Just Quit Already!
Day-by-Day through Year One of Retirement
Here are the books (plus a few magazines and CDs) I checked out from the King County Library System, covering this year. It turned out to be more than 300, just under one a day. Some were memorable. Others — a surprising number of them — I now barely remember anything at all about them. Some, I’m sure, I read a few pages, or a couple of chapters, or skipped around in there and decided it was not for me.
When I opened a chat with the King County Library help desk to tell them I am doing a Year of Reading project so I wanted a list of my activity — but that I can only see the last 100 items (which doesn’t go back far enough), so could they please send me my check-out history starting on 7/1/2015 — they are immediately helpful and responsive. In fact, they send me an excel sheet of my entire history, going back to 2007 when we moved to Bellevue and I started visiting the Newport Branch. (Prior to that I had been an avid user of the Seattle Public Library (mostly the lovely pocket-sized Queen Anne Library but also Ballard and Downtown [a breathtaking Rem Koolhaus design that is a beautiful architectural wonder and is nearly entirely non-functional; many times I have failed to find what I need in there and a few times I’ve got lost wandering the floors and had to double back to my starting point]), and before that the Lincoln Public Library (both Main Downtown and South Street branch) and earlier the Schuyler Library, where ancient Miss Grogan was the librarian (she was scary but not scary enough to keep me away). According to my lengthy record in Bellevue, the first things I checked out in August, 2007 were a DVD of “Aguirre the Wrath of God;” CDs of “Rare & Unreleased Recordings From the Golden Reign of The Queen of Soul” by Aretha Franklin and “Old School” by Koko Taylor; and books “The Book of Vice” by Peter Sagal, “Filthy Shakespeare” by Pauline Kiernan, “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” by Michael Chabon, and “Diablerie” by Walter Mosley.
Here’s what I checked out during my first year of retirement July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.
1 -12. American Bungalow, American Bungalow. American Bungalow, The Atlantic Monthly, The Atlantic Monthly, Goldmine, Goldmine, Goldmine, Q, Q,Q, Q. These are all magazines. You can check out back copies, just not the current copy. Q is a British rock music magazine; in late August, 1987, I was reading a copy of Q in a holding lounge at Heathrow Airport while waiting to be told when we could reboard the plane to Seattle when Enid walked up and said, “Is anybody sitting here?”
13. Find The Good by Heather Lende.
14. The Daybooks Of Edward Weston by Edward Weston.
15. How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest.
16. The Triumph of Seeds by Thor Hanson. I have no natural history background or expertise or even a feel for the subject academically. But I like these books that are written for a more general audience and describe how plants and animals adapt — and even suggest, sometimes, that the plants have intelligence or strategies in reacting to the environment around them. To minimize threats or maximize benefits. Some of these scientists are pretty good writers. I also enjoy reading nature-appreciation authors like Bill Bryson and even some of the nuttier attempts to understand the natural world through human eyes. “Being a Beast,” for example, where the guy tries to figure out animals by sort of living like them. To think like a badger, for example, he crawls in a hole in the ground and stays there for a while. By turns, as you might accurately surmise, it is ludicrous and insightful.
17. Rain by Cynthia Barnett.
18. Kitchen Gardening For Beginners by Simon Akeroyd. As a longtime gardener, I’m always looking for gardening tips.
19. The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness by Rebecca Solnit. Great title for a book, innit? I remember nothing about this book and I think I actually checked it out because I was interested in a different Rebecca Solnit book about walking around, called a Field Guide to Getting Lost – which unfortunately also turned out to be not what I expected. I bet Rebecca Solnit could have thought up a better title for my book.
20. Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit.
21. Americas 100 Best Places To Retire. Well, yeah.
22. The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit.
23. What’s A Disorganized Person To Do by Stacey Platt. It’s a chaotic world so I’m always mining for ideas on how to restore order and, as a result, to be a better person in general.
24. All The Single Ladies by Dorothea Benton Frank.
25. Between You and Me by Mary Norris.
26. Thug Kitchen. I thought this might be fun since it was receiving quite a bit of pop-culture attention but it turned out to be a terrible book. Even worse, it turned out that all of the attention was pretty patronizing: hey, look over here; he’s a gangsta and a chef! The only thing thug about it – in other words, nothing thug at all — was that the author/chef dropped multiple f-bombs throughout, as in “stir in a fucking cup of sugar.” It was not entirely surprising when it is revealed some time later that the “masterminds” behind Thug Kitchen are two waspy white Californians.
27. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit.
28. I, Ripper by Stephen Hunter. A good retelling of Jack the Ripper. For fun I like to read detective stories and mysteries and capers. None come close to the unsurpassable writing and observation of Walter Mosley (he has a lot of great ones but “Charcoal Joe” or “All I Did Was Shoot My Man” are good starting points in case you want to get started right away) or – lesser greatness but greatness still — Elmore Leonard, but many are enjoyable entertainment.
29. Sundown Over Ghost Town by Ellen Jewell.
30. – 39. Tauntons Fine Gardening, Tauntons Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Seattle Metropolitan, Seattle Metropolitan, Vegetarian Times, Vegetarian Times, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated.
40. Coming Home by Leon Bridges.
41. – 43. Now Christmas, New Orleans Christmas, Must Be Santa. It was July but I was already in the holiday spirit, checking-out CDs and ripping tracks.
44. The Stranger by Harlan Coben.
45. How The Beatles Destroyed Rock N Roll by Elijah Wald.
46. Dylan Goes Electric by Elijah Wald.
47. – 51. GQ, GQ, The Magazine Antiques, The Magazine Antiques, The Magazine Antiques. I wonder if I took more life hacks from GQ or Antiques.
52 The First Time by Kelsea Ballerini.
53 Possibilities by Herbie Hancock.
54 Shadow Work by Craig Lambert.
55 The Cartel by Don Winslow. In which one good, honest corrupt cop – but corrupt in all the right ways — battles narcotics armies on both sides of the border, slipping back and forth to kill whoever needs killing. If Donald Trump’s Wall ever goes in down there the hero of this book will be out of business.
56 The Best of Rick Springfield by Rick Springfield. I had “Jessie’s Girl” running through my head.
57 2015 Grammy Nominees.
58 Ancient Places by Jack Nisbet.
59 Zydeco by Rick Olivier.
60 Forged by Jonathan Keats.
61 Narcocorrido by Elijah Wald.
62 Second Hand Heart by Dwight Yoakam.
63 Happily Ali After by Alexandra Wentworth.
64 Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.
65 Dreams To Remember by Otis Redding. The one and only.
66 – 71. Cooks Illustrated, Cooks Illustrated , Cooks Illustrated, Men’s Health, Men’s Health, Men’s Health.
72. Spirit In The Room by Tom Jones.
73. The World Between Two Covers by Ann Morgan.
74. The Lean by Kathy Freston.
75. Kaputt by Destroyer.
76. Uptown Special by Mark Ronson. I had “Uptown Funk” running through my head.
77. Mgmt by Mgmt.
78. Womanchild by Cecile Mclorin Salvant. I’ve tried out this year’s new names in jazz with hopes that I would really like them but neither Cecile Mclorin Salvant nor Kamasi Washington totally rang me up. Really good, but just not quite great.
79. Sea Lovers by Valerie Martin.
80. The Novel Habits Of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith. I’ve enjoyed the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency books and, although the charm has worn off and they started running stale after the first 10 or 12, this was, nonetheless, another readable entry.
81. Badlands by CJ Box.
82. 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith. Stay healthy.
83. The Story of B by Daniel Quinn.
84. The Martian by Andy Weir. There were long sections of this book where I had to flip through the pages really fast. No different there than when they are sailing and sailing in “Moby Dick” or when the monster is trekking across the ice floes for countless pages in “Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus.” And I feel no moral obligation to read all the words just because an author wrote them. But, as with those classics, this book had a lot to offer. And later I saw the movie, which had me cheering: “Yeah, get our man off that damn planet!”
85. In Return by Odesza.
86. English Oldies by Royal Jesters.
87. – 97. Backpacker, Backpacker, Backpacker, Mental Floss, Mental Floss, Mental Floss, Sports Illustrated For Kids, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated.
98. Last Words by Michael Koryta.
99. The Blue Zones Solution by Dan Buettner. This is also about eating healthy. If you clue in to Forks Over Knives and then read some of these other good-eating books, you can pick up a good practice here and a tip there. If you even start doing one tip it means progress. I’m also a sucker for celebrity recipe books, like the one of “quick ‘n’ easy” recipes by Gwyneth Paltrow.
100. The Magicians Private Library by Holly Miranda.
101. – 109. Architectural Digest, Architectural Digest, Discover, Discover, Discover, Discover, Food & Wine, Food & Wine, Food & Wine.
110. That’s Not English by Erin Moore.
111. Broadcasting Happiness by Michelle Gielan. Think happy, be happy.
112. Reckless by Chrissie Hynde. You would think – I would think, anyway — that a memoir by Chrissie Hynde would be great. But nah. For me, the best-ever first-person rock-star book is “Rod” by Rod Stewart. I like his music OK without putting him in the pantheon. But whoever wrote this book for him did a wonderful job of capturing what seems to be his persona: disarmingly funny and truthful. He knows that he has had some ridiculous moments along with his surpassing ones, and he owns it all. A man who seems to live by the philosophy that life’s too short for regrets.
113. Artists and Their Cats by Alison Nastasi.
114. Ultra Dance
115. The Year of Fear by Joe Urschel.
116. Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill.
117. Sandhill and Whooping Cranes by Paul A. Johnsgard. Nebraska in the house!
118. The Epic by Kamasi Washington.
119. Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford.
120. The Making of Home by Judith Flanders.
121. Do Not Sell At Any Price by Amanda Petrusich. Spectacular book. A++. I wanted to write her a fan letter. One of the best music books of the recent years, winner in the non-fiction category. (“A Brief History of Seven Killings” and “Rod” are right up there at the top of the fiction and memoir groups). She goes deep into the weird underworld of guys who collect old jazz and hillbilly 78s (think Robert Crumb & the Cheap Suit Serenaders). The rarer the better. She sees it with both a loving and a horrified eye. Mainly because there, but for the grace of God, go all of us who are slightly buggy about collecting something arcane, or being part of some subset of a subset. Especially music.
122. Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorn. A memoir by the singer of Everything But the Girl. Instead of reading this you could learn everything you need to know about her – and also quite a bit about yourself — by listening to their acoustic versions of “Downtown Train” and “Tougher Than The Rest.”
123. The Trackless Woods by Iris Dement.
124. Viva Tour by Thalia.
125. Yesterday I Had The Blues by Jose James.
126. Barbarian Days by William Finnegan.
127. Brush Back by Sara Paretsky.
128. What Were You Hoping For by Van Hunt.
129. For One To Love by Cecile McLorin Salvant.
130. Oceana by Osvaldo Golijov.
131. Now That’s What I Call Music.
132. Living For A Song by Jamey Johnson.
133. – 139. Harpers, Harpers, Harpers, Harpers, The Northwest Pathfinder, The Northwest Pathfinder, The Northwest Pathfinder.
140. I Was A Revolutionary by Andrew Malan Milward.
141. The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore.
142. The Lion The Beast The Beat by Grace Potter.
134. The Hands On Home by Erica Strauss. This is one of my reading categories; I like to leaf through books and pick up ideas on how to make my home more cozy and livable. Obviously most of the tips won’t work for everybody, just like the advice in any self-help book including mine about retirement (to the extent that this is a self-help book), or any religion or regimen of any kind, for that matter. So I don’t really do any of the suggestions or adapt the examples all that often. But one or two here and there that actually work might make a better life.
143. A&M Records 50.
144. Sea Lovers by Valerie Martin.
145. Complete Pop Instrumental Hits Of The Sixties.
146. Soul Spectacular.
147. A Buzz In The Meadow by Dave Goulson.
148. The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams.
149. The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan.
150. Play Station by Motion Trio.
151. The Time Jumpers by Time Jumpers.
152. Midnight by Grace Potter.
153. Vhs by X Ambassadors.
154. Los Lobos by Chris Morris.
155. Good And Cheap by Leanne Brown.
156. Think Like A Freak by Steven Levitt.
157. City Of Sound by Revivalists.
158. Gates Of Gold by Los Lobos.
159. Home by Anoushka Shankar.
160. Jumpin’ Time by Time Jumpers.
161. We Love Disney .
162. – 175. ESPN, ESPN, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated, Dwell, Dwell , Men’s Health, Men’s Health, Men’s Health, Northwest Travel, Northwest Travel.
176. Merle Haggard by Merle Haggard.
177. Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg.
178. The Mark And The Void by Paul Murray.
179. Just My Type by Simon Garfield.
180. The Language Of Food by Dan Jurafsky.
181. The Other Paris by Luc Sante.
182. Cama Incendiada by Mana.
183. Mujer Divia by Natalia Lafourcade.
184. A Little History Of The United States by James West Davidson.
185. Crazy Life by Home Free.
186. Pageant Material by Kacey Musgraves.
187. Soul Train, The Dance Years.
188. Full Of Cheer by Home Free.
189. Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline.
190. Start Here by Maddie & Tae.
191. NYPD Red 3 by James Patterson.
192. On The High Line by Annik La Farge.
193. The Searcher by Simon Toyne.
194. The Village Effect by Susan Pinker.
195. Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
196. Cabins & Cottages And Other Small Spaces.
197. The Witches by Stacy Schiff. I checked out this book two separate times because I had really liked her biography about Cleopatra, and this one got favorable notices. But I couldn’t bring myself to pick it up off my bedside floor and actually dig in. Not a single page.
198. Low Life by Luc Luc.
199. Sam Phillips by Peter Guralnick.
200. To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. I don’t know whether Kendrick Lamar is thinking about target audiences, but if he is I am not his intended demographic. This record has messages and I don’t like messages. I’m too old to get my ideas or my direction from pop musicians (when Macklemore, to cap on one well-intended dude, gets “meaningful” he just seems to be trying so hard, like, oh, I dunno, like Bono warmed over; and Bono himself seems rewarmed to me). This Kendrick Lamar record is really complex in its production and I usually like simple things. Still, you know how sometimes a record is so irrefutable that it runs right past your prejudices, runs right past what is age-appropriate and gets to all the delegations. All I’m saying is that this record was terrific in every way. And yet, this wasn’t the best new record I listened to this year. That was J.D. Allen’s Americana: Musings on Jazz and Blues. Allen is a great tenor saxophonist and his group is a trio: him, bass and drums. It’s mostly originals, plus “Another Man Done Gone.” It’s blues in the same way that a few World Saxophone Quartet records are blues: total feeling, and then a lot of coloring outside the lines. Great!
201. The Hirschfeld Century by David Leopold.
202. The Crossing by Michael Connelly,
203. The Woman Who Walked In Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith.
204. Lovable Livable Home by Sherry Petersik.
205. Calamity Jane’s Letters To Her Daughter by Calamity Jane. This slim volume was fascinating. As best I can tell it is non-fiction, actual homely letters that Calamity Jane – an outlaw if there ever was one — wrote about once a year. My impression was that they were written to a daughter she had and gave up to be raised back east by a wealthy patron while Jane did what she could to stay in touch. She was being as motherly and loving as she knew how. Pretty wow. If it’s some author’s fiction, even better.
206. Home by Carson Ellis.
207. A Strangeness In My Mind by Orhan Pamuk. By the great Turkish author of “Snow.” Set in Istanbul in the ‘70s or ‘80s when everybody was moving from the rural to the urban life. It’s just the uneventful lives of everyday people. I must have set it aside five times out of boredom. Then I couldn’t put it down, it was so super-atmospheric.
208. Custer’s Trials by TJ Stiles.
209. The Horse by Wendy Williams.
210. Cass County by Don Henley.
211. Real Life Rock by Greil Marcus.
212. Things I Want To Punch In The Face by Jennifer Worick.
213. The Big Bad Book Of Bill Murray by Robert Schnakenberg.
214. Slice Harvester by Colin Hagendorf.
215. Uncovered by Shawn Colvin.
216. V Is For Vegetables by Michael Anthony.
217. The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke.
218. House Of The Rising Sun by James Lee Burke.
219. Forty Thieves by Thomas Perry.
220. The Rod Stewart Sessions, 1971-1998 by Rod Stewart.
221. Praise & Blame by Tom Jones.
222. Jukebox by Cat Power.
223. – 235. Rodale’s Organic Life, Rodale’s Organic Life, Real Simple, Real Simple, Real Simple, Outside , Outside, Outside, The New Yorker, The New Yorker, The New Yorker, Atomic Ranch, Atomic Ranch.
236. Lafayette In The Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell.
237. Murder On The Leviathan by B Akunin.
238. Metzger’s Dog by Thomas Perry.
239. If You Wait by London Grammar.
240. Fine, Fine Fine Fine Fine by Diane Williams.
241. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats by Nathaniel Rateliff.
242. Cabin Porn. Cool pictures of cabins around the world. We have an unprepossessing little cabin ourselves at Hood Canal so I’m always looking for ideas to make it more homey (even though, in actual practice, when we are there we tend to be on Island Time and not doing a lot of fix-ups). This book was more about architecture or sense of place, but I’m also interested enough in famous photographers that in several months I will read the “Diane Arbus Portrait of a Photographer.” At 725 pages it was about 700 too long but it did get me to check out the monography of her most famous shots. I also tried to read “Hold Still”, the memoir by renowned photographer Sally Mann and was able to skim through it.
243. The Witches by Stacy Schiff. Second time in a couple of months that I checked it out. Still haven’t read it.
244. Pacific Northwest Foraging by Douglas Deur.
245. Little Victories by Jason Gay.
246. Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein.
247. One Good Turn by Witold Rybczynski. It’s about screwdrivers and screws. It didn’t really measure up to some other books I’ve read in the same general category: about the pencil, about cod, about salt. Those books were fascinating.
248. It’s A Holiday Soul Party by Sharon Jones.
249. Waste Free Kitchen Handbook by Dana Gunders.
250. Seeing Seeds by Teri Dunn Chace.
251. Dog Run Moon by Callan Wink.
252. – 265. Bon Appetit, Bon Appetit, Bon Appetit, Catster, Catster, Catster, Fine Cooking, Fine Cooking, Fine Cooking, Martha Stewart Living, Martha Stewart Living, The Mother Earth News, Seattle Metropolitan, Seattle.
253. When You Wish Upon a Star by Bill Frisell. The nonpareil guitarist Bill Frisell is one of my favorite musicians – always tasteful – and so is the singer Petra Haden. (She’s the one who – among many other artistic triumphs – did the all-vocal note-for-note part-for-part recreation of “The Who Sell Out.” She sang all the parts.) Here they are together with a sweet combo, doing arrangements of themes from movies and TV.
254. Kitchen Hacks by Cook’s magazine. I read this because I am trying to be a better housekeeper. I immediately steamed a bowl of water for 10 minutes in the microwave and then wiped it down and also – since I don’t have a garbage disposal – threw three used-up lemon halves in the blender and then dumped the lemon slurry down the kitchen sink drain. Neither hack worked that miraculously. Actually, neither hack worked at all.
255. Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder by Claudia Kalb.
256. Family Dinner by Snarky Puppy.
257. Fox Tossing by Edward Brooke-Hitching.
258. Sunny’s Nights by Tim Sultan.
259. Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R. Lansdale.
260. Full Circle by Loretta Lynn.
261. Even Dogs in the Wild by Ian Rankin.
262. This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison.
263. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson.
264. Every Song Ever by Ben Ratliff.
265. Cool Tools by Kevin Kelly.
266. – 273. Veg News, Veg News, 425, 425, Washington Trails, Washington Trails.
274. Take a Nap! Change Your Life by Sara C. Mednick. It says on the cover: “The Scientific Plan to make you Sleep Healthier, More Productive” and also “Use the Nap Wheel to get exactly the nap you need.” She makes taking a nap sound like a lot of work and not the idler’s paradise we know it to be.
275. Getting Things Done by David Allen. “The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” is the subtitle. The first thing I did was look in the index for “nap.” Not there.
276. This is Your Brain on Sports by L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers.
277. A Hedonist Manifesto by Michael Onfray.
278. Oxymoronica by Mardy Grothe.
279. Devil Red by Joe R. Lansdale.
280. Vanilla Ride by Joe R. Landsdale.
281. Stretching by Bob Anderson.
282. You Can Look It Up by Jack Lynch.
283. There’s a Riot Goin’ On by Sly & the Family Stone. I had forgotten what a great record this is. There are catchy hits from my youth on here but there are also fabulous lengthy improvisations that remind you where George Clinton was getting his cues for Funkadelic. Six minutes into some of these things and it’s getting New-Agey. But funky.
284. Uncle Meat by The Mothers of Invention. This has been one of my favorite records since I bought it on a shopping excursion to Omaha when I was 16 in 1967. I had never heard the Mothers, or heard of the Mothers. I totally bought this thing judging it by its cover. One of the best chances I ever took. They said the F-word, which I was not hearing on Dave Clark Five or Herman’s Hermits records. It has the loving faux-doowop of “Electric Aunt Jemima.” It has a bunch of audio-verite spoken sections. It has all of the other stuff – the sublime and the ridiculous – that we’ve come to associate with the Mothers, but of which I had no clue until I dropped the needle on the record. And I don’t even really like Frank Zappa all that much, all that guitar over-playing. One other thing: when you search this record now at the King County Library it’s by “Frank Zappa” not by “The Mothers of Invention.” They can try that re-education program on some library patrons, but I’m not playing that game.
285. Dig In Deep by Bonnie Raitt.
286. The Joy of Less by Francine Jay. The minimalist lifestyle and how you can live it, too.
287. The World According to Andy Bey by Andy Bey.
288. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
289. Hap and Leonard by Joe R. Lansdale.
290. Gypsy Carpet by Esma Rdzepova.
291. Kill ‘Em and Leave by James McBride. This book is about James Brown and what his life story represents about racism. It falls flat. It reads as if McBride got the assignment to do this one and doesn’t really care much about it one way or the other. His arguments aren’t all that rigorous. It’s not well edited; it’s like he turned in his first draft and they said, OK let’s print it. Oddly, he doesn’t seem to know a lot about music, especially about the James Brown era. And when he tries to egg on old Southern black people to talk about how ruthless racism was in the day, or how sociopathic James Brown was as a bandleader, none of them take the bait. McBride tries over and over to get them to verify his thesis, but they won’t. They say a version of “Oh, it wasn’t all that bad.” McBride, admittedly a duck out of water down south since he is a 50-something northern guy, can’t accept it. He attributes their reticence to the fact that they just can’t let down their masks that they wear to get along with white southerners. That’s one explanation. Another is that they think it wasn’t all that bad. These failings of the book are unfortunate, and if I’m bashing extra hard it’s because I have super-high admiration and expectations for anything written by James McBride. He is excellent, a master-craftsman as a writer and an incisive commentator on race. I never read his acclaimed (including by Enid, who has urged me to get with the program) memoir “The Color of Water” – about being the black son of a white mom (mixed-race I suppose, but he thinks black). I did read his riveting previous book “The Good Lord Bird” and it is exquisite. That book is a historical fiction in its form, set roughly in the Civil War era of slaveholders and abolitionists. In fact, though, it’s one of the best books commenting about contemporary race relations. And this is a topic that everybody’s got something to say about, right? Every attitude in “The Good Lord Bird” could be cut-and-pasted into 2016. He’s got the outright bigots. The well-meaning but clueless self-involved white liberals. The getting-along black people. The black radicals who, if it rains, start calling the weather racist. All written with a deliciously compelling touch. Maybe I just like “The Good Lord Bird” because, as a white person, I’m more comfortable taking my racism lessons from a historical remove. Or maybe it’s that James McBride, in “The Good Lord Bird,” created something surpassingly great and provocative.
292. Superfood Snacks by Julie Morris.
293. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
294. Tomorrow Sunny by Henry Threadgill.
295. Eat This Not That! By David Zinczenko.
296. Isles by Wild Belle.
297. Trespassing Across America by Ken Ilgunas. He walks from Canada to Nebraska (or maybe Texas; I quit reading when he got to Nebraska). And he doesn’t stick to public walkways.
298. Boys Among Men by Jonathan P.D. Abrams.
299. Changes by Charles Bradley.
300. Dodgers by William Beverly.
301. The Regional Office Is Under Attack! By Manuel Gonzalez.
302. Lukas Graham by Lukas Graham.
303. Grunt by Mary Roach.
304. The Longevity Book by Cameron Diaz. It’s ironic that Cameron Diaz, a conventionally beautiful woman who I imagine has stylists available 24/7 to make her look flawless, has written a commendable book advocating that looks don’t matter that much and everybody ages. Beyond that, though, I am such a clueless dope. Until I started leafing through this book it didn’t dawn on me that it is – of course — for women. Even though I’m not dealing with vaginal dryness (not my own, anyway) or worried about a few hairs sprouting on my chin, there were still tips I could use to age well: hydrate, sleep, and don’t get angry.
305. Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe.
306. A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer.
307. – Utne, Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone, Rolling Stone,
308. How to Relax by Nhat Hanh.
309. Scratching the Woodchuck by David Kline. Life on an Amish farm, emphasis on nature.
310. Small Town Talk by Barney Hoskyns.
311. – The Mother Earth News, Vegetarian Times.
312. New Order by Fay Wolf.
313. Street Craft by Riikka Kuittinen
314. You May Also Like by Tom Vanderbilt. Why is blue the most popular color? Why is seven the most popular number? Why do we vote, buy, act like that? Are we really even making choices or is something else at work and we are the puppets? And how would we know?
315. The Abundance by Annie Dillard.
316. 65 Things to Do When You Retire.
317. The 5 Years Before You Retire by Emily Guy Birken. Would have been a very valuable book for me to have read six years ago.
318. Work Songs by Jaimeo Brown. I haven’t liked some of the most-touted “jazz” artists of the year, but I loved this record. I always enjoy music that starts with recognizable tunes and then takes it outside the lines. I like when Louis Armstrong takes “The Sunny Side of the Street” or Jay McShann takes “Back Home Again in Indiana” or Miles Davis takes “Time After Time” and then turns it inside out so the reversible side is showing. In this case the source inspiration is “black history” music – work songs, spirituals; not specific compositions so much as the sonic markers – and then Brown says what he has to say. Really good. Now if I could figure out how he pronounces his first name.
319. The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes.
320. The Mushroom Hunters by Langdon Cook. This book is about stomping around the Pacific Northwest so I thought I might be able to infer some secret places to find morels, which I want to do. The author was way too cagey for that.
321. Djibouti by Elmore Leonard.
322. Sapiens by Yuval N. Harari.
323. Paul McCartney by Philip Norman.
324. The New Retirement by Jan Cullinane.
325. The Mare by Mary Gaitskill.
326. Lost and Gone Forever by Alex Grecian.
327. How to Retire the Cheapskate Way by Jeff Yeager.
328. Your Song Changed My Life by Bob Boilen.
329. The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman.
330. Paper by Mark Kurlansky.
331. Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta.
332. The Fruit Hunters by Adam Goliner.
333. Bucky F*cking Dent by David Duchovny.
334. Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg.
335. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hits by Mark Binelli. An imagined biography of the one-hit-wonder who gave the world “I Put A Spell On You.”
336. The Meaning of Sunglasses by Hadley Freeman. Fashion commentary and, I suppose, advice. I thought it was enjoyably droll and arch. I then passed it over to Enid and she sputtered with audible laughter every other page.
337. I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies by Tim Kurkjian.
338. Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry: All-Natural Recipes for Clean Eating in the Real World by Lisa Lillien.
339. The Culinary Herbal by Susan Belsinger.