31 December 2009

Books Read in 2009

Well, my reading goal for 2009 was to read 25 books. Not a lot, but in 2008 I didn't read very much at all, so it felt doable. And it was! I read 44 books total. (Why didn't I finish just one more? I'm only 70 or so pages from the end of one of my current reads.)

Books Read, January through December, 2009
01 – J13 - Weather Makers, Tim Flannery, Review
02 – J15 - The Tales of Beedle the Bard, JK Rowling, Review
03 – J20 - Criminal Minds: Finishing School, Max Allen Collins, Review
04 – J21 - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Review
05 – J27 - A Spot of Bother, Mark Haddon, Review
06 – F11 - Divisidero, Michael Ondaatje, Review
07 – F14 - Keys to the Kingdom: Mister Monday, Garth Nix
08 – F22 - Keys to the Kingdom: Grim Tuesday, Garth Nix
09 - M08 - The Supernaturalist, Eoin Colfer, Review
10 – M15 - Keys to the Kingdom: Drowned Wednesday, Garth Nix
11 – M23 - Keys to the Kingdom: Sir Thursday, Garth Nix
12 – M29 - Keys to the Kingdom: Lady Friday, Garth Nix
13 – A05 - Keys to the Kingdom: Superior Saturday, Garth Nix
14 – A12 - God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens, Review
15 – M04 - Spook Country, William Gibson, Review
16 – M08 - City of Thieves, David Benioff
17 – M28 -The In-Between World of Vikram Lall, MG Vassanji, Review
18 – J03 - The Accidental, Ali Smith, Review
19 - J05 - Skim, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, Review
20 – J12 - The Mysterious Benedict Society,Trenton Lee Stewart, Review
21 – J19 - The Man who Forgot How to Read, Howard Engel, Review
22 – J25 - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan, Review
23 – J02 - Born on a Blue Day, Daniel Tammet, Review
24 – J04 - Adverbs, Daniel Handler, Review
25 – J07 - jPod, Douglas Coupland, Review
26 – J12 - When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris, Review
27 – J22 - Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut, Review
28 – J27 - Interworld, Neil Gamain & Michael Reaves, Review
29 – J28 - The Flying Troutmans, Miriam Toews, Review
30 – A03 - Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card, Review
31 – A04 - The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill, Review
32 – A12 - M is for Magic, Neil Gaiman, Review
33 – A14 - Speaker for the Dead, Orson Scott Card, Review
34 – S16 - Little, Big, John Crowley
35 – S23 - The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman
36 – O16 - Ghost Story, Peter Straub, Review
37 – O20 - Chasing Vermeer, Blue Balliett
38 – O27 - Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
39 – N12 - Pattern Recognition, William Gibson, Review
40 – N22 - At Last There is Nothing Left to Say, Matthew Good
41 – N27 - The Chrysalids, John Wyndham, Review
42 – D02 - Elizabeth Rex, Timothy Findley
43 – D04 - You Are What You Eat, Gillian McKeith
44 – D10 - Dark Entries, Ian Rankin

Various bits and pieces about what I read below the cut...

Best Book/Favourite Book
Oh, this is so difficult always. I think in terms of having the greastest effect on me, or the longest lasting, probably Little, Big would top the list. It's a book that I have a very, very hard time articulating my thoughts about. It was the sort of book to creep into your brain and make a home there, but it also felt in a lot of ways like the shallowest of books giving off the deepest of illusions. I don't know. My feelings about it waver between adoration and frustration. So maybe it's not the best choice. Maybe my favourite was Ondaatje's Divisadero after all.

In the young adult/childrens books, my favourite was certainly Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. Lovely, lovely book.

Least Favourite
Another tough one as there were certainly some duds. My absolute least favourite was probably Daniel Handler's Adverbs, but Matt Good's At Last There is Nothing Left to Say is terrifically awful and there's not one scrap of good writing in Criminal Minds: Finishing School.

Most Disappointing
Oh, probably Chasing Vermeer, but mainly because I'd had high hopes when I bought it and then it turned out to be kind of lame. (Pretty cover, dull story.)

Elizabeth Rex wasn't anything like most disappointing, but it was disappointing because it wasn't really about what the author thought it was about. Basically Findley had this idea about how Queen Elizabeth I was a woman who had to rule like a man, the time period of this play is when she had to execute her lover, setting aside love (ie. a reflection of her femininity) in favour of protecting her country (ie. iron-fisted rule reflecting her masculinity). So Findley sets up a counterpoint in a male actor who always plays the woman. At the time, women were played by boys, but Findley posits that some men must have specialized in playing women because Shakespeare's female characters were sometimes much too strong to have been played by a boy who'd not experienced much of life. The queen had requested that Shakespeare and his men perform a play for her the night before the execution and following the performance, she joins the troupe and discusses the question of feminine vs. masculine with the man, Ned, who plays these female characters and they challenge one another to reveal or become the sex that they don't engender. As in Elizabeth has to show that she is a woman and Ned has to prove that he is a man.

It seemed like a really fascinating idea, but I ultimately I think the play was more about grief than it was about gender. Hence the disappointment. I mean, there was a great deal about gender in the play, it just... I suppose it didn't illuminate anything for me. I'd still love to see it performed, though. What the play does well is enough, even without it doing what it set out to do.

I read quite a few books for second/third/etc. times. All of the Keys to the Kingdom books, except Superior Saturday were re-reads. I like them as much now as I liked them the first go around. It's just a really solid series of books. At Last There is Nothing Left to Say was a re-read. I first read it in 2002 (or there-abouts) and more or less liked it, in direct opposition to the contempt in which I now hold it.

Books I'm Still Reading
Right now, I'm nearly finished Orson Scott Card's Xenocide, which is the third book in the Ender Saga. My bathroom book is currently Mary Roach's Bonk, which I suspect I'll finish fairly soon since it's such a readable book. I also have The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide in the bathroom, though I've only been reading it intermittently. (It's a collection of six Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books/stories.)

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