Posts Tagged ‘books read in 2008’

31st December
2008
written by Steph
Wheee!  I'm my own longitudinal study!

Wheee! I'm my own longitudinal study!

2008 was ostensibly my best reading year in a long while, and I’d say this was true not just in terms of quantity, but also quality!  I started to keep track in earnest of the books I was reading in 2007 (I began my listkeeping near the tail-end of 2006, but it was already too late by then to remember everything I had read that year).  I think this exercise has reinvigorated my interest in reading, and by tracking what I read, I’m finding out how to get the very most out of my reading experience.   This year, I read 44 books, which is just slightly more than double the books that I read in 2007 (20 books), and likely far more than I read in 2006 (13 books recorded).  I definitely feel as though this year a made a conscious decision to devote more of my personal time to reading, and that is certainly a decision I have not regretted.  Perhaps more significant is that I didn’t just read more books this year, but I appeared to read books that I enjoyed more overall (after all, what’s the point in reading more, if you’re enjoying the books less?).  My mean book rating this year was 3.69, which is an improvement over 2007’s mean rating (3.52), and an even greater increase when compared to 2006 (3.31).  See plot for geekish visual exploration of my reading trends.  Further in-depth evaluations of my reading habits of 2008, as well as the complete list of what I read, after the jump.  I promise there will be no more graphs.  Probably. (more…)
30th December
2008
written by Steph
51y7e623iul__ss400_I received the beautiful special collector’s edition of J.K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard from Tony as a Christmas present.  This edition is comprised of a beautiful leather hollow book that contains an ornately silver buckled volume (the cover of which is adorned with a thick silver skull) of the book itself inside.  In addition, prints of the illustrations (all hand drawn by Jo Rowling, herself!)  from the book are tucked away inside the larger book.  As an aside, I’ll mention that due to some terrible bungling on Amazon’s part (I was at home the day this present arrived, and not only did they print “Muggles Beware!  Don’t ship or open until Dec 4!” on the outside of the shipping box, but also the actual title of the book (again, on the OUTSIDE of the box)!), I knew without a shadow of a doubt what one of my gifts would be.  I did not, however, know which version of the book I would get, so at least that mystery remained!  I must say that I am very pleased to add this gorgeous edition to my Harry Potter collection. (more…)
29th December
2008
written by Steph
Pardonable Lies

I’ve mentioned before that one of my literary vices is mystery novels set in England, generally during the turn of the 20th century.  I’m by no means a know-it-all Agatha Christie fan, but I devoured a bunch of her books when I was a young teen, and have recently made it my mission to eventually read all of her books in chronological order (note: I have not yet decided whether I will pick a particular detective, and go through all of his/her adventures before picking a new one and starting afresh, or legitimately just reading them all in order, featured detective be damned!).  I never would have thought that murder could be so soothing, but for me, detective novels in the style of Agatha Christie are the ultimate comfort read.  I haven’t really delved too far into the mystery genre, as I tend to focus on reading “serious” literature, but one good contemporary author I’ve found is Jacqueline Winspear who has created the intrepid “Psychologist & Investigator”, Maisie Dobbs. (more…)
25th December
2008
written by Steph
awesome!

Here's a name for this book: awesome!

As I mentioned in my recent entry regarding obsessive book buying, after our latest trip to McKay’s, we found ourselves in the position of owning three Saramago novels, even though neither of us has ever read any of his writing.  I’m sure I’m not alone in finding this a rather peculiar circumstance, since generally it intuitively makes sense to buy a single book by a given author and read that in order to decide if you want to read anything more by said author.  Clearly something beyond reason motivates me when I’m in bookstores. I decided to rectify this situation by vowing to read a Saramago novel after finishing Fieldwork.  Rather than hemming and hawing over which one to commit to, I selected All The Names off the shelf, using the fact that we’ve owned it the longest as justification.  That it was shorter than both Blindness and The Double was also likely a contributing factor, but let’s not focus on that niggling point. (more…)
18th December
2008
written by Steph
fieldwork

This is a book I had heard snippets of good things about in the big old book blog world.  I was sufficiently intrigued by the good press it had received that when I saw a cheap copy at the local used book store, I decided to give it a whirl. That being said, I wasn’t entirely sure just what exactly Fieldwork was going to be about exactly.  I had garnered from the back cover that it was about a man who moves to Thailand with his girlfriend, and that it would involve the jungle, anthropologists, missionaries, murder, and was supposed to be Spooky.  Ultimately, I suppose all of these things are true, although I didn’t find anything all that creepy about the book, and I’m not sure that I would really call it a “thriller” either.  Like The Basic Eight, which I read earlier this year, this is another one of those so-called “mysteries” where you know within the first 30 pages who has done the crime (& the time!), and the aim of the rest of the novel is to piece together the back story.  It’s not so much a whodunit? as it is a whydunit?.  Stephen King wrote a piece in Entertainment Weekly about how he thought the book had been given a really boring cover that belied the book’s true awesomeness.  I didn’t have a problem with the cover, but I would be ok if someone thought the cover of Fieldwork was boring and consequently concluded that it was boring, because sometimes it really was! (more…)
11th December
2008
written by Steph
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

Is there anything better to read than a Harry Potter book when one is laid up in bed sick with the flu? Not according to my immune system. For the past few days, I’ve been struggling with itchy ears, congested chest, and overall body aching so intense that my symptoms would fall well in line with some of the more choice curses found throughout the Potter series. Now is not the time to struggle with dense and delicate prose. No, instead, I need a heaping helping of adventure and fast-paced excitement. Which makes my choice of the final book in the Harry series a pretty good one, and as far as home remedies go, an enjoyable panacea as well. Warning: Do not read on if you have not finished reading the HP series. I definitely discuss plot details after the jump! (more…)
10th December
2008
written by Steph
Oooh... gilded edges!

Oooh... gilt edges!

After my last reading disaster, I decided I needed to read something that would sooth me. All of the unread books on our shelves seemed vaguely sinister, as I suffered from the whole “once bitten, twice shy” affliction of having tried a new author and it blowing up horribly in my face. I lead a busy life and do a lot of non-pleasurable reading as a graduate student, so when it comes to books I read in my limited spare time? I want to enjoy them. Sometimes I make allowances for books that are not necessarily going to make it onto my list of desert island reading if they’ve attained “classics” status, as generally in these cases even if I wouldn’t necessarily deem the reading of said books pleasurable, I can often at least appreciate the merit in those books and have a better understanding of their place in the literary canon. But having been burned, I wasn’t looking for challenge. No, I was looking for a good read that would cleanse the palate and let me venture into the wide world of books anew. I had been considering rereading Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows for some time, as it is the only book in the series that I have only read once (that day being when it was released, as I attended a midnight release party in downtown Toronto with two very good friends, and then hightailed it home because my father was driving me back down to Nashville the next day… yes, I had purposely delayed my return so as to ensure I got the UK/Canadian edition of the book.). Lately a few snippets of the plot had been swirling around in my head, and I realized that I was a bit unclear on how certain storylines/issues were tied up, and as I don’t have a penseive, I’d just have to reread the last book. But then I saw HBP sitting next to DH on the shelf, and I realized that I’d only read it twice AND that movie is due out next year, so maybe I ought to warm up to DH so I’d be in the appropriate mindset to join Harry & co. on their final quest. (more…)
5th December
2008
written by Steph
The Accidental

Yikes. There are evidently people out there who really liked this book. Those people are not me. These are people who probably love Virginia Woolf novels and Jackson Pollack paintings. (more…)
30th November
2008
written by Steph
Having read the book, I get the croquet.... what I don't get is why all the images on the cover are so pixelated!

I get the croquet, but not why all the cover images are so pixelated!

This is a book that I picked up on a whim at McKay’s because it was only $2 and I knew it was by the author better known as Lemony Snicket. I essentially knew absolutely nothing else about it, because rather than a synopsis or a blurb about the book on the back cover, it instead had faux tongue-in-cheek “study questions” (much like those you’d find at the end of a story or piece in a high-school/grade school reader) and praise for the novel from other writers and newspapers. In this case, I felt the type of story The Basic Eight turned out to be really benefited from being shrouded in mystery, because in a way, it was a mystery. (more…)
23rd November
2008
written by Steph
"The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee StewartI posted a while back that I had embarked on reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco… only, the thing is, I have failed miserably at reading it. I took it with me when I went out of town, figuring that all of the flights and traveling would provide me ample opportunity to read it. When Tony’s flight was delayed from Nashville to Baltimore, I polished off about 150 pages while waiting for him at the airport. This experience was quite painful and left me wanting to stab out my eyes, because for every enjoyable mystery bit that advanced the main plotline, there would be about 25 pages of turgid, dense philosophical or historical (sometimes both) musings that had the most soporific of effects on me. Needless to say, I began trawling the little Borders shop (surprisingly well-stocked for an airport bookstore) looking for new reading material. And that is where I stumbled upon The Mysterious Benedict Society. I was intrigued by the comparison to Harry Potter (then again, I’ve been burned by such allusions before – ahem, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. One day I’ll make it past the first 30 pages!), and the price of $7 wasn’t bad either. Pair this with a 30% off coupon we got at the in-store café later in the week, and I was sold. Or rather, the book was, but you see what I’m getting at here. (more…)