f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Year in Review - Day 4 - Books

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Year in Review - Day 4 - Books

I must have read far fewer NYTimes bestsellers this year than I normally do because looking back over their lists hasn’t sparked much. But reading only books released in 2004 seems a great waste of time anyway because there’s a boatload of great titles I’ve not yet managed to put my eyes to.

Anyway here’s a list of some worthy books I read this year…whether they came out in 2004 or not.

Fiction
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke – I’ve talked about this before. Fantasy made, well, adult. The acts of magic performed in this book (an armada of ships formed from a storm’s rain) dazzle, even from the page.

The Food of Love by Anthony Capella – Think Cyrano set in Italian kitchens. An American student is wooed by a gorgeous waiter who convinces his chef friend to cook intoxicating meals to seduce her. Chock full of sex and food. Throw baseball in there and you’ve got a top three in terms of life’s good pleasures.

lost boy, lost girl by Peter Straub – My first novel from this author. Just plain creepy. Takes “inspiration” from the death house murderer H.H. Holmes and concocts a quiet but intense ghost story. There’s a follow-up I’ll be tackling soon.


NonFiction
The Beast in the Garden by David Baron – Uses the tragic death of a healthy young man to a Colorado mountain lion to explore the tenuous balance of nature and man.

Journal of the Dead by Jason Kersten – Two men head into the desert to camp for an evening. Days later one is found barely alive, the other dead. Murdered by his best friend who claims the killing was an act of mercy. Sad stuff.

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer - More dead people. *sigh* Here a mother and daughter, slaughtered by fundamentalist Mormons. One of our most compelling creative nonfiction writer started a book about religious extremism and ended with a critical examination of the Mormon faith. The elders in Salt Lake City weren't pleased.


Writer You Need to Start Reading
Neil Gaiman – I recommend starting with Neverwhere. Or, if you’ve middle-grade kids, Coraline. American Gods is Joseph Campbell meets Dashiell Hammett. And once you’re ready, cross the border into his comics, especially his epic Sandman series. This is a guy doing whatever he pleases, succeeding, and generally making the whole business far too easy. He’s even written one of my favorite Christmas stories ever, too. It’s very short and can be found here. (It says excerpt, but it’s the whole thing.) Please tell me you laughed.

Books for 2005
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – The hype is almost getting too much. Can such a slim book bear it? I’ll let you know soon.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling – Six down, one to go. I can’t imagine the pressure.

Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky – I say it now. Before child #3 comes in May.