Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Booklist 2004 Part 8 - The End

Here are your obligatory links to parts 1 through 7 as posted throughout 2004:

Booklist 2004 Part 1
Booklist 2004 Part 2
Booklist 2004 Part 3
Booklist 2004 Part 4
Booklist 2004 Part 5
Booklist 2004 Part 6
Booklist 2004 Part 7

Here's a word or two on the last 8 books I read in 2004:

49. So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star
by Jacob Slichter

I really enjoyed this book penned by the former drummer of the band Semisonic. It’s simple, straight-forward reading and very well written.

50. American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story
by Cynthia True

This book made it to my “to read” list because Michael mentioned it once on his blog and I have had an interest in learning more about Hicks. It seems to me there were two great tragedies in Bill Hick’s life- First, the fact that he was amongst a select few public personalities to be used as examples of censorship by the political and media stronghold. Seconds, he was clearly his own worst enemy. Drugs, Alcohol, Cigarettes, and yoga…need I say more?

I wasn’t particularly taken with Cynthia True’s writing but it was sufficient enough to shed some perspective on this deeply disturbed yet brilliant mind.

51. Gasping for Airtime
by Jay Mohr

Jay Mohr began doing standup comedy in his late teens or early twenties and got enough exposure to land some film roles, including the high profile film Jerry Maguire. In very recent times, Mohr produced and hosted a reality show on NBC called “Last Comic Standing.”

Though the front story appears to be Mohr’s memoir of his two year stint on Saturday Night Live, the real story for me was the story of his struggle with anxiety disorder and brief battle with addiction. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I always appreciate when someone is willing to come forth and tell their story and their struggle with this disorder.

52. Virgin (later re-released as “Cradle and All”)
by James Patterson

Not one of his best but not his worst either. Virgin is a fairly quick and easy read with a couple of unique plot twists and interesting characterizations.

53. Reading Lolita in Tehran
by Azar Nafisi

I love this book!!! Nafisi was a teacher in Iran during a time when the culture was very controlling of what and how things were taught and repressive toward woman. The story she tells here is inspiring and educational.

For those of you too lazy to click on the web link for the book, here’s the editorial information on the Amazon.com website. I include it here because I don’t have the energy nor the eloquence and I truly feel this is an important book – so I had to be sure that you had some background on the book.

”An inspired blend of memoir and literary criticism, Reading Lolita in Tehran is a moving testament to the power of art and its ability to change and improve people's lives. In 1995, after resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of great Western literature in her home. Since the books they read were officially banned by the government, the women were forced to meet in secret, often sharing photocopied pages of the illegal novels. For two years they met to talk, share, and "shed their mandatory veils and robes and burst into color." Though most of the women were shy and intimidated at first, they soon became emboldened by the forum and used the meetings as a springboard for debating the social, cultural, and political realities of living under strict Islamic rule. They discussed their harassment at the hands of "morality guards," the daily indignities of living under the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime, the effects of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, love, marriage, and life in general, giving readers a rare inside look at revolutionary Iran. The books were always the primary focus, however, and they became "essential to our lives: they were not a luxury but a necessity," she writes.
Threaded into the memoir are trenchant discussions of the work of Vladimir Nabokov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, and other authors who provided the women with examples of those who successfully asserted their autonomy despite great odds. The great works encouraged them to strike out against authoritarianism and repression in their own ways, both large and small: "There, in that living room, we rediscovered that we were also living, breathing human beings; and no matter how repressive the state became, no matter how intimidated and frightened we were, like Lolita we tried to escape and to create our own little pockets of freedom," she writes. In short, the art helped them to survive. --Shawn Carkonen--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Description:
We all have dreams—things we fantasize about doing and generally never get around to. This is the story of Azar Nafisi’s dream and of the nightmare that made it come true.

For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading—Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolita—their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran.

Nafisi’s account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl of protests and demonstrations. In those frenetic days, the students took control of the university, expelled faculty members and purged the curriculum. When a radical Islamist in Nafisi’s class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of “the Great Satan,” she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense.

Azar Nafisi’s luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.”

54. A Confederacy of Dunces
by John Kennedy Toole

“A word on the history of the novel is worth mentioning here. The author, John Kennedy Toole, committed suicide in 1969, and his mother found the hand-written manuscript in her son's papers. She brought them to a publisher, who dreaded having to read even a portion of the work and to notify Toole's mother that it stunk. Instead, he was blown away by Toole's draft, and the rest is history. The novel earned him a posthumous Pulitzer Prize, and it is universally hailed by critics.” (J. Mullin -Plantation, FL USA)

From Library Journal
”Narrator Barrett Whitener renders Toole's cast of caricatures with verve enough to satisfy admirers. Toole wrote this novel in Puerto Rico during a hitch in the U.S. Army. In 1966 it was rejected by Simon & Schuster. In 1969 Toole committed suicide. Toole's mother then tried to get it published. After seven years of rejection she showed it to novelist Walker Percy, under whose encouragement it was published by Louisiana State University Press. Many critics praised it as a comic masterpiece that memorably evokes the city of New Orleans and whose robust protagonist is a modern-day Falstaff, Don Quixote, or Gargantua. Toole's prose is energetic, and his talent, had it matured, may have produced a masterpiece. However, listeners who do not feel charmed or amused by a fat, flatulent, gluttonous, loud, lying, hypocritical, self-deceiving, self-centered blowhard who masturbates to memories of a dog and pretends to profundity when he is only full of beans are not likely to survive the first cassette. For fans.?Peter Josyph, New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.”

This book is gut busting funny as the main character, Ignatius Reilly is just a complete mental case and he’s apparently the only one who doesn’t know it. I really love the book; I hope you give it a whirl. I recently read that a film version featuring Will Ferrell as Ignatius J. Reilly and Lily Tomlin and his nutty mom (great casting).

55. Hours of Power
by Robert H. Schuller

Schuller is the pastor of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which he founded more than half a century ago. His weekly televised church services have been a staple of television for more than 30 years. I first heard his inspiring semons more than 20 years ago and continue to listen to him speak when I can find him on the TV. I don’t always agree with his words, opinions, philosophies, or religious interpretations, but he is a marvelous speaker who uses this book to draw from the more than 30 books he has published extracting 366 daily inspirations from his catalog of writings.

56. My Life
by Bill Clinton

I am a big fan of Bill Clinton and I believe he had the most prolific presidency in the 20th century. I know that though I am just an average ordinary middle class American, the economy under Clinton allowed “pee-ons” like me to actually find a comfort level and realize the fruit of our labors.

This book is a marathon that I actually listened to via the unabridged audio version (42 CD’s – the Hardcover edition boasts 1008 pages) during my recovery from my December illness. Though I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Hillary’s memoir, it is an thorough account of an important period in modern American history.


Jams said...

Hey, Chris? Did I tell you that I got "Live from New York" for Christmas? I love it. :)

Chris said...

I really enjoyed that one Jams, glad you like it.