Tag Archives: on our nightstand

On Our Nightstand, October 5th-11th

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

Anna in Brentwood
Half Empty
By David Rakoff
As in his previous collection–Don’t Get Too Comfortable, one of my favorite books of essays ever–the pieces in this book delve into a vast array of subjects with Rakoff’s perversely reassuring pessimism.

Grant in Oakland
Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence
By George Michelsen Foy
A personal journey through one of the noisiest places on earth – New York City – and its opposites – a snowy forest, an underground mine, an anechoic chamber – in search of absolute silence and what that means.

John Evans
Introduction to Sufism: The Inner Path of Islam
By Eric Geoffroy
Why not take a good look at the heart of Islam and its messages of universal tolerance, love, and peace? I can’t think of a reason.

John Peck in Oakland
The Scott Pilgrim Series
By Bryan Lee O’Malley
Little graphic novels that somehow manage to be simultaneously escapist and true-to-life.

Miles in Malibu
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
By Alain de Botton
The world is full of man-made things. Every day, we use, eat, see, buy, and sell man-made things. But who are these “men,” and how does “making” “things” affect their lives and the lives around them? De Botton’s meditation on labor and laborers paints a portrait of the faceless manufacturers of our everyday commodities.

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On Our Nightstand, September 21st-27th

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

Anna in Brentwood
Earth (The Book)
By Jon Stewart, et. al.
Written in the style of a guidebook for all the alien species who may have discovered our planet after we’ve destroyed ourselves, the followup to America (The Book) is hilarious…and just a little bit sad. But focusing on the hilarity–my favorite bit so far may be this description of Saturn: “God liked this planet. So he put a ring on it.”

Cameron in Malibu
Imperium
By Ryszard Kapuscinski
Infamous Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski records his encounters with the Soviet Empire in this series of essays. Beginning with his father’s disappearance in Belarus, Kapuscinski describes the peculiarities of Central Asian satellite republics and the eventual fall of Soviet Russia.

Geo in Brentwood
Henry and June
By Anais Nin
A rather intimate (understatement?) look into Nin’s diaries reveals a provocative and racy account of sex, literature, and psychoanalysis.

Jon Stich in Oakland
Strange As This Weather Has Been
By Ann Pancake
Set in the West Virginia mountains, this novel details how the mining industry has helped to create unnatural disasters whose effects are described through a cast of characters. It reminds me a lot of Timothy Egan‘s The Worst Hard Time, writing and subject wise.

Thomas in Brentwood
Selected Poems
By Paul Verlaine
Un coup de pied au cul.
Une gifle dans le visage.
Un brise dans le coeur.

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On Our Nightstand, September 7th-13th

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

Anna in Brentwood
The Wayward Bus
By John Steinbeck
I decided I wanted to read something fun and relaxing, and somehow this translated into my picking up one of Steinbeck’s goofier, lust-filled novels. Both the version of myself who slogged through Grapes of Wrath in high school and the one who rapturously pored over East of Eden in college would be appalled.

Diane in Brentwood
Growing Up Jung
By Micah Toub
Toub is the son of TWO Jungian psychologists. His writing style is a delight and it’s clear that with all the introspection wafting around his childhood home, he’s as screwed up at the rest of us.

Geo in Brentwood
I Hotel
By Karen Tei Yamashita
Yamashita encapsulates the complex political environment of 1960s San Francisco in a truly ambitious, explosive, and enthralling novel.

John Peck in Oakland
How Did You Get This Number
By Sloane Crosley
Great humor writing, with a refreshing feet-on-the-ground (i.e. not too precious) take on life’s absurdities.

Margaret in Oakland
Lions at Lamb House
By Edwin M. Yoder Jr.
Another of those fabulous finds from Europa Editions–a fictive encounter between Henry James and Sigmund Freud at James’ country estate on the East Sussex coast. Deliciously droll.

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On Our Nightstand, August 31st-September 6th

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

Anna in Brentwood
Mockingjay
By Suzanne Collins
If you’re anywhere between the ages of eight and eighteen, you’re probably all over this already. But all you dignified adults out there would get a lot of pleasure out of this brilliantly conceived and powerfully written young adult series, of which this is the final–and impressively mature–installment.

Colin in Oakland
Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy
By Eric D. Weitz
I picked up Weimar Germany because I wanted to know how the Nazis came to power, but what I found was a history of a fascinating period in its own right. Rife with contradiction, revolution, workers rights, feminism, antisemitism, right-wing and left-wing paramilitaries, the blossoming of modern art and architecture, nudists, depression and hyper-inflation–the 15 years of the Weimar Republic are a microcosm of the 20th Century superbly brought to life in this excellent book.

Geo in Brentwood
The Master and Margarita
By Mikhail Bulgakov
In an excellent role reversal, a customer came into the bookstore and recommended a book for me! This Russian classic about the devil visiting Stalinist Russia is dark, inventive, and wickedly funny.

Kim in Malibu
Better
By Atul Gawande
I have a slight book crush on New Yorker columnist and surgeon extraordinaire, Atul Gawande, who writes about medicine and medical-related issues with sensitivity, intelligence, incredible humanity and very little ego. This particular book (he has written three) talks about the complicated reasons the medical profession succeeds and fails on a performance level both historically and in the present, and reads like the most compelling narrative. Fascinating stuff and highly, highly recommended.

Miles in Malibu
What the Dog Saw
By Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell’s attempt to analyze and find deeper meaning in such mundane subjects as hair dye, ketchup, and dog training is a success. He asks the “more interesting” questions and answers them tactfully and with insight.

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On Our Nightstand, August 24th-30th

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

Alison
The Same River Twice
By Ted Mooney
I am absolutely taken by this moody, atmospheric novel set in contemporary Paris. There are artists, filmmakers, art dealers, and Russian mobsters all swirling around in this well-told tale. It is the kind of story that runs like a film in your head, but I have no idea where it’s going.

Anna in Brentwood
Our Tragic Universe
By Scarlett Thomas
As in her previous novel, The End of Mr. Y, Thomas is brilliant at getting inside the inquisitive, troubled minds of her young female protagonists as they ponder life’s big questions. Plus, every time I read a Thomas novel, I find myself getting recommendations for other books, as her characters are always reading. PopCo made me pick up Survive the Savage Sea, and this one already has me searching for my copy of Aristotle‘s Poetics.

Kim in Malibu
Little Black Book of Stories
By A.S. Byatt
A book of previously uncollected and intriguingly creepy short stories by Byatt that includes the fascinating “A Stone Woman” about a woman who literally morphs into rock. Freak of nature or metaphor? You decide!

Miles in Malibu
Consider the Lobster
By David Foster Wallace
Seeing America through the David Foster Wallace lens is like looking at your favorite food under a microscope. At first you may be unsettled by the inconvenient truths, but you will ultimately be rewarded for reading about the seedy underbelly of the world of dictionary editing, life on the 2000 McCain campaign trail, and the surreal hilarity of adult entertainment conventions. Eat up.

Thomas in Brentwood
The Insufferable Gaucho
By Roberto Bolano
More literary antics from Senor Bolano. An expectedly eclectic collection of incurably ill, insufferable, and ingenious characters. “Jim,” the three-page story that begins the collection, is an absolute knockout: a chili scalding the back of your mouth and a ghost haunting the corners of your memory.

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On Our Nightstand, August 17th-23rd

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

Anna in Brentwood
Night of the Living Trekkies
By Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall
Laugh all you want (I can totally hear you!), but it’s the best zombie book I’ve read since World War Z. And it’s hilarious. So actually, you really can laugh.

Geo in Brentwood
Riding Toward Everywhere
By William T. Vollmann
In this book, Vollmann does what he does best: immerse himself in some crazy experience so he can tell us about it. This time it’s illegal trainhopping. While it doesn’t make me want to risk my life on the rails, I do now fancy a nice little train trip up the coast.

John Evans
The Power of Place: Geography, Destiny, and Globalization’s Rough Landscape
By Harm J. De Blij
For readers of Thomas Friedman and Jared Diamond, a nuanced global perspective which furthers, and corrects, much of their writings. Leave it to a geographer to clarify overwhelmingly vast complexities.

John Peck in Oakland
The Turkish Cookbook: Regional Recipes and Stories
By Nur Ilkin and Sheilah Kaufman
Continuing my world culinary tour with this awesome and very complete cookbook. Contains beautiful photographs of both food and regions of Turkey.

Kim in Malibu
So Long, See You Tomorrow
By William Maxwell
Maxwell might be one of the best mid-century American writers you’ve never heard of, and this book, a slim novella that packs a hefty emotional punch, is quietly satisfying. It was written as the pseudo memoir of a man recounting the events of his childhood growing up in Illinois in the ’20s in the aftermath of a local murder, and, prepositional phrases aside, conjures up such a complex inner world for his characters, I find myself transported.

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On Our Nightstand, August 10th-16th

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

Anna in Brentwood
Super Sad True Love Story
By Gary Shteyngart
I’m very picky about dystopian fiction: it’s incredibly hard to create a vision of our future world that feels vivid but still realistic. Shteyngart’s shallow, artless America feels all too probable, but its people also still seem like people, and you ache for them.

Geo in Brentwood
In Utopia
By J.C. Hallman
The “utopia” concept has always interested me, and apparently it has also interested Hallman because he wrote a great book about it. In Utopia covers anything utopian in both concept and execution, from the history of the word to real-life utopian communities to Pleistocene rewilding.

John Peck in Oakland
Mastering the Art of French Cooking
By Julia Child
After slogging through the weighty cultural history, movie tie-ins, and countless editions of this book, I’ve found that it is, at its core, a beautifully written and expansive cookbook. French cooking is both lavish and simple at the same time—a cuisine that rewards patience is always a worthwhile pursuit.

Thomas in Brentwood
The Skating Rink
By Roberto Bolano
Only three chapters in, Bolano’s characters propel and scatter like gravel thrown from the back tire of a rusted get-away truck.

Veronica in Malibu
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
By Raymond Carver
While not the most optimistic portrait of American life, this collection of short stories is absolutely captivating. Carver’s mastery of his craft is not only beautiful, but inspiring. If only I could make the banality of middle American suburbia sound half as enchanting…

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