Sunday, December 28, 2008

Books, forward and back

The last couple of years, I've resolved to read 52 books over the course of the year, figuring one a week isn't a whole lot to ask of myself. I just did my count for 2008 since I'm pretty sure I won't be finishing anything up in the next day and a half, and ended the year having read 71 books. So, go me! And there were a lot of really good ones in there too, the kind of book you call your friends when you finish and urge them to read immediately. My favorites of the year, in no particular order, would have to be:
  • Agent Zigzag, Ben McIntyre. Completely engrossing non-fic about a double agent in WWII.
  • The Genius, Jesse Kellerman. I like books that are set in the seamier corners of New York City (or anywhere, really), especially when they're beautifully written mysteries.
  • Uglies, Pretties, Specials and Extras, Scott Westerfeld. What can I say? I'm a sucker for well-written dystopian fantasies. Also really liked Peeps.
  • The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins. Seriously, I love dystopian fantasies. I reviewed it here.
  • Garnethill, Denise Mina. Very dark, very Scottish, very good.
  • The Wild Trees, Richard Preston. About the exploration of canopies of super-tall trees and the previously unknown biosystems that exist up there. Kind of mind-blowing, really.
  • The Whiskey Rebels, David Liss. You can read my officially official review here.
  • A Place of Execution, Val McDermid. I read two of her others this year too, The Distant Echo and A Darker Domain, and really tore through both of those as well, though PoE is in a class by itself. She's going to be in New York Feb. 10 — anyone want to go to the reading with me?
  • When Will There Be Good News? Kate Atkinson. Just as good as Case Histories, which is really saying something.
  • In the Woods and The Likeness, Tana French. Just so good.
I'm still going for the 52 books a year number for 2009, but with an additional angle. After reading about the 9 for 09 challenge on Kim's blog the other night, I went to my shelves immediately to pull my own books. These are all books that I own, and have owned, in some cases, for a very long time. It's not that I don't want to read them — I do! otherwise, I'd get rid of them! — it's just that for whatever reason, I don't. This looks like a good exercise to get me reading the stuff I already have.

Long: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susannah Clarke. I've tried to listen to this as an audiobook a couple of times, but the story is just too complicated for me to follow without actually seeing all of the words and names in front of me. I think I'll have better luck on paper. Amazon says it's 1024 pages, but I'm pretty sure the edition I have is more like 800, so either bigger pages or smaller print....

Free: Tin Horns and Calico, Henry Christman. This is set in the part of the Hudson Valley where I grew up and is the true story of a bunch of farmers revolting in the 1840s and overthrowing what was basically a feudal system. This copy was in my house growing up and I've been meaning to read it for at least 15 years. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I believe that I may have written a book report on it when I was in high school without actually having read it. Bad Stephanie! Apparently, you can read the whole thing here.

Dusty: Winter's Tale, Mark Helprin. I have had this book for a long. freaking. time.

Used: A Conspiracy of Paper, David Liss. Yep, bought it used. As I mentioned above, I really loved The Whiskey Rebels and have high hopes for this one too, which I think may have either won or been nominated for an Edgar.

Letter: Oh, I didn't pull this to get into the photo, but I have a copy. Good People, Marcus Sakey. There were a bunch of Ss in the running, but this one had a K too.

Strange: Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work, Jason Brown. I don't typically read short stories. Plus, I borrowed this from someone a truly inexcusable length of time ago and it's way past time I get it back to her.

Distance: The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell. I'm choosing to interpret this category as allowing for a distance through time as well as physical distance.

AN: Arthur & George, Julian Barnes. Short-listed for the Booker. I bought this is a book-buying binge a few days before I got laid off in Feb. 2006.

Cover: Originally, I was going to read The Devil's Gentleman by Harold Schecter for this category, but have since decided that the cover of The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly more effectively blows my skirt up so am subbing that one in instead.


Anonymous said...

I loved Winter's Tale, and Wordy Shipmates is on my once-school-is-over list. You don't wanna see the list of books I just ordered from Amazon for next semester. I'm pretty sure I'll need antidepressants to get through the modern Europe class.

Natalie said...

I got the Westerfeld books for Christmas and am totally looking forward to reading them--after I finish my review books. ;)

Anonymous said...

I love all Denise Mina's books. I'm also into the Scandinavian mysteries. Talk about atmospheric.

Juno said...

I had a Winter's Tale for a long time, like - 20 years? And I got rid of the paperback because I never read it. And then I had to go buy another one. I read the first few chapters - they were good - untili was distracted by soemthing shiny. It's around here.....somewhere - probably in the corner with Mason&Dixon and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, LAUGHING AT ME.

Juno said...

Also, I have a link for you and a book list. IM me?

Carolyn said...

is that Jason Brown book mine? it's sooooo good.

i have winter's tale hanging out here too. 'freddy and frederica' or whatever it was called was so damn funny. is this one going to be as funny? i think my fear that it won't be is what keeps me from ever reading it.

if you haven't read 'city of bones' cassandra clarke, it is my current favorite YA vampire book. FYI.