Tag Archives: karen

On Our Nightstand, June 15th-21st

Here’s what we’re reading this week at Diesel!

Anna in Brentwood
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
By Aimee Bender
Bender’s second novel is a whimsical concoction, seasoned with enough of the bittersweet to avoid becoming cloying. I’m so excited that she’s going to be here to sign on July 10th!

Geo in Brentwood
By Studs Terkel
My attempt to understand the different class relationships in this country. Terkel’s illuminating oral history presents a variety of voices from all walks of life.

Karen in Oakland
By Jo Nesbo
Nesbo is a musician, economist, and mystery writer who’s really hot in Sweden right now. This is the perfect follow up to Stieg Larsson‘s Millennium Trilogy.

Margaret in Oakland
Deaf Sentence
By David Lodge
From the absolutely hilarious cocktail scene that opens the book, Lodge’s latest novel is hysterical, especially for people of “a certain age.” David Lodge has never written a bad book.

Miles in Malibu
The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
By Oliver Sacks
Case studies from Sacks’ work as a neurologist, which cover everything from savantism to synesthesia. I’m learning about all kinds of things I didn’t think were possible!

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On Our Nightstand, May 11th-17th

Here’s what we’re reading this week at Diesel!

Anna in Brentwood
The Good Son
By Michael Gruber
Picked this up on the recommendation of the fabulous Laura Miller; so far, I’m loving how intelligently-written and politically astute this thriller is.

Colin in Oakland
By Karl Marlantes
The most realistic thing I’ve ever read about Vietnam.

Grant in Oakland
By David Malouf
The most well-written, well-constructed book I’ve read this decade.

Karen in Oakland
The Big Short
By Michael Lewis
Really informative, simply written explanation of the financial crisis: Lewis is great at making a complicated thing seem less complicated.

Nell in Malibu
Cutting for Stone
By Abraham Verghese
A beautifully written historical novel with a truly intriguing plot.

And what about you? Any great reads that you can’t put down?

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Follow the Little Book Road

There’s that old joke about sausage (no, not that one): you may love to eat it, but you don’t want to know how it’s made. Fortunately, we bookworms are safe: the process of creating a book—as depicted by Funnel Inc. for the Madison, Wisconsin, publisher Webcrafters, Inc.—is completely palatable…if apparently performed entirely by the calm, blank-faced people who usually occupy airplane safety information cards. Click on the image above to enlarge it, and have fun tracing your way through the whole epic process. We only wish they’d make a Book Publishing: Vice City video game.

Also fun? Karen in Oakland’s reading of Graham Foust‘s “Difficulty Swallowing”:

But if you really want to level up, check out the full archive of videos and then vote for your favorite here! Prizes and glory await!

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Touched by an Angel

It’s official: angels are the new vampires. The awesome folks at Bookslut are even announcing it (based on the existence of Danielle Trussoni’s new novel Angelology), so you know it’s true. In celebration of this deeply significant cultural shift, here are some of our favorite books featuring the heavenly host.

Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith
This book’s got it all—angels and vampires! In this wonderfully wry YA novel, guardian angel Zachary is demoted after he lets his charge, Miranda—who has made his duties very pleasurable, particularly at “shower time”—get turned into a vampire. Shenanigans ensue, but it’s not all fang-flashing fun and games: as funny as this book is, Smith doesn’t give her bloodsuckers a free moral pass. This is the perfect transitional novel from sharp teeth to shiny pinions.

Angels on Fire by Nancy A. Collins
Struggling artist Lucy finds a fallen angel on her roof, as one does. What we like best about this book is its unusual depiction of heaven and its servants: there’s a clockwork, steampunky vibe to the world the angel Joth inhabits before his tumble. It’s fun getting to watch him discover our world—and himself.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Angels aren’t the focus of this controversial trilogy, though an extremely memorable pair do appear in The Amber Spyglass, the final volume. But besides being a thrilling and imaginative fantasy set in a brilliantly conceived alternate world (the concept of dæmons is so ingenious that, since it didn’t exist, Pullman had to invent it), these books are about some of the biggest questions out there, and are an awesome (in the original sense) reimagining of the battle between Heaven and Hell.

Paradise Lost by John Milton
Of course, this classic version of those events is pretty awesome (let’s go revised version), too. And it’s surprisingly readable. When contemplating Paradise Lost, we always like to think about William Blake‘s classic remark from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: Milton, Blake says, “was a true poet and of the Devils party without knowing it.” (For some bonus Blake, check out yesterday‘s National Poetry Month selection!)

Hellblazer by various authors, Lucifer by Mike Carey, and Preacher by Garth Ennis
Angels in comic book form! In none of these books are these your grandmomma’s angels—unless your grandma was pretty sick and twisted. However, despite being deliberately shocking, all three of these series are frequently theologically fascinating. And a lot of asses get kicked and wing feathers shed, too.

The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox
In the early part of the 19th century, a young winemaker named Sobran sees an angel out in the field behind his house. Sobran and the angel, Xas, talk for a while, and eventually agree to meet every year on the same night. Through the years of Sobran’s mortal life, their bond grows. Knox’s rich prose is seductive, and the relationship between the characters is beautiful and nuanced. It’s a gorgeous and unusual love story.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
Um, best angel book ever? Aziraphale—angel, oenophile, rare book dealer, and “gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide”—teams up with his demon BFF Crowley to stop the apocalypse in the form of four motorcycle-riding “horsemen” and a young antichrist named Adam who just wants to save the whales. This book is hilarious, and in general a thing of great, irrepressible joy. Read it; we have faith that you’ll feel the same.

And if you’re still not feeling fully blessed after that, here’s Oakland’s Karen reading Brian Teare‘s “The Love Poem”:

Check out the full archive here!

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A Moving Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words

In our continuing efforts to conquer YouTube, we are now running a video “Guess the Book” competition, in which you could win a prize:

An extra hint: regular readers of this blog will be at an advantage, as the Mystery Book has been mentioned in one of our recent posts. There! Now you can’t say we never did anything for you!

Thomas in Brentwood also risked being run over by a fury of bloodthirsty drivers likely participating in some sort of Death Race 2000 competition in order to bring you this review of Don DeLillo‘s White Noise:

You should also check out Oakland’s Karen on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Grant on The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, and Sean on Neon Vernacular.

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