Don Hosek - Recent reading

I tend to be a voracious reader, and I read widely. This list has its origins in an old signature file which I would update periodically with the current book that I was reading. That gradually transmogrified itself into the current massive archive with brief reviews.

What I've been reading lately
Number of books read and reviewed each year
1995* (28)
1996 (47)
1997 (74)
1998 (61)
1999 (62)
2000 (27)
2001 (51)
2002 (60)
2003 (37)
2004 (36)
2005 (32)
2006 (46)
2007 (109)
2008 (78)
2009 (65)
2010 (68)
2011 (98)
2012 (129)
2013 (114)
2014 (101)
2015 (26)
* Partial year
Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life edited by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz
[Finished 16 April 2015] Sadly, the only good thing about this book is the Peanuts cartoons interspersed throughout (which comprise pretty much all the best Peanuts cartoons on writing and literature). The short essays that make up the prose of the book are generally rather anodyne and uninteresting. Elmore Leonard’s commentary on his process is really the only gem in the book.

In Defense of Lost Causes by Slavoj Žižek
[Finished 16 April 2015] See my review at

Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine by Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson
[Finished 14 April 2015] A dry and academic account, although that’s not the biggest failure of this book. Instead, it’s the fact that, even though it’s nominally about cuisine, there is very little writing about actual food. How did the meals of the ancien regime become the haute cuisine of post-revolutionary France? Beyond the move from banquet-style service to service a la Russe, there’s no real description of this.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
[Finished 9 April 2015] A bit of a forgotten work, and I kind of feel like some of the forgetting might be justified. There is a bit of a science-fiction element to the story (it’s set a decade into the future from when it was written and features a handful of technological advancements) that’s completely irrelevant, passages of pastiche are marked with asterisks which strikes me as being an indication of a failure of the writing to do its job. The humor of the story is uneven, although when it works, it works wonderfully.

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
[Finished 2 April 2015] This is just an amazing fucking book. Rankine writes about both the major public racism African-Americans face (whether it’s racially motivated killings by civilians and police) and the casual everyday insults that are part of the fabric of ordinary life, such as the waitress returning Rankine’s credit card to her white companion even though that same waitress accepted the card directly from Rankine earlier in the meal. The every day racism accounts are the most powerful, I think, with an incredibly effective use of the second person to transform these events from being the singular account of Rankine’s experiences into something that the reader experiences directly.

Your Neighborhood Gives me the Creeps by Adam Selzer
[Finished 30 March 2015] See my review at

Antología de Cuentos Mexicanos II edited by Ma. del Carmen Millán
[Finished 24 March 2015] Largely composed of stories from the sixties and seventies, this second volume in the series gets into a lot more experimental work with stories pushing the boundaries of the form. I especially enjoyed the two Carlos Fuentes stories in the book, along with contributions from Amparo Dávila, Rosario Castellanos, Jose de la Colina and José Emilio Pacheco.

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast: The Evolutionary Origins of Belief by Lewis Wolpert
[Finished 19 March 2015] See my review at

Clive Barker’s Hellraiser: The Dark Watch Vol. 2 by Clive Barker, Brandon Seifert, Tom Garcia and Korkut Öztekin
[Finished 18 March 2015] I continue to be unimpressed with this comic. It apparently continues for one more volume, which I’m not going to bother to find and read.

The Reprisal by Laudmia Bonanni
[Finished 16 March 2015] A strange book, about a period of Italian history that I know nearly nothing about, when Italy had surrendered, but Germany was still fighting World War II: among the Italians there were divided loyalties that served as the catalyst for the plot of this story with a group of fascists waiting for a woman who may or may not have been a partisan to give birth so they can execute her. The narrator, who often seems to vanish from his own story, serves as an ambiguous character himself, a witness, if not a participant to all the sins that take place.