Books I read at/on the way home from Winter Institute

But not in the order read, because I have already forgotten that.  My brain is too overloaded with information and excitement.

1. The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses are Beating the Global Competition, Michael H. Shuman (Berrett-Koehler,  2006).  Shuman was one of three localism all-stars speaking at Saturday’s lunch (the other two were Stacy Mitchell, Big-Box Swindle and Bill McKibben, Deep Economy).  It was a great panel, because we all just listened to them talk, and they are so incredibly articulate that I think we could have listened to them until it was time for dinner.  I’ve read Big-Box Swindle and loved it, and look forward to Deep Economy.  As for The Small-Mart Revolution, I didn’t find it as accessible as Big-Box Swindle, but I’m not sure it’s meant to be.  I see it as more of a handbook for change than a conversion tool.  I’d hand Big-Box Swindle to a customer who’s just learning about localism, but The Small-Mart Revolution to, well, potential revolutionaries.  Shuman does a great job of explaining a lot of economic thought and, importantly, directly and impressively rebutting the prevailing TINA (there is no alternative) thinking that has led to massive subsidies for big-box development, etc etc.

Crap, I told myself I wouldn’t write about each book, but I can’t help it, it’s instinct.  I guess I will do it tonight but don’t get used to it.  And don’t think if I don’t write anything it’s because I didn’t like the book.

2. Generation Dead, Daniel Waters (Hyperion, May 2008).  Picked this up at the Author Reception because the author was at a table with E. Lockhart, who I made a beeline for.  I was expecting to like it for whatever reason, but I ended up REALLY liking it.  I think I might use this book with my YA book group.  Much smarter than you’d think for a book with a zombie cheerleader on the cover (though, really, it is a great cover), resulting in a lot of potential juicy discussion topics like racism, immigration, citizenship, cliques, and so on.  I especially liked how ambivalent and confused the characters’ emotions were on many counts, because it made them very textured.  The love stories are believable even though they have zombies in them, no small feat.  My only complaint was that I found the switching from character to character hard to follow at times, and for some reasons the names got confused in my head a bit.  But overall good solid story, with lots of subtle genius-y humor.  Best of all, the ending is kickass and if I remember correctly, this is going to be a series, which I very much look forward to.

3. The Writing Class, Jincy Willett (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s, June 2008).  O my god, when I saw Jincy Willett’s new book in the galley room I nearly shrieked.  I LOVED Winner of the National Book Award.  Willett just has such a talent for characterization and her sense of humor is pitch-perfect.  This may be the only book I can remember at the moment with a writer as the main character that I didn’t dislike.  Because Willett is so incredible at introducing both mundanity and absurdity into her work in a way that raises it to a very high level.  I don’t think that sentence makes much sense, but there it is.  Best of all, this is a mystery.  How awesome!  I keep forgetting how much I love mysteries.  Lovely, lovely, lovely.

4. Perfect You, Elizabeth Scott (Simon Pulse, March 2008).  Good YA novel.  I particularly liked Kate, the narrator, for how angry and oblivious she was.  I also very much liked the allusions to her sexuality–they were completely innocent, but in a subtle way recognized that teenage girls, too, have inexplicable sexual urges that can be very strong, and very confusing if you believe the prevailing wisdom about women and sex.  I mean the way she does this is masterful–just vague enough that unless you’ve been there, you’d probably gloss over it.  And I imagine if I had read it in my teens I would have found those little pockets very comforting and a nice antidote to some of the balls-out (that adjective is the wrong gender, but bear with me) female sexuality of much of YA (not that, of course, there’s not a place for that as well).  Anyway, I also liked how COMPLETELY nutso Kate’s father was, but in a very normal way.

5. Accidentally On Purpose: A One-Night Stand, My Unplanned Parenthood, and Loving the Best Mistake I Ever Made, Mary F. Pols (HarperCollins/Ecco, June 2008).  Well, if you’ve read the subtitle then I don’t really have to tell you what the book is about.  It’s hard for me to be unbiased about this book because in it’s own weird way, it’s mirroring a piece of my personal life.  So I’m not sure I can recommend it one way or another because I experienced it in a very intense way.  However, that is definitely a vote of confidence, I think, that I did experience it so intensely, even though I am half the author’s age and do not have a baby, unplanned or no.  And either way, Pols is a great writer; in fact, she’s a film critic by trade.  I am actually pretty sick of white-woman situational-memoirs (a topic for an upcoming blog post), but I did like this one.

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2 comments so far

  1. […] Take a look at Dark Scribe Magazine, Erin’s Book Nook, Fear Zone, Zubon Book Reviews, and Bookavore. Potential author visits […]

  2. YAG « Bookavore on

    […] 5: Generation Dead by Daniel Waters.  I loved this book, as I have noted before.  (Booksense link to come once the book is […]


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