This post is inspired by one from Calmgrove, who was himself inspired by one at AnnaBookBel, who borrowed the idea from someone else, and so on and so on. I’m at least 5th generation on this thing, and I hope further readers decide to tag-on to this topic.
1. The last book I gave up on. Nicholas Gannon’s The Doldrums and the Helmsley Curse. I’d just finished the first book in this series (The Doldrums) and found it enjoyable enough to try the second, but I lost interest about 30 pages in. Gannon’s illustrations are wonderful, but the dense plot was more than I wanted — I could ignore the similarities to Harry Potter in the first book, but not in the second. Still, perhaps someday. (Both books borrowed from NYPL’s e-reader service.)
2. Last book I re-read. Eric Ambler’s The Mask of Dimitrios, one of my favorite thrillers. This is a case of saw-the-movie-and-had-to-read-the-book. First saw the movie in the 1960s, first read the book in the 1990s (yes, it took me 30 years to find a copy). This duo is top on my list of great book-to-film adaptations.
3. Last book I bought. For about 2 years now, I’ve been trying not to bring more books into my apartment, but I couldn’t resist preordering Bookforms: A complete guide to designing and crafting hand-bound books, a new publication from NYC’s Center for Book Arts, where I’ve been taking classes in bookbinding and letterpress. The authors are the Center’s book binding instructors, some of whom I’ve worked with. Buying this from the Center (and not from any on-line retailer) supports the Center. My copy will be available at the end of this month, and I rub my hands in gleeful anticipation.
4. Last book I said I read but actually didn’t. Is this something people do? Am I being an insufferable snob by asking that question?
5. Last book I wrote in the margins of. Ambler’s Mask of Dimitrios makes its second appearance on the list here. I’m always writing in margins, even if just to bracket a passage I really like, but also whenever I find quotes that might work as epigrams for my novels (yes, I found one in Ambler that perfectly fit my current WIP). One of the frustrations of reading library books — whether analog or digital — is that I can’t write in them! Waaaa! Another first world problem!
6. Last book I had signed. Gene Luen Yang’s Shadow Hero, a graphic YA novel about a Chinese superhero. Yang spoke at a conference in NYC in 2015, explaining the literary value of graphic novels (his audience were already believers). I’d brought Shadow Hero to show I’d read something besides his biggest hit, American Born Chinese (another excellent graphic novel, but he must be tired of signing its title page). When he signed my book, he drew a turtle above his signature. He and I also spoke briefly about books by Maxine Hong Kingston and Frank Chin, and about the Chinese workers who built much of the western end of the Trans-American Railroad.
7. Last book I lost. I don’t lose books, but I do give them away occasionally, and sometimes I lend them, but I keep a list of the latter. A neighbor currently has Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale — which reminds me, I need to see if she has finished it so that I can reclaim it.
8. Last book I had to replace. See above, numbers 7 and 3.
9. Last book I argued over. More like forced friends — and even slight acquaintances — to read: George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo, which everyone really ought to read. (See, I’m doing it again.)
10. Last book I couldn’t find. Couldn’t find where? on my own shelves? Keep looking — it’s there somewhere. At the library or bookstore? If that’s the case, it’s usually something by Beryl Bainbridge. If I find one of her books that I don’t have, I will buy it. But as I have a nearly complete BB collection, I think I’m good. And please, I really do have enough books.
And there you have it. Have I got you thinking about your own answers? If so, tag on!