Book stuff…

I had an odd experience recently, which affected what I’m reading right now. Looking for a nice Christmas present, Marianne decided to checked out my wish list, and found a recent book listed, which she promptly bought for me. Problem is, I don’t have an wishlist, and I’m not that interested in reading Fannie Flagg’s A Redbird Christmas. So, a couple days back we went back to the book store (Marianne bought a copy locally), and I swapped it for Nick Hornby’s The Polysyllabic Spree, which I’ve long been interested in reading.

For those not in the know, The Polysyllabic Spree is a small book from McSweeney’s that collects Hornby’s columns from The Believer. Every month Hornby lists the books he’s bought that month, the books he’s actually read that month, and then discusses his reading experiences. Hornby is a funny guy and, while TPS isn’t a knee-slapper, it’s the kind of personable book that reading obsessed folk like me are likely to enjoy.

I don’t buy that many books these days – the most recent was probably Pete Dexter’s Deadwood in the bookshop in San Franciso airport back in November – but it did prompt me to think about making ‘what I should be reading this week’, and ‘what I actually am reading’ lists. For example:

What I should be reading this week:
Asimov’s, March 2006
F&SF, April 2006
Novellas for Best Short Novels: 2006
Bruce Sterling stories for Ascendancies: Best of Bruce Sterling
Books for Locus Recommended Reading essay

What I am reading this week:
The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby
A Princess of Roumania, Paul Park
“The Diversification of Its Fancy”, John Barnes
Fishin’ With Grandma Matchie, Steven Erikson
The Life of Riley, Alexander C. Irvine
Burn, James Patrick Kelly

…and to make sure I feel guilty about deadlines whizzing past:

What I should be doing this week:
Editing book review columns for February 2006 issue of Locus
Writing year-in-review essay for February 2006 issue of Locus
Finalising Locus Short Fiction recommended reading list

What I’ve been doing this week:
Seasonal celebrations
Finishing the short fiction list

All of which makes it clear that, when I finish birthday celebrations, it’s writing and editing for me! Oh, and speaking of birthday celebrations, Happy Birthday Ellen for a couple days ago, and Happy Birthday Nick, who shares my birthday=!

on music…

After all these years, I still haven’t worked out how to write convincingly about music. It always has been, and remains, one of those things where two parts of the brain don’t seem to connect and produce the right output. Yesterday I was trying to describe Sufjan Steven’s “Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois” (my most played song in 2005, according to iTunes), but only came up with cliched rubbish that didn’t really convey the sense of the music at all. It’s a cool song, though. I actually spent the flights to and from Madison listening to Come on Feel the Illinoise! on the iPod, which seemed appropriate. I’m tempted to say that Illinoise was my favorite album of 2005, but that honor probably belongs to Blinking Lights by The Eels. Check ’em both out. I did have one disturbing realisation about music this morning. I was reading the latest issue of Mojo, which listed their Top 50 albums of the year. I had maybe thirty of them. Am I only buying albums because they’re well reviewed? Maybe? Sounds shallow, though. sigh.

Speaking of shallow, I bought my first cd of 2006 yesterday: Nickel Creek’s Why Should the Fire Die? I’m using it to test a thought that I had about the iPod. I love iPod, but does it lead to you not listening to albums, just songs? I think it does. I mean, I’ve had some of the year’s best reviewed (ha ha, see?) albums on the iPod for a while, but have no real sense of them as albums. Rather, I know songs here and songs there. It’s something I’m going to keep an eye on.

I do have one music-related New Year’s Resolution. I intend to buy/consume less music this year than I did last year. Why? I’m adding new music to my collection faster than I can listen to it, which seems dumb to me. So, I’m going to list here all the new music I buy, and monitor whether I actually listed to it. Or, at least, I will until I get bored with doing it, which seems to be how New Year’s Resolutions work anyhow .