Every week in my newsletter I include a list of books I’m reading. I used to include longform recommendations, but that got tedious, plus often I read books I don’t particularly want to recommend. I cast a wide net, and sometimes what I read is mostly worthwhile as part of a large, diverse whole rather than outstanding individual items. However, I missed having a place to say things about single books. So here we are.

This month I read:

  • Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973, Haruki Murakami: I’m finally running out of new-to-me Murakami books (it will be time to start rereading the full list soon), so I came to this double edition of his first two novellas. Hear the Wind Sing is … a little rough. I found Pinball, 1973 better. Both are clearly early efforts and probably only of interest to the die-hard Murakami readers.
  • Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood, Karina Longworth: Since I am consistently praising Longworth’s long-running podcast about old Hollywood, You Must Remember This, it comes as no surprise I loved this book. It’s deeply researched and expertly written, and uses Howard Hughes as a framework for telling the stories of several women who navigated a system that did not, to put it lightly, have their own best interests in mind.
  • The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers: I have been digging into my Joseph Campbell over the past year or so, so this was next on the list. I don’t prefer the conversational format here to Campbell’s traditionally written works, but it’s a nice “Campbell Highlights” volume and they talk about Star Wars a lot. And Netflix is currently streaming the 1988 documentary version, if you want an audio-visual companion.
  • We Sold Our Souls, Grady Hendrix: This is the most fun I’ve had reading a book in a long time. A modern-day horror fantasy about an aging former metal guitarist who discovers that her band’s traumatic breakup years earlier was the fault of the lead singer’s deal with dark forces that catapulted him to mainstream stardom alone, and she sets out on a quest to find her former bandmates, confront the singer and navigate a 2019 America full of lost souls. It’s everything about why you turn to dark, wild music when you don’t understand or fit in with anything else and how girls with guitars can save the world. I loved it.
  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley: I’m not entirely finished with this one, but I think it’s safe for me to say this is a book that merits its mention. I have never read it before, and it’s been an interesting experiment to strip away the layers of expectations and take in the original story.

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