Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pick 12 books - one for each month of 2008

I am an idiot. How did I fail to notice that this challenge was for 2008 and was ending in a month? However, I'm also a stubborn idiot and I tried to complete it - though I tried to read the shortest books first! I got through 8 and a half, which isn't too bad, I guess, considering that I was fairly social over the holidays.

1. Practical Demonkeeping, Christopher Moore - Hilarious! I have no idea where he thinks this stuff up, but it is comic genius.
2. Borderlines, Peter Hoeg - I'm not sure what to say about it - it was an enjoyable read, but I didn't love it.
3. Another Roadside Attraction, Tom Robbins - It took me at least 200 pages to get into it, though I did enjoy the end. Interesting, but not as enjoyable as I had hoped.
4. Tokyo Cancelled, Rana Dasgupta - It was interesting but somehow didn't draw me in.
5. The Hungry Tide, Amitav Ghosh
6. The Optimists, Andrew Miller - Finished after the deadline. I wouldn't say I loved the Optimists, but I found it interesting. It's an oddly visual novel, as the protagonist is a photographer and his sister writes about painters, many of the names I looked up. There are quite a few references to Greek mythology as well, which I must admit to liking in a novel. Many of the settings were incredibly familiar - I've taken that train ride between London and Edinburgh, through Berwick. I've been to Dundee and down the Arbroath Road. The descriptions of Toronto - Chinatown, Union Station, Yorkdale - call up lots of memories. Plus I googled to figure out what the hell a fish kettle is. It's worth a read.
7. Plainsong, Kent Haruf - The writing is simple and yet so beautiful. It was such an engrossing story that I finished it in well under a day. I loved it.
8. Naked, David Sedaris - I always think I'm not as big a Sedaris fan as I find myself to be once I dive into one of his books. There were just too many hilarious bits to mention, though the breast-feeding camels line has gotten permanently lodged in my brain.
9. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers
10. What is the What, Dave Eggers
11. The Book of Illusions, Paul Auster
12. Fox Girl, Nora Okia Keller - While I was a little disappointed with Comfort Woman, I loved Fox Girl. It was a fascinating look at Korea and the GIs after the Korean War. It certainly sheds some light on the present situation.
Alt.The New Kings of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass-A few of the articles I had come across before, but they were all really enjoyable, even the description of a poker competition that I didn't even really understand. The one on Saddam Hussein was interesting considering events since. My favourite might have been the portrayal of the ten year old.
Alt.Life of Pi, Yann Martel - Fantastic book!
Alt.The Poe Shadow, Matthew Pearl
Alt.Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier

"Chazu said that stuff [cola] rots your teeth. Be healthy, drink beer." ~ Fox Girl

"He liked the sense of momentum that he got from carrying out his purposes against so many different backgrounds." ~ Tokyo Cancelled

"Time inside an aeroplane always seemed to be staged by the airline company to deceive, its studied slowness a kind of tranquillizer for the seat-belted cattle in their eight-hour suspension, to which passport control and baggage claim would be the only antidote. Synthesized versions of 'Yesterday' and 'Candle in the Wind' reminded passengers of old, familiar feelings but with the human voice removed, emotions loaded with blanks for a safer, more pleasant ride. Mealtimes were announced in advance: the rhythms of earth were felt to continue uninterrupted here in this airborne tube so that the indignation at chicken when lamb had run out was far more consequential than 'Isn't it only two hours since breakfast?' High-alcohol wind, parsimonious lighting and channel upon channel of Julia Roberts anesthesia completed the gently high-altitude lullaby" ~ Tokyo Cancelled

"What is the function of the artist?" Amanda demanded of the talented trespasser. "The function of the artist," the Navajo answered, "is to provide what life does not." ~ Another Roadside Attraction

"There is no such thing as a weird human being. It's just that some people require more understanding than others." ~ Another Roadside Attraction

"Jesus: Hey, Dad.
God: Yes, son?
Jesus: Western civilization followed me home this morning. Can I keep it?
God: Certainly not, boy. And put it down this minute. You don't know where it's been." ~ Another Roadside Attraction

"The day was rumpled and dreary. It looked like Edgar Allan Poe's pajamas." ~ Another Roadside Attraction

"The old, Rooseveltian logic of the Doctrine had been that since the airwaves belonged to everyone, a license to profit from those airwaves conferred on the broadcast industry some special obligation to serve the public interest. Commercial radio broadcasting was not, in other words, originally conceived as just another for-profit industry; it was supposed to meet a higher standard of social responsibility." Host, David Foster Wallace, The New Kings of Nonfiction

"It's almost impossible to look away [from OJ's murder-anniversary interview], or not to feel that special kind of guilty excitement in the worst, most greedy and indecent parts of yourself... But that doesn't mean the fascination is good, or even feels good. Aren't there parts of ourselves that are just better left unfed?" Host, David Foster Wallace, The New Kings of Nonfiction

"He orchestrated a Draconian nationwide literacy project. Reading programs were set up in every city and village, and failure to attend was punishable by three years in jail. Men, women, and children attended these compulsory classes, and hundreds of thousands of illiterate Iraqis learned to read. UNESCO gave Saddam an award." Tales of the Tyrant, Mark Bowden, The New Kings of Nonfiction

"In any orthodox history you can find the standard autopsy of the causes... All of this is true enough, yet there's something faintly bogus and overly rationalized about it. The approaching war didn't seem like a political or economic event; it was more like a collective anxiety attack. Throughout the '30s people around the world came to share an unshakable dead about the future, a conviction that countless grave international crises were escalating out of control, a panicked sen that everything was coming unhinged and that they could do nothing to stop it." Losing the War, Lee Sandlin, The New Kings of Nonfiction

"Yes, I have experience in sales, but it is limited to marijuana, a product that sells itself." Naked, David Sedaris

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