Monday, January 12, 2009

I like books

I do really, really like books; I love thoughts and words and pictures in my head.
I'm fascinated that something as mercurial as emotion can be captured in 2 dimensions; the concept of written language is cool.
I've always been a voracious reader, but living without cable for nearly 3 years has given me the time to rediscover books.
Living on the same road as the library helps, too.
 I always intend to review the books i'm reading like the fabulous Kaaren, but i never do. Instead of resigning myself to complete failure I offer here a brief-ish rundown on what i read in 2008 with some highlights. [note - if i say NEW obviously i mean "new to Niki" cause i am always years behind (or ahead) of any trend]
Books read : 104
# of rereads : 7
Non-fiction : 7
Children / Young Adult : 50
Newbery winners : 15
Graphic novel / comic compelations : 12
Science Fiction : 3
Fantasy : 29
Mystery : 16
Best : The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo - i really love this book; you can read my purple review here
Worst : The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan - supposedly about the banality of evil this book was in fact, just banal itself. The evil wasn't really that evil, the secret wasn't terribly shocking considering the circumstance and the characters were downright unlikable. If time were money I'd demand a refund.
Best new children's series : The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley - there are 5 books so far in this twist-on-fairy tales series that are quick, fun, witty and yet still manage to delve into slightly deeper themes.
 Best new adult series : the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich - i've read 12 of the 17 books about the New Jersey bounty hunter and enjoy the idiosyncratic characters and pure escapism plots; i mean her car was smashed by a garbage truck for goodness sakes.
Fascinating and Fantastical : One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - i'm still confused; the characters have the same names and you can't really tell if it is fantasy or allegory, but i liked it and there were some breath-taking uses of language; i wish i could have read it in its original language cause i bet it was even more beautiful.
Most Over-rated : Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield - i've heard about the "shoe books" forever and checked out several at a time, but was so unimpressed by the first one that i didn't bother with the rest.
I was so amazed and delighted at the end that i immediately flipped to the first page and started over : The Life of Pi by Yann Martel - love, love, loved it and will not comment on it at all so as to not influence anyone else's enjoyment other than to say if you haven't read it, do.
Enjoyed it so much that i read passages aloud in the van, but then was so angry at the end that i threw it to the floor and physically stomped on it : Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquirel - loved the format, the use of language, the imaginative characters, and the unique plot; hated the ending - HATED IT - but i still recommend the book anyway.
Not at all what i was expecting award : Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling - Kipling and New England? Kipling and fishing? What? Liked it once i got over the surprise though the dialect dialogue was a bit thick.
The You Fail award : Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire - didn't finish reading it; i tried and tried but couldn't muster enough interest to continue past about 100 pages of this 3rd Wicked book.
Most impactful : The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran - perhaps i was influenced by being exhausted, hot, grimy and a bit tipsy while cleaning out Douglas' mother's house the day before her memorial service, but i cried from beginning to end as i read it sitting on the floor amidst the never-ending piles of crap.
Glad i finally got around to reading it : the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett - i've only done 6 of the 25, but at least now i know what everyone is talking about.
Loved the movie so much i read the book : The Prestige by Christopher Priest - i was spellbound by the movie (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale in the same place? Yes, please) but couldn't imagine how the book could've been written cause of all the twists and turns; the book is very good and twisty in its own right, but different from the movie in a lot of little details, like character and plot. I highly recommend both though they have little in common.
Liked the book so much now i want to see the movie : The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy - a compelling "what if" based on a real-life crime, it is gritty with interesting characters and an ending i didn't see coming until it was almost upon me.
Most infuriating Author's Afterword : Brisingr by Christopher Paolini - i reread the first 2 books in the trilogy when the third was published in September only to get to the end of the third and find out he'd decided to make it a series so now in 2 years i'll have to reread all 3 before the 4th comes out - if i'd known that before i started i would have just waited. Good book, though.
Wait, i thought i read this before : the last 4 books in the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis - i thought i'd read them all when i was younger, but The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician's Nephew and the Last Battle were completely unfamiliar when i read them in April; they're all good, but Voyage of the Dawn Treader is still my favorite. And if you're going to read them, for goodness sakes read them in the order they were published and not in the ridiculous chronological order they are currently being sold in.
Surprisingly good : The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd - i tend to avoid anything that might have been in Oprah's book club, but i had a free copy of this book and i really enjoyed the strong female characters and the basic message of finding your own power on spite of your surroundings.
So moved by it and it captures some of my own philosophy so well that I want to hand out copies on the street corner : The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom - i loved it; read it; read it now.


Kaaren said...

104? Wow!

Life of Pi - GREAT!! And I believe. That is all.

The Five People - I cried. So sweet.

Horse and his Boy - BORING

I have Brisingr to still read and am sad to hear you did not like Lion Among Men. I have not read it either but have wanted to.

Rea said...

I'm one of the ones that RAVE over the "Shoes" books! I have most of them! LOVE Circus Shoes!

You read deep stuff! You should read "Can you keep a secret?" by Sophie Kinsella....hi.lar.ious!

Megan said...

I heart this post!! I love to read too and I don't have cable either which has improved my reading as well. Life of Pi is added to list tonight.

The five people - I LOVED IT as well. As well as Tuesday's with Morrie.

I read Tale of D per your recommendation and liked it but did not love it.

Please add a Jodi Picoult book to your list!

Man I only read 20-21 over the summer and thought I was doing great.

have you checked out - great way to trade with other readers.

Scopi said...

I can't really speak to the book, but I thought the movie version The Black Dahlia was TERRIBLE. It committed the worst possible sin any "based on a true story" mystery can: it was less interesting than what really happened.

Melanie said...

I liked the movie version of the Prestige, but I found it so confusing because I couldn't keep the two main characters straight -- they looked alike to me! (Mike still makes fun of me for that -- apparently most people don't have trouble telling Hugh Jackman from Christian Bale.)

For young adult stuff, you might like the Olympians series by Riordan, about modern kids who are children of the Greek gods. I've read the first couple -- light but fun!

srapalmateer said...

First, congrats on reading so many books...I've not been so lucky to have the time to do that. (Grad School gets in the way!)

Secondly, reading 100 Years in Spanish is not as much fun as you might think it would be. I've done it. It's even MORE confusing if you can imagine that (and I know Spanish!)However, if you enjoyed it, try The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. Similar themes and of course multiple people with the same name and loads of magical realism (it's pretty good in both English and Spanish and there's a movie version too with Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons, Antonio Banderas and Winona Ryder.)

Thirdly, Like Water for Chocolate is WAY better in Spanish than in English.

Finally, if you're ready, I have volume 11 of Fables!

Francie the "wise" said...

Isn't Life of Pi great? If I had a yellow/orange cat I would definitely name him Richard Parker.

But as for Like Water for Chocolate... I haven't read the book (though have long wanted to), but have you seen the film? It's a truly amazing film.

I really like The Horse and his Boy. I love the scene where he is riding through the fog and can sense Aslan's breath on his neck but has no idea either a) who Aslan really is or b) that Aslan is walking between him and the precipice. It's a very theologically poignant (and to my experience, accurate) moment.

I really enjoyed Ballet Shoes when I read it. Of course, I was nine at the time, and I never read any of the other "shoes" books. Or perhaps it was one of the others I read... Dancing Shoes? Three adopted sisters, Patty and Petrovka, one's a dancer, one's an actress...

Kaaren said...

Side note:

Every time I open my blog, and see your link on the sidebar, I read this title as

"I like boobs"

and I do a double-take. Every time.

Anonymous said...

Black Dahlia the movie was nowhere near as good as the book. (Though the movie version of LA Confidential >was< as good as the book, though the plot was somewhat streamlined.) Big ups to Dahlia's 3 sequels - Big Nowhere, LA Confidential + White Jazz. Or for that matter, also to his historical fiction American Tabloid and The Cold 6,000. Warning: this guy ain't for those with a positive opinion of humanity that they wish to keep.


Niki said...

That's 2 votes for skipping the Black Dahlia movie - guess it is going much further down in the queue.