Tag Archives: on our nightstand

On Our Nightstand, July 20th-26th

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

Anna in Brentwood
The Thieves of Manhattan
By Adam Langer
Like last year’s delightful How I Became a Famous Novelist, Thieves is a playful skewering of the book world that displays surprising insight about the creative urge. To be honest (an important issue in this book), it never even made it to my nightstand because I zipped through it in less than a day.

Geo in Brentwood
The Idea of Communism
By Tariq Ali
A thoughtful short book (or long essay, whichever you prefer) that examines the evolution of Communism, from the theory that Marx and Engels bring forth in The Communist Manifesto to its many derivations: Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, Maoism… The -isms are infinite and, Ali argues, grow further and further from what Marx and Engels had perceived in the first place.

John Peck in Oakland
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
By David Mitchell
After taking genre-bending fiction to incredible heights with his first three novels, it’s been interesting to see David Mitchell stick to more traditional narrative structures on his fourth and fifth (Black Swan Green and Thousand Autumns, respectively). I’m about a third of the way through this book, and loving it—I’m resisting the urge to dog-ear my favorite pages, so it’s filling up with little scraps of paper as I make my way through it.

Thea in Malibu
Ceremony
By Leslie Marmon Silko
Ceremony tells the story of Tayo, a young Native American trying to navigate the clash of his traditional identity with the damaging aftermath of WWII. Silko’s writing is beautiful, poignant, and moving. Not to be missed!

Thomas in Brentwood
Don Quixote
By Miguel de Cervantes (trans. by Edith Grossman)
The noble quests of Donny Q reassure that chivalry is a battle still worth fighting. Grossman’s translation captures Cervantes’ distinctly modern wit that keeps him so relevant.

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On Our Nightstand, July 13th-19th

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

Anna in Brentwood
Somebody Everybody Listens To
By Suzanne Supplee
A realistic and heartfelt young adult novel about a teenage girl from the small-town South who tries to set her dreams of becoming a country singer in motion. I don’t know much about country music, but Supplee does a great job of capturing how music of any kind can convey and intensify emotion.

Geo in Brentwood
Poor People
By William T. Vollmann
I can always count on William Vollmann’s work to challenge me intellectually and philosophically. Poor People is no exception.

John Peck in Oakland
Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter
By Tom Bissell
Every art form based on new technology spends its first few decades in a sort of limbo, during which any attempt to valorize it as art is smacked down by the guardians of high culture. As video games near their third decade, the argument for games as art is gradually, but surely, becoming irrefutable. As a gamer, I’ve been waiting a long time for a good book-length study of one of my favorite activities, obsessions, and yes, art forms.

Kim in Malibu
About a Mountain
By John D’Agata
It would have been easy for essayist John D’Agata to rant about how storing nuclear waste inside a mountain is a really, really bad idea. Instead, he weaves together the facts of the Yucca Mountain, Nevada, project with wit, insight, and surprising cross references, ultimately revealing just how little we can truly know about anything.

Thomas in Brentwood
The Man With the Golden Arm
By Nelson Algren
Nelson Algren’s The Man With the Golden Arm is crass, dirty and unrelenting. I am gladly submerged in the tremendous daily follies of Algren’s post-WWII burnouts and users.

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On Our Nightstand, July 6th-12th

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

Anna in Brentwood
The Hole We’re In
By Gabrielle Zevin
A fascinating and brutal look at the financial crisis through the story of one family. Zevin’s unflinching characterization and dark humor make this book hard to read—and at the same time, impossible to put down.

Elise in Oakland
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
By Haruki Murakami
My previous encounters with Murakami didn’t leave me a fan, so I was reluctant to read this. But it’s amazing—dreamy, but still rooted in reality. There are a lot of storylines but they’re not hard to follow because I’m interested in every single one of the characters.

Geo in Brentwood
God’s Lunatics
By Michael Largo
An A-Z reference guide about the funnier, stranger side of religion. Entertaining, eerie, and a tad bit disturbing!

John Peck in Oakland
The Return
By Roberto Bolano
After reading the 900+ page epic 2666, this book of Bolano’s short fiction is like dessert.

Kim in Malibu
The Laws of Simplicity
By John Maeda
The annoyingly multitalented John Maeda (MIT professor! RISD president! Graphic design superstar!) examines the idea that less can actually be more—or at least, more meaningful—in relation to design, technology, business, and life in general. Seeing as how Maeda’s ideas often blossom into iconic, why-didn’t-we-think-of-this-sooner epiphanies, I expect to learn a lot from this slim volume.

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On Our Nightstand, June 29th-July 5th

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

Anna in Brentwood
A Single Man
By Christopher Isherwood
I never got a chance to see the Oscar-nominated film adaptation, but reading the descriptive, dreamlike, emotionally-charged novel, I don’t see how the experience could be made any more visceral.

Colin in Oakland
Guards! Guards!
By Terry Pratchett
I normally don’t read sci-fi/fantasy, and I thought I was too cool for Terry Pratchett. But it turns out he’s smarter than I am! This book is funny and witty and just really, really good. Consider me converted.

Geo in Brentwood
Microscripts
By Robert Walser
These 25 short pieces are the first English translations, selected from Walser’s six-volume German original. Walser printed these stories on tiny strips of paper, legible only through a magnifying glass or microscope. Luckily for us, they’ll been enlarged for our reading pleasure. This edition, however, includes facsimilies of both the original microscripts and the German texts.

John Evans
Antwerp
By Roberto Bolano
In a beautiful edition from New Directions — small format black and gold covers, without jacket, red endpapers, creamy paper and black ink — Antwerp is a poetic distillation of Bolano’s sensibility. Reading it slowly.

Jon Stich in Oakland
Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It
By Geoff Dyer
False advertising alert: this book is not actually about yoga. Instead it’s a collection of travel essays. Very funny, in that distinctly British sort of way.

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On Our Nightstand, June 22nd-28th

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

Anna in Brentwood
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
By Flannery O’Connor
If you’ve never read it, the title story will provide one of the biggest literary shocks of your life. I’m still reeling!

Geo in Brentwood
Nature and Selected Essays
By Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson’s essays are staunch defenses of individualism. They are each positive and affirming, and they are just as powerful read in today’s society as in Emerson’s time.

Grant in Oakland
Perfecting Sound Forever
By Greg Milner
This topic could very easily be boring, but in Milner’s hands it’s totally not. He brings a lot of fascinating social history, such as race relations, into his narrative of recorded music.

John Peck in Oakland
Martyrology Books 1 & 2
By bpNichol
I’m rereading this gorgeous epic poem from the late Canadian experimentalist. In case you doubt the depth of my feelings for this book: I have a tattoo of the second to last illustration on my left arm.

Miles in Malibu
The Amazing Adventures of a Marginally Successful Musician
By Bill Cinque
A hilarious look at the joys, wonders, and harsh realities of being a professional musician, as told by someone who’s been in the business over 30 years. A must read for all musicians, or anyone unfortunate enough to have to deal with one on a regular basis.

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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
Working
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
Nemesis
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, June 8th-14th

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

Anna in Brentwood
I Know I Am, But What Are You?
By Samantha Bee
The Daily Show correspondent’s memoir is laugh-out-loud funny and at times oddly touching. And not just in the bad-touch kind of way.

Cheryl in Brentwood
Light Boxes
By Shane Jones
I’m from back east, so I’m experiencing both nostalgia and pleasant schadenfreude in reading this novel about a small town stuck in perpetual February.

Colin in Oakland
Role Models
By John Waters
It’s John Waters! He’s a crazy, sick guy, who’s really funny and yet still humane. All kind of people are included in this autobiography, in which Waters explores his own life through the stories of people he’s admired.

Geo in Brentwood
The Sun and the Moon
By Matthew Goodman
A quirky and entertaining history book, taking place in 19th century New York, about a newspaper that runs a story about life on the moon, including beavers, unicorns, and lunar man-bats. You can’t make that stuff up (except that they did).

Nell in Malibu
Life of Pi
By Yann Martel
An interesting examination of religion, imagination, and creative storytelling.

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