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{ Category Archives } Books I Read

I always thought IKEA was kinda creepy, OR: Horrorstör – creepy by design

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix This remarkable, entertaining horror novel has a simple premise: a haunted IKEA.  It’s not actually the Swedish flat-pack behemoth, of course, but an also-ran called ORSK, a fictional store designed, the narrator asserts, to copy IKEA as closely as possible.  The tale follows Amy, her supervisor Basil, and a couple other […]

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson Months and months ago, I started In the Garden of Beasts and while it was good, the slow ramp up to the intense story didn’t quite grip me.  I stopped about sixty pages in, just, as it turns […]

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe; narrated by Wil Wheaton If you don’t read XKCD or Munroe’s weekly “What If?” column over at xkcd.com, you’re really missing out.  This book collects some of the best What If columns, plus adds a bunch of new ones.  It’s a simple premise: […]

The Wanderer

The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber I’ve read my fair share of old science fiction.  (By old here, I generally mean things written before 1980.)  I acknowledge this line is relatively arbitrary, but so am I.  Some old sf gets dated pretty quickly, and feels foreign and a little weird.  The Cosmic Computer comes to mind.  […]

Sous Chef

Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney, narrated by Fred Berman Sous Chef is part detailed explanation, part memoir, part battle narrative.  It recalls a day in the life of the assistant chef at a mid-level “star rated” restaurant in New York.  Gibney does a great job explaining both what the day […]

Maze Runner

Maze Runner by James Dashner Thomas wakes in a wide clearing, surrounded by boys who tell him that he’s now trapped in the center of a massive maze that changes every night and is patrolled by robotic-organic death beasts with blades and needles.  The boys know they’re being watched by the “Creators” and they get […]

Pigs Have Wings

Pigs Have Wings by P.G. Wodehouse Two gentlemen with big manors face off in a legendary fat pig growing contest, and right in the middle is the brother of one of the men, Gally Threepwood.  Of course, there’s some confusion with mis-matched lovers, a farce involving an uptight butler and stolen pigs, and an awful […]

Dispatches from the Age of Electracy: Empire State’s Worldbuilder

When my students and I talk about the digital age, one of the changes we trace is the relationship between author and audience.  In oral cultures, the relationship is direct — the one telling you the story is standing within earshot, so you can ask questions and work out details together.  Literacy changes that, separating […]

Empire State

Empire State by Adam Christopher; narrated by Phil Gigante The dark and shadowy world of Empire State is kind of like New York in the late 20s, but not quite.  This tale of adventure, mystery, weird technology, and haunting atmosphere will have you running in circles, marveling at the buildings, and peering into the fog.  […]

Comics Roundup: The Spirit, Deadpool, Luthor

The Spirit: Femmes Fatales by Will Eisner I have, of course, heard about Will Eisner’s The Spirit plenty, so when I saw this collection at my library, I thought I’d give it a try.  Not a best first collection for the new reader of the Spirit.  While some of the adventures are entertaining, the book […]

21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology

21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology Edited by Christopher Golden Each year, I pick a different anthology of zombie stories to read with my Zombies in Popular Media class.  This year’s collection was pretty good.  A few highlights: “Why Mothers Let Their Babies Watch Television: A Just-so Horror Story” by Chelsea Cain.  Written with the […]

Comics Roundup: Judge Dredd 3 & 4, Two-Step, Grindhouse

Judge Dredd, Volumes 3 and Volume 4 by Duane Swierczynski and Nelson Daniel Volume 3 finds Dredd in the wastelands, trying to track down criminals to save Mega-City one from “The Big Fail.”  Think of it as “Dredd visits The Hills Have Eyes.”  It’s a delightful, if goofy, adventure for everyone’s favorite Clint Eastwood doppelganger.  […]

Farside

Farside written by Ben Bova; narrated by Stephan Rudnicki On the far side of the moon, a new observatory is building the biggest telescopes ever crafted by Man.  These massive instruments, combined with the Moon’s airless surface, and the far-side’s shelter from the brightness of the Earth, give its scientists the ability to see things […]

Unholy Night

Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith What if the Three Wise Men of the nativity story weren’t, in fact, scholars, but were rather disguised thieves on the run from Herod?  And what if they happened upon a young woman and her husband and the baby they said was destined for great things?  And what if there […]

Thinking about dead bodies: Stiff, by Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach, narrated by Shelly Frasier As always, Mary Roach explores a topic of interest and (perhaps) disgust with tact, verve, and lots of humor.  In this book–the first of her science books–Roach explores the myriad ways we deal with death and dead bodies, and explains how […]