and their homes destroyed. Not something I expected to learn in a gritty, noir detective novel … Continue reading Nazis in the Metro by Didier Daeninckx, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis