Book Reviews

9. A Gladiator Dies Only Once: The Further Investigations of Gordianus the Finder by Steven Saylor - Another collection of short stories featuring Gordianus the Finder, Saylor's last century BC private investigator. There's more mystery in this collection and less character, something that works fine if you've read the other stories. With one exception, these are well done historical fiction, that is, stories that put you effortlessly in a place and time. The exception is the title story, which reads more like the kind of historical fiction they use to trick elementary kids into learning something than adult reading. The reasons those stories don't work on kids is because no one likes to be lectured, and that's exactly how all the information Saylor has gathered about Gladiator's comes across. A lecture shoehorned into a very easy to solve murder case. Other than that one story - it's a good read.

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, audiobook read by Allen Corduner - This novel definitely has one of the best narrators I've read in a long time - Death. A smart, observant, down to earth sort of Death who gets to see a lot as he goes about the world, collecting souls that have passed on. He's not deadly, this Death, he's simply punctual. He's telling us the story of a young girl in the Nazi Germany, but really he's telling the story of the power (and the hunger) that comes from knowledge. Knowledge defined as the ability to read in this book, but there's a whole lot of other learning going on, as well. Learning about people, and love, and with Death as a narrator, obviously loss. This audiobook version was wonderful, the reader had a perfect accent and pitch for all the characters, and even handled the sort of editorial asides in such a way that the flow of the story never went astray.


Winter 2008 NBCC Best Book Recomends....

....well, the first thing they recommended is to change the name of the list, to NBCC's Good Reads. And then they came up with a list of books, getting a lot more authors and critics to tell them what they'd recommend to anyone who wanted to know "What should I read?". These first cold dark days (seriously, here in the Midwest States it never got brighter than twilight today!)of 2008, they say your time will be well spent with:


1. Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke (Farrar Straus & Giroux)
2. Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead)
3. J.M. Coetzee, Diary of a Bad Year (Viking)
4. Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book (Viking)
5. Steve Erickson, Zeroville (Europa)


1. The Rest Is Noise, by Alex Ross (FSG)
2. Brother, I’m Dying, by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf)
3. In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan (Penguin Press)
4. Musicophilia, by Oliver Sacks (Knopf)*
5. The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein (Metropolitan)*

Johnson, Diaz and Ross's books were on the list in November, and that's got to be a very strong recommendation, indeed. They're all on my hold list at the local library, and I should be getting all of them very soon (but not at the same time I hope - that's a little too much serious reading for me). I'm happy to see the Michael Pollan's new book is a recommend as well. His The Omnivore's Dilemma was a great read and had a very positive effect on my life. Or perhaps a good negative - it was a major contributor to me losing 60+ pounds. I skimmed this new book at the book store, and it looks just as good.


A Rabbit Hole for Word Lovers

It's either educational or a time sucker. Okay, it's both, and fun too. A perfect rabbit hole!