Top 10 Books Read in 2017

(out with the bad, in with the good)

The only books in consideration for this list are ones I read for the first time this year. (No re-reads included.)

Just One More Thing


Just One More Thing

Peter Falk (2006)

Not an autobiography or even a memoir as much as snapshot stories. I’m biased toward Falk (Columbo, Wings of Desire, his work in Cassavetes films) and I wouldn’t recommend Just One More Thing for anyone not already halfway in love with the guy. But this was a charming afternoon read which kept me smiling.


My foolish innocence tickles me today, and I like me even though I’m dumb.

(p.? … Hell, I didn’t write down the page.)

Continue reading

Bottom 10 Books Read in 2017

(I like to give the bad news first. Top 10 list comes tomorrow.)

The Ides of March


The Ides of March

Thornton Wilder (1948)

Full review

Wilder’s writing is beautiful but The Ides of March fails as a narrative. At only 250 pages, it felt like the longest book I read all year (and I just finished reading It, so that’s saying something).


This letter, like all letters, is totally unnecessary.


Recommended instead: Wilder’s Theophilus North

Continue reading

“IT” (Post 9/9)


It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this part, we’ll cover:

Derry: The Fourth Interlude

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Derry: The Last Interlude


Derry: The Fourth Interlude

[320] The book drags for the last 300 pages (Jesus! What a joke!) but you’re in a bad spot by the time you realize it. What are you supposed to do after 800 pages? Put it down? Walk away? No, you’re got to finish it. It’s not even about knowing what happens, it’s being able to say you’ve read the damned thing. King is so much better at set-ups than pay-offs/climaxes, especially when a story gets away from him like this. Continue reading

“IT” (Post 8/9)


It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this part, we’ll cover:

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 16: Eddie’s Bad Break

[289] Reference:

At first he dismissed it as the twinges of bursitis he sometimes gets when the weather is damp.



Bursitis is the inflammation of one or more bursae (small sacs) of synovial fluid in the body. There are more than 150 bursae in the human body.

[290] Reference:

He remembers standing at the comic rack for awhile, spinning it idly to see if there were any new Batmans or Superboys, or his own favorite, Plastic Man.



Plastic Man (real name Patrick “Eel” O’Brian) is a fictional comic book superhero originally published by Quality Comics and later acquired by DC comics. Created by cartoonist Jack Cole, Plastic Man was one of the first superheroes to incorporate humor into mainstream action storytelling. Continue reading

“IT” (Post 7/9)

08It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this part, we’ll cover:

Derry: The Third Interlude

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Derry: The Third Interlude

[264] Reference:

“You’re too young to remember when Bobby Thomson hit his home run for the Giants in the play-off game in 1951.”



Bobby Thompson’s hit is called the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” (this phrase is from the 1837 poem “Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson). It was the game-winning home run in the Giants/Dodgers National League pennant game. It was the third game of a three-game playoff in which the Giants trailed, 4-2. The game was the first ever televised nationally. (This event opens Don DeLillo’s (excellent) novel Underworld.)

Bobby Thompson (1923-2010) was a Scottish-born American professional baseball player. He was nicknamed “The Staten Island Scot.”


“When the picture-taking starts, the story is over.”


I’m not so sure this is true now. The recording can start while the story is still unfolding.


“The place makes it news as much as what happened in the place.”


Continue reading

“IT” (Post 6/9)

07It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this part, we’ll cover:

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 11: Walking Tours


But there, less than forty yards from where he stood, people walked back and forth in their shirtsleeves. There, less than forty yards from where he stood, was a tubeway of bright white light, thrown by the overhead fluorescents. Little kids giggled together, high-school sweethearts held hands (and if the librarian saw them, she would make them stop). It was somehow magical, magical in a good way that he had been too young to account for with such mundane things as electric power and oil heat. The magic was that glowing cylinder of light and life connecting those two dark buildings like a lifeline, the magic was in watching people walk through it across the dark snowfield, untouched by either the dark or the cold. It made them lovely and Godlike.

(p.544) Continue reading

“IT” (Post 5/9)


It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this part, we’ll cover:

Derry: The Second Interlude

Chapter 10

Derry: The Second Interlude

[178] Reference/Translate:

Quaeque ipsa miserrima vidi,

Et quorum pars magna fui.”



Latin: So many terrible things I saw, and in so many of them I played a great part.

[179] Reference:

In Washington, Billy Mitchell had been courtmartialed and demoted to flying a desk because his gadfly insistence on trying to build a more modern air force had finally irritated his elders enough for them to slap him down hard.



William Lendrum “Billy” Mitchell (1879-1936) was a United States Army general who is regarded as the father of the United States Air Force. Mitchell served in France during World War I and, by the conflict’s end, commanded all American air combat units in that country. After the war, he was appointed deputy director of the Air Service and began advocating increased investment in air power, believing that this would prove vital in future wars.

He antagonized many administrative leaders of the Army with his arguments and criticism and, in 1925, was returned to his permanent rank of colonel due to his insubordination. Later that year, he was court-martialed for insubordination after accusing Army and Navy leaders of an “almost treasonable administration of the national defense” for investing in battleships instead of aircraft carriers. He resigned from the service shortly afterward. Continue reading

“IT” (Post 4/9)


It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this part, we’ll cover:

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 6: One of the Missing: A Tale From the Summer of ’58

[122] Reference:

“The poor little guy couldn’t color his Mr. Do safety poster.”


I found a listing on Amazon for a 1943 book titled “Mr. Do and Mr. Don’t Present ‘Safety’ Starring Roy Raccoon and Rob Rabbit”, but no other information.


“I never meant to kill him.”

“Did he say anything to you before he passed out?” Whitsun asked.

“He said, ‘Stop daddy, I’m sorry, I love you,’” Macklin replied.

“Did you stop?”

“Eventually,” Macklin said. He then began to weep.


Similar to the earlier exchange with Don and Hagarty (Post 1, note [28]) but still damn good. Continue reading

“IT” (Post 3/9)


It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this part, we’ll cover:

Derry: The First Interlude

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Derry: The First Interlude

[79] The First Interlude’s introduction says that these parts are drawn from a history by Mike Hanlon. Going along with the mood set in Post 2, note [50], we’re led to think Mike is going to die:

This is an unpublished set of notes (…) found in the Derry Public Library vault.


If it was found in a vault, we assume Mike wasn’t around to show/explain it to anyone. Mike survives to the end of It but implies he’s going to leave Derry soon. We’re led to believe that he left these notes on purpose or possibly forgot they were even there (his memory of events is already fading). This whole memory-fading thing is stupid (we’ll talk about it more in the wrap-up in Post 9) and raises more questions than it answers. Along with losing memories of each other and events in Derry, Mike finds that even the contact information for the other Loser’s Club members is fading from his address book. Doesn’t this mean his Interlude notes would fade? Or the newspaper photo of Bill and Beverly that Bill supposedly keeps in his wallet for years? How do Beverly and Ben maintain their relationship if they can’t remember how they met? Continue reading

“IT” (Post 2/9)


It Month Introduction

[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]

In this post, we’ll cover:

Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Six Phone Calls (1985)


It had not just been a novel, she told her mother later; it had been a horrorbook. She said it just that way, all one word, the way she would have said sexbook.


[34] Reference:

The country club in the upstate town of Glointon, New York.


Invented town.


Wanting to feel angry and not being able to feel angry – the anger came only later, when it didn’t matter.


Continue reading