Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 Reading List

Here it is, preserved for all posterity, my 2008 reading list. For what it's worth, I'll bold the ones I would recommend.

  • Stolen by Kelley Armstrong (another in the Women of Otherworld series. These books are good, light entertainment!)
  • Bitten by Kelley Armstrong (very fun and entertaining werewolf novel!)
  • Conquistador: A Novel of Alternate History by S. M. Stirling (Not too bad. An interesting alternate Earth story, but a little too much political stuff for my taste.)
  • Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam Sheppard (Written in direct response to Barbara Ehrenreich's books. While her books annoyed me for how hopeless they were, and to be frank, how stupidly she went about things, his had the opposite problem of where his experiment was far too unrealistic for the vast majority of people: completely undervalued his own past experiences and knowledge, such as delayed gratification, money management, etc. Also, he got too good a job (moving) with a higher salary than most people would be able to physically handle. But it was still an interesting premise...)
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Okay. Very interesting, but somehow detached from her own subject matter in an off-putting way).
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss (I laughed through this whole book, and loved her insanity. I'm sure it's just me, but I'd love to go out to dinner with her and Sarah Vowell. I just think they'd be hilarious, especially together!)
  • The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon (okay, I'm officially in love with Michael Chabon. Though I will admit the end of this novel kind of petered out. I still loved it, though!)
  • China Dog: And Other Tales From a Chinese Laundry by Judy Fong Bates (I enjoyed these stories...they're all about the immigrant experience from China to Canada. They got slightly repetitive, but I enjoyed all of them except the title story.)
  • Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card (Not great, but tied up some lose ends. Felt more like some cobbled together short stories.)
  • Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser (Enjoyable!)
  • Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton (the 7th book in the series. I'm embarrassed I still read these. Could this series please end?)
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo (very well written, interesting story)
  • A Lick of Frost by Laurell K. Hamilton (A reread of the 6th book in the Merry Gentry series. Not great, I wouldn't recommend the series)
  • Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje (Interesting, odd, probably wouldn't reread but I'm glad I read it once!)
  • Cell by Stephen King (not his best, but certainly readable)
  • The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (Eh. Not the worst book ever, but I'd steer people away from it).
  • Brisingr by Christopher Paolini (I'm still enjoying this series, though I wish the writing was stronger)
  • Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story by Ann Kirschner (very interesting. I'd recommend it!)
  • Eldest by Christopher Paolini (This was a reread for me in preparation of reading the new book in the series that just came out. I'm enjoying this series and am excited to see where the next installment goes).
  • The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler (eh. Nothing terrible, nothing exciting.)
  • The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (This was my book group selection. I enjoyed it, but didn't love it. Thought it was a little light.)
  • Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (I hate Stephenie Meyer. This book was crap).
  • Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer (oh my gosh, I hate all of these characters. And yet I'm still addicted)
  • New Moon by Stephanie Meyer (okay, not as good as Twilight)
  • Eragon by Christopher Paolini (I listened to this on CD. I've read this before, and I prefer the print version over the audio version as the weaknesses of this book (story and writing) were much more apparent in the audio version where you can't skim)
  • Extras by Scott Westerfeld (I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Some of the characters weren't fully developed, but it was still an interesting story.)
  • Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeapordy by Bob Harris (interesting and funny, although it rambled a bit.)
  • The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld (the sequel to Peeps. It was FAR inferior. It was okay, but nothing at all special. Or Specials. Hee, that's a pretty big inside joke. See, Scott Westerfeld also wrote a book titled Specials. It was a sequel to a different series, and while it also didn't quite live up to the original, it wasn't nearly as bad as The Last Days. Oh, forget it. Just skip this book and read his others.)
  • Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (Book 3 of The Dresden Files. A decent series, but tend to be ill-paced in my opinion. Action, action, action, book's done.)
  • Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (Great! Highly enjoyable book about vampires and...parasites??)
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (Pretty good. A very fast and engaging read.)
  • Trans-sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian (Readable. Vaguely unfulfilling, though.)
  • Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich (not very well done. Poorly researched...she didn't really prove anything to me except that *she* doesn't know how to job search. But there was some interesting information, and some engaging bits. Not a complete waste of time, but I'd be hesitant to actually recommend it)
  • Burger Wuss by M.T. Anderson (I loved Feed by MT Anderson, but this wasn't all that good.)
  • Darwin's Children by Greg Bear (Okay, but not as good as Darwin's Radio. I hope there's no Darwin's Ipod in the future!)
  • Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum (Great! Quick read and hard to put down. Both storylines were engaging.)
  • John Adams by David McCullough (Highly enjoyable!)
  • Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich (Enjoyable)
  • Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody (Okay. Not bad, but not great, either)
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (One of his best. Funny and fun)
  • The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon (very enjoyable, but not awesome)
  • Peony in Love by Lisa See (Loved it! I'd probably recommend Snow Flower and the Secret Fan to anyone who is looking to read something by her, but this was still interesting.)
  • A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton (Eh. I'm not much of a mystery reader, and this didn't convince me to change my reading preferences. It was okay, though)
  • From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris (I love this series, but this was kind of disappointing)
  • Zodiac by Neal Stephenson (readable, but not great)
  • Blood Noir by Laurell K. Hamilton (This series used to be great. Now it's just badly written erotica. Although the more recent books have been slightly better, and they're still quick reads. I don't know. I'd be hard pressed to recommend anyone start this series since it's so uneven, but if you're already reading, this installment is no worse than any of the others, so knock yourself out.)
  • The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Very enjoyable!).
  • The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau (Okay. I loved the first book in the series, but I found the middle of this one dragged.)
  • All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris (I'm loving this series. It's a vampire/mystery/romance series, so read at your own risk!)
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (really, really outstanding. A YA book, so it's short).
  • Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich (by far the best of the "between the numbers" books)
  • Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (Okay, but not my favorite of the "my childhood was crazier than yours" memoirs.)
  • Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich (I'm not sure I totally get why there's supernatural stuff in the between the number mysteries. Wish I'd skipped this one.)
  • Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin (Eh, some was great, some was terrible. It had a lot of interesting information about autism, though.)
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (A fantasy classic for a reason. Recommended to any genre readers who somehow have missed it up to now.)
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (Pretty good. Recommend to take it out of the library rather than buy it.).
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (really, really, really loved it!)
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (I loved it, although I thought the beginning was much better than the end.)
  • Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (Very interesting idea for a book. Recommended.)
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (Good. A little preachy, which would probably be really annoying if you don't agree with her)
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (highly recommeded, although just to skim if you're not that interested in food)
  • Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard (slow start, a bit unnecessarily gimmicky in that it's Tiny Tim all grown up, but ultimately a very enjoyable mystery. Recommended)
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (neutral again, at least it's short!)
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving ( it if you'd like. I won't stop you!)
  • Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami (highly recommended)
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (recommended)
  • My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (VERY not recommended)
  • For a Few Demons More by Kim Harrison (series recommended to genre readers)
  • Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid (recommended)
A Year in Review:

Number of books read: 70

Number of book I would recommend: 31 (almost half...not too shabby!)

Favorite books of the year: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, John Adams by David McCullough, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.

Worst books of the year: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, and Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. Avoid these at all costs!

Most difficult book of the year: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I didn't dislike this book per se, it was

Most surprising discovery of the year: I read (and enjoy) a lot more non-fiction that I would have guessed. I'm not surprised by the amount of sci-fi/fantasy or YA I read, but I had no idea I read so many non-fiction books.

Well, on to 2009 now. Any recommendations for me?


LauraC said...

LOVE the list. Love it! I used to keep lists like this but haven't done it since the boys were born and I NEED to do it again.

On my to-read list for 2009:
* Plenty (Vancouver couple tries to eat only things from within 100 miles for a year)

* Emotionally Healthy Twins

* Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things and How to Do Them

* Even June Cleaver Would Forget the Lunch Box

Nancy said...

Wow. I'm so jealous that you read so much. I used to :)

I see that you didn't like A Prayer for Owen Meany. Did you ever watch the movie it was (loosely) based on, Simon Birch? I didn't read the book, but I really enjoyed the movie. Ashely Judd, Oliver Platt...

Amy said...

I too am so jealous of your list. I think I finished like 3 books this year and none that were that great and one of them was My Sister's Keeper;) I'll have to try one of your top picks. Happy New Year!

Jeanne Estridge said...

Interesting list -- if I ever read my way through the backlog on my shelf, I'll try some of your recommendations!

Ann said...

Warm thanks for including SALA'S GIFT on this wonderful list!

I had a good year of reading myself, and would recommend William Boyd's RESTLESS.

Happy New Year!

Ann Kirschner
author of SALA'S GIFT

What A Card said...

LauraC: Thanks for the recs! Plenty especially jumped out at me...I just put in a request at the library! (Have I mentioned that I suspect *we're* twins??)

Nancy: I only vaguely remember hearing about that movie, and I certainly didn't see it. I wish I'd known...I totally would have put down the book and cheated with the movie :)

Amy: Oh dear, I can see why you didn't read more if you got stuck in that clunker My Annoying Sister's Ridiculous Keeper. Here's hoping 2009 will bring you better reading material!

Jeanne: My poor book backlog. I keep passing it over for new books. Hence the ever growing backlog! I think this year I'm going to try to make some in roads into my own stacks rather than getting all distract by the pretty new books that come to my attention. Hmmm, wishful thinking!

Drann: Can I say how completely amazing it was to get a comment from an author whose book I enjoyed so much? Now all the rest of you *really* need to go read Sala's Gift! This was a neat way to start 2009!

And thank you for the book recommendation--it sounds really interesting and I think I'm going to include it on my next round of book group choices!

Photonuts said...

I am not much of a reader, but I see your in of the many places I dream of visiting once I go back and see my sister in NJ...

Mary Ellen said...

Love the list!
You've maybe inspired me to read the John Adams book...
So far, my 2009 list includes: the Edgar Sawtelle book that everybody is talking about; a book called English Major by Jim Harrison, which I'm hoping will be sort of Richard Riley-ish; and Ireland by Frank Delaney, which I've got on my bedside table.
Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

ok, how cool is that that you got a comment from an author???

I love your list, and I agree with many that I've read and I also have many of yours on my still-need-to-read list.

I'm drawing a blank on recommendations right now, but I've been absorbed by "The Annotated Christmas Carol" lately.

Tabitha Blue said...

This is amazing and most definitely, inspirational!! I would love to keep a list, I haven't done that yet... maybe that would also help me get through the few I have started. Great idea!!


Heather said...

after seeing so many people keep lists like this, i'm thinking i will try and keep one this year. i know that i read a lot of books, but can't remember half of them at this point. i have been thinking of reading the paolini books, but haven't gotten to them yet. i'll have to hope the library has them (i'm trying not to buy as many books this place to put them!)

i'm going to take a few of your suggested ones and see what i think!

Susan said...

Love the list...need to do that. Question off topic, I didn't see it and maybe I missed it but did you make the lavendar cookies? Just wondering. I remember talking about lavendar before the holidays.

Anonymous said...

Where do you find the time?

Tiffany said...

I'm so impressed with your list! You've read several that are on my TBR list and now I really want to read them. And I've got to keep better track of the books I do read.

I've got a haiku writing prompt up at Poetry and Hums if want to join us.

What A Card said...

Photonuts~~MA is a beautiful state, and a fun place to visit, with lots of different things to do depending on what part of the state you're in.

Mary Ellen~~Oh, I hope you like the John Adams bio. I'm not much for presidential history, so I was shocked how much I liked it!

Three Under Two~~It was wildly exciting to get a comment from an author. I'd love to know what books are also on your list!

Tabitha Blue~~This was my first year keeping a list of what I read. I'm sure I missed a few (in fact, I noticed after I posted this that M is for Magic isn't on my list and I'm sure I read it this past year. Oh well!) It was kind of fun to look back on!

Wolf~~I'm also a big library fan. Sometimes you can find a great librarian to help recommend new books, too. In August, I went through a major YA period after I spent a while talking to the YA librarian and getting loaded up with the books she recommended :)

Susan~~Some memory! Yes, I did make the lavender shortbread cookies. They were a disappointment, being far too reminiscent of body wash covered cookies for my liking. My 3 year olds loved them, though, so it wasn't a total loss, but I couldn't even stand the smell of it!

Gio~~That's what I do with my free time for the most part: read. Not exactly the most productive use of free time (I should really clean out my closets), but it is relaxing...

Tiffany: I'll go check it out, though I'm not much for mind tends toward LONG LONG LONG windedness ;)

Anonymous said...

I love this list. I will have to keep track of the books I read in 2009. I keep book cards and I recently started noting the date that I read the book and who recommended it to me. (Yes, I am anal.)

I really loved Julia Child, My Life in France. I am a big fan of hers and it was a fun read.

For Christmas I got Julie and Julia, about a woman named Julie who spends a year trying a new Julia Child recipe each day. Can't wait to start it.

Another John Irving? If APFOM is the only one you have read, try anothter - that was my least fav of his books. A Widow for a Year is really good and so is The World According to Garp.

In YA, I am reading Avielle of Rhia now and enjoying it. Ella Enchanted is fun too.

All the King's Men is great if you like political fiction.

Happy reading!