2009 Books Read

A pathetic showing when you consider how much I normally read (2008, 2007, 2006, 2005), but whatever, I did what I could. I did not read a book, not one word, from about March to August. Or, that’s probably wrong – I am already remembering 2009 wrong. I know I didn’t read at all from January until about March. Then I had a small burst, which abruptly fell off in around June and then months passed before I read again. It is very strange to not be reading. But here is my paltry tally for 2009.

1. Necessary Sins, by Lynn Darling. Don’t miss it. Excerpts here, here, here, and here.

2. Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints: Essays (Vintage), by Joan Acocella. Loved every word. NOT TO BE MISSED. She brought me to Nureyev, and for that I am truly thankful. Excerpt here, here and here.

3. Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood: Rebels, Reds, and Graduates and the Wild Stories Behind the Making of 13 IconicFilms. Great stuff. And thank you, James Wolcott, for your continued support.

4. Cults in Our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace, by Margaret Singer. I believe Siobhan gave this to me for Christmas. It’s a brilliant and important book.

5. Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34, by Bryan Burroughs. Wonderful.

6. The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. I know I’m behind the curve on this one, but this is definitely the best book I’ve read this year. Tears, guffawing out loud, outrage … the book has it all. It’s brilliant.

7. Young Stalin, by Simon Sebag Montefiore. I can’t get enough. Clearly.

8. Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry, by Leanne Shapton. Sent to me by dear cousin Mike to get me reading again … it ended up being THE CONTEXT through which I went through the ridiculous white-hot-rage romantic situation I found myself in this year. EFF YOU, DOUCHE. Happy New Year. Post here. Thanks Mike for knowing just what I needed to hear.

10. Life with My Sister Madonna, by Christopher Ciccone. I read this while I was in LA. It is stupid and petty. Could not put it down.

11. 700 Sundays, by Billy Crystal. My dear friend Kate sent this to me. I have the best friends. A really emotional piece of work from Crystal, a true tribute to his parents. beautiful.

12. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, by Philip Zambardo. I am now obsessed with the Stanford Prison Experiment for all time. Great book.

13. Nureyev: The Life, by Julie Kavanagh. READ IT. I DEMAND that you read it. A magnificent piece of work.

14. Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, by Robert Hare. A must-read for anyone interested in criminal psychology. MUST READ.

I was hoping to finish (or re-finish) Crime and Punishment this year, one of my favorite books, and a perfect jumping off point from Robert Hare’s groundbreaking work. I have 40 pages to go and I just couldn’t get it done. I’ve lost my mojo.

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14 Responses to 2009 Books Read

  1. Emily says:

    #4 – Can you believe Singer spent her life being menaced by threats after writing that book? I guess the truth hurts that bad.

    “It is stupid and petty. Could not put it down.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    And since you DEMANDED it and everything, I just ordered the Nureyev book.

    Happy New Year, Sheila. I hope it’s a great one for you. It’s got all the markings of one. Enjoy your sebatacle.

  2. red says:

    Emily – I know, and she really barely mentions C0$ by name, for fear of reprisal. It is infuriating!! Good for her for writing that book – it is invaluable.

    and hahahaha with the Madonna book. It is SO petty, but also realllllly interesting. I couldn’t believe I was reading it and was embarrassed for myself in public when I had it out.

  3. Emily says:

    It IS invaluable. She really makes a great case for all the ignorant people who think there’s no difference between a cult and a mainstream religion. She maps it out. Yes, there is a HUGE difference. People who grow up and leave the Methodist church don’t need to spend twelve years in therapy to get over it. They are not fractured, bitter and afraid. They haven’t been defrauded, raped or abused. That book should be a Western culture staple and Singer is a brave, brave woman for writing it.

    And you shouldn’t be embarrassed – one of the most endearing things about you, at least to me, is that you are an intellectual without pretentions. You’ll have a copy of Deepest Book Ever by Big Philosopher sitting right next to I Am A Vapid Moron by Dumbass Plastic Surgery Project. They both serve a useful purpose, even if it’s not immediately apparent.

  4. red says:

    Oh my God, I so want to read “I am a Vapid Moron”!!!!

  5. JessicaR says:

    That’s better than I was able to. Though one of my reads was thanks to you, Out On A Limb. I loved it! It was interesting because I don’t share her beliefs but it avoided the trap of so much new age writing, that smug I’m operating on a higher plane and granting your worthless self the gift on my insight tone I hate. With her it starts from curiosity, she wonders about things, she learns about things, she goes on a journey. And whatever I believe it’s a facinating one that I’m glad I got a glimpse into.

  6. Shasta says:

    Very cool! I was just making my 2010 reading list, and will have to give some of these a definite strong look. Thanks!

  7. roo says:

    happy new year, sheila.

    your blog has been one of my highlights of 2009– a tough year, that i’m not entirely sorry to see go.

    wishing the very best to you and yours,

    aka hades pussercats

  8. roo says:

    i hope it was clear that i meant your blog was one of the good parts . …

    no tone of voice can be tricky. anyway ,


  9. Kate says:

    I love that this reflects a thin year. This would be a banner reading year for just about anyone else!

  10. jean says:

    thank goodness I reminded you that the Madonna book actually counted as a “book read”! hahaha

  11. brendan says:

    Ah, but methinks ye’ve FOUND yer mojo, silly gerl!

  12. PatrickW says:

    I LOVED the Madonna book. Couldn’t put it down.

  13. Cousin Mike says:


    I am deeply afraid of how long this list is going to be at the end of 2010. I am already swamped by your output the last month on this site and feel everyday I come here I am left with two distinct emotions A.) Elation –for what I will learn. B) Dread–for the books, films, plays, and articles I will feel compelled to devour–and will not be able to unless I am snowed in for two years.

  14. Maroussia says:

    It will be great to watch Billy Crystal – 700 Sundays, i have bought tickets from
    http://ticketfront.com/event/Billy_Crystal_700_Sundays-tickets looking forward to it.

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