Sunday, December 31, 2006

Books Read, 2006

I read 66 books in 2006. It's a little down from 72 in 2005, but it's a nice calm number and pleases my soul. 41 were fiction, and 25 were nonfiction.

Children's books: 1
Young Adult books: 1
Graphic Novels: 6
Short-Story Collections: 2

My resolution last year to read more books from other countries wasn't broken, but it was badly bent:
1 from Russia
1 from France
1 from Japan
1 from Korea
1 from Ireland
2 from Australia
4 from Canada
7 from England
48 from The United States
I could have done better.

Books written in the 19th century: 2
Books written in the 20th century 24
Books written in the 21st century: 40

Here's the list. Books that stood out for me are highlighted in green.

1. The Human Stain -Philip Roth [I liked the movie a little better]
2. A Town Like Alice -Nevil Shute [The heroine, Jean, gets on my nerves in the second part of the story, but the first part, the women's forced march by the Japanese soldiers, is riveting.]
3. The Two Of Us: My Life With John Thaw -Sheila Hancock [John Thaw is the actor that played Inspector Morse for years]
4. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult [I wanted to kill the mother and thought the ending was a cheat.]
5. Crime And Punishment -Fydor Dostoevsky
6. Cravan -Mike Richardson and Rick Geary [Graphic novel about a mysterious real-life figure named Arthur Cravan, which was one of his aliases. Cravan, who was born in Europe, was allegedly a nephew of Oscar Wilde. He was a legendary artist, writer, boxer and hoaxer who was a founding member of the Dadaists in Paris and knew famous people as diverse as Jack Johnson and Leon Trotsky. He was married to poet Mina Loy shortly before he completely disappeared in 1918. Many think that he didn't die, but resurfaced as the mysterious, reclusive writer B. Traven who was the author of Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. Manfred, Jr. speaks: "This is a great graphic novel!"]
7. Gilead -Marilynne Robinson
8. The Glass Castle -Jeannette Walls [I didn't think my jaw could drop open any farther, and Walls would surprise me with each new chapter about her uh, unconventional parents. I was reading this on a 3-hour bus ride from Seoul. I forgot where I was and exclaimed aloud at one point. About 50 Koreans turned to stare.]
9. Clara Callan -Richard B. Wright
10.The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay -Michael Chabon
11.Appointment in Samarra -John O'Hara [O'Hara's debut novel is short, but impressive. By contrast, From The Terrace, published 24 years later seems a flabby effort.]
12.Twilight Of The Superheroes -Deborah Eisenberg
13.One! Hundred! Demons! -Lynda Barry [I've loved Lynda Barry's comics since "Poodle With A Mohawk" She just gets better and better.]
14.Nana -Emile Zola [Nana is not too talented, but she's pretty and knows the right people and becomes rich and a star. I was reminded of a combination of Britney, Paris, and Courtney, especially when Nana would, in a matter of days and weeks, trash the mansions and luxury suites she moved into.]
15.Owen & Mzee -Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff and Dr. Paula Kahumbu [Owen is a baby hippo, orphaned in the tsunami 2 years ago. He was sent to a preserve in Africa where he failed to thrive until he met Mzee, a 130 year old tortoise, also living on the preserve. For reasons unknown, Owen bonded with Mzee and began to eat again. A great story of friendship. Great photos.]
16.Independence Day -Richard Ford
17.Sputnik Sweetheart -Haruki Murakami
18.Party Of One: The Loner's Manifesto -Anneli Rufus [The author is determined to take back the description of "loner" from misfits in society that commit crimes. Her reasoning is that these are not really loners -- they are people who were rejected for one reason or another by society and took revenge. A real loner, Rufus asserts, wouldn't even notice or care if they got rejected by society, because an authentic loner is too entranced and entertained with his or her own company.]
19.Empire Falls -Richard Russo [I like Russo. He's kind of like the male Anne Tyler.]
20.Prep -Curtis Sittenfeld
21.Girl With A Pearl Earring -Tracy Chevalier [I really admire the way Chevalier structured Griet's vocabulary to suit where and when she lived.]
22.The Water-Method Man -John Irving
23.The Bonesetter's Daughter -Amy Tan
24.Ego & Hubris -Harvey Pekar
25.Life Of Pi -Yann Martel
26.Them: A Memoir Of Parents -Francine du Plessix Gray
27.Bitter Harvest -Ann Rule [I remember seeing this story unfold on the Kansas City TV news stations.]
28.Wonder Boys -Michael Chabon
29.Last Train To Memphis: The Rise Of Elvis Presley -Peter Guralnick
30.The Color Of Water -James McBride
31.Mail Order Bride -Mark Kalesniko [This is the best graphic novel I've ever read. Monty, a Canadian dweeb, takes Kyoung, a Korean woman as his mail order bride. Both of them have a lot of preconceived (and mistaken) notions about what life together will be like. It's hard to say which one of them has the ruder awakening. Great artwork with a startlingly cinematic feel.]
32.Careless Love: The Unmaking Of Elvis Presley -Peter Guralnick
33.Digging To America -Anne Tyler
34.Culture Shock! Korea! -Sonja Vegdahl Hur and Ben Seunghwa Hur [Helpful advice about living in this very different culture. There's a lot of information about how to instruct your maid about what you expect, which made me snicker a little. I can't even imagine having a maid!]
35.King Rat -James Clavell [The Great Escape without the escape, but every bit as captivating.]
36.The Book Thief -Markus Zusak
37.Things Seen And Unseen -Nora Gallagher
38.From The Terrace -John O'Hara
39.Encyclopedia Of An Ordinary Life -Amy Krause Rosenthal [Cute book.]
40.The Falls -Joyce Carol Oates
41.Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading -Maureen Corrigan
42.The Devil In The White City -Erik Larson
43.Chronicles, Vol. I -Bob Dylan
44.Never Cry Wolf -Farley Mowat [I really have to wonder if Mowat was pulling his readers' collective leg with that mouse recipe!]
45.Breakfast After Noon -Andi Watson
46.The Beguiled -Thomas Cullinan
47.Teacher Man -Frank McCourt
48.Me Talk Pretty One Day -David Sedaris [as a language teacher and a language learner, the title essay had me laughing hysterically.]
49.The Position -Meg Wolitzer
50.Toast -Nigel Slater [Almost every chapter in Slater's book has a food title and is tied to a childhood to young adulthood memory, not all of them pleasant. Slater frankly details the situations in which certain foods made him downright sick. I think because there are so many foods that I can't get over here, that I'm gravitating towards food memoirs. 2 MFK Fisher books are on the docket for 2007, and I'm patiently (yeah, right!) waiting for Julia Child's memoir to come out in paperback.]
51.March -Geraldine Brooks
52.The Dogs Of Babel -Carolyn Parkhurst [I can't wait until this is made into a'll go on record as having the l-o-n-g-e-s-t "meet cute" in cinematic history.]
53.My Left Foot -Christy Brown
54.The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford -Ron Hansen
55.Fingersmith -Sarah Waters
56.Best American Short Stories, 2005 -Michael Chabon, Editor
57.All Things Bright And Beautiful -James Herriot [Herriot's books are my book discoveries for 2006. I plan to read the other 2 in the series soon.]
58.Ugly Koreans, Ugly Americans -Min Byoung-Chul Ed.D [Helpful guide, in cartoon form, written in both Korean and English to explain to Americans and Koreans about things in their respective societies that the other finds off-putting at times]
59.The Plot Against America -Philip Roth
60.Memoirs Of A Geisha -Arthur Golden
61.Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close -Jonathan Safran Foer
62.Passing -Nella Larsen
63.All Things Wise And Wonderful -James Herriot
64.Follow The River -James Alexander Thom [this novel is based on the true-life ordeal of Mary Ingles, who escaped the Shawnee Indians in 1755 and walked 1,000 miles back down the Ohio River to return to her home in Virginia. I'll never complain about physical exertion again!]
65.Marley And Me -John Grogan [Marley reminds me a lot of my dog Jacks, who is half Lab and half Chow. Regarding the book, I thought that at times there was too much "Me" and not enough "Marley".]
66.The Year Of Magical Thinking -Joan Didion

I didn't hate any books in 2006 in the sharp way (pushing-it-out-of-a-window-hatred) I hated Atlas Shrugged, but these are the books that didn't really float my boat: My Sister's Keeper, Twilight Of The Superheroes, Sputnik Sweetheart, the last one-third of Prep, The Water-Method Man, From The Terrace, The Falls and Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close.

The books are listed in the order in which I read them, except for The Year Of Magical Thinking. I read it in the spring soon after my father died, and I guess I was so upset I forgot to write it down.


Anonymous said...

Great list! I love the way you broke it down - wish I'd done that!

You're not the only one who was less than enthused about My Sister's Keeper. It was enough to turn me off reading any more of her stuff. Too overdone for my liking.

slslaven said...

I love reading your blog and should have posted before telling you so. I really need to start keeping a reading journal. I have forgotten most of what I read in 2006 which is a shame. I was glad to see The Book Thief highlighted on your list. I cried for the beauty of the story and then again for the despair and sadness I felt. On the other hand, I read My Sister's Keeper after giving birth to my second daughter and was an emotional wreck for how close the relationships hit home. May I recommend The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield for 2007?

Bybee said...

I have seen The Thirteenth Tale on practically every blog I've visited, so I am quite curious about it. Happily, I saw a copy at my favorite bookstore.

Isabella K said...

Impressive list! I've read none of them except Nana and Crime & Punishment, both many years ago. Cravan sounds — I'm just feeling my way around graphic novels, so I really appreciate the summary.

lazy cow said...

That's an interesting list of books. I haven't heard of a lot of your favourites, but since we seem to have similar tastes, I'm going to check some of them out.
Thanks for visiting my blog.

nessie said...

Hey there! I am back from the dead. My Christmas was great thanks to you!

Your humble request will be taken care of this coming week. I have a huge court case this Thursday so my brain is all on that. Blogging can occasional release me from stress but only temporary.

Anonymous said...

Great list! So glad to know about your blog. Gilead was one of my favorite reads of last year, and I've given it away a bunch of times.

I'm planning to read Crime and Punishment soon. And I second the enthusiasm for Thirteenth Tale. It is a great story, but even more enjoyable for bookworms.