The Book Report
I claim to have a relationship with books, but in 2008 (as in 2007), I oftentimes neglected them in favor of web content, concerts, magazines, socializing, alcohol, dancing, and all of the other distractions of modern life. As someone with a B.A. in English, I resolved to read 20 books* in 2008. Alas, I only got through a disappointing small lot of 9 books:
- The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao – I have loved Junot Diaz ever since he read one of his short stories from Drown on This American Life. I love the energy and mix of humor and sadness in his writing, but I was not blown away by this novel. For some reason, I put Diaz in the same category as Zadie Smith.
- Lost in the City – Great as both a set of literary short stories and as a study of D.C. neighborhoods in decline. Modern Faulkner.
- The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – None of us has any reason to complain. Ever. This is a book about strength. Reverie. Memory. Memories can sustain us.
- Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell, blah blah blah. (BTW, Merlin Mann’s tweets about Gladwell make me laugh).
- Kindred – I read this as a book club pick. It’s not great writing, but I am glad that I was exposed to it (slavery time travel sci fi).
- Twilight – While doing election protection work in Ohio, I had a 15 hour shift at a trouble free polling place. The only things nearby were a Panera bread and Walgreens, where I picked up Twilight. Total piece of crap. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. Then again, when I was a 14-year-old girl, I was stuck in a John Grisham / Michael Crichton / Nelson Demille / Stephen King phase.
- Atonement – I read Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam 10 years ago, and just shrugged. I read Atonement this summer, and absolutely loved it, but not enough to pick up On Chesil Beach.
- Shock Doctrine – I have a certain ambivalence towards this book. I found myself shaking my head in disagreement when I came across some factual distortions (i.e. the China sections, and the last chapter), but the post-Tsunami and Iraq chapters concisely point out everything that went wrong during the last 8 years. Klein’s research and intelligence are astounding, but she has a way of making villians out of the wrong people. Still, this is the book that I want to force all of my friends to read.
- The Thin Man – The glamour, the wit, the banter, of Nick and Nora. Hammett is always fun.
*Funny, at the beginning of the year, a wrote down 10 books that I planned to read or re-read in 2008, and they were: The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, Wuthering Heights, Life a User’s Manual, The Master and Margarita, Crowds and Power, Fanon (The novel, not the author), Northhanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, In Defense of Food, and Migraine. I only read one.
**Here’s a related post from my law school era weblog.