Ex Libris Kirkland

Ex Libris Kirkland is my entirely self-centered way to keep track of what I read, what I like, and what I want to remember.


Recently Quoted

  • from 'Undated Lullaby'

    ...& your eyes,
    close them--make arrangements to hold
    yourself together, that will be needed, make of your compassion a
    crisper instrument, you will need its blade, you will need
    bitterness, stand here all you like looking in, you
    will need to learn
    to live in this prison
    of blood and breath...

    an excerpt from Sea Change, written by Jorie Graham in 2008

  • Then a miracle occurred in the form of a plate of sandwiches.
    Geryon took three and buried his mouth in a delicious block of white bread filled with tomatoes and butter and salt.
    He thought about how delicious it was, how he liked slippery foods, how slipperiness can be of different kinds.
    I am a philosopher of sandwiches, he decided. Things good on the inside.

    an excerpt from Autobiography of Red, written by Anne Carson in 1998

  • ...there it was one of those moments that is the opposite of blindness.

    an excerpt from Autobiography of Red, written by Anne Carson in 1998

Recently Noted

  • A really interesting magazine article that got stretched out to book length. But full of interesting stuff, all the same. I really loved thinking about - but not really believing - some of the ideas here. Like, before global reporting efforts (weatherwatchers mailed postcards in, and symbols literally pinned to a map), people didn't think of weather as a global system or even something you could conceptualize from above - but only local weather patterns that just appeared, locally, and didn't have meaningful connections with like, the weather in other places. A delightful idea, but... I kind of doubt this.

    an note about The Weather Machine, written by Andrew Blum in 2019

  • This is really an amazing, super clever puzzlebox murder mystery story. You wake up, you don't know who you are, you are in a decrepit manor house in a vaguely Downton Abbey setting, and you have to solve a murder to get out. You wake up again, and it's the same day, but you're in a different body.

    This has all the pleasures of an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, AND a time travel story where your choices ripple out in unexpected directions. And really, it's a great premise that might get a bit thin, but the author keeps peeling back a layer and exposing that the gear mechanism you thought you were working with is a part of a larger mechanism.

    It's also a kind of meta book: in the first section I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the story as being about the experiences of Author and Reader. That's clever and interesting, but could have worn thin for a long book, and it 100% did not.

    And the writing itself is pretty good! It's well done, there were a pile of clever metaphors (probably too many), the characterization is solid (which is super important for the story mechanism at use here). That also could have been a big risk for the audiobook, but the reader totally pulls this off without resorting to silly voices.

    I listened to this as an audiobook, and I was really surprised that despite the dry tone of the reader, this ended up as 17 hours of really compelling listening.

    an note about The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, written by Stuart Turton in 2018

  • This is a funny book in the guise of a nonfiction tome, in the vein of John Hodgman. But it's better! And I think mostly actually factual? I didn't check everything, but it's very entertaining while ALSO being chock full of amazing facts that make you want to read out loud to your spouse, who is falling asleep next to you and maybe doesn't care that all Haas avocados are direct descendents of a mysterious seed discovered in the 30s that nobody knows where it came from.

    an note about How to Invent Everything, written by Ryan North in 2018

Looking for more recent books? Check out the Personal Timeline.



Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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