These are the books I bought this January, and all but two were from a series of Fully Booked sales. That’s thirty-five books bought in the first month of 2014—I bought more books than there are days in the year thus far. A few certainties: Having rearranged my shelves during the holidays, I’ve had absolutely no room in my shelves left for books since the holidays; there will be no eating right for the next two weeks; I am exploring the possibility of maiming someone just so I can have world enough and time for these books; I am so, so very happy; Batman definitely does not approve. But let me explain. [Continue reading.]

There ought to be a term for the bookish adultery that compels you to actively search for echoes—or even reiterations—of books you’ve loved for the longest time. Then again, the brand of fidelity attached to this venture is a curious, if twisted, thing, too—you welcome things that remind you of the original, which would always, always have its fist wrapped around your fervently beating-for-it heart. I am talking about Jane Eyre. In this instance. [Continue reading.]

The introduction Batman: Year One phrases it nicely: That if Frank Miller had rightly immortalized Batman’s Omega in The Dark Knight Returns, it only makes the most perfect sense that he could do the same with Batman’s Alpha. Year One is a refinement of Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s original Batman origin story—adding nuance where it called for it, adding grit, doing away with the slick camp of the late 1930s style, imbuing both alter egos with more gravitas. A gravitas that seems to have set the tone for all the Batman comics that would follow—fortunately for my angst-hungry heart. And. It’s the story of Bruce Wayne. [Continue reading.]

Of course I would love Lady Chatterley’s Lover, of course, of course, of course. I will always be partial to restless women—restless for one reason or another—and Lady Constance Chatterley belongs now to that specific pantheon in my head, with the likes of Emma Bovary, of April Wheeler. Women who desire, women who want something and want for something—these are the people my bibliophilic heart beats heaviest for. (And, hah, not to mention their illicit loves and the series of delightfully cathartic poor judgment calls and the convoluted ways they try to make themselves happy.) [Continue reading.]

But Sasha Grey absolutely did not write an erotic romance in The Juliette Society; it’s more dangerous, for one, and follows more faithfully the tradition of erotica. That is: Grey’s book isn’t a romance with graphic sex scenes, which usually [tediously] involved forays into a poorly conceived BDSM culture. Sasha Grey isn’t a hanger-on of James’ [utterly frustrating] success—I am arguing that Sasha Grey, with The Juliette Society, was writing under the house of Anaïs Nin, even of Pauline Réage. [Continue reading.]

I don’t take lightly the whole “Books That Changed Your Life” tag, y’all—but The Dark Knight Returns changed my fucking life. This book caused the very landscape of my reading to change—the bowing bookshelves that hold my growing collection [!] of comic books can attest to that. TDKR barreled its way through a barricade I had unintentionally built around a whole genre of literature, gave me new great things to fall in love with, and has since ensured that I will spend my last days at the poorhouse. Vengeance! Justice! Human decency! Badass machinery! Angst parties! Story lines that do not condescend, that bring everything good about the novel into a glossy book-as-object! The artistry that goes into each page, how threaded with thought these books are! And, as I’ve been saying for months now: Nothing fucking beats an aging Batman in a rearing stallion! [Continue reading.]

Arthur Conan Doyle, in his preface to The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes: “I fear that Mr. Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular tenors who, having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated farewell bows to their indulgent audiences. This must cease and he must go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary.” The insistence: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson would go, as would their stories, and would remain gone. And now: I have read all of the canon. That is: There are no more Sherlock Holmes stories for me to read, for the first time. [Continue reading.]

“For myself,” Marcel Proust writes, “I only feel myself live and think in a room where everything is the creation and the language of lives profoundly different from my own, of a taste the opposite of mine, where I can rediscover nothing of my conscious thought, where my imagination is exhilarated by feeling itself plunged into the heart of the non-self.” I feel immensely giddy that I am allowed a more literal interpretation: I am in the mad throes of love with my room. The good books are better, and the blows are softened when I’m with the books that don’t like me so much. I’m savoring every moment I have in this room, and I’m looking forward to the days and nights-into-days of reading that it will host. Sure: The detritus will find a way to rise, inch across my desk and on the floor; the books will ever so surely contrive a disarray; Real Life will intrude and I’ll be too weary to even try to stop it. But—and, yes, almost a chant of mine now—I will keep reading, I will immerse myself in what Proust rather earnestly dubs as “merely the noblest of distractions”—for as long as the floors gleam, for as long as I have a clear view of every book in the room, for as long as that red chair will hold me. And even after, of course—of course. [Continue reading.]

I got caught in a lot of hype last year, mostly of the for-the-comeback variety: Good authors who’d taken their sweet time coming out with a new book, good authors who’ve just kept on writing but managed to hit the sweeter spot this time around. I have this notion about myself that I steer clear of hype, because it’s just the publishing world lying to me, but this is obviously flawed thinking. And so I like to console myself that the comeback-hype is the better kind of hype to fall prey to—one that has basis, plus the odds are with you because you know that it’s worked for you before? It’s more infectious, too: The hype was more of the bookish internet slaying everyone with a celebratory cheer: Marisha Pessl had a new book, Donna Tartt had a new book, J.K. Rowling kicked everyone’s asses and proved she still had a good book under her belt, Stephen King wouldn’t fucking relent and just kept getting better. [Continue reading.]

Am really thankful to Ana and Iris for launching Long-Awaited Reads Month again for this year—because there’s nothing like kicking off the year burdened with glorious bibliophilic purpose. I’m enamored by the whole point of the project—to read that book you’ve always told yourself you’d read, that book you’ve always wondered about, or that book that’s been on your shelves forever. It’s a great push, too, and there’s an added weight—a kind of optimism—attached to every #LARMonth read under your belt. No pressure, of course, Sasha. None at all. [Continue reading.]