When Molly Snyder asked about how I've changed since 1998 – the year OnMilwaukee.com was founded – I mentioned that I still read books printed on paper.
And, in a habit I picked up from my friend Daniel Goldin, I keep a list of the books I read.
Peeking back at that list, I was reminded of how my life has changed. Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, before I had kids, I read a lot more books than I do nowadays, for one thing.
In 1998, when I still worked at Schwartz Bookshop and had a practically never-ending supply of books, I read 65 books. Not as impressive as the 75 I'd devoured two years previous, but without a doubt the highest total since then.
Last year I managed 18, though I also wrote one, so I think that buys me some wiggle room. So far, at the start of September, I'm midway through my 22nd book of the year, but that seems less impressive when you consider that I'm not writing one.
Anyway, I love looking back at what I was reading in 1998. It's a reminder of who I was back then. Clearly, I was someone smitten with Scottish fiction and Italian books that also read a lot of books related to my job at Schwartz putting together a newsletter, writing press releases and helping out with author appearances.
Also, I'm pleased that I wasn't simply reading for quantity, but was selecting pretty good (often great) fodder. This is the list...
- Mavis Belfrage With Five Shorter Tales / Alasdair Gray (Bloomsbury UK)
- Among Women Only / Cesare Pavese (Peter Owen UK)
- The Moon & The Bonfire / Cesare Pavese (Quartet UK)
- An Absurd Vice: A Biography Of C. Pavese / Davide Lajolo (New Directions)
- Jack Frusciante Has Left The Band / Enrico Brizzi (Grove)
- Nietzsche In Turin / Lesley Chamberlain (Picador)
- The Path To The Nest Of Spiders / Italo Calvino (Ecco)
- That Awful Mess On Via Merulana / Carlo Emilio Gadda (Quartet UK)
- The Man Who Ate Everything / Jeffrey Steingarten (Knopf)
- Girl In Landscape / Jonathan Lethem (Doubleday)
- As She Climbed Across The Table / Jonathan Lethem (Vintage)
- Where She Has Gone / Nino Ricci (Picador)
- A Dream Of Something / Pier Paolo Pasolini (Quartet UK)
- The Meadowlands / Robert Sullivan (Scribner)
- The Seville Communion / Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Harcourt Brace)
- Fortune Is A River / Roger D. Masters (The Free Press)
- The White Castle / Orhan Pamuk (Vintage)
- Faithless / John L. Williams (Serpent’s Tail)
- The Club Dumas / Arturo Pérez-Reverte (Knopf)
- Are You Somebodyaccidental Memoir/ Dublin Woman / Nuala O’faolain (Holt)
- Nosferatu / Jim Shepard (Knopf)
- Hail Babylon! / Andre Codrescu (St. Martin’s Press)
- Nick Drake: A Biography / Patrick Humphries (Bloomsbury UK)
- The Pilot’s Wife / Anita Shreve (Little, Brown)
- The Inn At Lake Devine / Elinor Lipman (Random House)
- Like A Hole In The Head / Jen Banbury (Little, Brown)
- A Long Finish / Michael Dibdin (Pantheon)
- The Lost Tribe / Mark Lee (Picador)
- The House On The Hill / Cesare Pavese (Grosset’s Universal Library)
- The Beach / Cesare Pavese (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
- The Fall Of A Sparrow / Robert Hellenga (Scribner)
- Rilke On Black / Ken Bruen (Serpent’s Tail)
- About A Boy / Nick Hornby (Riverhead)
- Harvests Of Joy /Robert Mondavi (Harcourt Brace)
- Agostino / Alberto Moravia (Farrar Straus)
- The Hanging Garden / Ian Rankin (St. Martin’s Press)
- Knots & Crosses / Ian Rankin (St. Martin’s Press)
- Quarantine / Jim Crace (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
- Pretty Ballerina / John Wessel (Simon & Schuster)
- The Sweet Forever / George P. Pelecanos (Little, Brown)
- The Boy / Naeem Murr (Houghton Mifflin)
- The Swan / Sebastiano Vassalli (Harvill Press)
- The Napoleon Of Crime / Ben Mcintyre (Delta)
- The Murder Of Helen Jewett / Patricia Cline Cohen (Knopf)
- Team Rodent / Carl Hiassen (Ballantine)
- A Hero Of Our Time / Vasco Pratolini (Prentice-Hall)
- Why Sinatra Matters / Pete Hamill (Little, Brown)
- A Violent Life / Pier Paolo Pasolini (Pantheon)
- The Professor & The Madman / Simon Winchester (Harpercollins)
- Amsterdam / Ian Mcewan (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday)
- Original Bliss / A. L. Kennedy (Knopf)
- Philistines At The Hedgerow / Steven Gaines (Little, Brown)
- On Pilgrimage / Jennifer Lash (Bloomsbury UK)
- Breakfast On Pluto / Patrick Mccabe (Harperflamingo)
- Naked Pictures Of Famous People / Jon Stewart (Rob Weisbach)
- The Sopranos / Alan Warner (Jonathan Cape UK)
- Zarafa / Michael Allin (Walker)
- Bing Crosby’s Last Song / Lester Goran (Picador)
- Caravaggio: A Passionate Life / Desmond Seward (William Morrow)
- Canone Inverso / Paolo Maurensig (Henry Holt)
- Michelangelo: A Biography / George Bull (St. Martin’s)
- Silk / Alessandro Baricco (Vintage)
- Ruin (La Malora) / Beppe Fenoglio (The Marlborough Press)
- The Restraint Of Beasts / Magnus Mills (Arcade)
- The Houdini Girl / Martyn Bedford (Pantheon)
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.