30 December, 2010

reading rainbow- 2010 wrap up edition

it's been too long since i took the time to write a blog. i am always so full of ideas, and less full of execution. who out there in the tubes can relate?

i do want to remind regular readers that i spent a substantial portion of my fall blogging over here as part of my "distillation 10th anniversary tour". if you missed it, you can still catch up and grab lots of free music downloads.

i usually try to do some kind of year end wrap-up on the blog. 2010 was a highly varied year for me... i began it with a grueling super DIY european tour (read: lots of trains, dragging around lots of stuff), and i ended it with the "distillation" anniversary project. in between i acted in a play for the first time, joined a softball team (though i had never played before), and went on tour to alaska. for a "down" year in an album cycle, i was incredibly busy.

2011 looks to be more of the same. i wonder if this is the new shape of "making" it in the music industry? we put even more irons in the fire, more pots on the stove, start more and more income streams. however, you want to put it, creative people in 2011 are going to be doing many more little things to add up to what the one big thing used to be. that suits my restless nature just fine.
more on that as we get into 2011.

meanwhile, i thought the 2010 wrap up would be some thoughts on my favorite books i read this year. i've included links to more info about them, but please consider asking your local bookseller first before you buy online.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
tells the story of a small business owner who stays in new orleans as the katrina floodwaters rise. i could not put this book down. i have been to new orleans many times, and i have seen and heard firsthand what happened during the flood, but this book makes a page turner out of real-life. which just made me angrier than ever about the aftermath of katrina.

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
we liked it. we really did. in spite of ourselves and our best efforts otherwise, this book gnawed at that desperate place we all try to ignore, the place that says our cubicle is the best we can hope for. and so we told people about this book. we had to. we wanted to share that something that we couldnt name that made this book so good- not only to make sure we weren't left out of important book conversations, but really because in the end, we are all incredibly lonely.

Decoded by JAY-Z
ok, so i'm not totally finished with this one. it just came in the mail the other week, but i've been super into it. i'm not a JAY-Z fan. something in there hasnt connected for me. i'm still not, even though i hands-down love this book. i feel queasy when i read about JAY's constant devotion to capitalism (or entrepreneurship- depending on your politics). i think the exposition of lyrics is borderline pretentious. but i appreciate the honesty and the vignettes of day-to-day life leading to unique observations of humans.

State by State ed. by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey
what a great companion on my travels this year. i tried to read the relevant entries as i went to each place! 50 essays from non-travel writers... and each has a different connection to the state: tourist, native, moved there for a job, spent time there as a kid, never predictable. in the same way i was reminded of why i like "friday night lights" so much. you know there is gonna be a football game, but sometimes it happens early in the episode, or later, in part or whole, or sometimes it's just referred to: anticipated or in the afterglow.

Floodlines by Jordan Flaherty
i heard jordan speak at an event and had to buy his book after. it's a great history of new orleans, activism in the city, and ways that community has responded to the katrina flood. it also documents how the resistance community formed in new orleans post-katrina has impacted other social justice work outside of NOLA.

The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac by FreeDarko
is it cheating that my favorite book of the year is more graphic novel than wordy read? no! not when you love sports as much as i do! i got hipped to this book through an article on the freedarko blog that described rajan rondo as a shark. not in the usual "he's gonna kill you" way, but in this way that took into account a modern sense of dislocation, exacerbated by technology, and the unique emotional wallop of good sports story. the almanac breaks down the games of the top current NBA players via schematic diagrams, charts, and whimsicle illustrations. did i ever mention i want to start a second career as a sportswriter?

and as a bonus (just for you) i'll share my first book of 2011: Preaching with Sacred Fire: An Anthology of African American Sermons 1750-Present. i got it for christmas from somebody who knows exactly how to make my heart melt.


  1. Thank you, thank you. This blog was everything I'd been hoping for...I love picking up your recommended books...and I can't wait to go pick them up and enjoy them. I wish (continued) happiness, heart-melting, and hard working for a joyous, prosperous, but most importantly, well-lived 2011. Thank you for sharing yet another year of your life with us.

  2. Erin,
    Tell me that Great House is on your list ...