Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Best Of Lists

Best fiction of the year:

* City of Thieves, by David Benioff
* A Woman in Jerusalem, by A. B. Yehoslua
* Lamb, by Christopher Moore

Best non-fiction of the year:

* Step by Step, by Bertie Bowman
* Inside the Jihad, by Omar Nasiri
* A Complaint Free World, by Will Bowen
* Dear Mr. President, by Pink (not a book, but still the best)

The year-end numbers are in, and a bit higher than prior years: 151 books read, of which 39 were non-fiction and 112 fiction. Based on the queue of 48 books in my "to-be-read" stack, (compared to only 28 on the stack entering 2008), it would be good for me to keep up the pace.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The sacred book of the werewolf, by Victor Pelevin

I've read some strange books and I've read many books I've not liked very much. But this may be the strangest disliked book I've read in a long time.

Why would I make such a negative statement? The book is about A Hu-li, a 2000+ year old were-fox / human female prostitute. She bedazzles clients with her magical tail (as in a fox's tail, not as in ... well, never mind). She meets a were-wolf. Or dog. But perhaps this is all really a metaphor for life in Russia today. There's lots of ponderous prose.

At this point I was going to quote from the book to make my point about the prose. But it was so distasteful, so painful, that I just can't do it. I'd tell you to find the book at a library and see for yourself, but that recommendation seems needlessly cruel.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Exit Music, by Ian Rankin

It turns out that this is the terminal novel in a series featuring the character of Scottish detective Inspector Rebus. I'd not read any prior. I found the dialog and plot lines to be very interesting. The ending was a bit open ended, which is apparently precisely the effect the author sought, but isn't the neat and tidy closure one usually finds in a mystery novel. Still, it was quite good. But I'm not motivated to read the earlier books in the series.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Angel's Tip, by Alafair Burke

I really enjoyed this mystery. You could tell there was a prior novel featuring the same main character, but Ms. Burke wasn't annoying about the links, so it didn't bug me too much. The dialog, plot line and action were all very good.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Black Flies, by Shannon Burke

This is an outstandingly great book. It grabbed me right from the start. A novel, but it reads as though it could be non-fiction. Definitely on my top-ten list for the year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nudge, by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein

Nudge is both highly entertaining and highly frightening. The latter because it exposes the degree to which we can be manipulated into sub-optimal personal decisions just by the way that choices are framed.

I'm not exactly sure what to do with my new-found understanding of how subtle nudges change my decisions. But I'm glad I read the book.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Gentlemen of the Road, by Michael Chabon

I remembered about two paragraphs into this book that I'd read it before. But it was already so much fun, I decided to keep going. That was the right choice; this is a delightful little novel.