The post was called My Year of 11,000 Pages. It was a diary of sorts, looking back on my plan to read 33 books while I was 33 years old. Maybe you read it. More likely, you started to read it, realized how ridiculously long it was, then stopped somewhere in the middle.
I was really quite proud of it, both as an accomplishment and as a piece of writing. A friend suggested I shop it around a little, to see if maybe a larger publication might be interested in using it. I gave that some serious thought, but ultimately it was the advice of another acquaintance, a professional writer who got his start by posting on his own blog, which rang most true to me. This was my idea. Why give it to someone else? Why not try to grow it on my own and see if maybe it catches on.
And so, here we are.
Consider these- now monthly- posts half book review/half reading journal. They’ll be part chronicle of intellectual curiosity and part naked attempt to show off the size of my information intake. Each one will cover the 7th day of the previous month thru the 6th day of the current one. Unlike the original, I’m not setting any specific number as a goal to be completed by the end of year this time. Instead, I’ll just read and see what happens.
Up All Night by Carol Miller- 293 pages
The first thing I did after finishing my 33 books while I’m 33 mission was stop reading. I went a week without picking up a book. But then I couldn’t hold out anymore. I’m a slave to routine and for the past year my routine involved filling any and all dead time with a book. It turns out, I like that. It makes me feel like I’m not wasting time.
The second thing I did was buy an iPad. Carol Miller’s memoir was the first e-book I ever read. I downloaded it from Amazon and read it using the Kindle App. The first thing I noticed is that reading this way makes it hard to determine how long a boo actually is. The Kindle App gives you some sort of progress tracker on the bottom of the screen, but its hard to determine how long an actual page is, which, in turn, makes it hard to determine how long it will take to finish the book. That means the end just sort of jumps up on you. The emotional arc of reading a book takes a bit of a hit.
In the case of this book, though, I didn’t mind it ending suddenly. Carol Miller is a classic rock DJ in New York. For most of her career, she’s done the night shift on whatever the city’s top rock station is at the time. Right now, that’s Q104. I expected this book to be full of awesome stories about musicians behaving badly and future stars showing potential in the years before they hit it big. Somehow, that’s not hear. There are stories about a fre rockers (Miller dated Steven Tyler and Paul Stanley and was on of Bruce Springsteen’s early champions) but every one of her stories ends with the rock stars being perfect gentleman and treating her respectfully. The real villains are her bosses at the various radio stations, who seem to verbally and sexually assault her at an alarming rate. Miller talks about bosses grabbing her chest or jamming their hands up her skirt as if its just another annoyance. She seems oddly disconnected from her own life experiences. And there’s a TON of Yiddish.
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon- 480 pages
For this book, I moved from the Amazon Kindle App to Apple’s iBooks. Many of the same problems remained, but like most Apple products, IBooks just looks better. So, it’s now my e-reader of choice.
Telegraph Avenue is the latest ” must read” novel to be written by one of the so-called voices of a generation. And like Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom,” before it, I think the hype far outweighs the product. Chabon’s novel is just OK. It has a million characters and takes so much time introducing them that it runs out of space for those characters to actually do anything. The book takes place in 2004 and, at one point, a then-Senate candidate Barack Obama makes an appearance. In a profile of Chabon I read in New York Magazine, this was presented as an act of fearless story telling. In my actual experience, it seemed like a stupid two second cameo that didn’t need to exist. Maybe I would have felt differently if the appearance came as a surprise, but that article ruined it for me before I got there. Thanks a lot, New York Magazine.
I’m Dying Up Here by William Knoedelseder -304 pages
Marc Maron made a passing reference to this book on a recent episode of WTF. It’s about the stand up comics’ strike against the Comedy Store in LA in the late 70′s. What strike? Exactly. I knew nothing about this very interesting time in comedy history. The book also chronicles the early years of guys like Letterman, Leno and Richard Lewis. It’s a really great book.