Saturday, January 09, 2010

Best of 2000s: Best Books


I read a LOT. Some would say too much. This was true in 2008, when I was reading such crap as "Wuthering Fing Heights" and "Gravity's Rainbow". But most years, I read just enough. I had a Top 10, but I read enough during the decade to justify a Top 12. Don't like it? You would if you had 6 fingers on each hand.

And if you want to buy any of these, click on the Amazon widget -- it'll get me a few cents closer to being able to blog full time. If you and everyone you know buy 10 books from amazon each day off my blog, I'm home free!

12. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, Tim Weiner - Curious why so many people in the world seem to hate the US government? This tells you why -- the incompetence of the CIA, in all its "glory". And if you think that's harsh, you should know that the US had 3 high-level sources inside the USSR -- and all of them came to the CIA (not recruited) and ALL were caught and executed. Yes, Tom Clancy lied to you.

11. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby - I loved the movie, but, as usual, the book is better. Just don't read it as your relationship is falling apart.

10. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson - I do love me some Neal Stephenson. This one is about the fight to keep Allied knowledge of secret codes secret interwoven with an examination of privacy in today's world.

9. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke - A fascinating story of jealousy and power. It's also hilarious and kind of an adult, though Victorian, version of Harry Potter's world.

8. 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Charles C. Mann - 1/5th of the world's population died in the 100 years following this book -- this is what their worlds were like.

7. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Mary Roach - Hilarious and filled with minutiae for your next cocktail party. Haven't you always wondered how sex researchers work?

6. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde - It's pointless to describe, but if you like intelligent, humorous thrillers, you'll like this.

5. Anathem, Neal Stephenson - I already said it all in my review.

4. Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris - Read this with a bottle of aspirin at hand -- your sides will hurt.

3. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared M. Diamond - Why did Europe conquer the Americas and not vice versa? It's not white people vs non-white, it's wheat and cows vs the lack thereof. A fascinating read -- world histories that don't take this into account are equivalent to those that refer to a flat earth.
2. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal - A HUGE hit with everyone I've recommended it to, it's a hilarious look at the missing 21 years of Jesus's life.

1. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver - Gripping, with a cast of characters fully fleshed out in one of the 20th century's most intriguing situations. Go. Read. Rave.

3 comments:

seanlb said...

i just read high fidelity, i liked it a lot.
i've recommended guns germs and steel to many people.

i'll check out some of these if they're findable in 2nd hand stores. NZ isn't the greatest place to buy new books. $45 for a paperback? sure i think that's reasonable.

Steve said...

Hmmmm. Maybe by 2010 book list should just be your best of 2000s book list.

tristina - the tabloid name for when 1920's baseball great Tris Speaker comes forward in time to date childhood actress Tina Yothers.

jtingermany said...

I feel your pain, Sean. You should see if there's a library.

Steve, I think you'd really like David Sedaris and Mary Roach. I'd send them to you, but both were borrowed from the libe...