Monday, May 23, 2011

Incoming Books: May 23, 2011

I took a day off from work today -- you've got to do that, every so often, to keep your sanity, and I don't want to end up with all of my vacation time back-loaded in the year like 2010 -- so I took the opportunity to go to my favorite local indy store, the Montclair Book Center, for what was the first time in nearly a year.

I grabbed a couple of books for my sons -- probably both for Thing 2 -- and more for myself. Nothing that I was actually looking for was there -- that's one of the perils of being so plugged into publishing; anything you want isn't likely to be right at hand -- so this is an interesting example of what I get when I don't get what I want:

The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely, one of those hugely popular bestsellers that I read, once in a while, in hopes that they're not as least-common-denominator as my snobbish heart always assumes they are. (For example, recently I started reading a massively popular nonfiction book from the past decade -- which I'm never going to name, since it's in the business space and my employer might some day try to woo the author over to us -- and found it not just trite and badly written, as expected, but actively stupid and afflicted by terminal "pump up your thesis to Explaining Everything status" disease, so I gave up on it in less than a day and will never speak of it again.) I also have the vague sense that I read a good review (or maybe mention) of Upside, possibly in the Times Book Review. Assuming I find time to read it, I'll report back.

Kiss & Tell, a graphic memoir by a woman who styles herself MariNaomi (she's from California, where such things are apparently required). I'd never heard of it before, but graphic novels are always quick to read, so it's easy to at least try to keep up with everything. And I do like to encourage "real" publishers (this one's from Harper) to keep publishing comics-style books.

Did you know there was a graphic novel adaptation of Allen Ginsburg's long poem Howl by the cartoonist Eric Drooker? I think I vaguely knew about it, but I couldn't prove it if I had to. But when the book was in front of me, how could I not buy it? I've never read Howl, I'm badly read in the Beats to begin with, so what the hell.

Penny Arcade, Vol. 6: The Halls Below, as always by Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik. I've mostly stopped buying collections of strip comics -- both web and newspaper -- unless there's "bonus content" of some kind, since just about all of them are freely available online. (Not that I ever go back and read six months of some strip online, though -- at least, not on purpose, since I got sucked into a string of PvPs from about 2005 last week -- so this is more of a complaint in theory.) But this book does have comments on all of the strips -- which are also old enough (2005) to make them of almost historical interest -- and it was there, so I got it.

And last was The New Yorker On the Money, a big collection of cartoons about economic matters culled from the vast catalog of the magazine. (They've done at least one similar book earlier, since I read the other one -- and I think I've read two of them.) If there's ever a future book like this, there's a decent chance it would come from my employer -- for boring contractual-relationship reasons -- so I'm going to pretend that I bought this for research purposes.

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