Info Gluttony

The Book Report

Posted in personal, Uncategorized by echan on January 5, 2009

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell, blah blah blah. (BTW, Merlin Mann’s tweets about Gladwell make me laugh).
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.


One Response

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  1. ToastyKen said, on January 5, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Yeah, Kindred was on my reading list in my Science Fiction class in college. I gave it to a friend, who couldn’t even get through it because of the bad writing. 😛 Interesting ideas though.

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