Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Year In Books

For the past fifteen years I've kept a journal of books I've read. Today I just picked it up to see what I've read in the past twelve months. Here's the list:

9/09 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Steig Larsson - a gripping, page-turning, brutal but well-written murder mystery suspense novel published posthumously. Two more in the series have been released by this smart Scandinavian novelist. Note: this book is not for everyone, nor is the movie. However, I'll say that the movie is one of those rareties, in the sense that it follows the book amazingly well.

10/09 Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson. This is excellent, inspiring nonfiction. Read it.

10/09 Cannery Row, John Steinbeck. Such good writing, such a good story. Steinbeck was a master.

11/09 The Pilot's Wife, Anita Shreve. Oprah's Book Club stuff. I read it in a day. A page-turner, but not necessarily satiating.

11/09 The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula LeGuin. Science Fiction. A book club selection. Ursula LeGuin's so prolific and smart. I'm glad I read this, even if I didn't just love it.

11/09 Gods Behaving Badly. Can't even drum up the writer's name. Awful. Couldn't stand it. A book club selection. A story of modern gods living in London. Blah, blah, blah.

12/09 Ada Blackjack: A True Story of Surival in the Arctic, Jennifer Niven. I think I wrote about this on an earlier post. Fascinating story, decent nonfiction writing, brought about plenty of discussion at book club.

1/10 The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon. I love Michael Chabon. Not everyone will agree with me, but: He can do no wrong. He's the master of descriptive writing.

1/10 The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick. Graphic novel for YA or middle grade. This was a wonder-filled book. Loved it.

2/10 Shiloh, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Dane's class read this, so I did, too. Lovely story about a boy who saves a dog from an abusive owner. Set in 50's/60's south.

4/10 The Daykeeper's Grimoire, Christy Raedeke. I wrote about this in an earlier post; my friend Christy's debut YA novel. Read it!

5/10 Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen. I can't recall a thing about this. Not even a main character. Wait... Oh. The 16-year-old girl traveling to Bath with chaperones. Meets good boy, pursued by bad boy. Etc. Still not in love with Jane Austen. I'd like to be. Will keep reading her works.

5/10 The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan. The first in the series of five. Excellent middle grade reading.

5/10 Cheaper By The Dozen, Frank B. Gilbreth. Wrote about this on an earlier post. Didn't do much for me, in the long run, but it's a decent read. Besides, I had to read it for book club AND I was waiting for book 2 in Rick Riordan's series, since Dane and Aubrey and Mick were reading the only copy we own!

6/10 The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan. Book 2. Fabulous.

6/10 The Titan's Curse, Rick Riordan. Book 3. Fabulous.

6/10 The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan. Book 4. Fabulous.

6/10 The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan. Book 5. Fabulous.

7/10 The Reader, Bernard Schlenk. I've wanted to read this since I saw a poster for the movie, starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. Set post-Holocaust, and taking on difficult themes, this book was excellent. I read it in a day. I'd see the movie.

7/10 The Girl Who Played with Fire, Steig Larsson. Book 2 of 3. Brutal, but good writing. And I'll read the third.

7/10 Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher. Young Adult literature. The premise caught my attention. A boy gets a box of cassette tapes after a girl's suicide, and listens to the 13 reasons she killed herself. Great premise, and the teens that read it probably love it. I just thought the girl felt objectified a few too many times. Possible - and even probable - in real life, but the way it was written made me not want to believe she had to see things the way she did. Which, of course, is part of the brilliant premise of it, right? We're supposed to believe suicidal cases -- the signs are there, and the reasons are real to the victim. (Anybody else read this and had thoughts about it???)

So that's all for my year. Twenty-one books. Looks like I read a lot of YA and Middle Grade novels this year. Some book club selections, too (which didn't always move me). Oh, and I read these three books all year long, whenever I felt like it: The Fourth Genre, Writing Life Stories, and The Eleventh Draft, among other essay and short story collections.

Upon reflection, I didn't really seek out good literature in the past twelve months the way I usually do. I think that'll be my goal in the next twelve: Keep something on hand at all times that I really want to sink my teeth into. (Help me out with that? Suggestions welcome.)

He's not here to put this together, but I'll throw in that Mick read the Lightning Thief series, too, some Michael Chabon, the Girl with the... series, and lots of David Foster Wallace (his new hero -- Mick loved the 3-inch thick novel, Infinite Jest).

These two cats LOVE the Lightning Thief series (wait, they call it the Percy Jackson series). Dane's read it four times this summer -- yup, that's about 1500 pages each time, so 6000 pages total. Aubrey's on book 4 of her second reading. These guys can't get enough of Percy Jackson and Greek mythology.

They've also listened to books 1-5 on CD of The Ranger's Apprentice series. We're waiting for the audio CD of book 6, reserved at the library. I think we're hold 2 of 6...

Got a good book suggestion for me? Leave me a comment!


Anonymous said...

Note to the "Reader" Family:
OK, Dane & Aubrey...I'm going to the library to get your Percy Jackson books to read. Then we can TALK.
Anj...I had been trying to remember Ada Blackjack title. Am sure I will get The Reader too. Is it anything like The Book Thief?
Mick...Will also try some of your reads.
Mema/Mom/Big Share
Thanks for the list; ready to take it on. (May have trouble doing anything else now.)

anjie said...

Mema, you should definitely read the Percy Jackson series.

Mom, I think I'd only recommend Ada Blackjack and anything by Steinbeck or Chabon.