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December 2010

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Dec. 27th, 2010

Best books read in 2010

In 2010, I read 220 books, or about four per week. Eight were audiobooks; two were graphic; 72 were nonfiction; three were volumes of short stories; three were volumes of essays. My mom was the only one who recommended more than one book I ended up reading last year - I can credit seven to her, mostly nonfiction. Twenty-four were gift copies from authors or publishers sent for review on my blog.

I read two books written in the nineteenth century, and three more from the first half of the twentieth century. I read one book published in the fifties, five from the sixties, four from the seventies, eight from the eighties, twenty-one from the nineties, four from 2000, four from 2001, two from 2002, four from 2003, five from 2004, five from 2005, four from 2006, 22 from 2007, fourteen from 2008, 63 from 2009, and 49 from 2010.

Ten best reads of the year:

1. Room, Emma Donoghue
2. Faithful Place, Tana French
3. Full Dark, No Stars, Stephen King
4. Dope, Sara Gran
5. Rats Saw God, Rob Thomas
6. Girl in Translation, Jean Kwok
7. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
8. Freedom, Jonathan Franzen
9. The Wild Girls, Pat Murphy
10. Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, Portia de Rossi

Aug. 8th, 2010

CDs of which we have duplicates

Just merged Boyd's and my CD collections. We have about six hundred total, and there is surprisingly little overlap, especially when you ignore the mix CDs we made each other or both got from mutual friends. Here are the discs of which our conjoined collection has two or more copies:

Black Crowes, Shake Your Money Maker
Blues Traveler, Four
Billy Bragg, Back to Basics (both his)
Jimmy Buffett, Songs You Know By Heart (possibly both mine)
Cowboy Junkies, The Trinity Session
Cowboy Junkies, Whites Off Earth Now
Ani DiFranco, Imperfectly (both mine)
Huggy Bear, Taking the Rough with the Smooch
Angie Heaton, Sparkle
Angie Heaton, Let It Ride
Le Tigre, Le Tigre
The Mighty Blue Kings, Meet Me in Uptown (we have three copies)
The Mighty Blue Kings, Come One, Come All
N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton
Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville (both mine)
The Prince Myshkins, Total Myshkin Awareness
The Prince Myshkins, Shiny Round Object
Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet
Pure Funk (Polygram compilation) (one his and one possibly Stephie's)
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Sublime, Sublime

eta Paul Simon, The Rhythm of the Saints (both his)

Dec. 31st, 2009

2009 in books

I read 241 books this year, a sharp decrease from last year. One hundred ninety of them were text novels; three were graphic novels; 43 were standard nonfiction; two were short-story collections; two were essay collections; and one was graphic nonfiction. Thirteen were audiobooks; two were e-books from Project Gutenberg; one billed itself as the first diginovel; the rest were in print.

80 were published, or scheduled to be, in 2009 or 2010; 115 were from the past decade; thirteen from the nineties; seven from the eighties; five from the seventies; six from the sixties; six from the fifties; five from the first half of the twentieth century; and four from the nineteenth century.

I reread 20 books, so 221 were new to me. Authors by whom I read multiple books include Louisa May Alcott, M.T. Anderson, Andrew Clements, Caroline B. Cooney (the Janie series), E.R. Frank, Malcolm Gladwell (thanks, Matt), K.L. Going, Kathy Harrison, Josh Kilmer-Purcell (thanks, Mike), Stephen King, Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Wally Lamb, Jacqueline Mitchard, Audrey Niffenegger, Alyson Nöel, Stewart O'Nan (my favorite author discovery of the year), Frank Anthony Polito, Adam Rapp, Ann Rule, and Robin Stevenson.

I loveloveloved a lot of books this year - 43. Narrowing it down to a top ten is hard, but here's what I came up with.

American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld, 2008. The year's best novel is supposed to be based on Laura Bush's life, in which case I want to be friends with Laura.

Zeitoun, Dave Eggers, 2009. Tied for best of the year with American Wife. The year's best nonfiction by a landslide. Eggers follows a businessman who chose to stay in New Orleans when his family evacuated pre-Katrina. What happened to him is incredible but true. Tightly written and intensely plotted like fiction. I'm going to see Eggers interview Zeitoun on City Arts and Lectures in the spring.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster, Benjamin Alire Saenze, 2009. The year's best YA novel. I reviewed it on QueerYA.

The Speed of Dark, Elizabeth Moon, 2003. Thanks to Becky for recommending this novel narrated by an autistic man who works for a pharmaceutical company and leads his peers to protest against an experimental cure for autism.

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, Peter Cameron, 2007. Becky again, and also again it's the incredibly strong, true, offbeat narrative voice that won me over. Not as much plot going on as in Speed of Dark, but I want to be James's best friend.

Marcelo in the Real World, Francisco X. Stork, 2009. Again with the quirky narrator, this time an autistic high-school student who agrees to work for his dad's law firm over the summer.

Life After Genius, M. Ann Jacoby, 2008. Okay, this narrator is not autistic but he is a genius and somewhat socially awkward, and he has collegiate adventures and yay.

The Likeness, Tana French, 2008. As in Daphne du Maurier's The Scapegoat, you have to suspend your disbelief for a little at the beginning, but if you can manage it, the rest of the book is an amazing answer to "What if two unrelated people looked so alike that even their family and friends get them confused?"

The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters, 2009. This classic ghost story made me wish for a thunderstorm outside and a quilt to wrap myself in while warming my feet against the backs of my calves.

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins, 2009. I didn't think Collins could think of a way to put Katniss back in the games, but she did and omg there's a reason why this series is so renowned.

Nov. 16th, 2009

My blog

It occurs to me that I've never posted a link to my blog here. It's a book review site covering fiction of interest to LGBTQ teens. Visit it at QueerYA

Sep. 29th, 2009

Help Daisy with her homework

Want to help with my linguistics project? It will take about 5 minutes and can be done online. I'll be asking your opinions about words. I'm looking for native speakers of American English - as many as possible. Please email me, or comment with your email address, if you can help. Thanks!

Jan. 1st, 2009

2008 in books

I read 332 this year - a new record. I never feel like I'm reading more than the year before, so I don't know how that happens.

13 were audiobooks; the rest I read in print.

Four were volumes of essays: David Foster Wallace, Sloane Crosby, Augusten Burroughs, and an anthology. One was a graphic novel: American Born Chinese. One was a book of monologues: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, this year's Newbery, which I was apparently alone in enjoying. Four were collections of short stories by multiple authors. 71 were nonfiction, and the rest were straight-up novels.

Five were recommendations from maryjotigermilk; two from Angie Manfredi; one from Arturo; only four from Becky, which seems odd; one from Claire; one from nerdliberation; one from Katharine; one from Kurt Cobain (his favorite book was Perfume by Patrick Suskind); one from Megan; one from my mom; two from Nancy Pearl; one from Raelene; one from Sars; and one from Yelena. Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix has the notation "little girl at library"; some random little kid loved it, and I listened to her, and it was indeed good. Most of the rest were ones I reread, or picked up randomly, or learned about from publishers, reviews, or listservs.

Mostly I read only one book by any given author, but there were exceptions, most notably Torey Hayden, Maud Hart Lovelace, and Ann M. Martin.

I read two books written in the nineteenth century: On the Way Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1894), and What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (1872). Fifteen more were from the first half of the twentieth century; five from the 1950s; five from the 60s; eight from the 70s; fifteen from the 80s; 62 from the 90s; and the rest were from this century, including 83 from 2008 and three that won't come out until 2009.

It was harder than usual to pick a top ten this year. I read about thirty books that were totally awesome. After a painfully difficult soul-searching, I decided on these eleven, in no particular order.

Tana French, In the Woods: Lovely intense genre-busting murder mystery, set in Ireland, heavy on police procedure. Couldn't put it down, and I'm going to read everything else she ever writes.

Stewart O'Nan, Last Night at the Lobster: Short, surprisingly suspenseful novel about the staff at a Red Lobster restaurant on the last night before they're shut down.

Sister Souljah, Midnight: Long-awaited sequel to The Coldest Winter Ever. Not nearly as ghetto-fabulous, but compelling in its own way and probably better-written.

Wally Lamb, The Hour I First Believed: His best effort yet follows the pattern of I Know This Much is True; middle-aged man goes soul-searching after a family crisis and gets involved with historical family documents whose full texts are interwoven with the main story. Covers Columbine, drug addiction, and dead babies.

Theresa Rebeck, Three Girls and Their Brother: Daisy's sleeper hit of 2008. I had no idea I'd love this compulsively readable tale of three teenage models and their dysfunctional family, but I finished it all in one late night.

Gene Luan Yang, American Born Chinese: The only graphic novel I read this year, and I fell in love with it. Three intertwining stories, each independently fascinating, come together in an unexpected way.

Marian Winik, First Comes Love: You have to have a strong stomach to read this memoir about weird love and heroin addiction, but it's worth it.

Elizabeth Scott, Living Dead Girl: Even if you get through First Comes Love, you might not be tough enough for this one. It's the story of a ten-year-old abducted by a pedophile and kept for years, and describes her daily assaults as well as her captor's efforts to keep her childlike after puberty by starving her. Brutal, compelling, mandatory.

Cory Doctorow, Little Brother: Everyone's talking about this one, and for good reason: the tale of a high school student abducted by Homeland Security after a terrorist attack, and what happens after he's released, is quite possibly the best book of 2008.

David Wroblewski, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: Exactly the opposite of Little Brother, this adult novel nonetheless got similar buzz. It's a slow, meandering, perfect story about a boy who can't speak, the dogs he trains, and what happens when his mom wants to marry his uncle.

Patricia Wood, The Lottery: Narrated by a man with an IQ of 76, it describes what happens when he wins the lottery and his life becomes complicated.

Nov. 25th, 2008

Writer's Block: Eat, Drink, Be Merry

Thanksgiving is almost here in the U.S., heralding the start of the holiday season and the first of many meals where you might be confronted with a traditional dish that you happen to find disgusting. What holiday food do you hate to see on the table?
turkey!

Oct. 5th, 2008

worst day ever

But I still could not resist this book meme, which I've done on email before but never lj. It's from liminalia

* Grab the nearest book.
* Open the book to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions if you want to.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.


"She wanted to get into the bathroom early next morning, to have time to prink."

Sep. 27th, 2008

by request of my friend Pan...

...I hereby post this link to a contest he is having.

Contest

Aug. 15th, 2008

meme from bifemmefatale

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/uncategorised/the-omnivores-hundred/ linking to your results. (They also have Wikipedia links to some of the obscure ones.)
5) Italicize the ones you'd especially like to try.


1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile/Alligator

6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi

15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (blackberry, plum, apple)
19. Steamed pork buns (I've only had the vegetarian version)
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna càuda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with fat cigar because of the cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/jello shots
39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini Blini are fine, but I don't do caviar
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare

87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

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