Library Shelf Listing

Finding new books is harder than it should be. Independent bookstores are closing shop, and big box stores who only carry whatever bribes their way past the exorbitant stock keeping fees. Databases and libraries become impossible to navigate unless you already know what you're looking for. Even with online resale, you can only search within your own vocabulary. Now rare are the times when one can simply look upon a bookshelf and see some hitherto unknown title.

I know I must not be the only one with this problem. So, I offer a listing of my own shelves, such that anyone may use my listing as reference for their own.

My books get divided into three categories: Fiction, Arts, and Sciences. ... however, what I classify as what depends more on my own idiosyncrasies and opinion of the book than anything else.

I will only list books that I liked, were interesting, or at least not terrible enough to be disowned. Self-authored books are not listed. Multiple copies in different languages are listed only under one entry. Scientific work that risks being quickly outdated are unlisted. Favourites are italicized. Items are listed alphabetically, but not in the order in which I first read them, so inter-related lines of thought between multiple books may be listed in a confusing order.

I take recommendations for others, within reason.

Recent Additions

Nothing new these days...

Book of the Day

The Xenotext

Christian Bök

Book one, of however many. Bök continues my impression of him as the epitome of style over substance, now bringing that distinction to scientific rigour.

Reading this book made me wonder if my lingering resentment against Bök wasn't in some way unfair. Perhaps I am not so much mad at him as what he enables in others. My first introduction to Bök was in the same breath as Kenneth Goldsmith, and Goldsmith was so obviously awful that I simply assumed Bök must've been as well. He's not, and he deserves the praise he gets; yet my heart refuses to sincerely embrace him. Even if he is literally the One Good Sound Poet in all of human civilization, and even further if his craft is so finely honed that he becomes the paragon prophet of the English language, I absolutely cannot conscionably allow it in my own mind. There is a rift between us, and it is formed by a fundamental disagreement about the very purpose of craft. To read poems by Bök is to be locked in a prison of broken signs, to go to a place where nothing truly matters, to remind yourself that even if we tried our hardest we will all die tomorrow and there would be nothing left.

He seems to be aware of that criticism. The xenotext itself, which oddly isn't even in this introductory book and still seems to be forthcoming, promises to be the one piece of culture which will out-survive the entire life of the planet Earth; encoded into the genetic sequence of the extremophilic bacterium, deinococcus radiodurans. It is undeniably fascinating, but only as a technique. A how with no what. Even the xenotext itself is only an expression of pure form.

Bök makes language a candy, so sweet on the tongue, but however savoury it is against instinct. True language is the thick hide of a terrible monster, its fangs ripping ever deeper into our doomed skulls, and it hungers yet.

If you managed to go through what I have and still didn't see anything which caught your attention, you may also try these sources:

Dan Pollock is the curator of a well-organized HOSTS file used for blocking common sources of advertising, shock sites, and other malware. (Which everyone should totally have installed, regardless of their operating system.) He also keeps an extensive bookshelf of his own, which I use for reference sometimes as well.

Fellow Canadian writer Jonathan Ball doesn't have a bookshelf per-se, but he does engage in a thing known as the "95 Books" challenge each year since 02013, based off of a quip that a certain American idiot-president managed to read 94 books a year. He's been successful at reading more than 100 books each year compared to my average of about 25, though I should note as far as the challenge itself goes he is something of a dirty cheat. (Lots of Canadian Poetry books anyone can finish reading in about a day.) You can see the lists he has completed here.

Return to Literature Index