Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Year of Good Books: September

September was a banner month in the Year of Good Books. Since I'm a HUGE nerd, I've keep a list of what I've read for the last 6 years. And with the 6 books in September, I have read 47 books for the year, tying my previous annual max. The best part is that almost all the books I've enjoyed immensely, and this month was no exception. Warning, this is a loooooong post

Anathem - Neal Stephenson's fabulous novel of science, cosmology and action has already been covered in (too much) depth here at JTiG.

Next Man Up - John Feinstein - One of the cover blurbs marvels at how Feinstein gets the access he does, and I have the answer -- relentless positivity. He covers the 2004 Baltimore Ravens season from the post-playoff meetings to the end of the season. It is interesting, but he never digs deeper into controversies. We learn Chris McAlister sometimes shows up with booze on his breath -- AFTER we are told he has changed his ways. The title is key -- to the epilogue. While this did get me primed for the NFL season and give me more respect for Ray Lewis (he helped plan the Ravens D approach each week), I feel like it was a missed opportunity.

Animal Vegetable Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorite authors, but this was a decided change of pace. It's the story of her family's year of eating locally. Lots of great* recipes are included for each month as well as tips on how to follow a more locavore lifestyle. While I won't be going fully local, I am now trying to do so more often. This was easy in August and September when I could buy fresh blackberries and then feel good about helping the environment and the Rhineland farmers. I don't see this being so easy in the winter. Non-Russians can only eat so much cabbage.

Knife of Dreams - Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time has been in my reading life for 10 years now. With the next book due in October (after a 4 year wait and the death of the author!), I decided to reread book 11. It was better than I remember** and has me fully psyched for The Gathering Storm. If you like fantasy or just a great read, do yourself a favor and hunt down the first book in the series, The Eye of The World. If you already enjoy the WoT, check out the quite entertaining reread at

The Fifth Elephant - Terry Pratchett has long been a fave of mine, and I've read more by him than any other author. This is another in the massive (though each stands up well on its own) Discworld series. As usual, the plot is merely a means to deliver great laughs and good insight of people. Publishers Weekly called it "a heavyweight of lightness" and that is spot-on.

Agent Zigzag - Ben Macintyre's story of British double- (or triple?) agent and criminal, Eddie Chapman is ludicrous fiction, filled with laughably improbable turns and a cast of zany characters (including a German spymaster who believes that English country dancing is not only healthy enough for the Wehrmacht but also the source of ALL folk dancing in Europe). Since it's non-fiction and supported by both German and English records of wartime activities, I have to cut it some slack. A great read that will leave you wondering afterward exactly what happened with Chapman during the war.

* Well, great-sounding. I haven't actually tried any of the recipes.
** Except the cover, which faithfully renders the most boring scene in the book.


Albert said...

Check out the WOT Encyclopedia. HUGE help trying to remember the thousands of characters in this book especially considering I started reading this series in 1993.

Albert said...