|100 Book challenge - January edition
||[Feb. 1st, 2008|12:20 pm]
It gets kinda of confusing now, continuing the 100 book challenge to my birhtday, but I am. January was not a bad month at all.
This was also the first month in which I am including any audio books. I resisted audio books for a long time, but I am spending so many hours in the car these days that it seemed foolish not to use the time to some good purpose. My personal audiobook rule is that the book must be unabridged to count.
So here's the January list:
65 - The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion's memoir of living through the death of her husband of 40 years, along with the near-death of their only child. Beautiful and heartrending.
66- The Betrayal of America - Vincent Bugliosi's analysis of the 2000 election. His point is not that Gore should have won, but that no matter who won the Supreme Court's decision was against the constitution, politically motivated, and a criminal affront to the citizens of the United States. The book was originally an article in The Atlantic Journal or The New Yorker or something, and the book is an expansion on that article. The original article is good, but the expansion drags some. I've always said that Scalia's vote to stop the Florida recount process was proof that he was not really the constitutional preservationist he claims to be, and this backs it up.
67 - The Omivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan looks at how food gets to our table. I found it excellent and scary.
68 - Obsidian Butterfly - LK Hamilton. Vampire porn. Nothing more to be said.
69 - Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong - James W. Loewen irked me so much that, honestly, if this had not been the only audiobook in the car I probably would never have finished it. While it's true that a lot of the ugly underbelly of American history is brushed right past, and while it's true that some of it deserves closer examination, his continual complaint that children are not told enough about American history combined by his charge that they are given too many facts to remember made me want to yell at him that he should, then, write a history book that somehow manages to reconcile both charges. Also, I consider myself pretty darned liberal, but the fact that he excoriates all conservatives but treats all liberals with kid gloves pissed me off. The book was far from even-handed.
70 - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby wrote this book with the aid of an assistant who held up lettered flash cards and transcribed his thoughts one letter-blink at a time. Bauby, former editor of Elle in Paris, was felled by a stroke that left him able to communicate only by blinking one eye. The tale is supposed to be some uplifting story of one man's courage and ability to overcome. Don't be fooled. It's a horror story of how trapped and isolated a human can be inside of a body that just keeps staying alive. Amazing, but awful.
71 - Digging to America - Anne Tyler writes about two families who become friends only over the coincidence of both their Korean adoptee daughters arriving on the same plane. Like most Tyler books, it's wonderful and honest and raw and beautiful.
72 - The Gnostic Gospels - Elaine Pagels does not provide a translation of the Gnostic Gospels, the books discovered in the 1940s hidden in a cave. Instead, this is a comparative look at the difference between gnostic and orthodox philosophies of the life of Jesus and the reasons why the orthodox point of view prevailed while the gnostic disappeared. It's a fascinating introduction to gnostic thought, which in places reads more like Jung than like Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. It was fascinating to me to see that a kind of psychological thinking that I always assumed was of recent origin existed so long ago. A quick and accessible introduction to the issues of gnosticism.
73 - Narcissus in Chains - LK Hamilton. More vamp porn.
74 - To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design - Henry Petroski's book was on the shelf in the basement, and I needed something else to read while on the NordicTrack. But it was a serendipitous coincidence because the book is a fascinating layman's look at the art and science of structural engineering and how engineers learn more from failure than they do from success. A little dry in places, but Petroski is good with anecdotes and kept it interesting even for someone like me who is math-phobic.
75 - Seduced by Moonlight - LK Hamilton. Fairy porn for a change of pace. What can I say; I was sick in bed.
So, only 25 books left to reach 100 by April 24. I think it can be done.