Monday, December 29, 2008

Best of 2008

Below is my list of Books Read in 2008. It was a very unusual year for me. Usually a strict fiction lover, this year I read 23 non-fiction books and 37 fiction books for a total of 60 books. So why are there still 108 books on my To Be Read pile??? Most of my non-fictions were spiritual/yoga related. I opened a yoga studio this year and am running the book club, which requires that I read the books to screen them beforehand. A good job, if you ask me. Here are some of my dubious "awards" for 2008

Best Fiction Read: Tie between "Zoli" and "The Commoner"
Best Non-Fiction Read: "The Zen of Eating"
Weirdest Book, not just of 2008, but of ALL TIME: "The Raw Shark Texts"
Best Book I got for free through Library Thing: "The Foreigner"
Book highly reviewed that I read and now can't remember one single detail of: "Case Histories"
Best Guilty Pleasure: "The Twilight Series"

  • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
  • Run by Ann Patchett
  • The Zen of Eating by Ronna Kabatznick
  • Dharma Punx by Noah Levine
  • Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos
  • The Shack by William Young
  • Rocket Man by William Hazelgrove
  • Grace Unfolding by Johanson & Kurtz
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  • Trespass by Valerie Martin
  • Trauma by Patrick McGrath
  • The Dark Side of the Light Chasers by Debbie Ford
  • Eaves of Heaven by Andrew X. Pham
  • Yoga and the Quest of the Urban Mystic by Darren Main
  • What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
  • These is My Words by Nancy Turner
  • The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
  • On Call in Hell by Richard Jadick
  • Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss
  • Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • JULY
  • Forgive Me by Amanda Eyre Ward
  • The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz
  • The Foreigner by Francie Lin
  • The People's Act of Love by James Meek
  • Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Loose Girl by Kerry Cohen
  • JUNE
  • A Gradual Awakening by Stephen Levine
  • The Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi
  • The Forgotten Body by Elissa Cobb
  • Will Yoga and Meditation Really Change My Life? ed. by Stephen Cope
  • The Interloper by Antoine Wilson
  • MAY
  • House of Meetings by Martin Amis
  • Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston
  • End of Story by Peter Abrahams
  • Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg
  • The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde
  • The Murder Notebook by Jonathan Santlofer
  • Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
  • Mindful Therapy by Dr. Thomas Bien
  • Loving What Is by Byron Katie
  • Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout
  • The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander
  • The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Zoli by Colum McCann
  • A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
  • The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark Bittner
  • Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
  • Western Limit of the World by David Masiel
  • No Visible Horizon by Joshua Cooper Ramo
  • Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson
  • Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble
  • Grief by Andrew Holleran
  • Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
  • In The Country of Men by Hisham Matar
  • Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan
  • The Last Disciple by Hank Hanegraaff
  • Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  • Deadly Advice by Roberta Isleib
Books I Gave Up On in 2008
  • The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett
  • How to Practice by The Dalai Lama
  • Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
  • Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson

Friday, December 26, 2008

Book Reviews: Run and The Raw Shark Texts

This is one of the most bizarre books I have ever read. I spent the entire book fighting with myself about whether or not I should just put it down and move on (because on one hand it could be viewed as so dumb) or sit on the edge of my seat and read straight through till I was done (because I had to find out what happened!).

Before I tell you what it's about, I'll tell you a story to give you an idea of what the feeling is. I used to work for county mental health with a man who told me all kinds of stories about how he used to work for the CIA and they erased his brain, and he was part of some brainwashing scheme, etc. etc. Obviously needs medication, right? But on the drive home, I always wondered....."what if....?"

This book is like that. The main character suffers on the surface from "dissasociative fugue" which is where you have no memory of yourself or your life and you have a penchant for traveling and disappearing. (Yeah, it's a real - but rare - diagnosis). Then the author puts you in "his" head. What's really happening for people like this? We're giving it some name, but is it really something else? Something far more sinister and horrible?

This book is a romp of imagination. I can't even imagine how an author gets such an idea -- Steven Hall, if not a genius, is some kind of storyteller. Even if you think the concepts he pus forth are a bit "out there", read it just to be blown away by the whole paradigm shift....what we think of mentally ill people may not be what they are experiencing at all. I'm gonna think about this book for a long, long time.

I loved Bel Canto a few years ago, so thought I'd try Ann Patchett's new book. I didn't think this book was nearly the book that Bel Canto was, but it was still a good offering. Ann Patchett is a wonderful character author, building family relationships and portraying setting in such a real way. It's not the kind of book that will have you staying up late and tormenting yourself, but you'll be glad you read it.