Books I’d Like to Read in 2021

A short fiction where I pretend to you, dear reader, that I am still capable of reading more than a book a week.

  1. Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha by Daniel M. Ingram
  2. Fool on the Hill by Mark Sargent
  3. The Omnibus Homo Sacer by Giorgio Agamben
  4. Cargill Falls by William Lychack [x]
  5. Black Imagination by Natasha Marin (Editor)
  6. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  7. Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth by Marilyn Waring
  8. Deep Adaptation by Jem Bendell [x]
  9. The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limon [x]
  10. Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen
  11. Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures by Mary Ruefle [x]
  12. How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong
  13. Hexaflexagons and Other Mathematical Diversions by Martin Gardner
  14. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology by Gregory Bateson
  15. Are Women Human?: And Other International Dialogues by Catharine A. MacKinnon
  16. War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empires by Peter Turchin
  17. Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind by Alan Jacobs
  18. Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book by Walker Percy
  19. Take the Long Way Home: Memoirs of a Survivor by Susan Gordon Lydon
  20. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum
  21. Ball Four by Jim Bouton
  22. The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men by Robert Jensen [x]
  23. The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
  24. Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World by Olga Khazan
  25. The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics by Christopher Lasch
  26. Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold
  27. On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
  28. Another Birth by Forough Farrokhzad
  29. Darkness Spoken by Ingeborg Bachmann
  30. So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ
  31. Oblivion Seekers by Isabelle Eberhardt
  32. The Neopolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
  33. Machines in the Head by Anna Kavan
  34. The Selected Poems of Rosario Castellanos by Rosario Castellanos
  35. Mad in Pursuit by Violette Leduc
  36. The Wedding by Dorothy West
  37. The Hebrew Bible by Robert Alter
  38. The Red Book: Liber Novus by C.G. Jung
  39. New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
  40. Heart of the Original by Steve Aylett
  41. On the Brink of Paradox by Augustin Rayo
  42. The Commonwealth series by Peter F. Hamilton
  43. Notes on the Synthesis of Form by Christopher W. Alexander
  44. Sandworm by Andy Greenberg
  45. Women, Race & Class by Angela Y. Davis
  46. A Passion For Friends by Janice G. Raymond
  47. The Precipice by Toby Orb
  48. Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump
  49. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
  50. Primeval & Other Times by Olga Tokarczuk
  51. Consuming the Romantic Utopia by Eva Illouz
  52. Tools for Conviviality by Ivan Illich

Cain’s Jawbone

“Cain’s Jawbone, a 100-page-long murder mystery puzzle, was last cracked in 1935 when two puzzlers claimed £15 in winnings, just a year after it was originally published.

Now a British comedian has solved the literary puzzle for the first time in 85 years, after submitting the correct solution shortly before the closing of a new year-long competition.

—Jessica Carpani, “British comedian solves world’s ‘most difficult literary puzzle’ becoming third winner in 100 years.” The Telegraph. November 4, 2020.

Play the Plot: Tabletop Games for Your Favorite Fantasy Book

“In honor of this glorious, beautiful, multitude of games that are just begging to be played, I’ve set up a few tabletop roleplaying games with some new pieces of genre fiction. I tried to pick out games that have been written recently, and none that originated in the 70s! Take a look, and maybe support a game or two. We’ll start with Fantasy, diving right in with games and books that go from epic to short, historical to urban, so take a deep breath, and let’s dive in.”

Linda H. Codega, “Play the Plot: Tabletop Games for Your Favorite Fantasy Book.” Tor.com. October 5, 2020.

Social Chronophage

“The social industry doesn’t just eat our time with endless stimulus and algorithmic scrolling; it eats our time by creating and promoting people who exist only to be explained to, people to whom the world has been created anew every morning, people for whom every settled sociological, scientific, and political argument of modernity must be rehashed, rewritten, and re-accounted, this time with their participation.

These people, with their just-asking questions and vapid open letters, are dullards and bores, pettifoggers and casuists, cowards and dissemblers, time-wasters of the worst sort…Time is not infinite. None of us can afford to spend what is left of it dallying with the stupid and bland.”

—Max Read, “Going Postal.” Book Forum. Sept/Oct/Nov 2020.

Review of Richard Seymour’s The Twittering Machine, which is worth reading in its own right.

h/t Velcro City Tourist Board.

The Street Art Manual

“Bill Posters wants to teach people how to hack the streets. The graphic artist, activist and researcher (real name Barney Francis) has written an “illicit, tactical guide to creating art in public”. The Street Art Manual is an 11-step guide to street art covering the basics of graffiti and stencil work as well as providing an in-depth look at social media-grabbing work like urban murals.”

—Henry Wong, “‘It stops the one-way flow of corporate bullshit’: graphic artist Bill Posters on subvertising.” Design Week. August 27, 2020.

The fact that this article is from a trade rag for advertising creatives says volumes.

Available via Rough Trade. h/t The Quietus.

Joe Biden Profile

“Richard Ben Cramer wrote a great book about the 1988 presidential campaign, entitled “What It Takes: The Way to the White House.” It may be the best book about an American presidential campaign ever written. Mr. Cramer followed six candidates who ran that year — George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Gary Hart, Joe Biden, Dick Gephardt and Mike Dukakis. The Bush and Dole portraits are hands-down the best profiles of those two men that you will ever read. The book’s added value this time around is Cramer’s profile of Biden. You feel like you know him after you read it.”

—John Ellis, “Sunday Supplement!” News Items. August 9, 2020.

Action Park

“It was not long before our visitors reworked our advertising to better reflect their experiences: ‘Action Park: Where you’re the center of the accident.’

The risk did not keep people away. The risk is what drew them to us…

…Action Park has become a campfire tale, an urban legend, a can-you-believe-this snapshot of our culture that seemed to pre-date liability laws and lawyers.”

—Andy Mulvihill, “Remembering Action Park, New Jersey’s Deranged Theme Park, ‘Where You’re the Center of the Accident’“. Esquire. July 2, 2020.

Loved this excerpt, and plan to read the book.