Winter Break Reading
Chronicle staff pages through its reading to-do list
By Chronicle staff,
9:00AM, Fri. Dec. 26, 2014
The presents are opened, the bellies are overstuffed, and we've exhausted all avenues of chit chat with great uncle Mort. Time to lose ourselves in a book.
“I’m going to miss being in a newsroom with my co-workers over the holidays so much that I'm reading Jake Adelstein's true crime novel, Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan. Actually, it's for my book club, but I will probably miss the Chronicle at least a tiny bit. Working for the Yomiuri Shimbuna (Japan's largest newspaper with a readership of 10 million!!), Adelstein was the only American admitted to the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Press Club. His final scoop on the yakuza (the Japanese mafia) led to death threats for him and his family. That should put any holiday family squabbles in perspective.”
Texts From Jane Eyre: Mallory Ortberg's hilarious exploration of what it would be like if some of the greatest characters in literature expressed themselves through text messages, essentially making them more like us. It's a great way to brush up on – or discover! – the classics, from Greek tragedy to Dickens. The coolest inside joke for English majors and book bugs alike.
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Since Serial left me hanging with no closure.
I've got a holiday break that's going to be filled with Blake Butler's serial-killer magnum opus 300,000,000 (just the sort of thing to screw my brain into the rotting wood of this year's splintery end) and Lynda Barry's last three books for Drawn & Quarterly (just the sort of thing to prime the new year's raw furniture for unfettered painting) and the latest issue of Cabinet magazine (which is a sort of arbor vitae wunderkammer all by itself) and not a single goddam thing about however many trees died to support such printed objects. Although the answer, I'm helplessly aware, is: several dozen.
In lieu of finishing dust-collecting classics Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, I'll probably curl up with a mug of whiskey wassail and the National Book Award nominated Thunderstruck & Other Stories from Elizabeth McCracken. The force is strong with the Ghost of Christmas Past.
The very well-cast and well-executed Starz cable series based on author Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books has reminded me how much I loved them. In preparation for the second half of season one which debuts in April, I'll be rereading the first two books, Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber.
On Christmas Eve I got the chance to thumb through a friend's copy of S., a strange and seductive book collaboration between Austin author Doug Dorst and JJ Abrams, and now I'm headed straight to the bookstore to buy my own copy. And no e-book, either – this is a book that promises real tactile pleasure.
James Beard’s Delights and Prejudices. Before James Beard, being a gastronome meant having a vaguely European name. With his two American syllables, Beard changed everything. Every food writer, celebrity chef, and "foodie" owes him one.
I had planned to read Helen Oyeyemi's novel Mr. Fox, but I started it last weekend and wound up reading it in one very long sitting. It was so bewitching I couldn't bring myself to stop reading. I'll definitely be rereading Rebecca Curtis' short story "The Christmas Miracle," which was published last year. It somehow manages to be both deeply horrifying and strangely uplifting – a true Christmas miracle.
Sam Russek, June 29, 2019
Sarah Marloff, April 22, 2014
May 18, 2018
Dec. 27, 2017
Books, Tokyo Vice, Texts From Jane Eyre, In Cold Blood, 300,000,000, Thunderstruck & Other Stories, Outlander, S., Delights and Prejudices, Mr. Fox, The Christmas Miracle, Doug Dorst, Elizabeth McCracken