Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Book List for 2008

Okay. It's that time again.

Here is what I read in 2008, in MLA format (as best as I can remember and manage, anyway). As always, library books are designated by asterisk.

Anderegg, David. Nerds: Who They Are and Why We Need More of Them. New York: Penguin, 2008.
Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake. New York: Anchor, 2003.*
--. The Robber Bride. New York: Doubleday, 1993.*
Barry, Dave. Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (So Far). New York: Penguin, 2007.*
Bombeck, Erma. Family: The Ties That Bind…And Gag!. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1987.
Boyett, Jason. Pocket Guide to Adulthood: 29 Things to Know Before You Hit 30. Orlando: Relevant Books, 2005.
Bradley, Marion Zimmer. The Mists of Avalon. 1982. New York: Del Ray, 2008.*
Brockmeier, Kevin. The View From the Seventh Layer. New York: Pantheon, 2008.
Browne, Jill Connor. The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1999.
Burroughs, Augsten. Running With Scissors. New York: Picador, 2002.
Byatt, A. S. The Biographer's Tale. New York: Knopf: 2001.*
--. The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye: Five Fairy Stories. New York: Random House, 1997.*
--. The Game. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons, 1967.*
--. Elementals: Stories of Fire and Ice. New York: Random House, 1998.*
--. Little Black Book of Stories. New York: Knopf, 2004.*
Bynum, Caroline Walker. Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages. Berkely: University of California Press, 1984*
Cain, James. The Postman Always Rings Twice. 1934. New York: Vintage, 1981.
Claiborne, Shane. The Irresistible Revolution. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.*
Clarke, Susanna. Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell. New York: Bloomsbury, 2004.
Cobb, Linda. Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean. New York: Pocket Books, 1998.
Cunningham, Michael. The Hours. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.
Cutler, Katharine Noble. Flower Arranging for All Occasions. 1967. New York: Doubleday, 1981.
Editors of Consumer Reports Books with Edward Kippel. How to Clean Practically Anything. 4th Ed. Yonkers: Consumers Union of the United States, Inc., 1996.
Fforde, Jasper. Thursday Next in First Among Sequels. New York: Viking, 2007.*
--. Thursday Next in Something Rotten. New York: Viking, 2004.*
--. Thursday Next in the Well of Lost Plots. New York: Vicking, 2003.*
Frey, James. A Million Little Pieces. New York: Nan A. Telese, 2003.
Gates, Stefan. Gastronaut: Adventures in Food for the Romantic, the Foolhardy, and the Brave. Orlando: Harcourt, 2006.
Gilbert, Sandra and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and The Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. *
Guterson, David. Snow Falling on Cedars. New York: Vintage, 1995.
Haggard, Ted and Gayle Haggard. From This Day Forward: Making Your Vows Last a Lifetime. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2006.
Herbert, Frank. Chapterhouse: Dune. New York: Ace, 1987.
--. Dune. 1965. New York: Putnam, 1998.*
--. Children of Dune. 1976. New York: Ace, 1987.
--. Dune Messiah. 1969. New York: Berkley, 1981.
--. God Emperor of Dune. New York: Berkley, 1981.
--. Heretics of Dune. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1984. 480 pages*
Hesse, Herman. Siddhartha. Trans. Hilda Rosner. 1922. New York: MJF Books, 1992.
Klosterman, Chuck. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto. New York: Scribner, 2003.*
Kundera, Milan. The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Trans. Michael Henry Herm. 1984. New York: HaperCollins, 1999.
Laskas, Gretchen Moran. The Midwife's Tale. New York: Dial Press, 2003.
Lessing, Doris. The Golden Notebook. 1962. New York: Bantam, 1981.
Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 1950. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
--. Prince Caspian [The Return to Narnia]. 1951. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
--. The Silver Chair. 1953. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
--. The Voyage of The Dawn Treader. 1952. New York: Scholastic, 1987.
McGuire, Maria. To Take Arms: My Year With the IRA Provisionals. New York: Viking, 1973.*
Palahniuk, Chuck. Choke. New York: Anchor, 2001.*
Parker, Suzi. Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt. Boston: Justin, Charles & Co., 2003.*
Radosh, Daniel. Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture. New York: Scribner, 2008.
Rigg, Jo. Tabletops. Boston: Bullfinch Press, 2003.*
Sedaris, Amy. I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. New York: Warner, 2006.*
Seo, Danny. Simply Green: Parties. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.*
Setterfield, Diane. The Thirteenth Tale. New York: Washington, 2007.
Shute, Nevil. On the Beach. 1957. New York: Perennial, 1966.
Simon, Leslie and Trevor Kelly. Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture. New York: Harper Entertainment, 2007.
Summers, Montague. The Vampire: His Kith and Kin. 1928. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1991.
Wodicka, Tod. All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well. New York: Pantheon Books, 2008.

And because I wanted to do something new this year, I made up some categories for some of these titles.

I Realized I Hate You After the Fact and I Hate Myself for Letting You Waste My Time
All of the Thursday Next books
Sex in the South
To Take Arms
Every Dune book but Dune
How to Clean Practically Anything
Oryx and Crake
The Midwife's Tale

You Did Not Let Me Down and I Deeply Appreciate That
Dave Barry's History of Millennium
I Like You
The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love
Rapture Ready!
The View from the Seventh Layer
The Thirteenth Tale
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs

I Had No Idea You Were Going to Be This Amazing and I Want to Be Best Friends With You Forever and Ever!
Madwoman in the Attic
Everybody Hurts
Flower Arranging for All Occasions
Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean
The Golden Notebook
The Hours
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye
The Game
Snow Falling on Cedars
Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrell

Monday, December 1, 2008

November's book list

This has been quite the smarty-pants reading month.

I'm prone to undeserved book snobbery, but I realized I'd hit my zenith (at least, I hope I don't get any worse than this) earlier this morning when I was reading a blog I discovered. This woman was discussing her infertility problems, and having just checked out her profile and seen her favorite authors, I thought perhaps God was trying to prevent this woman from bearing and raising yet another stupid person like herself.

Yes, I really did.

I'm very sorry.

I'm sure that's not why she's having problems having a baby (it's actually because she's approaching middle age--she said so herself).

I sincerely hope she eventually becomes a mother.

And I hope that when she does, that kid is going to have some intelligent mentors around to recommend reading selections beyond Goodnight Moon.

I'm sorry!!!!

It really was the first thing that came to mind.

Ahem, um,'s the book list for November. I have lengthier, non-helpful reactions to each book because I got very enthralled this month. It was a welcome change.

Bradley, Marion Zimmer. The Mists of Avalon. 1982. New York: Del Ray, 2008.
Did you know this was originally published by Knopf? That's a big deal! Anyway, this is (yet another) reconfiguration of the Arthur mythos. What's not to love? Well, the incest factor. I didn't love that. But then, I never do and it's always in the Arthur mythos anyway. Royals are crazy. But apart from that, the story had magic, 1980s New Age-y goddess mysticism, a thoughtful examination of the mixing of the pagan and the Christian (I always get excited about that), treachery, romantic entanglements, visions (I also get excited about psychic business), and murder. Seriously, murder out that wazoo. Fun, exciting stuff. I really didn't mind it being over 800 pages.

Cunningham, Michael. The Hours. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.
This is about a single day in the life of three women. This is the same premise of Mrs Dalloway. And one of the women is Virginia Woolf. And The Hours was her working title for Mrs Dalloway. And this is a spectacularly awesome book. I watched the movie a few years back, and now that I've read the book, I'm so glad to know that the movie did a wonderful, faithful adaptation. The book is still better because the narrator tells us what the characters are thinking. I ♥ postmodernism. I bought this book at the Lutheran High Used Book Sale and started reading it that afternoon. And then I finished the following evening. Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite authors. Her suicide note to her husband is one of the sweetest love letters I've ever read.

I think God just disqualified me from having children.

Cutler, Katharine Noble. Flower Arranging for All Occasions. 1967. New York: Doubleday, 1981.
Oh. My. Goodness. This book was previously published under the title How to Arrange Flowers for All Occasions, and was apparently so wildly popular that Doubleday released a new edition in 1981. Sadly, it is now out of print so you'll just have to scrounge in garage sales and library sales. And believe me, you want it. You want it so badly, you don't even understand yet. But you will. This is actually a pretty helpful guide to arranging flowers for people who don't know how to do it (like me), and even though it's a little dated she makes some great points about using found items. Another indication that it's dated: She keeps talking about bouquets looking "fresh" and "gay." "Gay" is probably featured in the book no fewer than 50 times. Seriously. And she is not writing about homosexuals at all. Which brings me to the other thing I love about this book: it is laugh-out-loud unintentionally hilarious.

I know I included a quote from the book in a different post, but I have to do it again.
143: One woman had a most original idea for her bathroom decoration. Knowing that African violets grow well in a humid atmosphere, she turned the top of the toilet tank (which was under a window with good light) upside down and filled it with pebbles. On these she has pots of African violets. They thrive in the light and humidity and are usually a mass of blossoms.

And another, just in time for the holidays.
161: Is there anything more fun to do at Christmastime than to go foraging for greens and other plant material to make your own decorations? Whether you are crunching through the snow in a New England pine forest, cutting blazing poinsettias in Florida, gathering myriads of beautiful pinecones in California, or picking luxuriant holly in the Pacific Northwest, there is something about assembling your own decorations that is smugly satisfying. [Emphasis added because I wanted to point out the craziness.]

I asked Cody if he could think of "anything more fun to do at Christmastime than to go foraging for greens and other plant material" and he assured me he could.

Frey, James. A Million Little Pieces. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2003.
Oh man. Remember when James Frey was a big, fat deal? And then remember when he was deemed a big, fat liar and Oprah nearly had him drawn and quartered on national television? Crazy times. I had still heard this was a good book, regardless of where the library chooses to shelve it. So I bought it at the basement sale and began reading it. And I finished it. And I thought it was a pretty good read.

But I really don't understand how anyone could ever be taken in by this. At first I thought I was just walking into this with all of the stuff I already knew. But no. This angry, angry young man who's destroyed his body and mind with every chemical he can find for the past decade and a half enters rehab and reads one book on Zen and becomes the tender boyfriend figure and this great listener and bucks the AA system and stays clean and Proves Them All Wrong without a single grammatically correct sentence? No. Just no.

It's painfully, embarrassingly, and heartbreakingly obvious that he is writing about events and people (and most of all himself) not as they really were, but as he wishes they had been. And that's the saddest part of the whole book. His stories remind me too much of stories I've heard from friends, acquaintances, and the kinds of people who think they have amazing stories to tell (FYI: if you have an amazing story to tell, chances are it's not going to be about yourself. Yes, I am aware that I tell a lot of stories about myself. I am also aware that they are not amazing or even remotely interesting). Not all of those people had problems with drugs or alcohol. But they all had problems with lying. And they all lied to me.

I would actually recommend all of this month's books to you.

Unless you have problems with paganism, violence, drugs, profanity, suicide, homosexuality, alcohol, sexuality in general, or flower arranging.

Then maybe you should just pick up the new Stephen King collection of short stories and let me know what you think.