Sunday, December 30, 2007

50 Book Challenge Round Up


I've read exactly 50 books. Here are some of the highlights.

# of books read: 50
- female authors: 20 / male authors: 23 (authors only counted once)
- nonfiction: 4 / fiction: 46
* general fiction: 20
* children: 4
* fantasy: 11
* mystery: 5
* historical fiction: 6

- Longest Book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at 784pp
- Shortest Book: Silk at 91pp

Best Books

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Seriously, if you haven't read any books by David Mitchell, what are you waiting for? This is a beautiful book that starts on a slave ship, rockets through time up to the future, then goes all the way back again. Each of the time periods is connected nominally with the period before and after, though all of the connections aren't apparent until the reader reaches the end. Beautifully written, really interesting, and a fantastic read.

Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood
One of Atwood's earlier novels (pre-Handmaid's Tale) about a woman trapped in her life and fakes her death to escape. The book is about her life in its entirety, including her obesity, poor relationship with her mother and bad relationships with men. Easy to relate to, and wonderful to read.

One Perfect Day by Rebecca Mead
One of the non-fiction books I read this year, about the way that American weddings are less about love and more about consumption. Mead traces the production of wedding from the manufacture of the poufy white dress in a sweatshop in China to the marketing of carefully engineered wedding videos. If you've ever been in one of THOSE weddings, you should read this book.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
Both a mystery and a study in the way that traumatic events can shape the lives of people, Case Histories is a fascinating read. It's rare that a book does everything well, but I was interested in the mystery, interested in the characters, and the book left me wanting to read more from this author.

As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway
This book traces the relationship of Anastacia and the narrator, two misfit high school students. Halfway through the book, Anna goes mysteriously missing, and it is up to the narrator to piece together the clues she's left behind to figure out what happened to her. There is plenty of room for the reader to come to their own conclusions as well. This book won some sort of "young adult" fiction award, but there is more than enough here to satisfy even the most discriminating readers.

In Search of King Solomon's Mines by Tahir Shah
I want Tahir Shah's job. He is a travel writer who choses insane places to visit and goes on crazy, unconventional journeys in the most amazing of ways. This book takes place in Ethiopia where Shah goes in search of the King Solomon's legendary gold mines. Shah is never condescending and seems to really care about the people he meets along the road. He is often self-depricating and very funny. If you like Bill Bryson, you will love Tahir Shah. If you don't like Bill Bryson, well, you'll still like Tahir Shah.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I feel like I was the last person to read this book. The Time Traveller's Wifeis an unconventional romance between Henry (a time traveler) and Claire (a non-traveler). Part romance, part science-fiction, this book shows the way that Henry and Claire have known and influenced each other throughout their entire lives, thanks to the mystery of time travel. Beautifully written and totally original.

(and of course, Harry Potter).

Most Disappointing

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
A convoluted murder mystery set in Istabul involving the illuminated manuscript trade. While the historical bits about illuminated manuscripts were interesting, this book is bogged down in senseless exposition and strange, uninteresting subplots.

Stiff by Mary Roach
A book about what happens to human bodies after we die. Too much trying to be funny, and not enough science. If I pick a book out of the "science" section, I want to learn while I'm being entertained.

Shopgirl by Steve Martin
Flat and unemotional chick-lit written by a man. Steve Martin tries to be a serious author. Kind of.

An Imperfect Lens by Anne Roiphe
Three young french scientists go to Alexandria to discover the cause of cholera. I found this book to be almost clinical in the descriptions of the love stories between two of the main characters, and in the descriptions of the progression of cholera through Alexandria. I just couldn't get into this book.

The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman
Henry is an early anatomist, and Gustine is the young prostitute that helps him acquire bodies during the cholera epidemic in England. Unlikeable historical fiction. I wanted the disease to win.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I'm impressed! I've read a shamefully low number of books this year. I really need to get on that; your minireviews have given me some great suggestions!