Friday, March 02, 2007

They call this the "they had to ask" post...

First off, I always operate under the idea that my favorite book hasn't been read yet. This is why my "to read" list is over 200 books at the moment. I'm a little cracked that way.

Having said that, here are the top baker's dozen, as of this particular moment:

The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
Freedom and Necessity - Steven Brust & Emma Bull
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco. Foucault's Pendulum, too.
The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson. Also Snow Crash.
Housekeeping - Marilynne Robinson
Good Omens - Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
The Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout
Dear Enemy - Jean Webster. A sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs, which is also good
A Distant Mirror - Barbara Tuchman
Gaudy Night - Dorothy Sayers
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Alan Moore (the book, not the movie)
The Sherlock Holmes mysteries - Arthur Conan Doyle
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne

Near-misses (i.e. books that I still recommend but aren't my all-time faves)
Sunshine - Robin McKinley
The Archivist - Martha Cooley
A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Madeleine L'Engle

And finally...the original incarnation of Folderol included a booklog section. That disappeared eventually, and I started another listing of what I was reading in 2005, but stopped that around August. Every now and then I think about starting it up again. Anyway, if you care, here's what I read January-August 2005 (with brief commentary to boot):

  • Alphabet Abecedarium by Richard Firmage. The why and how of letters. It was okay; I had hoped it would be a little more fascinating than it was.
  • I, Claudius by Richard Graves. Basically a big old book of royal gossip. Spiffy!
  • Dark Matter: A Novel by Philip Kerr. Sir Isaac Newton, alchemy and atheism.
  • March Violets and The Pale Criminal by Philip Kerr (2/3 of Berlin Noir Trilogy). Dark 1930s detective stories. Incidentally, I think Philip Kerr must have gotten his heart smashed irrevocably into pieces at some point in time. No happy ever afters, ever, in his books. The 3d novel in the trilogy is set in 1948 Berlin and was too bleak to finish.
  • 2d Class Urgent by Nick Bantock. A sort of how-to book.
  • Sex with Kings : 500 Years of Adultery, Power, Rivalry, and Revenge by Eleanor Herman. Fun factoid: Bastard children were thought to be prettier and smarter than legitimate offspring because they were conceived out of love rather than duty. In actuality, they were better because they weren't so inbred.
  • The Naked Olympics by Tony Perrottet. The chariot races were the demolition derbys (derbies?) of their day.
  • A Matter of Taste: How Names, Fashion and Culture Change by Stanley Lieberson. Fun factoid: when the name Jennifer took over the world in the 1970s, other names ending in -er got a boost as well, like Amber and Heather.
  • The Anubis Slayings by P.C. Doherty. Murder and political intrigue during the reign of Hatshepsut. Part of a series.
  • Alexander the Great by Paul Cartledge. Probably much better if you're deeply enthralled by military strategy. About halfway through It abandoned all pretense of linear thought and started skipping around his life at random. Argh.
  • Route 66 A.D. by Tony Perrottet. Starting in Italy and ending in Egypt, this is a modern-day recreation of the journey that ancient tourists undertook. It was crowded and chaotic then, too, apparently.
  • The War of the Roses by Alison Weir.
    "I want to be king!"
    "No, I want to be king!"
    "Now we are old and dying, and someone else is king. Drat."
  • Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography by Douglas Keister. Pretty self-explanatory. Did you know there's a secret society dedicated to bugs?
  • Weird Europe : A Guide to Bizarre, Macabre, and Just Plain Weird Sights by Kristan Lawson and Anneli Rufus. I am so taking this book to Europe next time I go.
  • Baseball and Philosophy by Eric Bronson (ed.). An example: the batter starts at home, but the object is to go away from home, through a field full of opponents, and to get back home safe. Symbolism abounds. Discuss.
  • Poison: a history and a memoir by Gail Bell. Part genealogical mystery, part poison manual.
  • American Gods byNeil Gaiman. Roadside attractions are America's sacred places. Brilliant.
  • Sunshine byRobin McKinley. Neil Gaiman called this book "pretty much perfect," and it is. It's paranormal, but in an ultranormal tone that keeps you hooked. It also made me want to drop everything and start baking cinnamon rolls. That may have been just me.
  • The Codex by Douglas J. Preston. Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code in the Mayan jungle. Crazy and fun.

(No Amazon links included here, but I can get you details if you like.)

1 comment:

Bill Herald said...

Thank you so much for your list. I know how hard it is to narrow them down. I think I'll pass on the Count but cannot wait to start reading the others.

Thanks again.