Sunday, December 26, 2010

First Officer's Log No 26: Plague-Induced Book Lists

So I have some down with some sort of horrible manifestation of the plague or the flu or whatever, and therefore, sadly, I am not the most effective or most articulate of people right now. However, in between dashes from the couch, and snuggling under the heaviest blanket I could last night just to keep from shivering myself silly, I started to think through the books that I've read this year that have grabbed my attention or made me rethink things. (Please to be bearing with me, I am looptastic as I write this).

First off, I did two themes this year, French literature, and then for October, I read a book each week, four in total, that I felt properly conveyed the Halloween and / or spooky spirit. With regard to French literature, I finally read Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, as well as Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Both books now rank amongst my favorites. Monte Cristo I found engaging and mysterious, with a long streak of diabolical intent throughout the story. Les Miserables took me some time to read, but Julie Rose's new translation grabbed my attention. Rose has a splendid way of translating French, remaining faithful to the original intent of the phrasing while transcribing it in such a way that it appeals to contemporary readers. If you've not read Hugo's classic, then I highly recommend Rose's translation.

For my Halloween experiment, only one new book truly appealed to me, as Will Storr Vs The Supernatural was an already familiar book to me, but one I hadn't discussed at length before. Of the three other books I read, Jennifer McMahon's Promise Not to Tell had my attention and had me on the edge of my seat. As much a coming of age novel as a suspense thriller, I was drawn into McMahon's gothic world of casual cruelties and friendships that fall by the wayside, but someone revive themselves, even at great cost. McMahon counts high on the list of my favorite new writers.

I confess that I didn't read a whole lot of young adult fiction this year, though I quite liked Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games (I know, not the most original pick, but I really enjoyed it). As to other things, I read a number of newer theology books, but found that none this year really captured my interest or taught me anything that I hadn't learned elsewhere. That's not to say that things like Michael Parenti's God and His Demons and Paul Berman's The Flight of the Intellecutuals aren't good books, they are, but Parenti strives too hard to be amusing with his style of writing, and Berman feels as if he is talking down to his audience. That said, Terry Eagleton's On Evil is probably my favorite theology or philosophy book I've read this year. Eagleton has a fantastic way of writing, and, being a literary critic, offers comparisons and interesting observations from classical lit while he is making his arguments.

History and Social Science are going to wait for next year for me to dive into. Being as that next year is the one hundred and fiftieth start of the American Civil War expect to see lots of recommendations or blurbs about new and exciting Civil War history. I anticipate a lot of it coming through our doors.

Well, folks, that'll do it for this year's First Officer's Logs, but check back with us next year, because we've always got new and interesting things going on at the shop, and we're always restocking with new books. Have a great holiday and a safe New Year.

Until next week (year), fellow Bibliophiles.

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