Nightstand confessional

What the City Pages staff is reading--or pretending to read

Corey Anderson  Chris Ware (ed.), McSweeney's Quarterly Concern No. 13:  Chicago graphic novel writer Chris Ware guest edits this comic-themed 2004 compilation. Ware showcases the work of numerous writers/illustrators such as Lynda Barry, Ben Katchor, Art Spiegelman, and Kim Deitch. Also included: stories from the likes of John Updike, who waxes nostalgic on his stint with a Harvard Lampoon cartoon staff that included Fred ("Herman Munster") Gwynne.

Jessica Armbruster  Eric Schlosser: Reefer Madness: The Fast Food Nation author returns with an exploration of migrant labor, pornography, and the marijuana trade. Thorough research and forceful arguments make this an enlightening take on the hypocrisy of a society that outwardly condemns industries that are, in fact, major contributors to the national economy.

Diablo Cody  Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Never order mussels on Monday, nix hollandaise sauce, and avoid brunch at all costs. These and other useful gustatory caveats can be gleaned from Bourdain's rollicking expose of what really goes on behind the scenes at high-class restaurants (yes, they recycle the bread from table to table).

Paul Demko  various authors, Daily Racing Form: Picaresque coming-of-age tale involving drugs, competitive sports, and breeding.

Dylan Hicks  James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson: The secret about the English Language's Greatest Biography(tm) is that it's still entertaining. And charmingly modest in tone, despite its extravagant length and ambition. Like its subject, it does not strut or stand on tip toe; it only does not stoop.

Mike Mosedale  Jared Diamond, Collapse: A history of how environmental stressors--climate change and deforestation, mainly--contributed to social collapses from Easter Island to Norse Greenland. Cheerless and engrossing, the book leads to one inevitable conclusion: The end is extremely fucking nigh.

Michael Tortorello  Tom Sharpe, Indecent Exposure: Don't let the exploding ostriches and the swishy konstables fool you. The real joke in this 1973 satire is the South African apartheid state, which gives birth to every outrage and human deviance you can imagine. And a few you can't.


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