2015 in Books, January

I started off 2015 by finishing up a few stragglers from 2014:

  • Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman
    • Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors; I have yet to read one of his books that did not capture my imagination. Neverwhere is set in London Below, the underground city that parallels London Above along the city’s subway tunnels. Like his best works, he asks you what is real and never answers his question.
  • The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man who Pulled off the Spectacle of the Century by Clare Prentice
    • This nonfiction work looks at the experiences of a group of Bontoc Igorot tribespeople from a remote area of the Philippines who spent over a year on exhibit in the United States in the early nineteenth century and Truman Hunt, their exhibiter turned prisoner. I saw a review in the local paper, which is when I learned that part of the resulting court proceedings took place in Memphis. It’s a good story, but the well researched nonfiction is mixed with too much journalistic license for my historian tastes.

I also started and finished some others:

  • How Carrots Won the Trojan War: Curious (but True) Stories of Common Vegetables by Rebecca Rupp
    • I really like vegetables, and this book was a fun mixture of science, popular culture and history. I hope she writes more general nonfiction because I’m in.
  • Under the Fragipani by Mia Couto
    • This short novel was written by a Mozambican author. I try to break out of my American and European oriented fiction reading when I can, so I was excited to find this book at the last Friends of the Library book sale. Couto combines magical realism with legend and history, which made for a different, but immensely worthwhile, experience.
  • What Objects Mean: An Introduction to Material Culture by Arthur Asa Berger
    • I read Berger’s textbook at the museum to fulfill my self-imposed theory reading requirement for the next few months.
  • Best of Both Worlds: Museums, Libraries and Archives in the Digital Age by G. Wayne Clough
    • Surprisingly, not read for work. Clough is the Secretary of the Smithsonian, and I stumbled upon this free e-book while researching possible textbooks. It had been a while since I read any museum books, and we are working with technology upgrades in our redesign so I set aside some time for this one.
  • Against the Country: A Novel by Ben Metcalf
    • I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. Metcalf’s book combines rural noir genre writing with metafiction in a convoluted twist of run on sentences and large vocabulary choices. Like another reviewer, I thought that I would enjoy this book based on the publicity blurb about suicidal chickens and evil trees. However, I found his prose difficult to impossible to wade through at different junctures, particularly when his multiple parenthetical asides took up more space than the one paragraph main sentence of the chapter. The novel did grow on me towards the second half of the story, but it is not one that I would recommend.
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