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Fred Seibert's Blog

My 2008 bookshelf.

August 22nd, 2008

Some people get their cultural from comics, or movies, or the ponies. Me, it’s work, music, and books. And when my friend and NNN/tumblr investor Bijan Sabet posted about Goodreads, which he said was “sort of like last.fm for books” it reminded me what a reading junkie I am. Interestingly, my years in cartoons have once again proven to me that even the most interesting animators are the most curious, often well read, people. So, while I’m on vacation, aside from reading, I thought it might be useful to review my year’s reading list so far. Since I now read almost everything on my Kindle, my shelves aren’t quite as burdened as the picture above, but, it’s still a heavy load.

(By the way, for those who wonder, like I do, when I get the time, I read in the elevator, the subway, taxis, airplanes, and when I put my kids to bed.)

I’m not going to post about the billions of picture books I’m always getting (like the incredible “Wacky Packages”, a must have,

a five Frederator read

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because this post would go on even longer.

       

Rhythm and the Blues by Jerry Wexler and David Ritts

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I posted when I started this book last week. It follows the story of an atheist New York Jew who fell in love with the rhythm of Black America and found his love in bringing the story to the world. The great record producer of everyone from Aretha Franklin to Ray Charles to Bob Dylan to Wilson Pickett (and hundreds more) Jerry is one of my prime professional role models and I’m inspired to hear his stories as often as I can. He follows the credo of “Does it have heart? Make it!”

Hit and Run by Lawrence Block

nullnullnullnull (a four Frederator read)

Mystery fiction is the beginning and the end for me. In fact, I can’t remember when the last time I read anything else. I love Lawrence Block because he writes genre books as if they were “serious” fiction, and I read him always ending up feeling more of the human condition when I’m done. Block is an exceptional writer, never sacrificing emotion for his perfect craft.

 

Nothing to Lose by Lee Child

nullnullnull (a three Frederator read)

I was stuck in Paris without a book (my e-reader had died) and the local international bookstore didn’t have anything that appealed. Lee Child’s books always show up on my Amazon “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” so I took the shot and almost immediately regretted it. Jack Reacher is an ex-Army human superman loner who always takes on hundreds of goons and wins. After I’d finished all 11 of the series, I had to admit the guy knew how to right a thriller.

The Amazon reviews of “Nothing to Lose” were so bad I wondered if Child had suffered a stroke during the writing. Within a chapter I realized his regular fans must be right wing, “mission accomplished”, yahoos who resented the anti-Iraq ‘message’ in the book.  Not his best, but it does the job.

The Pixar Touch by David A. Price

nullnullnull (a three Frederator read)

Not just for animation fans, ‘The Pixar Touch’ is the first draft of history on this late 20th century cultural innovation.

Not particularly well written, it nonetheless give you an insight to the curiosity and persistence of vision it takes to climb to the top of the mountain.

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Logomania by Bob Gill

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Bob Gill is that rare combination, a skillful and talented graphic designer who can also express his complex thinking with the written word.

Gill explains more about his incredible creative process than graphic designs are usually able to do. An excellent, short (short) read for anyone who like to solves problems, and a wonderful primer for modern communication like other books in Gill’s bibliography.

Hollywood Station by Joseph Wambaugh

nullnullnull (a three Frederator read)

Wambaugh’s an wonderful writer whom I’m never particularly cared for, and I haven’t read one of his novels in maybe 25 years (and I think he’s probably been on hiatus for 15 of them). If you already like his spare style, this book will be a pleasant diversion.

The 6th Target by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

nullnullnull (a three Frederator read)

The sixth (get it) in the series from the Patterson factory. Strictly, perfectly, airplane reading, and great for an audio book, it reads like the not so great ABC series that was recently canceled.

The MAD World of William M. Gaines by Frank Jacobs

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I wrote about this book when I read it in May, and I think I said then it was not well written, but the closest thing to showing why Gaines could be an inspiration to me in my producing career.

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Girls Like Us by Sheila Weller

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I really didn’t want to read this book, figuring the excerpt I enjoyed so much in Vanity Fair probably had given me everything I needed from it. But, like a lot of other boomers, I couldn’t resist the pull of a book that not only relived my cultural history, but traced the path of one of the most incredible artists (Carole King –really, you probably don’t know) of the postwar 20th century. Weller’s not the greatest writer, but even considering the interviews she couldn’t get, the paths of these women tell us a lot as to why the period was as rich as any in the last 100 years.

 

The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hadju

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I’d enjoyed Hadju’s book about Bob Dylan, but reviews made me think I’d be bored by a subject I didn’t want to be bored with.  Then the great Charles Burns cover sucked me in. The reviews were basically right, but if you’re a student of cultural history, you won’t want to miss the repression America lived under in the mid-20th century. And we can’t be too careful. In the first years of the 21st we’ve started coming awfully close.

Red Cat, Death’s Little Helpers & Black Maps by Peter Spiegelman

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I was short some plane reading when I saw one of the Red Cat cover in a suburban bookstore. Sixty seconds later these were on my Kindle (a post on the destruction of the bookstore business model is brewing in my noggin somewhere) and I dispatched all three of them almost as quickly. He’s a good enough writer, and I liked all the characters enough while I was reading them (and I’ll probably read any sequels, if there are any), but, I’m having a hard time remembering all that much about them.

Pictures at a Revolution by Mark Harris

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I really enjoyed reading this book. A bit of ‘the making of’ the Oscar nominees of 1968 (”The Graduate,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Dr. Doolittle,” “In the Heat of the Night,” “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?”) Harris’ writing riveted me even though I’d only seen two of the movies more than 25 years ago. He weaves together political, historical, and cultural currents of an the most important, tumultuous period of the last 50 years and still gives us a lot of petty gossip about movie stars.

Einstein by Walter Isaacson

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The reviews on this book were incredible, but it really wasn’t my cup of tea. But somehow, with my new Kindle, I wound up buying it and starting it. The reviews were right, and reading about this genius/media darling was as inspiring as one could have hoped.

But, I still haven’t finished it. I swear, I will.

The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross

Ross’ New Yorker colleague Ken Auletta recommended this book to me when I told him how much I enjoyed reading about the creative process. It’s about the crosscurrents that collided at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries to create modern classical music, a subject I’m usually fascinated by. Painting and modern art, politics, and music were all in turmoil similar to the 1960s, and the results gave us everyone from Arnold Schoenberg, to Picasso, to World War I.

It’s just that the writing was so… I don’t know, it wasn’t bad (he writes for The New Yorker), just somehow… plodding. I still haven’t finished the book.

T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton

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This was the first book (file?) I bought with my Kindle when I got it for Christmas. Grafton’s alphabet series has been a regular on my shelves for over 20 years, and I’ve enjoyed them enough that I have at least 15 signed first editions. I love her lead character, private eye Kinsey Milhone, and she almost single handedly started the recent craze for women centered mysteries.

All that said, I have no idea anymore whether these books are good or whether I’m just happy to say Hi to old friends. Either way, start with “A is for Alibi” and you’ll know if you want to be their friends too.

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[…] about the cartoon business, though on rare occasions I’ll let you in on what’s on my personal bookshelf. Rarely, because my tastes are often off the beaten path of animation; fiction-wise I read […]

 

[…] about the cartoon business, though on rare occasions I’ll let you in on what’s on my personal bookshelf. Rarely, seeing as my reading tastes are often off the beaten path of cartoons; fiction-wise I read […]

 
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