Books of 2008, In Memoriam

i would like to say a few words about all of the books i read in the past year, as i clear the list from the side over there and make way for the books of 2009.  please enjoy:

John Adams by David McCullough: as i have repeatedly found with mccullough, this book was sheer enjoyment to read, educational, interesting, and had heart.

One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson: bad that i can’t remember it well…not that it was a bad book, just not something that’s jumping out at me.

Thunderstruck by Erik Larsen: again, erik larsen is another biographer/historian who knows what he’s doing.  i have to say that, for me, it wasn’t as good as devil in the white city, but it was still interesting.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: better than i remembered.  more nuanced than i remembered.  funny, as i remembered.

The Cider House Rules by John Irving: unfortunate that the movie has forced me to always picture mr. caine, mr. maguire, etc. in the roles as i read.  still a fabulous book, you princes of maine, you kings of new england.

Vermeer’s Hat by Timothy Brook: an interesting one, with a lot of cool stuff about history and countrys’ interconnectedness, but i felt like it lacked some focus.  drifted around a bit.

Museum by Danny Danzinger: quite interesting, and i was surprised to find a wellesley alum among the interviewees (lulu chow wang), though her interview had her sounding about 180 degrees from how she has been when i’ve met her.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden: gorgeous book.  i think gorgeous sums it up.  i also wrote a post about it here.

Until I Find You by John Irving: long.  very long.  i was determined though, and when it finally picked up pace (around page 6 or 700) i loved it.  it was different feeling for an irving book, and i guess that’s because he was working through a lot as he wrote it (or so holds word on the street).

Running in Heels by Anna Maxted: can’t remember it.  i think it was a junk book to read on the way to memphis on the greyhound.

Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire: love these re-takes on classic fairy tales.  well done.

The Psycho Ex Game by Merrill Markoe & Andy Prieboy: don’t much recall this one either.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: going out on a limb against a good bit of hype to say that i wasn’t much impressed.  it was overlong, overboring, and not super well crafted.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: i love the mood and setting of this book, the cool air off the water and the warm nights lit by fireflies and full of music.  what an atmosphere fitzgerald could create.

Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck: tragic.  much simpler sentences than i recalled, very clear and easy-to-read.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving: also tragic, but noble, dramatic, and with tons of heart.  loved it.

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger: ok i might be like un-american to say this, but it was ok.  i know it was earth shattering in its time and for the characters it allowed future authors to create etc, but i thought it was ok.

1984 by George Orwell: read this, if you read one book this year.  and then, think about it.  compare it to our society.  make sure we don’t get to this!

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara: great history, well told, and this time i didn’t have to flip back and forth as much to find out who was this again? – as much.

Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman: the man has a way with words, that’s for sure, but for me the topic wasn’t as interesting as how he told it.  some parts dragged to me.

Crime & Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: ok i read this at work so it was a bit disjointed as i answered the phone or made copies or whatever, but i didn’t really like it as far as russian lit goes.  i appear to be going against the popular critical grain quite a bit here in my little mini-reviews…

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson: eh.  i wouldn’t read it again.  i think you have to have done extensive drugs to fully appreciate what hst was talking about, which i have not.

A Son of the Circus by John Irving: i loved this irving!  i love the characters, the plot lines, the setting in india.  so great.

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk: eh again.  it had funny moments, sad moments, but i’m not sure if i would re-read it.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: a little tough for me to get through.  i can only handle so many declarative, terse, brief sentences.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling: not much to say here, harry always sucks me in til i’m done devouring the book.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling: again not much to say…awaiting the next movie.  sad to find out that in real life daniel radcliffe is a chain smoker.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame: fun and beautiful, with great parallels to human society.

Paper Towns by John Green: first book i’ve read aloud to others in a long while.  well written and insightful as always, but i was left a tad adrift by the ending.

I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson: totally hysterical.  look on more about him here in the months to come.

good and bad, i think i read a healthy amount during the year, and i like keeping track of them all – it encourages me to keep making the list longer.  i’m about to wrap up book one for the year.  searching for the next one, and i’m taking suggestions!


2 thoughts on “Books of 2008, In Memoriam

  1. mapdock says:

    if you haven’t read ‘hotel new hampshire’ by john irving, it’s one of his best for me. ‘world according to garp’ and most of the early books, although some like ‘setting free the bears’ and ‘water method man’ start to blur once you’ve read ‘hotel new hampshire’ and ‘garp.’

  2. coltempo says:

    i love hotel new hampshire & garp, i did read both just at the end of ’07. in fact, as the best present ever from the best girlfriend ever, i scored for my boyfriend (the largest irving fan i know) a personally signed “To Pete, John Irving” book for his birthday in ’08! it’s a 4th edition copy of garp. very exciting.

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