Saturday, July 31, 2004

Book List 2004 - Part 1

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2004 was to make an effort to read more. Though I've read a somewhat respectable number of books in recent years (26 in 2001, 13 in 2002, and 25 in 2003), comparing to the number of movies I've seen (213 in 2001, 124 in 2002, and 111 in 2003), it's time to play some catch up. As of this writing, I've read 43 books and seen 38 movies this year - I think I am accomplishing my goal while proving to be something of a geek all at the same time.

Over the course of several posts, I plan on introducing to the books I've read this year. Perhaps one or more of them will tickle your fancy, raise an eyebrow, or even bore you to tears so much by my description, that I will have saved you the hellish waste of time it would have been for you to read for yourself. Onward...

1. Stupid White Men ...and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!
by Michael Moore

I was on a plane ride back from Brazil just before the New Year (2004) and on the short jaunt from JFK in NYC to Logan in Boston; I found this book left behind from its previous owner beside the vomit bag in the little compartment that my knees touch on plane rides.

This book is predominantly a look at the disaster that was the 2000 presidential election written by what appears to be a regretful, then supporter of Ralph Nader, explaining the frightful realization that sometimes there really is no choice in an election. Though somewhat insightful, and often humorous, the real story being told is as scary a tale as Poe or Stephen King ever told, in fact, sometimes scarier because it is true. I don’t always agree with Moore’s views but appreciate his willingness to take chances and say what he feels. If you like controversial political viewpoints flavored with a dash of humor and a dose of the macabre that was the 2000 election and is the Bush administration, give this one a whirl.

2. Notes from a Small Island
by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson has become one of my favorite writers in genre that I have grown to love. A travel writer, Bryson decided to take a “farewell tour” of Great Britain before moving back to the United States after 20 plus years of living in England. Bryson is a terrific storyteller who has a way of putting me right next to him on his adventures teaching me things, letting me know exactly how he feels, and making me laugh along the way. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Bryson which is just about all he’s published.

Though I can easily recommend all of his books, and will mention others before the 2004 book list ends, I must make mention of “A Walk in the Woods” which I read last year. A Walk in the Woods is a must read; one of the funniest adventures, featuring Bryson’s lifelong chum named “Katz” that will just have you laughing all the way across the Appalachian Trail.

3. Along Came a Spider
by James Patterson

I started reading James Patterson shortly after seeing the film adaptations of this book, and “Kiss the Girls”. Patterson’s writing style is easy to read and incredibly captivating. Along Came a Spider is the first in a series of ten (if you count the yet unpublished “London Bridges” due in November of this year) novels featuring the character Alex Cross.

What I enjoy most about the Alex Cross series is the depth of complexity of the villains. Here, we have Gary Soneji, a mild-mannered, very popular, math teacher who turns out to be a psychopathic mastermind. Great story telling, great characters and a great read.

4. Lita: A Less Traveled R.O.A.D.--The Reality of Amy Dumas
by Amy Dumas, Michael Krugman

So sue me, I am a professional wrestling fan. This is the autobiography of a woman wrestler written while healing from a career threatening neck injury and major surgery. Though not a brilliant literary text, there is an underlying story of a woman who dared to dream of success in a business dominated my men, and saw her dream come to fruition as a result of hard work and determination. I admit that some of the choices made by Dumas along the way had me wondering about her moral fiber, but then I realize it’s simply not for me to judge. If you’re not a wrestling fan, you probably want to pass this one over.

5. Kiss the Girls
by James Patterson

Book two in the aforementioned Alex cross series featuring “two clever pattern killers are collaborating, cooperating, competing—and they are working coast to coast.” Once again, a brilliantly written, fast paced and thoroughly enjoyable read that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

I'll stop here for now, but until next time, May God Bless You All!


JC said...

I loved Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything", so I'll be sure to check out "Notes From a Small Island" and his other stuff. Thanks for the heads up!

Joy said...

I'm glad you're doing this and enjoyed reading these reviews. I keep intending to read Bryson but haven't yet. I know I'd enjoy them. I look forward to more of these posts.

jennifer said...

I love James Patterson. I've read almost all his books. Now that I have a few spare weeks before schoool, hopefully I can catch up on the newer ones. :)