A year of books in review!

So. I set out this year to read 100 books. Last year I aimed for a book a week, and ended up with 70something. I was going to do that again, but then saw someone else aiming for 100, and I thought well why the heck not. I am proud to say that I made just past, to 106. Woooo. I could have done more, actaully. There was a month or so there where I didn’t really read anything, and was behind in my count. If I had kept reading then, on top of everything else, I might have made it to 115. But really, it’s the quality of the books, and no the quantity, right? So here is the list, complete with various comments.

Oh, to note- to help in reaching my goal, I included some of the scripts I read, and re-reads. Cheating? Maybe. But I still had to read them again. And some I had forgotten. So there.

1. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister- Gregory Maguire

This was good. It was more of a fairy tale than Wicked was, and there was a twist that really, ishould have seen coming. But I didn’t, and it was a nice surprise.

2. Travels with Charley- John Steinbeck

Fantastic. I can’t read this again for a while, it’ll make the wanderlust start again.

3. The Matchmaker (script)- Thornton Wilder

Eh. This is the kids version of Hello Dolly. I designed it for a high school

4. The Stand- Stephen King

This was good and an accurate, I think, portrayal of what would happen if most of the world got wiped out by a super-flu, or something along those lines. Except for the part about god and the devil and all. But you know. Those make for a good story.

5. The Vintage Book of Amnesia- anthology

Good stories about memory loss. A subject that sort of fascinates me.

6. Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell- Susanna Clarke

Long. A lot of it unnecessary. I don’t know. I expected to like this more, and maybe that’s why I didn’t like it as much. There were a lot of good parts.

7. From Time to Time- Jack Finney

Good, but not as good as Time and Again. Rather dissapointing in that sense. I need to read it again to make sure I didn’t miss something that would make it better.

8. The Ha-ha- Dave  King

I liked this book a lot. It was an impulse buy, and it worked out well. The main character has a neurological thing so he can’t speak and can’t write, although he’s fine in all other ways. You know how when you read books you start thinking in the tone of them? I walked around feeling like I couldn’t talk.

9. A Long Way Down- Nick Hornby

Good. I like Nick Hornby, and I wasn’t dissapointed.

10. Speaking With the Angel- anthology

11. When We Were Orphans- Kazuo Ishiguro

I liked this, but I can’t think of anything to say about it other than descibing what it’s about.

12. Hell’s Angels- Hunter S Thompson

Very good. And an interesting perspective. Not many would have done as well.

13. Lolita- Vladimir Nabokov

I tried to read this in 8th grade and failed. This time went better. If you read it too fast, you miss how creepy it can be.

14. A Scanner Darkly- Philip K Dick

This was kind of great. I hadn’t seen the movie, not sure if I want to. It’s paced really well.

15. Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?- Lorrie Moore

Middle aged woman reminiscing. In a good way.

16. Moon Palace- Paul Auster

I pulled this off the bookshelf in the living room randomly, and I’m so glad I did. I really like his descriptions, and I’m a sucker for stories involving New York. This had a nice circle to it as well.

17. Immortality- Milan Kundera

I love how his writing flows and how he discusses his characters, and I love the line blurring in this book.

18. Life is Elsewhere- Milan Kundera

Not as good. I made myself read it anyway. His style is less well used here. But it had good parts, and I’m glad I read it.

19. Half Magic- Edward Eager

Fantastic book from my childhood.

20. Gone Bamboo- Anthony Bourdain

Gleefully trashy beach fiction.

21. The Mouse and the Motorcycle- Beverly Cleary

More good kids stuff

22. The Other Boleyn Girl- Philippa Gregory

Good. More soap-opera-ish than I had expected. The movie was then a total letdown.

23. Man Walks Into a Room- Nicole Krauss

This was great until the last bit, where I felt it kind of wandered off. But I like the amnesia premise, and I liked the story.

24. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly- Jean-Domenique Bauby

Very different from what I expected. I don’t know what it is that I expected, really. It’s a good, simple, lovely book, and it’s hard not to think holy crap, he wrote this by blinking at the right letter. A whole book. I can’t even imagine.

25. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat- Oliver Sacks

Somehow I thought this was fiction. I guess because I only read fiction. But it’s not, and it’s greatly interesting. I should read more of his stuff.

26. Magic By the Lake- Edward Eager

I like this better than Half-Magic, actually

27. World War Z- Max Brooks

This book is fantastic. It’s an oral history of the zombie wars, all of these interviews with people about their experiences and it’s so well written.

28. In Cold Blood- Truman Capote

Another that wasn’t what I expected. But it was pretty great.

29. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas- Hunter S Thompson

This is the one book that was not spoiled by seeing the movie first. If anything, it was enhanced by it. So much fun to read.

30. Heat- Bill Buford

I never want to work in a kitchen. Ever. other than my own, with it’s limited production.

31. Bone in the Throat- Anthony Bourdain

More trashy beach fiction! I should have read this one first.

32. The New York Trilogy- Paul Auster

Three stark, rather obscure bits.

33. Water Street- Patricia Reilly Giff

This was not as good as I wanted it to be. A kids book, set around the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. I wanted more about the bridge. The story was slightly lacking, too.

34. Master and Commander- Patrick O’Brian

Eh. I dragged myself through it because John insisted that they’re great. And it was good. And the series gets better. But it was kind of tough to finish.

35. Prague- Arthur Philips

This has nothing to do with Prague and everything to do with Hungary. Some of it was really interesting. Some of it was not so much.

36. Vinegar Hill- A Manette Ansay

Depressing. Domestic abuse. But very well written. Claustrophobic.

37. Night- Eli Weisel

More depressing! I read most of this sitting in Washington Square park on a sunny afternoon with various nannies and baby carraiges around. Contrast.

38. The Brooklyn Follies- Paul Auster

I might like this better than Moon Palace. But Moon Palace had a bit of an epic feel that this didn’t.

39. The Saturdays- Elizabeth Enright

Really good kids book.

40. Travels in the Scriptorium- Paul Auster

Odd. It’s sort of him being held and interrogated by his characters, for disservices against them, though he doesn’t remember anything. It’s an interesting idea. I’m not sure it was handled as well as it could have been. But it was engaging to read.

41. Oryx and Crake- Margaret Atwood

I liked this a lot. Though the explanation/denoument was a lot simpler than I anticipated. I thought more time had passed. But this was good.

42. Year of the King- Anthony Sher

Holy hell. I wish my journal was this good. This is the diary of an actor in the Royal Shakespeare Company preparing to play Richard III. I know they must have editted and cleaned it up some, but i wish my daily thoughts could be recorded in such and interesting, coherent manner.

43. The Four-Story Mistake- Elizabeth Enright

Better than The Saturdays. Idyllic, ideal childhood.

44. Gentlemen of the Road- Michael Chabon

I had a hard time getting into this, and then got kind of confused. But in the end I got settled, and liked it. I’m not sure it was totally worth all that, though.

45. Never Let Me Go- kazuo Ishiguro

Interesting premise, of cloning and growing people to be organ donors. I liked this better than the other one by him.

46. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court- Mark Twain

Not waht I had expected. And good. But ridiculous.

47. Good As Gold- Joseph Heller

I liked Something Happened better, this was more broad and meandering, and I kind of got bored at different points. But I love his talking in circles, and the pointless empty dialogue and circumstances that the characters have to deal with.

48. Then There Were Five- Elizabeth Enright

More in the great kids books that I was rereading series.

49. Post Office- Charles Bukowski

He sort of irritates me, but this was short enough to be good.

50. Black and Blue- Anna Quindlen

Great. And sad and distruding and unsettling and sad. But really good.

51. Little Women- Louisa May Alcott

Good grief they’re preachy and goody-two-shoes.

52. Northanger Abbey- Jane Austen

This was irritating. Catherine was so mellowddramatic and idiotic, and I wanted to yell at her. But of course everything turns out well.

53. Kitchen Confidential- Anthony Bourdain

Further confirming that I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to work in a restaurant. But he’s kind of fantastic, and it was fun to read.

54. Post Captain- Patrick O’Brian

More high seas and all. It gets a little better

55. HMS Surprise- Patrick O’Brian

Okay, maybe I do like these books

56. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral- Barbara Kingsolver

This was great and inspiring. Too bad I haven’t done anything about being inspired yet. One of these days I will.

57. The Wind in the Willows- Kenneth Grahame

Why is this book so famous? Toad is ridiculous and annoying and the other characters are annoying for how much they put up with him. But the descriptions are nice.

58. The Water is Wide- Pat Conroy

I finally started this again. It’s fantastic, and depressing.

59. The Mauritius Command- Patrick O’Brian

Best one so far of these.

60. Desolation Island- Patrick O’Brian

Slightly better than the last

61. Shame- Salman Rushdie

I love his writing and descriptions. This is no exception. Shorter than most of his books, which was nice. Sometimes I lose the focus in the length of others.

62. Fortune of War- Patrick O’Brian

Was this the one with the duel? They start to blur together.

63. The Wild Sheep Chase- Murakami

Some of his stuff I really like. This is one of them. I think possibly my favorite.

64. Uglies- Scott Westerfield

I liked that this sort of had the message of – you’re beautiful the way you are, you don’t need to conform and all that. Until she totally does at the end! What the hell? Way to undermine a message. Though she sort of does it for heroic undercover reasons.

65. Pretties- Scott Westerfield


66. Specials- Scott Westerfield

The series continues. I don’t know. These were okay, and fun to read, but annoying. I think I might just be too old for them.

67. I Was a Non-Blond Cheerleader- ?

I really wanted something to read, and one of my campers had this. It could have been worse, actually. I was kind of impressed. But ultimately, brain candy.

68. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood- ?

I cared much less about the characters this time around. But these are actually decent teen reading books.

69. Alan Mendolsohn, the Boy From Mars- Daniel Pinkwater

I like his style.

70. Slaves of Speigel- Daniel Pinkwater

Good thing this is a short story.

71. The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death- Daniel Pinkwater

Anything with avocados of death has to be pretty good, right?

72. The Last Guru- Daniel Pinkwater

I liked this one best, I think.

73. Young Adult Novel- Daniel Pinkwater

Weird. Weird weird weird.

74. Snow Crash- ?

Also weird. I starts of kind of great, and then takes a turn somewhere. But it was interesting for the most part.

75. The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd

Not at all what I expected. And great.

76. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid- Bill Bryson

I like memoirs of this type, and his is fantastic.

77. Out of Africa- Isak Dinesen

I can’t believe I waited this long to read this. Such a beautiful book.

78. Catcher in the Rye- JD Salinger

Not worth the hype. Worth reading.

79. Lullaby- Chuck Palahniuk

Weird. Interesting. I liked it.

80. Shadows on the Grass- Isak Dinesen

Sort of a short version of Out Of Africa. It mentions a lot of her friends who wrote things and mentioned things she talked about. I want to get and read all of those now.

81. Happy Birthday Wanda June(s)- Kurt Vonnegut

I had no idea he wrote this. It’s good, maybe. I’d have to see it.

82. The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing- Melissa Bank

This was actually really good. Until the last chapter, when it turned into crap. But it was also mocking crap. But she didn’t do the mocking well enough, and got sucked into the crap herself.

83. March- Geraldine Brooks

This was great. It’s about what the father is doing while the Little Women are hanging out being preachy and prissy. It is anything but. And it’s a great book about the civil war.

84. Franny and Zooey- JD Salinger

This is a book that should be studied, I think. It’s good, but I feel like I need to read it a few more times and discuss and think before I can get everything out of it. Once felt a little like a teaser.

85. Sixty Below- Tony Onraet

This is a great book, all about running around in the wilderness, and trapping and such. That world doesn’t really exist anymore, and accounts like these make me think that’s kind of a shame.

86. The World According to Garp- John Irving

Shameless reread. I love this book.

87. Fairest- Gail Carson Levine

Hmm. I love love love Ella Enchanted. This was nowhere near as good. But it was decent.

88. A Widow for One Year- John Irving

I also really like this one. THough you can’t read too many, especially in a row.

89. Catch-22- Joseph Heller

Holy shamoley. This is quite possibly the best book ever written. It’s amazing. It was a reread, but I had forgotten so much of it that it didn’t feel like one.

90. The Unbearable Lightness of Being- Milan Kundera

I love how he talks about his characters. I read it right after I got back from Prague. I probably should have read it first, since it has bits of the recent history.

91. Scapin(script)- Moliere

Good show.

92. The House of Bernarda Alba(script)- Federico Garcia Lorca

Depressing show. but good.

93. The Good Master- Kate Seredy

Kids book, so slightly idealized. But so good, and lots of  Hungarian fold tales in it, and the illustrations are beautiful.

94. Brave New World- Aldous Huxley

Weird. I had forgotten all but the first chapter, really. I don’t know if I liked it or not. I think so.

95. Level 7- Mordecai Roshwald

Journal of a guy sent way down into the earth, as part of a military base in the event of nuclear war. It’ very well written, you see how his thought process changes, his outlook. This should be on the list of classic literature, int he 1984 area.

96. All is Vanity- Christina Schwartz

Very good, and depressing. A woman writing a book is stuck, and starts stealing from her friends life, and encouraging her to do things for the sake of the story. Very real.

97. Rascal- Sterling North

Fantastic book about raising a racoon. I want one.

98. Bread and Roses- Katherine Patterson

Childrens book about factory strikes. Really good.

99. Slam- Nick Hornby

Eh. I wasn’t so much impressed or into this. It had it’s moments.

100. Harriet Spies Again- Helen Ericson

I can’t believe they let someone else write a harriet book. It was okay.

101. The Outsiders- S.E. Hinton

I purposefully had this book be the 101st, so that it would be outside of my goal. ha. Anyway. It was great. Not what I had thought it would be. I thought Ponyboy would be much more isolated. But it was very good, and sad.

102. Snow Falling on Cedars- David Guterson

I started reading this last year, and put it down a few pages in. I’m glad I picked it up again. Very well written and interesting. And a bit of a murder mystery as well.

103. Reading the OED- Ammon Shea

So, this guy, who likes reading dictionaries anyway, sits down and reads the entire Oxford English Dictionary, and picks out particular words to share. I liked the idea, I liked most of the book, I liked the words. I did not like all of his descriptions. Some of them hinted that were I to talk to him, after a bit he would say something that I would get really disgusted and possibly offended by, and walk away. He would be an interesting person to talk to, but no one I would be friends with.

104. The Silent Boy- Lois Lowry

Kids book, but I one I hadn’t read before. It’s very good, and thoughtful.

105. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society- Marry Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I really liked this. It was easy to read, but affecting. Told entirely through letters, which was fun to read.

106. Anna Karenina- Leo Tolstoy

When I told John I had finished with my book goal, he said great, now try that with Russian authors. I had a couple weeks left when I started, and decided I would get this one in there. It also, I feel, makes up for the scripts and some of the childrens books. I actually really liked it. It was much more readable than a lot of other russian things I’ve read. Anna’s deterioration, and Levin’s thoughtfulness have good arcs to them. I need to read another translation soon. This one was good, but formal. Which fit the time and the tone there, but made some of the discussions harder to read. I’ve found another that’s more relaxed. I did a sentence to sentence compare of a bit, and each sentence says the same thing, but in markedly different ways. That’ll be interesting.

Phew. I’m done. And have started already on this years reading. I think I’m not going to have a goal, but I will keep track of what I read. See how many I do naturally.


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