2006 Books 91 - 95

91. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Audiobook read by Ralph Cosham - Not only a fantastic adventure story, also a study of Imperialism gone very, very, bad.

92. The Privilege Of The Sword by Ellen Kushner - Kushner brings back Alec from her first book (Swordspoint) to play a major role in this third visit to Riverside, the fictional Middle Age world where there's nothing too trivial to inspire a sword fight. Alec and his relationships and feuds were all I needed to enjoy this book, but on top of that, the main plot and new characters are pretty darn good.

93. Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster - A collection fo lectures Forster gave in the late 20's on what makes a novel. Although I found some of his examples a little unreachable, and definitely disagreed with some of his opinions on certain authors, Forster's explanations on what a novel is, at it's foundation, are incredibly clear and simple. This small book could replace a lot of "the novel as literature" theory courses.

94. This Is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers edited by Elizabeth Merrick - Ignore the defensive first half of the title (which really makes no sense at all, when the collection's introduction is titled "Why Chick Lit Matters") and focus on the the subtitle, because that's what this anthology is - well written fiction by some very talented people, who are female. There's a broad range of stories and styles: some coming close to the genre the title says it is not, some so far away that there's barely a female in the story, let alone a relationship issue, and in between, really, really good original short stories.

95. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss - Historical fiction, mystery, coming of age and probably a couple other genres are combined to make this wonderful story, populated with original and interesting characters. Two plots run side by side through most of the book, linked only by a book that carries the same title as this book. The author does a wonderful job of slowly bringing the two stories together, and then adds a twist worthy of the very real characters she's created.


2006 Books 86 - 90

86.Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee - A college professor's midlife crisis puts him into his adult daughter's life and he discovers he's not the center of the universe. The book is dialog heavy, and in Coetzee's hands, that's a very good thing.

87.The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie - Long on humour and a little short on cognitive plot, this is what a Naked Gun movie would be like if the writers were more literate...and British.

88. Bitter Fruit by Achmat Dangor - A family in contemporary South Africa discovers that thier emotional wounds go much deeper than Apartheid. It's a very sad story, almost hopeless, but so well written I couldn't put it down.

89. Death Comes For The Archbiship by Willa Cather - Elegant in its simple, antecdotal style, this is a very fast, pleasant read. I'm not quite sure why this book shows up on so many "Best American Fiction" and even "Best English Language Fiction" lists, though. Is it because there aren't a lot of stories about the place and time Cather is writing about? I liked the book, but I’m not seeing it as outstanding in its genre.

90. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison - Set in the story of how a man can become what people expect him to be, and how it becomes easier to disappear rather than fight the expectations. This is a story of race (set in the early days of the Civil Rights movement, right after WWI), but it's still a very current theme - how people are judged and feared because they look different or act different, and the distances they will go to be accepted, even to the point of becoming someone they never were.

I should be ashamed.....

This seemed like a pleasant way to kill a few minutes. Who knew it would raise my blood pressure? Really, a B+??? I want to know which ones I missed!

Your Vocabulary Score: B+

You have a zealous love for the English language, and many find your vocabulary edifying.
Don't fret that you didn't get every word right, your vocabulary can be easily ameliorated!

Thanks to Karen King's excellent writer's blog, inkthinker for the link. I think.

Books 2006 81 - 85

81. Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman - I liked everything in the book, (including the introduction with bits of background on the writing of each story) but the tale that will stick with me is October In The Chair, one of the best ghost stories I've ever read, even if it is only fifteen pages long.

82. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai - I can't come up with a short description of this novel, so I'll borrow something from the flap. This book "...illuminates the consequences of colonialism and global conflicts of religion, race, and nationalism." There's a great deal more going on than all that, there are loves found and lost, families made and broken, and everyone goes on some sort of journey .
83.Masters of Midnight: Erotic Tales of the Vampire by William J Mann, Michael Thomas Ford, Sean Wolfe, and Jeff Mann - Four novellas about gay vampires that are almost as much romance novels as they are erotica. The writers do come up with some original canon for their vampires, but in the end, each story is about the noble vampire willing to give it all up for the man they love.

84.The Secret River by Kate Grenville - An engrossing historical novel about a man that leads his family to become one of the early group of colonists in Australia and their experiences with the Aborigines that tried to hold their land against the homesteaders. The story is deep in characters and details throughout, and on top of that, has one of the best final chapters I've read this year.

85.Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre - A very dark comedy about the fallout from a high school massacre in a small town in Texas. The narrator, a witness and the only friend of the shooter, ends up on trial for the murders, is a natural born cynic who occasionally is very funny. But he's repetitive in his view of the world, and if it weren't for the caricatures of small town life and the media that fill out the story, it would have been a boring story.