What am I hoping Creepy Claus has in his bag this year? He’s going to need a big bag ‘cuz I got a big list . . .
Daniel J. Levitin – This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of Human Obsession: Why does music, or anything non-essential, really, stick with us and make us happy? Author/researcher Levitin was on a local morning show hawking his book a few months back and I found his thoughts fascinating about the physiological reasons why, say, some of us are driven to own thousands of CDs and spend most of their days thinking about music . . . GOT
Dave Eggers – What is the What: I know a lot of people don’t like Eggers’ loose, free style, but I was instantly hooked by his Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and to a slightly lesser extent, You Shall Know Our Velocity. This one, however, is a little different. Eggers uses the true story of Valentino Achak Deng, a refugee from Sudan who comes to the US, as the basis for a fictional memoir. Sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it? Read some of the sample provided by Amazon – it had me hooked and I found myself very frustrated when the 5 page excerpt ended. GOT
John Elder Robison – Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s: The brother of writer Augusten Burroughs proves that the gift is in the genes in his family with this story about dealing with this disorder, which is similar to, but not as crippling as autism. As Amazon seems reluctant to give a sample, check out his site for something to read and you’ll probably see why I wanted to read this, too. It’s not solely about his disorder, it’s about how people cope and live normal lives, and that’s something that always fascinates me. GOT
Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner – Freakonomics: When a coworker suggested this one, I scoffed. A book about statistics? Give me a break. And then I took a look out of curiosity and was riveted. Sure it’s full of statistics, but it’s statistics in relation to other, seemingly unrelated statistics, the writers using both to draw out conclusions about the state of society today and why people do the things they do. Not only that, but it is written with humor and elegance not normally associated with this topic. Seriously, give it a look and I bet you’ll be more fascinated than you thought you would be. GOT
David Sedaris – Box Set: I’ve been reading Sedaris for a few years now and he’s grown to be one of my favorites. He straddles that line between reality and uncomfortably realistic. He writes from his own experiences, maybe not completely 100% true stories but more pieces crafted to represent the Truth of the experience. In this post James Frey world, it appears a distinction must be made, regardless of how much people enjoyed reading what the author wrote, and Sedaris makes no attempt to conceal the fact that he writes exaggerations of his real life. Really, does it matter? Why? You liked reading it, it meant something to you, what damned difference does it make if the guy lived it exactly as he wrote it or not? But I digress. GOT
Alissa and I saw David Sedaris when he stopped in Scottsdale on his book reading tour a few years ago, and it’s an event that has stayed with me since then. While I loved his writing before then, what happened since then is that the writing took on a third dimension, and I find it almost impossible not to imagine his distinctive voice reading the words out of his books directly to me in my head, something I have a feeling he might find disturbing. And here, in this box, is a bunch of CDs of recordings of his readings so I always have the ability to do just that. I’ll always prefer actually reading a book over listening to one, but Sedaris’ readings have a special charm that I’ve never experienced before.
Santa, have at it. There’s something like 38 choices for you to choose from. I’m not going to fall for that “sit on my lap” routine, but I will leave cookies out for you. Dig in. Just be sure and leave some good stuff behind. Oh, and clean up after those reindeer. By the time I find their shit on the roof it’s turned to little smelly rocks.