Reading life review: September

Books read this month: 6 7
Books read in 2011: 93 94

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
Fiction. The "Girls Rule!" Book Club read this beautiful classic -- savored it -- in September. It was a re-read (five? six? more? times now) for me, and I maintain that this old-fashioned favorite still works and works well. (Look for a chapbook entry in the coming weeks.) We love to complement our book club selections with a family film night, but I'm having a dickens of a time tracking down a DVD of the 1945 film, directed by Elia Kazan. Keepin' my fingers crossed, though.

101 Things I Hate about Your House (James Swan)
Non-fiction. This silly book, which suffers from a grievous lack of both substantive and copy editing (a reflection of the publisher (HC 1) or the state of publishing in general?), gave me nothing new or bold to think about in terms of home decor. Hand towels? Soap? Really? Not recommended.

DMZ: Volume 9: MIA (Brian Wood)
Graphic fiction. If I remember correctly, this volume took quite a critical drubbing but I enjoyed it.

The Leftovers (Tom Perrotta)
Fiction. Perrotta's (Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher) latest "suffocating anesthetic of the suburbs" take on the aftermath of a rapture-like event has earned mixed reader reviews, although critics liked it: NYT review here; Los Angeles Times review here. I think it's worthwhile, if not his best. Interested but unsure? Check out Terry Gross' author interview: "After The Rapture, Who Are 'The Leftovers'?" (NPR, August 25).

Barns of Illinois (Larry and Alaina Kanfer)
Non-fiction. Gorgeous photos and engaging text from a husband-and-wife team. Published by the University of Illinois Press in 2009.

Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work (Tim Gunn)
Non-fiction. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The Misses and I absolutely and completely ❤ Tim Gunn. As you might imagine, then, passing this little gem back and forth, reading aloud bits in our best "That's a lot of look!" voices, and marking our favorite passages with Post-Its have been a real source of delight for us. No, the writing isn't perfect, but Gunn is such a genuine personality that the reader simply appreciates his anecdotes and related suggestions as wisdom from an experienced and generous teacher. You'll find excerpts here and here. Don't miss the related videos in the sidebar of that first link. With any luck, I'll offer a chapbook entry on this book, too. Until then? Highly recommended.

Added later:
Before I Go to Sleep (S.J. Watson)
Fiction. Is the fact that I forgot that this was the first book I finished in September a review of sorts? That's probably not fair, though. Sleep is a much-hyped, overpraised, but, in my opinion, simply adequate thriller that depends wholly on a reader's suspension of disbelief to work. I didn't regret the time I spent with it; I think I just expected... more.