Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More books read

I'm continuing on my journey to read 75 books in 2012. At the moment I'm on pace for 180, but I expect that to slow down soon. If nothing else, all but one of my eight Rita books was on the short side, while War and Peace, which I plan to start after I turn in my manuscript for An Infamous Marriage, is...not.

24) Social Q's, by Philip Galanes. Etiquette for today's world by the author of the New York Times advice column. I heard the author interviewed on Fresh Air and decided to pick this one up at the library. Galanes doesn't have the same level of insight, wit, and elegant prose as Miss Manners, but this was a fun, quick read. Galanes's advice boils down to chill out, think before speaking, and tolerate others' foibles as you would have them tolerate your own.

25) Book Which Must Not Be Named (6 of 8). I'm going to continue to be a good judge and not say anything that might reveal the identity of this Rita entry, but suffice it to say it was a disappointment compared to the rest of my panel.

26) Season of Our Dreams: the 2010 Auburn Tigers, by Van Allen Plexico and John Ringer. As a sports fan, I have a knack for falling in love with snakebitten teams and athletes. In baseball, Mr. Fraser and I hold a 16-game plan (i.e. partial season ticket strip) with the Mariners, who in 2001 put together the best regular season EVER, only to fall short in the playoffs. Ever since, they've either outright sucked or flirted with contention only to fall apart down the stretch. My all-time favorite figure skater is Michelle Kwan, she who won everything BUT Olympic gold.

And then there's Auburn. I'm not an alumna (I went to Penn, which is not to be confused with Penn State and is not at ALL a football school), but I grew up in Alabama, in an Auburn family, and it's my oldest brother's alma mater. Living thousands of miles from my native state, I find myself asserting the Southern part of my identity on fall Saturdays, watching SEC football and cheering on my Tigers. But if the SEC West is the AL East (and really, we are--I can understand why the rest of the college football world hates us), Auburn is the Red Sox to Alabama's Yankees.

But in 2010, at last, it all went RIGHT. Improbably, awesomely right. Season of Our Dreams chronicles that year, largely by excerpting blog posts Plexico and Ringer made during the course of the year. There isn't much context in the form of game summaries--it relies on the reader to remember all that--but it made for a fun stroll down memory lane, allowing me to relive one of my teams FINALLY winning the big one during what for me is the lull between football ending and baseball starting again.

27) Book Which Must Not Be Named (7 of 8). Like my fifth Rita book, this one pleasantly surprised me. I'm not this book's target market, but I can recognize and reward tight, subtle writing and solid execution when I see it.

28) Book Which Must Not Be Named (8 of 8). My last Rita book was just plain average.

29) Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Lost Adventures. Another graphic novel, more like a graphic anthology, to tide me over till The Legend of Korra comes out. This one had some nice character vignettes, all set in the same time frame as the original TV series. I especially liked Sokka challenging Zuko to "swordbending," and really all the Zuko interactions from after he switched sides for good--there were all these tiny, subtle little touches where you could see he was simultaneously the most mature and the most fragile and damaged of the team. Mm, characterization, and in a kids' show/comic!

30) No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice, by Judith Martin. I picked this up because the author is better known as Miss Manners, whom I've already praised above. Now I've learned that she's a serious Venetophile, spending a portion of every year there. She writes an enjoyable, anecdotal love letter to Venice that didn't quite make me share her passion, but did give me a vicarious taste of it. (I haven't been there yet, and while it's certainly on my list of places I want to go, I don't feel the same hunger I have to finally see Paris or Rome, and I don't think I'll love it the way I do London or Edinburgh.)

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