Sunday, January 25, 2009

Perhaps more than you'd bargained for

Alas, dear reader (you know who you are--both of you), I can only apologize for my time away from blogging. While I've been reading and making my judgments on several books, I can but plead to a distinct lack of creativity coupled with a subsequent lack of desire to share my thoughts. It's not you. It's me. Really.

With that in mind, I pledge to do better and keep you current on what Reed reads. I've also changed the color scheme some though I'm undecided if I like it or not. Perhaps it's time for Reed Next to get a face lift. Any thoughts?

Now that I've begged your forgiveness, duly chastised myself and taken a quick shower, here are my choices for my favorite books for 2008:

  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
  • Cerealizing America: The Unsweetened Story of American Breakfast Cereal by Scott Bruce and Bill Crawford
  • Just Say Nu by Michael Wex
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
  • The Deportees by Roddy Doyle
  • The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
  • St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell
  • So Brave, Young, and Handsome by Leif Enger
  • Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles
  • City of Thieves by David Benioff

As you can see, I've included both fiction and non-fiction in my picks and for all but two of these titles, you can find a post on this site. (I owe you reviews of the books by Tinti and Benioff and they will be added shortly.) These are in no particular order but if I had to choose my Book of the Year, and I must say, I had the good fortune to read some wonderful books, I'd have to choose City of Thieves. It is a remarkable story,
beautifully told.

Oddly, there seem to be two common threads in these titles, one canine, as evidenced by my choices of books by Russell, Stein and Wroblewski; the other being thievery as evidenced by Tinti, Benioff and, if you will indulge me, Miles (you may d
ecide for yourselves about the airlines but I live in Cinn city where our airport is the most expensive in the country for no good reason).

In the spirit of encouraging you to follow my example of the 50 Page Rule (To wit: if a book doesn't grab you in about 50 pages, close the book and start another. Life is too short to plod through a book you don't like), I have picked up and put down a few to which I offer a heads-up and thumbs down:

The Book Of Lies by Brad Meltzer. Despite having my favorite author inscription (he called me "the best human ever!"--how insightful), this book showed initial promise. However, I think this briskly paced potboiler is trying to be too many things at once.

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy. I'll be taken to task for dissing a book held in such high esteem by so many but I would ask, who among you is reading it for the first time in the 21st century as opposed to having read it years ago? If you were to read it now, you're likely to find it quite different without your your rose-colored bi-focals. It's dated style and feel left me cold and the characters are the very phonies Holden Caulfield railed against, except they're Southern and moneyed. Bah, says I.

I do think I may try an experiment this year. My old cellmate, Janet, the grande dame of bookselling, used to always alternate a new title and then an old one (she also bought CDs this way).
I think I may add a wrinkle to this and revisit books I've read before to see if they still hold my attention and my ardor. Thus far, the year began with Breakfast at Tiffanys, followed up with What I Was by Meg Rosoff and currently has me reading the luxurious prose of McCracken's The Giant's House. Stay tuned. Reviews will post soon.

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