Sunday, January 4, 2009

2008 in review: Books

Last entry I reviewed my 2008 in live music. This time (for the third year), books. Here's a list of the books I read in 2008, with followed by some statistics:

1. Gastroanomalies - James Lileks
2. Sesame Street Unpaved - David Borgenicht
3. Possible Side Effects - Augusten Burroughs
4. Graduation Day - Ann M. Martin
5. The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival - Stanley N. Alpert
6. Elvis is Titanic: Classroom Tales from the Other Iraq - Ian Klaus
7. Summerland - Michael Chabon
8. Invisible Cities - Italo Calvino
9. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
10. We Are All Welcome Here - Elizabeth Berg
11. Duma Key - Stephen King
12. Mazel Tov: Celebrities' Bar and Bat Mitzvah Memories - Jill Rappaport
13. Dream When You're Feeling Blue - Elizabeth Berg
14. Schuyler's Monster: A Father's Journey with His Wordless Daughter - Robert Rummel-Hudson
15. One Past Midnight: The Langoliers - Stephen King
16. Blaze - Richard Bachman
17. Mansfield Park - Jane Austen
18. Ask the Pilot: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel - Patrick Smith
19. My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals - Melanie Dunea
20. A Fictional History of the United States (With Huge Chunks Missing) - T Cooper & Adam Mansbach, Eds.
21. The Crazy School - Cornelia Read
22. The Pact - Jodi Picoult
23. A Corner of Wellington - Chris Stevenson
24. Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
25. The House That George Built (With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty) - Wilfrid Sheed
26. Tender at the Bone - Ruth Reichl
27. Ten Points - Bill Strickland
28. Ruby Holler - Sharon Creech
29. Chasing Redbird - Sharon Creech
30. The Wanderer - Sharon Creech
31. When You Are Engulfed in Flames - David Sedaris
32. The Forgetting - Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic - David Shenk
33. Prep - Curtis Sittenfeld
34. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
35. I Like Food, Food Tastes Good - Kara Zuaro
36. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz
37. The Year of Living Biblically - A.J. Jacobs
38. The Hope Chest - Karen Schwabach
39. Surprise Island - Gertrude Chandler Warner
40. The Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai
41. Gang Leader for a Day - Sudhir Venkatesh
42. Under the Tree: The Toys and Treats that Made Christmas Special, 1930-1970 - Susan Waggoner
43. Princess Academy - Shannon Hale
44. What is the What - Dave Eggers
45. Hitler Youth - Susan Campbell Bartoletti
46. Dedication - Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
47. Dark Water Rising - Marian Hale
48. The Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stewart
49. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey - Trenton Lee Stewart
50. We All Die Alone - Mark Newgarden
51. No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach - Anthony Bourdain
52. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver
53. Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America's First Poet - Charlotte Gordon
54. The Dangerous Book for Dogs - Various
55. Pollyanna's Western Adventure - Harriet Lummis Smith
56. By Hook or By Crook - David Crystal
57. Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
58. The Enchantress of Florence - Salman Rushdie
59. Enna Burning - Shannon Hale
60. Comfort Me With Apples - Ruth Reichl
61. Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home - Lise Funderberg
62. Like a Rolling Stone: The Strange Life of a Tribute Band - Steven Kurutz
63. Population: 485 - Michael Perry
64. A Camera, Two Kids, and a Camel: My Journey in Photographs - Annie Griffiths Belt
65. Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
66. Raising Ourselves: A Gwich'in Coming of Age Story from the Yukon River - Velma Wallis
67. The Woman Who Can't Forget: A Memoir - Jill Price & Bart Davis
68. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming - Joshilyn Jackson
69. Looking for Anne of Green Gables - Irene Gammel
70. Why They Killed Big Boy & Other Stories - Michael Perry
71. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
72. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down - Anne Fadiman
73. Off Main Street - Michael Perry
74. Truck: A Love Story - Michael Perry
75. Just After Sunset - Stephen King
76. State by State: a Panoramic Portrait of America - Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey, eds.
77. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid - Bill Bryson

Total books read: 77. I read exactly the same number of books in 2008 as I did in 2007.

By male authors: 37 (48%)
By female authors: 36 (47%)
By both: 4 (1%)

Previously read: 3 (4% - down dramatically from 2007's 21%)

Marketed for children/teens: 14 (18%)

Fiction: 37 (48%)
Nonfiction: 40 (52%)
The first year since I've kept track that my nonfiction reading has outstripped my fiction reading.

You should definitely read:
Freakonomics. I saw Steven Levitt speak at a conference this year, an experience that finally inspired me to check out this book. I'm a little late to the Freakonomics party, but I found the book fascinating and informative. I kept sharing the research findings with random people, exclaiming things like, "Everything makes so much sense!"

Don't bother reading:
All of the books I read (and finished) in 2008 were redeeming for one reason or another. But I did think that The Woman Who Can't Forget: A Memoir would be more interesting than it was. I'm normally a sucker for some good case-study nonfiction, but this is indeed more of a memoir. A memoir where the author has a few basic points to make about her life: "I remember everything that's ever happened from early adolescence onward. When I remember things I completely relive the emotions associated with them. It kind of sucks. But scientists love me." And the rest of the book is filled with examples of all this. I finished it, but I guess I was hoping for some breakthrough of scientific insight. Unfortunately (for the author, too, I'm sure) there really isn't one. I think I would have enjoyed it more as a long article. There's probably one out there, and I recommend finding that.


Robin said...

I hate to see that "The Woman Who Can't Forget" didn't go into more depth. It's on my to-read list, mainly because I've got a touch of what she has.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The author was on Oprah recently, and she didn't seem to have much insight into her abilities. She seemed to be floundering with how to emotionally handle her memories. Write the book when you figure that out, okay?

Did Tamala get you into Michael Perry? I love "Truck: A Love Story".

BeeKay said...

Yep, Tamala was the person who told me about Michael Perry. She tipped me off that he was speaking at my local library a few months ago, which turned out to be a really fun evening.

Bill Strickland said...

Thanks for the mention of Ten Points — hope it held your interest.

I like the Italian word "sprezzatura."

Allison said...

Hey, I'm reading Freakonomics right now! I'm only on chapter two, but it's good so far...