Finishing up 2008

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I have many excuses about not updating this blog (holidays, parties, my daughter broke the monitor on my laptop, etc.), but let’s just pass over that, shall we? Here are the last 9 books I read last year:

73. Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

I really enjoyed this book that points out how talent and skill have to meet up with luck and demographics for someone like Bill Gates or the Beatles to acheive the success they have. Some very interesting concepts here.

74. Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper

This was the first Tepper book I read many years ago, so when I saw a nice hardcover copy at my local used bookstore, I pounced on it. It was just as good as I remembered it, and I was glad to re-read the story. I had forgotten that she looks at many fairy tales, not just Sleeping Beauty, so that was fun.

75. Twin Study by Stacey Richter

When I first picked this up, I didn’t realize it was short stories, so I found the second story deeply disorienting. When I started the third story, and it was again very different from what went before, I figured it out. Once I knew what I was reading, I very much enjoyed these stories. Richter has a very odd imagination, and the stories were really fascinating.

76. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster

I really loved this book. It is nice to see that people were writing about women as real people before modern times, and so well, too. I found Forster’s thoughts on family life and getting along in society very interesting, too.

77. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin is one of my favorite authors, so I am not surprised I really liked this, even though I am not generally a big fantasy fan. I borrowed this from a friend, and I have at least the next two books in a pile at home.

78. In the Woods by Tana French

Loved this book. The characters are well-realized, the story is fascinating and tragic and tight. This was the kind of book where I actively resented doing other things that meant I couldn’t read, like work and sleep and talk to my kids. Well, not the kids as much, but everything else.

One quibble, though–they kept talking about psychopaths when they meant sociopaths. That drove me crazy, especially since the character that introduced the term was a psychology major and should have known the difference. And, they are very different. It was a bit jarring, actually. Still, I wouldn’t let that hold you back from reading the book, which was excellent. I am going out to buy French’s next book today. (Note—Borders didn’t have it! I still need this book!)

79. The Private Patient by P.D. James

Excellent, tight story. I am going to miss these books. James is what, 82? 84? (Consulting Wikipedia: 88) Anyway, I am not counting on anymore from her. It would be wonderful to have more, but that might be too much to expect. This book clearly wrapped up some threads, with Kate Miskin being settled nicely, and Adam Dalgleish getting married.

81. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This was an LT recommendation, and I am glad I read it. I am not a big graphic novel person, but I thought this was a good way to tell this story. I am going to look for part 2 soon.

82. Halting State by Charles Stross

I really enjoyed this book, too. Not a big surprise, since I liked Glasshouse so much. I like the way Stross creates believable characters that are well-rounded, whether the character in question is male or female. I was a bit thrown by the second person PPOV, especially since the story shifted between POVs of the three main characters, but it quickly became less jarring. I liked the combination of gaming, high-tech coding, business and old-fashioned human relations. I also liked the near-future extrapolation of many current trends, and how that made the world in the book seem both familiar and very foreign. I definitely recommend this one.

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All in all, a pretty good year of reading, especially when you consider the whole house buying thing. Next up: A Look at the Statistics of the last year, and then the start of 2009. I am going to try for 100 again this year, and have already made a dent, with 5 books. I am also participating in Orange January, which is a great idea, and leading me to many wonderful reads.

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