Monday, January 23, 2006

30 Books I've Read

I usually mark my reading year as starting on January 21st; I have no special reason for this start date, it's just the date I started recording my books a few years ago. I set myself a goal of 30 new books per year and although it ended up being quite the last-ditch-effort, I made my goal. (I don't include Graphic Novels and Trade Paperbacks because if I did, I'd have about 60 books on the list.) The list of books (with selected commentary) follows, for those that are interested in what I've been putting into my brain over the past year and / or are looking for some reading suggestions.

1. Madame Bovary, C'est Moi! - André Bernard.
2. Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris. (After all the good word-of-mouth I got about Sedaris over the past 2 years, I finally picked up one of his books. This was a great read, probably one of my favourite of the 30.)
3. Lost In A Good Book - Jasper Fforde.
4. The Polysyllabic Spree - Nick Hornby. (A collection of Nick Hornby's "Stuff I've Been Reading" articles for The Believer magazine, about the stuff he's been reading. AN interesting peek into the life of a writer I enjoy.)
5. Naked - David Sedaris. (Not as good as Me Talk Pretty One Day, but there were some brilliant stories.)
6. Nothing's Sacred - Lewis Black. (Most books written by stand-up comedians are wastes of time, as they're nothing more than their standup routines in print form. This suffers from a bit of that, but it's also a bit of a memoir, and so is ultimately at the high end of the Comedian Author bell curve.)
7. How To Be A Canadian - Ian Ferguson & Will Ferguson. (Amusing when read in small doses, but ultimately a little too gaggy for my liking. Don't regret reading it, though.)
8. Kitchen Confidential - Anthony Bourdain. (A book to read if you like food, although you shouldn't read a few chapters if you're planning on going to eat in a restaurant in the next three weeks.)
9. Literary Lapses - Stephen Leacock. (One of the funniest men who ever put pen to paper, sometimes called Canada's Mark Twain. A humour classic.)
10. Mr. Majestyk - Elmore Leonard. (Picked up six Leonard books at a used bookstore for $15; one of the smartest purchases I ever made. This one's missing the humour I expect in Leonard books, but it was a quick read and although it petered out at the end, it had some shocking passages.)
11. Out of Sight - Elmore Leonard. (I saw the movie first, but I can't honestly say I like the book better. They're both very good, just in different ways.)
12. Reading Lolita In Tehran - Azar Nafisi. (Book Club selection, one I rather liked despite its awkward chronology and the author's love of Jane Austen and The Great Gatsby. An intelligent and enlightening peek into the lives of Muslim women.)
13. Why People Believe Weird Things - Michael Shermer. (A must-read for any skeptic. Highly recommended.)
14. Make Love!...The Bruce Campbell Way - Bruce Campbell. (A novel about starring in a movie with Richard Gere & Renée Zellwegger that was entertaining but disposable.)
15. The Poorhouse Fair - John Updike. (One of the strangest books I read all year; little plot and all character, not my typical read. Updike's skill at crafting sentences kept me rivited, though.)
16. The Professor & The Madman - Simon Winchester. (The story of the Oxford English Dictionary through the eyes of its greatest architect and its most surprising contributor. A good companion to The Meaning of Everything, even though this was written first.)
17. Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling. (Book Club selection. What can I say? It was better than Book 5, but I'm not doing cartwheels or anything.)
18. You Shall Know Our Velocity - David Eggers.
19. The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad - Minister Faust.
20. The Well of Lost Plots - Jasper Fforde. (Probably my favourite of the Thursday Next series. The first two are rather good, but this one is the best.)
21. Something Rotten - Jasper Fforde. (Kind of a letdown after the last one, but a fun read nonetheless.)
22. Carry On, Jeeves - P.D. Wodehouse. (I just love Wodehouse's writing. Bertie Wooster is a great literary invention.)
23. The New Rules - Bill Mahr. (Entirely pointless but usually funny.)
24. Gold Coast - Elmore Leonard.
25. We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver. (Book Club selection. A phenomenal book, but not for the faint of heart.)
26. Wicked - Gregory Maguire.
27. Shopgirl - Steve Martin. (Emotionally damaged people trying to find their way through life in their relationships. A more serious book than I was expecting.)
28. Sir Apropos of Nothing, Book 3: Tong Lashing - Peter David. (A book that both depressed and inspired me.)
29. The Pirates In An Adventure With Scientists - Gideon Defoe. (Any book involving pirates AND scientists gets high marks from me.)
30. Perfume - Peter Süskind. (Lovely imagery and evocative prose; a novel about a disturbed person with a beautiful talent.)


Justice said...

Oh man, I had no idea anyone had that book... I able to borrow "Pirates in an advenutre with Scientists" from you @ some point?

The Doc said...

Oh Justice, I do not actually own The Pirates In An Adventure With Scientists. One of the perks of working for a bookstore is that you can loan out the books. But it is cheap...

ORF said...

What exactly IS a trade paper back?

I read "How We Are Hungry" by Eggers for MY bookclub and was not so thrilled. Updike pretty much rules tho. As does Sedaris. I wonder how many books I read last year....I gotta start keeping track myself.

The Doc said...

ORF, in the book industry a trade paperback is the term for a softcover book that isn't a pocketbook (which is known as a "mass market"). In the comic book industry, a trade paperback is a collection of single issues of a comic book. (Which isn't to be confused with a graphic novel, which is a book-length comic book.) How the term came to be used is beyond me, but if anyone ends up trolling by here and could enlighten me, that'd be swell.

Also: I've never read How We Are Hungry, but did like Velocity. D! and I discovered that there are major changes between the hardcover and trade paperback releases, however (and you thought that was unnecessary exposition before!).