Saturday, January 3, 2009

2008 Favorites: Books

I returned to reading again in 2008 for various reasons beginning with a need for books for my travels through Europe when I read Next, unfortunately the last Creichton book I will ever read as the author who blurred nonfiction and fiction to create an altogether unique experience passed away.

I also started reading comic books, or graphic novels, for the first time in my life. My closest friends joined me, as we shared novels we had bought and I soon started gobbling up all the library could offer in this regard as well. I quickly graduated from "comic" graphic novels featuring superheroes to graphic novels that depicted stories without heroes.

Then again the last couple of months of 2008 my voracious appetite for reading returned in force. Perhaps it was because I felt isolated living at home away from my friends, but either way, I started reading a lot. So much so that I even started reading the books my students were reading - from Brave New World to Twilight. The Twilight books were so interesting on so many levels - on one I found the books online, for free, and also because I too became quickly addicted to Stephanie Meyer's stories. Looking back I realized the deep flaws in Meyer's characters and concepts but still had to respect her ability to rope in teenage girls with ease.

That being said this list will seem quite eclectic as it jumps all over the place, featuring graphic novels, historical fiction, and "classic literature".

5. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
I had a lot of fun reading Marjane Satrapi's books. I read this book in a day and devoured Persepolis II (Persepolis: The Story of a Return) the next. The story is so much fun, full of a resounding humor that pierces the seriousness of Satrapi's look at history, religion, and family. The drawings complement the story just as well, sticking with you for quite some time. For me, it took me a while to get the story - and the images - out of my head. And to me, that is the mark of a great book.

4. World Without End by Ken Follett
Pillars of the Earth is my favorite book of all time. The story roped me in being as I was, susceptible to historical fiction, an intriguing story, and relishing the concept of becoming lost in a world that spanned over 1000 pages. So it is no surprise that Follett's sequel to my favorite book would be something that interested me. I loved the book - and really do need to give it another read - but it was a tad disappointing - following Follett's Pillars of the Earth formula way way too closely. Characters were slight variations of Pillars characters, plotlines developed along identical get the point. But still very good.

3. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
The hype surrounding this book from my friends, as well as the movie promotion, made me skeptical of the quality and power my friends would not stop talking about. But then I read Moore's book and it knocked my socks off - I read the book in a handful of days, unable to put it down. This examination of superheroes and of people in general is particularly striking, making Watchmen so much more than a comic book or even a graphic novel. Each character seemed to be so vivid, so different, so much more than the average novel character. I considered putting Loeb and Sale's The Long Halloween in this superhero/graphic novel slot but the Watchmen were too much for Batman to handle.

2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I needed a book to read for my month in Europe so I went to the used book store and bought a couple and I took some of my favorites that I wanted to read again. It wasn't until I got to Italy (three weeks later) that I finally cracked The Road and read it in a day or two. It was another book that simply mesmerized me, as All the Pretty Horses had the year before. I could not put it down as I frantically turned page after page, dieing to know what happened to our two protagonists walking the desolated world that remained. The book, like many of McCarthy's other novels seemed to be a perfect blueprint for a movie and I soon found out that a movie was already in the works, with Viggo Mortensen to star. Viggo is the perfect choice and I look forward to seeing the movie of the book that blew me away.

1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
I set out to read the classics I never read in school, and so I read a good deal of Steinbeck novels. This one rose above the rest to become my favorite book of the year. There is something about simplicity that is so appealing, so difficult to vanquish. Here the story of two men, their friendship and their struggles seemed so powerful. I don't really know what else to say besides to urge you to read this book if you have not already, for it will stay with you forever.

No comments:

Add to Technorati Favorites Add to Technorati Favorites Add to Technorati Favorites Blog Listings