Books Read 2008

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Below is are the books I read in 2008. I think this list covers all of them although I have a feeling I’m missing one or two. If I can’t remember them, they must not have been that important! Many of these books I’ve reviewed in this blog, but not all. As usual, non-fiction predominates the list.

Here is my list from 2007

Here is my list from 2006.

Twenty Thousand Roads: The Ballad of Gram Parsons and his American Cosmic Music
– David Meyer. I sorta reviewed this book here and is a fascinating read about Gram Parsons, his life and weird death. If you’re interested in Parsons or his music this is a must read. Doesn’t pull any punches and you can tell that the author was disappointed in Parson’s drug use and the potential that was basically tossed away.

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley. I read this as part of my class Monster, Robots, and Cyborgs and found it an interesting and a page turner even though it was written nearly 200 years ago. If you only know Frankenstein through the movie, you should read this book. The original science-gone-amok story.

Beowulf – Translated by Seamus Haney. Again from my class. The original monster story in written form. I also found this book fascinating. Beowulf kicked some series ass in his day. This translation is particularly well done.

Dracula – Bram Stoker. One more from my class. Much like Frankenstein, if you only know the story from the movie you’ll be surprised how much more there is to the story. Very creepy and exciting.

A World Lit Only By Fire – William Manchester. Story of the Middle Ages with a concentration on Magellan’s trip around the world and Luther’s protest against the Catholic church. I’ve read better Middle Age histories including A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman. Manchester’s narrative was all over the place but you could really tell the author’s fascination and enthusiasm over Magellan. He should have stuck to that topic only.

Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister
– Scott Plagenhoef. Part of the 33-1/3 series which has different authors write a short book about a particular album. Even though this one is about Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister it has a lot about Tigermilk as well. A must read for any B&S fan.

Perfect From Now On – John Sellers. Reviewed this book here and is the story of a mid-western guy growing up on AC-DC and Duran Duran who goes to college, discovers U2 and New Order and eventually befriends the guys from Guided by Voices. Very funny, full of lists ala High Fidelity. If you like Guided by Voices or discovered music in the 80’s, this book is for you.

Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus
– Rick Perlstein. The rise of conservatism in America in the late 1950s and early 60’s culminating in the 1964 election and LBJ’s landslide victory over Barry Goldwater. Great book about a particular period of American history.

Canoeing with the Cree – Eric Severiad. Teenage Eric Severiad and a friend canoe from Minneapolis to the Hudson Bay in the 1930s. A Minnesota classic that is just as thrilling some 70 years after the trip.

Peace Like a River – Leif Enger. Lovely book about faith and love. Enger is a gifted writer. However I have a feeling he had one passage in mind and pre-written when he tackled the book. He then had to build a book around this one scene. Don’t get me wrong, it works and the one scene I’m talking about is beautifully written, enthralling even, but it stands out so much from the rest of the book, I was left thinking it was completely separate from the rest of the book.

Nixonland – Rick Perlstein. I reviewed this book here. Great book about American history from 1965-1973. We are still living the political lessons Nixon taught us in 1968. Hopefully Obama’s election finally wiped away fear and division as a political tactic.

Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollard. Reviewed this book here. This book had a profound impact on the way I look at food. Not as polemic as Fast Food Nation but packs a punch nonetheless.

The Sundance Kids: How the Mavericks Took Back Hollywood
– James Mottram. Story of how “indie? directors such as Steven Soderbergh, David Pincher, Quentin Tarantino, P.T Anderson, etc went from directing quirky little films to Oscar winning films and box office blockbusters.

Bitter Harvest: The Rise of Gordon Kahl and the Rise of the Posse Comitatus in the Heartland – James Corcoran. Story of the rise of the virulent anti-jewish, anti-federal government movement of the 1970s and 80s and its most famous martyr Gordon Kahl. Written by a reporter and you can tell, the book is like a long-form newspaper article. Interesting, not totally unsympathetic to Kahl either.

Children of Men – P.D. James. If you only know this story from the movie, warning: the two stories diverge completely about halfway through. Nice set-up where no children have been born for nearly 25 years. This book however, reminded me why I like non-fiction better than fiction. There were so many other story lines James could have expanded upon I kinda wish it was a different book. Nice ending though.

That’s it what did you read this year?

Books on the bedside table:

The Ten Cent Plague
Hitchcock's Romantic Irony
Mountains Beyond Mountains

4 Comments

Great list Free! I definitely plan on reading Canoeing with the Cree and Children of Men. Thanks for the thoughts on those two. And from last year's list, I still need to check out The Natural.

I'm a little surprised by your review on Peace Like a River. I know the scene you are talking about. However, I disagree that this was written first. I don't know why, but that scene flows naturally for me out of the faith of the father. What gets me about that scene is how impossible it must have been to write. How do you describe the what can't be explained? I thought Enger nailed it.

Anyway, three new books for me to find in my local libraries. Thanks for the write up!

(Also, your blurb about A World Lit only by Fire is spot on. All over the place, but still remarkably entertaining.)

I wouldn't describe A World Lit Only by Fire remarkably entertaining, but that's just me.

As for Peace Like a River, I too thought Enger nailed the scene, it's just that it was so vivid and detailed it just seemed slightly out of place with the rest of the story, even though it was written beautifully.

Believe me I have had debates with others about this very subject. It doesn't mean the scene detracts from the book, I just think Enger had this scene in his head then constructed a story to use it. And he did a good job doing so.

btw, Shane 8 of the books in the list above came from a Library.

I hope you enjoyed Bitter Harvest. I read it when it first came out, so it's been a long time. Yep, it's like a long feature article in the newspaper.

And yes, it's not totally unsympathetic to Kaul, or more accurately, it was sympathetic to the plight of the North Dakotan dirt farmer. Kaul was a dangerous lunatic, but he was also a war hero, and a hard working local. Times were tough in ND then.

I knew Gordon Kahl. The book was fair. Gordon was like many, many people in the rural Midwest part of the country at that time.

Carter and the ultra leftists running the country, at that time, coined the term; fly over territory. They still use it today and we feel left out of the population due to the fact we are not part of the left coast.

They take our taxes and bailout their buddies in the banks. They take our taxes and buy dying industries too big to fail. They take our taxes and give it to other countries for their businesses. They don't give damn one about the average American, but we'll see who really has the final say.

Gordon Kahl still lives today in many people...

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This page contains a single entry by Freealonzo published on December 22, 2008 12:25 AM.

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