05 January 2008


I usually post my top ten films of the year around this time, but I'm holding off until I get a chance to see something that doesn't open in Boston for another week. In the meantime, taking a page (ba-dump bump) from my friend and fellow book-grouper Linda, here's what I read last year:

1. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (Bill Bryson)
2. The Polysyllabic Spree (Nick Hornby)
3. Notes From a Small Island (Bryson)
4. Spook (Mary Roach)
5. Comfort Me With Apples (Ruth Reichl)
6. Straight Man (Richard Russo)*
7. Love is a Mixtape (Rob Sheffield)
8. Alternatives to Sex (Stephen McCauley)
9. You Don't Love Me Yet (Jonathan Lethem)
10. Altman on Altman (Robert Altman)
11. The Lost Continent (Bryson)
12. Belle and Sebastian: Just a Modern Rock Story (Paul Whitelaw)
13. Now is the Hour (Tom Spanbauer)
14. Made in America (Bryson)
15. Reading Like a Writer (Francine Prose)**
16. No One Belongs Here More Than You (Miranda July)
17. The Giant's House (Elizabeth McCracken)
18. The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life (Simon Goddard)
19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)
20. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (Alice Munro)
21. Live From New York (Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller)*
22. Marooned: The Next Generation of Desert Island Discs (various)
23. I'm a Stranger Here Myself (Bryson)
24. Gilead (Marilynne Robinson)
25. Kitchen Confidential (Anthony Bourdain)
26. Mother Tongue (Bryson)
27. Black Swan Green (David Mitchell)
28. Not That You Asked (Steve Almond)
29. Schulz and Peanuts (David Michaelis)
30. The Abstinence Teacher (Tom Perrotta)
31. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami)
32. Born Standing Up (Steve Martin)


A few notes:

--I've been on a Bryson kick ever since a friend gave me a copy of In a Sunburned Country in 2006. He's one of those few authors (Tom Robbins and John Irving also come to mind) where I feel compelled to devour the man's entire oeuvre. In Bryson's case, I have two more to go: his new Shakespeare biography, and the somewhat daunting A Short History of Nearly Everything.

--My favorite read on this list, by far, was Now is the Hour (published in 2006). I had read Spanbauer's The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon some time ago, and thought it was okay. But this epic yet intimate coming of age story set in 1967 Idaho was fantastic, combining complicated characters with a striking, unique conversational style.

--Two things inspired me to check out Alice Munro: the film AWAY FROM HER (an adaptation of her story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" that will surely make my film list), and a recommendation from Prose, whose book on writing is intriguing, but so densely written that I have difficulty making it through more than five or ten pages at a time (and consequently haven't touched it in months).

--I ended the year with some massive reads: Michaelis' controversial but indispensable Schulz biography (672 pages) and Murakami's original, dreamlike tale of loss and identity (624 pages). So, Steve Martin's entertaining, illuminating memoir (224 pages) came as a relief.

--I plan on reading more Munro, Murakami and Mitchell in the new year.

1 comment:

cz said...

Murakami is awesome! I highly recommend his latest After Dark! Many of the books you read sound intriguing; hopefully I'll get to them eventually!