Booklist 2005 Project

Fill my head.
I bought a couple new books yesterday: The Character of Cats and Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately. I used to devour novels but anymore I just don’t trust my judgment as to what’s good. So I was intrigued by this post at defective yeti. He’s basically asking his readers to recommend books and promising to read them this year. Sounds like a pretty good idea to me. Most of the books I get are ones I see recommended on blogs anyway. Therefore I’m asking you guys to help me out. What should I read? There’s no requirement that it be new, but I’d prefer fiction over non-fiction (since I have no trouble picking those out myself). Bonus points for unusual stuff like graphic novels. I promise to post at least something about every book as I finish it. So, whaddaya got?

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  1. Okay, one graphic novel i just got and loved was “It’s a good life if you don’t weaken” by Seth. He designed all the art work for Aimee Mann’s “Lost In Space” album. His artwork is just fantastic – really kind of 1950s Americana, except dark and depressing at the same time. I really can’t recommend it enough.

  2. I had a quick search of your blog and this one doesn’t seem to be mentioned: “The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1958), in which the author looks back at social changes at the time of his great-grandfather’s life. I had no specific interest in the historical period, it was just the quality of his writing that struck me.

  3. One of my favorite novels that I always recommend to people is Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion. But THE book I’m recommending to everyone at the moment is one my brother sent me for my birthday: Why America’s Top Pundits Are Wrong: Anthropologists Talk Back His dissertation advisor has a chapter in it, and I got to read a few of the essays before they were published — it’s excellent, and very accessible to non-anthropologists. (Trust me, my brother is constantly making me read these “great” articles that have my head spinning and make my eyes cross. This is different.)

    (Heh, I just noticed that the other book Amazon is recommending on that page is by Carolyn Nordstrom. Go figure.)

  4. Isn’t the character of cats summed up by this?

  5. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. I have a bit of the ol’ autist/Asperger’s in me, so I find the idea of a first-person novel with an autistic narrator fascinating. The subtle futurism propelled me through the book as well.

  6. Ken Kesey is a good recommendation but I prefer One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I recommend anything by Hemingay (Islands in the Stream and For Whom the Bell Tolls) are my faves. Also Steinbeck. I love me some american literature. If you haven’t read Slaughterhouse Five by Vonnegut, do so immediately! For some more contemporary stuff, check out Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. I really enjoyed both of them.

  7. Sticking to fiction, which constitutes the majority of my book-reading, pretty nearly anything by Haruki Murakami, although my favorite right now is still “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” The best Australian novel I’ve read outside of Patrick White has to be “The White Earth” by Andrew McGahan.

  8. The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffengarner (sp). Deals with the improbability of a man with a disease that causes spontaneous time travel in a realistic enough way to make the love story that binds this book really beautiful. This was THE book I brought as a Christmas present, and my favourite read of 2004.

  9. I really enjoyed The English Passengers, by Matthew Kneal (think it won an award a few years ago) — it tells the history of Tasmania through 2 different timelines / and multiple perspectives: 1, over the course of a ship voyage from England, led by a vicar who thinks Van Diemen’s Island (sp?) is the Garden of Eden, and narrated by the various members of the voyage; and the other spanning decades, told primarily by an aborigine from Tasmania… I had a hard time getting into it, but after about p50 couldn’t put it down!

    Also– The Blind Assassin, by Margaret Atwood. Story in a story in a story… again, couldn’t put it down…

  10. I’ve only read a handful of graphic novels in my day, but the best of the lot would have to be Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. And by “best” I mean incredibly depressing. The masochist in me enjoyed it thoroughly.

  11. I am currently reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. It is sooooo good. It is a novel about a guy with Asperger’s disease (a form of autism) and solving an unlikely mystery. I am can hardly put it down. Highly recommended.

  12. Yeah, I picked that one up when we were on holiday last November. Very good book.

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