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A. Booker Prize winners and Short Listers, Salon top ten and other literary award winners:
Hisham Matar, "In the Country of Men"
This completes my reading of all the 2006 Booker Short List novels. From the Library. Read it January 28-31. Emotionally involving study of life in Libya right after the September revolution in the late 1970s. The fact that it was written from the perspective of a young boy gave it a striking resemblence to another 2006 Booker shortlister: Carry Me Down.

David Storey, "Pasmore"
Nominated for the Booker way back in 1972. Cliff urged me to read this and then send it to him. Read it Feb 26th- March 3rd. Very well written novel of a man's plunge toward the brink of oblivion and his narrow escape.

Penelope Fitzgerald, "The Bookshop"
Booker nominee from 1978. Read it April 15-20. Sad but delightful novel of one person's challenge to the rich who think they own the town. Not a pretty picture of small town England in the late 50s.

Penelope Fitzgerald, "Offshore"
Booker winner of 1979. Read it May 19-25. Slight but engrossing look at some oddball English characters.

James Kelman, "How Late It Was, How Late"
Booker winner of 1994. Read it August 3-8. A wild ride of a book. Written in Scottish dialect, making it a trifle hard to understand, the reader is placed entirely inside the head of a very shifty character. This is a very post-modern novel and I don't think I can fully understand it with just one reading.

Ian McEwan, "On Chesil Beach"
One of the 2007 Booker nominees. A digital download from the library. Listened to it August 18-19. Very short and somewhat smutty. Had some good moments, but overall another dissapointment from McEwan.

Lloyd Jones, "Mister Pip"
One of the 2007 Booker nominees. From the Library. Read it September 6-10. A remarkable achievement. Much better than all the nominees last year. A heartbreaking account of life in a revolutionary place interlaced with deep musings on Dickens and the life of the imagination. Fascinating! Highly reccomended.

Moshin Hamid, "The Reluctant Fundamentalist"
One of the 2007 Booker nominees. From the Library. Read it September 11-14. The author makes some interesting points about Pakistanis living in America, but overall the book was not very good.

Anne Enright, "The Gathering"
One of the 2007 Booker nominees. Read it September 22-28. This book full of mental suffering and anguish is told by an Irish woman who lost a brother to alcoholism and suicide. They are part of a family of twelve children. The author has a beautiful writing style that I very much enjoyed, but unfortunately I don't think she had a whole lot to say. It was kind of like listening to a good musician play music that is forgotten as soon as he stops playing.
B. Wodehouse:
P.G. Wodehouse, "Quick Service"
The master's next to last book before his World War II troubles began. Read it February 6-25. I yhought I had read this one before, but I remembered not a shred of it. A total delight from the first page to the last. Truly one of Plum's masterpieces. Highly reccomended.

P.G. Wodehouse, "Money in the Bank"
The last book before Wodehouse's World War II troubles began. Read it Apr 30th - May 19th. Not his best, but still a pleasure.

P.G. Wodehouse, "Joy in the Morning"
This is the one that PGW worked on during the last three years of WWII. Read it August 26-29. This one was laugh-out-loud funny all the way through. A Bertie Wooster/ Jeeves adventure that is a complete and utter delight. It's hard to believe that Wodehouse was undergoing some of the most difficult times of his life while writing this sushine filled book. highly reccomended.

P.G. Wodehouse, "Full Moon"
The master's first post war novel. A Blandings novel. Read it November 15-27. Now 66 years old, the master begins to show signs of aging. The book is still laugh out loud funny, but the plot lines show a few ragged edges. Still a joy to read.
C. Other Fiction:
Thomas Pynchon, "Against the Day"
The Maestro's sixth novel. This one's a monster, weighing in at 1085 pages. Read it Nov 21 - Jan 27. Clearly a masterpiece that holds out the solace of art and love as the only balm against the terribly violent times we live in. Of course, this one is highly reccomended.

Robert Jordan, "The Great Hunt"
Second book in the fanatasy series "Wheel of Time." I promised my son Tom I'd read it. I read book one at his insistence in 2003. I Read it November 27th through February 22nd. It was much more enjoyable than the first, but still not wholly satisfying.

Tom Robbins, "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas"
Recommended by Leete. From the library on audiocassette. Listening to it March 2nd-11th. Dntertaining, if not as enlightening as the author may have wish to be with his new-age ideas,

Jacques Casanova, "Memoirs"
A Modern Library book from 1929. Read it March 6th - April 9th. Much more entertaining than I expected. An interesting view of 18th century Europe from the perspective of a libertine.

Clare Messoud, "The Emperor's Children"
Reccomended by Cliff. On audio disk from the library. Listened to it May 18-25. Well written and entertaining. Goes through the trauma of 9/11 without making it the centerpiece of the book.

Homer, "The Iliad"
A Modern Library book from 1929. Read it May 26 - June 25. This translation was too true to the original, using archaic English, and just offputting in general. I've read much better versions of the Illiad before.

Dave Eggers, "What is the What"
A loaner from Angela. Read it June 18-26. A riveting account of the fight for survival of a Southern Sudanese child. Eggers truly makes this person come alive. A remarkable accomplishment. Highly reccomended.

John Steinbeck, "The Long Valley"
First book in the second volume of the Library of America collection of Steinbeck given to me as Christmas present by Kathy. Read it June 28-29. A powerful collection of short stories by a master craftsman.

Martin Amis, "House of Meetings"
A digital download from the library. Listened to it July 9-12. Amis is a good wwriter but this was a bad book. It was every bit as bad as the reviewers forewarned. What could he have been thinking to devote so much time and effort to this project?

Calvin Trillen, "About Alice"
A digital download from the library. Listened to it July 12-13. Heartbreaking account of the love Calvin Trillen had for his wife who died way too soon.

John Steinbeck, "The Grapes of Wrath"
Second book in the second volume of the Library of America collection of Steinbeck given to me as Christmas present by Kathy. Read it July 8-26. A remarkable book. Truly merits the classic status. Well worth reading today for it's unqiue combination of pessimism over the political situation and it's optimism concerning the human spirit.Highly reccomended.

Brian Selznick, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret"
From the library. Recommended by Madaline. Read it July 27-29. A delightful children's book that ties together the beginning of motion pictures with magic and the romance of Paris of the 1930s. Part graphic novel, the transitions from pictures to text and back is sure to delight the intelligent child.

John Steinbeck, "The Log from the Sea of Cortez"
Last book in the second volume of the Library of America collection of Steinbeck given to me as Christmas present by Kathy. Read it August 9-18. Steinbeck takes breaks from the straight reporting of his voyage (with a marine biologist friend to Baja California to collect specimens) to philosophize on all his favorite topics: unemployment, the construction of societies and the purpose of religion in human thought. A very enjoyable journey.

Homer, "The Odyssey"
A Modern Library book from 1929. Read it July 9th-Aug 25th. The same criticism applies to this book as to the Illiad above. However, the introduction, written by the scholarly translators was very enjoyable.

Harper Lee, "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Read it August 30-31. I guess I went to high school just before this became required reading. I've been meaning to read this for a long time and boy was it worth the wait. A truely amazing book, both in thematic terms and literary accomplishment. If you haven't read it yet, please do yourself a favor and enter the world of rural Alabama in the 1930s. Highly reccomended.

Gail Carson Levine, "Ella Enchanted"
Read it September 1-2. I recently discovered that this Newberry award winner was written by my second cousin. It must have hit a chord with it's target audience because it is a very popular book with the young ladies. It didn't do all that much for me.

Jeffrey Eugenides, "Middlesex"
Reccomended by my cousin Sara. On audiotape. Listened to it OCtober 21-31. Extremely well written. The philosophy of gender bending was not my cup of tea but I found the book horribly fascinating.

Junot Diaz, "The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao"
A long awaited first novel that was excerpted in the New Yorkers several years ago. A digital download from the library. Listened to it November 17-28. Diaz writes like a dream. This is truly a heartbreaking but wonderful book about a nerdy Dominican and his family. Not to be missed. Highly reccomended.

Junot Diaz, "Drown"
Included in the digital download of "The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao" from the library. Listened to it November 28-December 4. These are short stories. Some are great, the rest are good. This guy can write!

John Steinbeck, "The Moon is Down"
First book in the third volume of the Library of America collection of Steinbeck given to me as Christmas present by Kathy. Read it November 30-December 1. Written as a propoganda piece to buck up the courage of those suffering in occupied lands, this book stands the test of time by being relevant to the people in occupied lands today.

John Steinbeck, "Cannery Row"
Second book in the third volume of the Library of America collection of Steinbeck given to me as Christmas present by Kathy. Read it December 1-December 2. A totally delightful account of the denizens of the wharfs on the coastline of a California town.

John Steinbeck, "The Pearl"
Third book in the third volume of the Library of America collection of Steinbeck given to me as Christmas present by Kathy. Read it December 2nd. Short sad story of hard luck and disaster when a poor Mexican family tries to get out of poverty by striking it rich.

Carl Hiaasen, "Hoot"
Hiassen's first book written for younger readers. A digital download from the library. Listened to it December 12-15. The only difference between this and his adult books I found was less violence and no sex. What remains was great plot, wonderful characters and lots of humor.

John Steinbeck, "East of Eden"
Fourth book in the third volume of the Library of America collection of Steinbeck given to me as Christmas present by Kathy. Read it December 2-16. Steinbeck poured his heart into this book and if it wasn't as great as "The Grapes of Wrath" it wasn't from lack of trying. A wonderful read, with great insights into the human condition. Highly reccomended.

E.B. White, "The Trumpet of the Swan"
E. B. White reads his classic children's story on audio cassette. Listened to it December 26-31. White has a rich barritone and a soft New England accent. The book is a beautiful work of eternal art.
D. Non Fiction:
Tim Smith, "The NPR Listener's Guide to Classical Music"
To help me with my Classical Music listening project as I plow through the last unlistened to corner of my vynyl collection. Read it Jan 26th-Feb 14th. Very informative and entertaining. Will be helpful to my classical music listening project.

Spencer Drate, "45 RPM: A visual history of the seven-inch record"
A Valtentines day gift from Kathy. Read it February 15th-17th. Some great record jackets I'd never seen before.

Roz Chast, "Theories of Everything"
Mammoth cartoon book by the best New Yorker cartoonist. A Christmas present from Angela. Read it January 28th-February 25th. Chast is clearly an iconoclastic totally original genius.

James Buckley & David Fsicher, "Greatest Sports Rivalries"
A beautiful coffee table book with plenty of text. A Christmas present from Kathy. Read it Feb 26th - Mar 8th. Some great nuggets for sports fans. I enjoyed it.

Roger D. Joslin, "Running the Spititual Path"
A non fiction inspirational book that was a Christmas present from Rob. Read it Feb 26th - Mar 15th. Very inspiring and uplifting. I intend to try some of the techniques in the book when I begin to run outdoors again in the next few weeks.

George Lakoff, "Thinking Points"
A birthday present from Robert. Started Read it April 10-14. A very optimistic, encouraging book for progressives. I sure hope Lakeoff is right and that the conservative tide can be turned back by good acts and thinking!

Daniel Okrent and Steve Wulf, "Baseball Anecdotes"
A birthday present from Tammy and Kieth. Read it March 18th - April 29th. A total delight. I didn't want it to end. Okrent and Wulf have a firm grasp on what makes baseball so wonderfull and special. Highly reccomended.

George Monbiot, "Heat"
A father's day present from Robert. Read it June 27-28. A very scarey book. He has a lot of ideas of how to keep civlizaton going past the point of peak oil, but it all involves sacrifice on an unimaginable scale.

Jerry Lansche, "The Forgotten Championships"
Subtitled "Postseason Baseball, 1882-1981." Recommended to me by Gene Carney after I asked him a question about a game between the White Sox and the Cubs in the 1930s. Read it August 19-22. This is a fascinating sidelight to the unsual baseball histories. Important to baseball historians and not much use to anyone else. The book makes little attempt to appeal to the casual reader, Instead it is an invaluable research tool for those working on relevent projects.

John Baxter and Thomas Atkins, "The Fire Came By"
A look at the Tunguska event of June 30, 1908. Read it August 31-Sept 1. The gigantic Siberian explosion plays a critical part in Pynchon's "Against the Day." The authors attempt to prove that it must have been an alien space ship that blew up, but Pynchon reports it as a Tesla experiment gone terribly wrong. They report; you decide.

Jeffrey Toobin, "The Nine"
A digital download from the library. Listened to it September 26 - October 12. An excellent book for anyone who has an interest in the Supreme Court. Toobin is an excellent writer and makes the justices come alive.
E. Mysteries:
Stuart Kaminsky, "A Cold Red Sunrise"
The fifth in the Inspector Rostnikov mystery series. Read it February 1st-5th. A total delight. Kaminsky not only praises McBain in the series, he just about channels him and creates Russian versions of McBain's New York City policemen.

Paul Cade, "Death Slams the Door"
1937 mystery listed in Barzun's Catalogue of Crime (number 605). Read the whole thing March 5th. Entertaining with a slam bang ending that makes the book worth reading.

Ruth Rendell, "No More Dying Then"
The sixth in the Inspector Wexford series, published in 1971. Read it Apri 21-27. Convoluted but satisfying plot, with some unforgettable characters.

S.S. Van Dine, "The Kennel Murder Case"
a 1932 mystery. Read it May 26th - June 7th. Complex and satisfying, as usual for Van Dine.

Stuart Kaminsky, "The Man Who Walked Like a Bear"
The sixth in the Inspector Rostnikov series. Read it June 9-17. Definitely the lightest of the Rostnikov books, but the twist at the end made it worth it. As always, the characters are what makes this series so special.

Ruth Rendell, "One Across, Two Down"
A non-series mystery. Started Reading it July 30 - August 3. Not one of her best but still a fun read. The main character is a low-life crossword puzzle addict.

Agatha Christie, "Peril at End House"
Read it all September 2nd. Hercule Poirot returns in 1932 after a four year absence to solve a knotty mystery in which there are at least ten suspects. Tons of fun.

Stuart Kaminsky, "Rostnikov's Vacaation"
The Seventh Rostikov series, the halfway point. From the Library. Read it September 15-20. Kaminsky returns to form with this powerfully entertaining book. The characters are old friends by now, and the tortures he puts them through are just amazing to experience.

Ellery Queen, "The Greek Coffin Mystery"
A 1932 mystery. Read it October 12-18. This one took a while to get going, but once all the parts werre in place, it was a wonderful mystery, full of twists and turns right up to the final chapter.

Stuart Kaminisky, "Death of a Russian Priest"
Eighth in the Inspector Rostnikov series. Read it October 19-31. A pleasure. There was real mystery to this one and plenty of action. The book ends with Rostniknov wrestling with a tough decision that must have had Kaminski's fans panting for the next installment. I luckilly can read it as soon as I care to, probably next month.

Stuart Kaminisky, "Hard Currency"
Ninth in the Inspector Rostnikov series. Read it November 29-30. Very dark, with lots of grizzly action. Rostnikov travels to Cuba to investigate a murder and Karpo looks into his own soul and is frightened about what he sees.

Stuart Kaminisky, "Blood and Rubles"
Tenth in the Inspector Rostnikov series. From the library. Read it Dcember 17-23. Very entertaining. The characters are always fascinating. The plot was pretty good, but the ending was to my taste unsatisfying. I'll be interested to see if any of the unresolved lines are taken up in the next book.
total books read in 2007: 61
total from the library: 14
total listened to: 11




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