Tag Archives: Powell’s Bookstore

The 10 Best Things to Read Instead of Mein Kampf

NYT MK

I know we all want people buying more books, but this can’t be good:

Only three days after Adolf Hitler’s notorious autobiography Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”) was re-released in Germany, following its entry into the public domain after a 70-year ban, booksellers and Amazon have already sold out of their copies.

Some sold out within hours.

The new edition, which runs about 2,000 pages, was developed by a “team of scholars and historians” who added about 3,500 annotations — most of which we assume were comments like “Fuck this guy” and “SRSLY???”

It seems reasonable that the German people would have a lot of curiosity about the book, which played a major role in history and has been verboten since 1945. But here at Fiction Advocate we say, screw curiosity. If you are going to rush out to buy a book, here are some you should absolutely choose over Mein KampfContinue reading

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The Twelve Books of Christmas (or Your Chosen Winter Holiday)

At this time each year, two major things happen: everyone starts telling you what the best books of the last 12 months are, and you start trying to find nice gifts for the people in your life. Books, of course, make excellent gifts. They’re weighty but not too large. They’re often beautifully designed. And they (usually) communicate a certain respect for the cultural and intellectual qualities of the receiver.

But books as gifts also come with hazards. Giving one is a not-so-implicit demand that the receiver must actually read it. Where does your friendship stand a month from now if they read it and hate it? Are you maybe just giving them a book to show off your own cultural and intellectual qualities? 

It’s enough to make you just buy a gift card. But don’t give up. Fiction Advocate is here to help, with a list of some of the best, and worst, books to give as gifts this holiday season. We’re happy to present the 2015 Twelve Book of Christmas/Your Chosen Winter Holiday.

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1: BEST BIG BOOK TO GIVE: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg

City on Fire

An ensemble piece like Love Actually, except instead of Christmas in Britain it’s the collapse of civilization in 1970s New York City. There’s been a lot of hype around this one. Believe it.

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2: WORST BIG BOOK TO GIVE: Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen

Book of Numbers

A young man with no responsibilities, and no apparent consequences for his actions, complains about the ridiculous writing job and extraordinary adventures that he falls into. I’m sure other stuff happens but I gave up around the part where he uses a laptop charger cord to masturbate. This book is a solipsistic hellscape of narcissism, entitlement, self-destructive behavior and bullshit masquerading as a commentary on our digital age.

…if for some reason that sounds good to you.

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3: SUREST BET TO GIVESlade House by David Mitchell

Slade House

Beautifully designed on the outside, a page-turner on the inside. Literary enough for your snob friends, accessible enough for your Dan Brown friends.

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4: RISKIEST BET TO GIVE: Jillian by Halle Butler

Jillian

Is it too much like the TV show Girls? Is it too much like your actual, depressing life? Or is it exactly the right amount of bleak, contemporary, hilarious realism? At least one person in your life will absolutely adore this book. But choose carefully.

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5: COOLEST NERDY BOOK: Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Hamilton

This may be your best chance to show both your nerd cred and your cool cred by giving a doorstop historical biography that is also the basis of a hip-hop Broadway sensation. Read here if you need more convincing.

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6: JUST PLAIN NERDIEST BOOK: Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe

Thing Explainer

You know, things. Like “Bags of Stuff Inside You.” And “Stuff You Touch to Fly a Sky Boat.” Totally normal, socially well-adjusted things.

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7: MOST FUN BOOK TO EXPLAIN: MORT(E) by Robert Repino

Morte

“Giant intelligent ants take over the planet, and a cat with opposable thumbs rises up against them, but he’s in love with a dog who hasn’t been transformed yet, and there might be a few humans alive, but they’re dressed like raccoons because they’re hiding. The whole thing is a critique of organized religion. You’ll get it. Just read it, you’ll get it.”

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8: MOST FUN BOOK TO NOT EXPLAIN: Unworthy: How to Stop Hating Yourself by Anneli Rufus

Unworthy

“Thought you could use this!”

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9: BEST TITLE: The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper

Hopper

You see this title and you say “Really? No, that can’t be true. Oh fuck, of course it’s true. Which means it’s the greatest title I’ve ever heard. And now I have to read it.” (It’s good inside, too.)

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10: WORST TITLE: The Whites by Richard Price

Whites

It’s supposed to be really good and I want to read it, and it has nothing to do with race. But you run too much of a risk that your dumbass cousin or Fox News-watching brother-in-law is going to take an interest and start a conversation about how all lives matter.

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12: BIGGEST AMOUNT OF BOOK: 3000 Classic Books USB Drive

3000 Classic Books

For your family member who likes to buy white tube socks by the hundreds at Costco (and has never heard of Project Gutenberg).

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12: LITTLEST AMOUNT OF BOOK: Iterating Grace by Koons Crooks and Anonymous

Iterating Grace

In 26 unforgettable pages, an anonymous writer takes the douchebags of Silicon Valley over his or her knee and spanks them in the most literary way possible.

 

Michael Moats and Brian Hurley

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The Hung Over, Part II

FA Bodies

FA review tag

I never watched The Hangover: Part II. I loved the original movie deeply, but was told by multiple sources that the second was a trudging, shot-for-shot remake of its predecessor, and what had been so charming and fresh–even in the tired genre of drunk buddy films–lost its appeal with repetition. So with that in mind, let me be the first to ever say: The closest I’ve come to watching  The Hangover: Part II was  reading Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies.

Bodies was the 2012 Booker Prize winner and one of my most anticipated reads after loving, deeply, its 2009 Booker Prize winning predecessor, Wolf Hall. But throughout the novel, I consistently felt as if I’d seen this all before, and that what had been so engaging in the first go round–even in the tired genre of historical fiction–was less so with repetition.

This is not to say that Bring up the Bodies is not worth your time, or anywhere near as bad as the second Hangover was rumored to be. Continue reading

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Assent to the Dissent of the Day

A reader of Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish” urges Sullivan to dump Amazon and link to indie bookstores like the one where s/he works:

As the fine arts book buyer and assistant manager for an independent bookstore [seen above] in your newly-adopted city, I am disheartened to learn that you’re continuing to make affiliate revenue from Amazon, a corporation hell-bent on destroying print culture and, along with it, my job. From their loss-leading book pricing to their vile price-check app, Amazon has made itself the scourge of small booksellers everywhere.

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It’s wonderful that you provide healthcare for your interns, but I had hoped the revenue from subscriptions would have covered this. Maybe I’m overstepping my bounds, but I’d love to see you link to indie bookstores like Strand, McNally Jackson, or Community Bookstore in the future.

This is the best idea I’ve heard all day, followed closely by my own idea to visit the Rizzoli bookstore ASAP. For the record, Fiction Advocate is part of the Powell’s Partner Program.

– Michael Moats

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