December 2015


Books 98 to 110: Holy Cow!

The year is rapidly winding down – and in a year that I do not think of as particularly reading intensive, I’ve already read 110 books – and I have two more in progress, which should all be finished by the end of the year. I’ll even bet that I read a lot more than just those, after all I have a long weekend next weekend, which should provide a lot of time to curl up with books.

Of course, I should note that this list of books does not include any of the Economist magazines that I read weekly, any of the other media I read – including newspapers, other magazines, crap on the web – or, and most importantly, anything I read for work.

Suffice it to say, my life appears to revolve around the written word.

98) Male Sex Work and Society (Victor Minichiello and John Scott, eds) – This is a book that I had on the shelf a long time – and, to be honest, it did not really keep my attention. It’s a collection of 17 scholarly articles focused on rent boys, from a variety of perspectives. This is not a page turner – it’s a dense, heavy, scholarly book. Not really pleasure reading, if you ask me. But interesting on a meta-level.

99) A Man Called Ove (Fredrik Backman) – I picked this up leaving the UK – it’s originally Swedish, a very sweet story about a curmudgeonly old man who – well, I don’t want to spoil one of the main points of the plot, a reoccurring theme. What’s a bit disturbing is that I see a lot of myself in Ove – in how I want to live my life. The book is well worth the time.

100) The House at Otowi Bridge: The Story of Edith Warner and Los Alamos (Peggy Pond Church) – I picked this up in New Mexico in October and flew through it one Saturday. It’s a charming story about Edit Warner, a woman who lived in an isolated, remote house, far from others, but central to many. Her home was one of the few places that scientists working at Los Alamos could go while doing their wartime research.

101) Stolen Legacy: Nazi Theft and the Quest for Justice at Krausenstrasse 17/18, Berlin (Dina Gold) – This is a book about a building quite close to my office, in East Berlin. In the 1930s it was taken over by the Nazis, and this book is exploring how the family got justice from the German government following reunification. The book actually rocks along pretty well, until it gets to the third part, where she wants vengeance. I don’t mind the justice (getting compensation for the building), but at some point the vengeance aspect – which includes exploration of how her relatives survived (or not) Nazi Germany – gets tedious. Although maybe that’s because I live in Berlin and am constantly exposed to holocaust history.

102) Gay Berlin (Robert Beachy) – This book I first noticed while looking at the books for sale after exploring the large gay history exhibit at the Deutsche Historisches Museum. It’s actually a quite interesting book that covers gay history in Berlin from about 1880 through 1933; a period of time when Berlin was one of the greatest places to be gay – well, maybe not at the end. It’s a period of history that isn’t oft talked about, but is interesting. Unfortunately the book has a couple of dry spots that bored me. It did mention the next book in this list.

103) The Hustler: The story of a Nameless Love from Friedrichstrasse (John Henry Mackay) – I grabbed this because it was mentioned in Gay Berlin – it’s a book about a boy from northern Germany who comes to Berlin and becomes a rent boy. It’s also a story about older man who falls for the rent boy. The story wanders through the streets of 1920s Berlin, a city that is simultaneously familiar and not. The book moves around Friedrichstrasse, which is close to my office and so I found it seemingly close, but not that close.

104) Geek Girl (Holly Smale) – This is a sweet YA novel about a geeky girl who suddenly becomes a model. It’s charming, fairly well written, and fun. I have no idea how it ended upon my to-read list, but I am glad it did.

105) Latakia (JF Smith) – At some point, I needed a known quantity; an old favorite. So I re-read Latakia, a sweet gay romance novel that starts in Syria, a naval ship, and then the east coast. I like the novel because it’s well written (which actually describes all of JF Smith’s novels) and engaging. It’s a fast read… and when I read it, exactly what I needed.

106) Drunk in Love (Olivia Black) – A long time ago I started paying attention to Brent Everett, a gay porn star – it’s an off again and off again relationship. He’s not my type, but I decided to try reading this gay romance novel that is, if drunk, is loosely based on his life. He’s part of a throple – which in this novel is transformed into a paranormal shape-shifting couple and their human third, which then becomes a throple. Seriously stupid. What a waste of money.

107) A Single Man (Christopher Isherwood) – Christopher Isherwood is a guy who comes up frequently when talking about Berlin’s gay history. He’s a Brit who lived in Berlin in the late 1920s through 1933 and wrote several novels inspired by his time in Berlin – he also, per Wikipedia, said of The Hustler (book 103), “It gives a picture of the Berlin sexual underworld early in this century which I know, from my own experience, to be authentic.” Regardless, I’d avoided reading him because I assumed that he’d be a challenge – but I finally decided to give it the old college try, going with something I knew: A Single Man – a movie version of the book. The movie is excellent; the book is excellent. I found it completely engaging and absorbing.

108) Beyond Magenta (Susan Kuklin) – This is a collection of interviews with young, teen, transgender individuals, including one intersex individual. Not particularly engaging or enthralling, but definitely adding to perspective.

109) Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast: Without Reservations (Greg Fox) – Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast is the number one comic about a gay B&B on the planet, quite possibly because it’s the only comic about a gay B&B on the planet. It’s one of my favorite comics to read and I eagerly await each new addition, reading it as soon as it is released. This book is the fourth collection of the strip and made for an enjoyable afternoon.

110) Bad Feminist (Roxane Gay) – One of my friends gave me this book last summer and I finally started reading it a week or two ago – it’s my bedtime book which means that I did not make progress on it every night. The collection of essays starts strong, but then gets bogged down in esoteric material that, while relevant to Roxane, is not really of interest to me. Which made some of the essays a real struggle to finish.

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