I love a New Year. Time to clear out the baggage of the year before and start fresh. It’s time, too, when I challenge myself to read 100 books in the next 12 months. I’ve set the challenge for about 18 years now, and have yet to actually succeed. But, you know, perusing various publisher’s sites and coming soon-type articles, the pickings are so good over these first few months, that this could be my year…
But then, I say that every year.
Here’s a sample of my exciting reading for 2009 (if I get through these, that’s just 96 to go!):
by Kat Von D
Nothing about Kat Von D is conventional, so it’s no surprise her first book features a unique padded red cover, ornate type, and parchment pages. It’s a work of art, just like its brattily beautiful author. The book promises the lady’s in depth perspectives on contemporary tattooing, and offers a look into her own artistic development. Much as I’m looking forward to reading about those things, I really want this for the photos. Kat’s work is transcendent.
Handling the Dead
by John Ajvide Lindqvist
If you’ve read John Ajvide Lindqvist’s previous novel, Let the Right One In, you’ll likely know why this one both excites and frightens me. If this one is anything like that one, there are going to be times I wished I’d picked up The Secret Life of Bees so I perhaps wouldn’t have to confront descriptions of acid-burned faces pressed into bathroom concrete. Of course, however, it’s the daring and ultra full-on nature of Lindqvist’s otherwise rather sweet storytelling that makes it all such an adventure. In Handling the Dead, folks are rising from their resting places in the city morgue and looking for home. I can’t wait to experience this writer’s take on the zombie genre.
by Ryan Adams
He’s like whiskey -- you need him, he knows it, bites as he goes down, warms when he hits the spot. All I really know about Infinity Blues is what the pre-release hype tells me: Cameron Crowe calls it “soul poetry”, Eileen Myles says it’s “better than reading a friend’s journal”, and Stephen King reckons it’s brilliant, too. I think I’m ready to slot this one on the special bookshelf next to The Energy of Slaves.
It’s Not Necessarily the Truth
by Jaime Pressly
And it’s a great title. No room for argument there. Pressly has risen in a very short time from sexy model and movie eye-candy to Emmy-nominated actress -- not the easiest of progressions, right? How many stars of late-night Skinemax fare like Poison Ivy 3 have seen half as much success? I must know how she managed that. And I hope she discusses her sweetly tragic stint on Punk’d.
by Niccolo Ammaniti
As with Let the Right One In, translated from its original Swedish, Ammaniti’s I’m Not Scared introduced me to the literature of another country and culture, introducing me to world perspectives I’d not previously experienced in my reading. I’m Not Scared is an amazing book, with the most breathtaking final act. The Crossroads interests me because it features similar themes, about young men watching their elders make bad, bad decisions. This time Cristiano waiting and watching as his father plots an ATM theft with a converted tractor. Something tells me the plan won’t go smoothly.
by Stephen King
Simon and Schuster, January
Whether it’s in depth analysis like Danse Macabre or film reviewing in Entertainment Weekly, right back to those “Dear Reader” letters he’d put in his old short story collections, Stephen King doing any sort of non-fiction writing just excites me. This book looks especially cool, as the author looks at five of his stories made into films. Of the five he revisits, only one, in my opinion (often the opposite of King’s in EW -- Funny Games the best movie of the year? Steve, you are nuts, dude!), is of any real worth as a film, and that’s The Shawshank Redemption. I must know what he thinks of the awful Children of the Corn adaptation, and I’d like a real explanation for the stupid ending to 1408. King’s candor is always fun, so I expect big things, including major bickering in my head between King and I.
Handle with Care
by Jodi Picoult
Simon and Schuster, March
If Ryan Adams is like whiskey, then Jodi Picoult is a strong peppermint latte with cream. She’s sweet and soothing, but she bites, too. And she’s addictive. Picoult is the queen of the family drama, taking key issues of the day -- medical, legal, social -- and providing insight into what life is like for those “others” who actually experience child suicide, sex attacks, heart transplants, school massacres, and every other human headline event. This time she’s tackling brittle bone disease, abortion, child’s rights, wrongful birth, and the meaning of family. It’s a lot to fit into one story, but such layers and textures are what Jodi does best.
by Tom Robbins
Which bring me to my most anticipated release of the New Year, and possibly the year in full. A new Tom Robbins book is cause to celebrate. This is his first novel since 2003 -- a children’s book about beer. Robbins is now with Ecco, making him a stable mate beside his heroes Leonard Cohen and Charles Bukowski. The press release for this one calls it an “hallucinogenic hymn to beer, children, and the cosmic mysteries that sustain us all.” I hope this one sets forth to solve some of those cosmic mysteries. I’m quite convinced Tom Robbins holds those answers, and serves them up piece by piece through crazy phrases, big thumbs, and spoons trapped in drawers with vibrators. This one might become my Bible.
Happy Reading New Year.