07 January, 2009

The List: Reading Against the Odds in 2008

Another year of reading, this one not as avidly as I'd have preferred. My arbitrary target had been set at fifty books — a nice, appealing number. I came up ten titles shy. In my defense, distractions were abundant last year, beginning with a long period of intransigence marked by the coming and going of several cellmates, each requiring adjustments and compromise, distractions that interfered with my reading. Then there were the added impediments: work, writing, the sometimes herculean effort of maintaining something like a social life, the onus of legal matters, the tragedy of sleep — and the excuses continue, some of them legitimate.

I'd like to think that this list would have been longer but for the librarians' abiding habit of passing over a preponderance of my requests when they place orders. Given the year I've had, however, it's likely even Thomas Pynchon couldn't have helped matters.

Unlike my original reading list, this one lists the books in chronological order, beginning February 2008.

* * * * *

E.M. Forster, A Room with a View

Daniel Tammet, Born on a Blue Day

Jess Walter, The Zero

John Bice, A 21st Century Rationalist in Medieval America

Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

Joel R. Primack & Nancy Ellen Abrams, The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos

Eric Lane & Michael Oreskes, The Genius of America: How the Constitution Saved Our Country and Why It Can Again

Michael Chabon, Gentlemen of the Road

Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Stephen Kuusisto, Eavesdropping: A Life by Ear

Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Chip Heath & Dan Heath, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive While Others Die

Daniel J. Levitin, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession

Thomas Frank, What's the Matter with Kansas?

J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Michael Shermer, The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule

Julian Paul Keenan with Gordon G. Gallup, Jr. & Dean Falk, The Face in the Mirror: How We Know Who We Are

Truman Capote, Summer Crossing

John Updike, Seek My Face

Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley • The Winter of Our Discontent

Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities

Evelyn Waugh, The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh

Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

Ken Wells, Meely LaBauve

John Steinbeck, The Pearl

Dan Chaon, You Remind Me of Me

Michael Benanav, Men of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold

Peter Adolphsen, Machine

Paul Auster, Travels in the Scriptorium

Gary Marcus, Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind

Marco Pierre White with Pierre Strauss, The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of a Great Chef

Armistead Maupin, The Night Listener

Diane Ackerman, The Zookeeper's Wife

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Children of Húrin

Ian McEwan, Atonement

Andrew Michaels, The Optimists

Wendy Steiner, Venus in Exile: The Rejection of Beauty in 20th-Century Art

Joseph Heller, Portrait of an Artist, As an Old Man

Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge