2006 in books

2006 is the first year that I’ve actually kept track of all the books I’ve read, though I’ve often done so for part of a year–usually the summer. To celebrate this dubious achievement, I’ve decided to let go of my usually secretive reading habits and reproduce the whole list, with a few largely uninformative notes.

Books with an R in front of them are things I reread; those with an L are ones I listened to. You’ll notice that I tend to reread a great many books.
Leaving You: The Cultural Meaning of Suicide by Lisa J. Liberman–I think I found this listed in the footnotes of another book, but I’ve forgotten what book that might be (here, I suppose, is where something like Google Book Search could come in handy).

R All New People by Anne Lamott

Revolting Librarians Redux edited by KR Roberto (now an ALA Councilor!) and Jessamyn West–I brought this along with me when I was interviewing for my current job, and I read some of it on the plane and some of it in the Irma Hotel in Cody. Note to Dominican: last I checked, your copy of this was missing, but I promise you, I didn’t take it. I got the one I read via interlibrary loan.

R Hard Laughter by Anne Lamott

A Couple of Comedians by Don Carpenter–Anne Lamott mentions Don Carpenter so favorably in her nonfiction that, after my little Lamott kick, when I ran into one of his books on the shelf at the Franklin Park Library, I had to check it out. It was pretty good–the story of a couple of guys who write for Hollywood, and full of the kind of unapologetic drug use that you find in the years before Just Say No.

L A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson–I started reading this around the time it was published, when it was sitting my mother’s bathroom. In the next few weeks, I’ll finish reading it, since we’re talking about it for this month’s book discussion. It was great fun to listen to.

Indigo’s Star by Hilary McKay–I feel much the way Your Fairy Bookmother does about McKay’s books.

The Friend Who Got Away edited by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell–I keep reading these anthologies of essays mostly written by affluent white New Yorkers, and I don’t know why, since they invariably piss me off. This one had an interesting premise, but I didn’t think any of the essays really worked.

The Boyfriend List: 15 guys, 11 shrink appointments, 4 ceramic frogs, and me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart–a YA book with footnotes. I love footnotes.

Caribou Rising by Rick Bass–the book I got when my mom said one day at Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, “Why don’t you pick out a book?”

Holes by Louis Sachar–I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to reading this. It was good.

R Winter by Rick Bass–This book starts in the fall, so it was a bit odd to be reading it when I first moved to Wyoming, at the very beginning of spring, but it seemed appropriate.

Sight Hound by Pam Houston–Pam Houston’s fiction has gotten more sentimental and less edgy over the years, but I think perhaps she’s a happier person, so while I mourn the loss of the voice that’s in Cowboys Are My Weakness and (particularly) Waltzing the Cat, I still find glimmers of it from time to time.

Oil Notes by Rick Bass–Bass is kind of an odd creature–an oil geologist turned environmental writer. Oil Notes takes place in Mississippi, where he lived before he moved to Montana, as documented in Winter.

I Am the Wallpaper by Mark Peter Hughes–a book I bought for the YA collection at my old library and finally got around to reading at my current library.

The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier–read on the recommendation of my friend Felicia. I’ve always been fascinated by people’s ideas about what happens when you die, and Brockmeier’s world of the dead is particularly appealing. And I’m down with any book where Coca-Cola takes a hit.

Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall–another excellent recommendation from Felicia. It could also get a subject heading of Living Apart Together, as the main characters are married but keep separate apartments, if only Sandy Berman had more sway over the Library of Congress.

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson–who came to read in Meeteetse!

Torch by Cheryl Strayed–I read Strayed’s essays when they were appearing in literary magazines and The Best American Essays and loved them, and so I was thrilled to see she’d written a novel, which, I’m happy to report, was also good.

R Black Sun by Edward Abbey–one of Abbey’s favorites of his novels, and also one of mine, even though it does kind of read like soft porn in the wilderness at times.

L’America by Martha McPhee–a good book to read if you like reading about food, art, Italy, doomed relationships, and the children of hippies.

Everyone Else’s Girl by Megan Crane–chick lit, pure and unadulterated. There are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.

R The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

L Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

L The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen–Reading a new book by Sarah Dessen is sort of like finding out that there’s an episode of My So-Called Life that you somehow missed.

Julie & Julia by Julie Powell–I wrote a bit about the differences between the audio and print versions a few months ago.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer–my coworkers loved this. I was sort of unmoved.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffennegger–which is just as good as everybody says it is.

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews–did you know that “Maternal deprivation–Fiction” is a subject heading?

L Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry–it seems like everyone in Wyoming has read this book, or at least seen the miniseries. Since I had done neither, I decided to listen to it. It took a very long time, but it was worth it. I have heard that Wolfram Kandinsky’s recording of it is better.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel–if graphic novels were more like this one, I could really get into them. Also, I encountered nine words in this book that I didn’t know, which is probably a record.

London is the Best City in America by Laura Dave–chick lit dressed up in a nice cover. Eh.

Walking it Off: A Veteran’s Chronicle of War and Wilderness by Doug Peacock–Peacock reflects on what it was like to be the model for Hayduke in The Monkey Wrench Gang, and relates many Ed Abbey stories. Recommended to me by the former Meeteetse librarian.

R Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer–for our first book discussion.

Eat the Document by Dana Spiotta

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Daisy Bates in the Desert by Julia Blackburn–I picked this book out for our second book discussion based solely on some reviews and on the intriguing sounding premise–a woman leaves Ireland to go to Australia in the early 20th century and, at age 54, goes to live among the Aborigines. It’s an interesting book, but not one I’d recommend for a book discussion, though I would have loved to discuss it in a writing class. I did, however, have the opportunity to use librarian blogger connections in prepping for the discussion: I asked CW if there was any way she could get an article about Daisy Bates from an Australian newspaper for me, and, through the wonders of modern technology, the article got from microfilm in Australia to my inbox in Wyoming a day or two later. So cool!

Walking in Circles Before Lying Down by Merrill Markhoe–a book in which dogs talk.

You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen–set in Madison, which I’ve only been to once, for the first National Conference on Media Reform, but which feels like an old friend anyway.

Postcards from Ed by Edward Abbey, edited by David Peterson–a disappointingly slim collection of Abbey’s correspondence.

R The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein–I read this book whenver I get really sick, as I was right after my birthday until right after Christmas (perhaps with the same bug that got the Librarian Avenger–I’m glad the librarians won).

R The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley–McKinley is my favorite writer, and I’m quite fond of this retelling of Robin Hood, though I know many people who don’t much care for it. I just learned all about the difference between different kinds of retellings (adaptations, versions, fractured fairy tales) from the ESSL Children’s Literature Blog, and you can, too.

The Last of Her Kind by Sigrid Nunez–another book I found while browsing the subject heading “Radicals–Fiction.”

L Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

A Fabulous Creature by Zilpha Keatley Snyder–an odd entry in the Snyder ouvre–kind of good, but I can’t think of whom I’d recommend it to.

Marley & Me by John Grogan–I was reading this over Christmas. I was near the end one evening when I started crying. “The dog is dying!” I said to my mother. “That’s why I almost never read those books,” said my mother. “The dog always dies.” Grogan is overly wholesome for my taste, but the book is funny as well as sad. I once heard Adam Hochschild give a talk about learning to write from a newspaper editor in San Francisco who encouraged him always to put a dog in a story. It’s not bad advice.

I also read a great many blog entries, a lot of articles in newspapers and the New Yorker and The Nation, and a handful of zines.

7 thoughts on “2006 in books”

  1. well–several books I’ll have to consider. But what I really want to know is, what nine words didn’t you know?
    love, your mom

  2. If you love footnotes you should consider reading Ibid : a life : a novel in footnotes by Mark Dunn (San Francisco: MacAdam/Cage Pub., c2004). It is an interesting, though decidedly odd, book made up entirely from the footnotes of an imaginary lost masterpiece.

    For purposes of evaluating this recommendation from someone you don’t know here are my thoughts on books from your list that I have read: Cowboys are my Weakness was a great book; I liked A Brief History of the Dead, Julie & Julia, and A Walk in the Woods; the woman in The Amateur Marriage irritated me so much I couldn’t even finish the book and The Girl With the Pearl Earring falls into the category of “don’t get me started!”

  3. Mom–humectant, prestidigitation, postlapsarian, perserverated, deracination, dishabille, anaphrodisiac, obtunding, and sybaritic (though actually I think the last one might have been in a different book). It’s not that I didn’t know all of them, exactly (and many, of course, are easy to guess–or at any rate easy if you were a Classics major), but most of them I’ve never seen used before, or if I have, it’s only been once or twice.

    Mary–Thanks for the recommendation! I sympathize with your disliking of the woman in The Amateur Marriage. I always seem to end up wanting to shake at least one character in her books, but I seem to go on reading them (or listening to them, as the case may be). I listen to a lot of books that I probably wouldn’t read, and Girl With a Pearl Earring falls in that category. I didn’t have strong feelings about it one way or another, but I probably wouldn’t have read it.

  4. Glad I could help, Laura 🙂 There’s a few books in your list that I have been meaning to read. I’m going to see if I can get to them this year!

  5. Yes, it was very helpful (and it impressed the heck out of my group, too). If I ever get to read all the books I’ve been meaning to read, I will live far, far longer than anyone has yet!

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