books glorious books

Posted: 01/04/2006 in books, Daily Grumbling

For want of a better description I am a pathological word whore, condition terminal. My diagnosis is the only explanation of this mornings incident over at Amazon. There I was gayly ordering some more books for school (Aristotle’s Politics, Xenophon’s A History of my Times and Menander’s meanderings) when I start popping in non-educational texts. In goes a biography of Byron*, Bleak House, a little Casanova and Michael Pye’s Taking Lives*.

Am I suffering some weird form of selective memory when it comes to how many unread books I already own? Did I not receive seven books for Christmas? Did I not then go on to appropriate three Donna Leons from my father’s bookshelves, before purchasing another three at Gatwick prior to departure? The lure of silver spine modern classics from Penguin was too much for this junkie narrative. So I am starting the New Year with thirty one unread and half finished books – I better get cracking!

Having pretty much established the fact that I am the type of person who would spend their last twenty bucks on a book and a cup of coffee, on I swiftly move to the Reading Matters book meme. I some how managed to read eighty odd books in 2005, not bad considering I went back to work full-time and started studying again (the only explanation is escapism combined with avoidance of housework).

My book of the year: Out by Natsuo Kirino. A thoroughly engaging and chilling read, that blows apart all stereotypes (be them racial, social or gender related).

Best book published in 2005:I have such a long back list of must reads that I rarely get to books in their actual year of their publication. It pains me to say it, considering how viciously I hate The Hand Maid’s Tale, but the Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood is the best of the bunch. A refreshing look at Odysseus and his adventures from the perspective of his loyal wife Penelope. I look forward to reading the other stories in Canon Gate’s myths reloaded series.

Best book read this year, published in any year:
The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut. I can’t do it justice, just read it.

Best crime novel of the year:
Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin. Do I need to expand? It’s another outing of the dour, slightly alcoholic detective with impeccable taste in music….oh and it’s set in Edinburgh.

Best ‘classic’ novel read this year:
The End of The Affair by Graham Greene. I love the dissection of the affair from the inside out, I love that there are no likable characters and that the two men end up with each other.

Best non-fiction book read this year:
The Naked Civil Servant by Quentin Crisp. I have loved Mr Crisp since I was 15 yrs. old and watch the film adaptation of The Naked Civil Servant for a personal development class in high school. I loved his dyed hair, his lackadaisical attitude to housework, the fact that he immigrated to New York and never looked back. Oh, and that song my Sting. I get goose bumps when I brunch on the Lower East Side because he could have had coffee at one of the “then divey, now trendy” cafes that line Alphabet City avenues.

Best discovery of the year: Venice thru the eyes of Donna Leon’s Inspector Brunetti.

*In my defense I opted to save these two for later.

  1. kimbofo says:

    Some interesting choices. Glad you liked “Out” so much, it was a great book wasn’t it?

    I will have to add “The Good Doctor” to my list by the sounds of things, though god knows how many times I’ve picked it up while browsing and just never managed to buy the thing!

  2. iliana says:

    The Greene book sounds great. I need to read more of his stuff. And, I’m right there with you on discovering Donna Leon. I love her series so far – I’m up to #4.

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