f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Picks of 2006 - Books

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

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Picks of 2006 - Books

Fiction

Inkspell
by Cornelia Funke
- Like Azkaban, a sequel that trumps Book 1. Her character of Dustfinger is one of the pinnacle creations of recent years. Wonderful, engaging fiction--and the audio versions as read by Brendan Fraser are exceptional. (Start with Inkheart of course.)

U.S.! by Chris Bachelder - More muck-raking! This time with the most famous muck-raker of all--Upton Sinclair. Poor Upton's resurrected corpse gets stuck being the sacrificial metaphor in this pretty incisive look at how we've abandoned our outrage.

The Zero by Jess Walter - Interesting not only for its stylistic quirks (the narrator blacks out in the middle of scenes only to come to in the middle of new scenes) but for its examination of our post-9/11 landscape. Absurdist and satiric in some ways, deeply grieved and dumbstruck in others, it was a solid read.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - One of the better books I've read this decade. Haunting is such an over-used word in these little blurbs, but it really is beautiful and lingering. The only thing that annoys me is that the author looks like he's about 24.

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Non-Fiction

Salvation on Sand Mountain by Dennis Covington
- A number of years old at this point, I only recently took the opportunity to read this. Our talk of "faith in fiction" should realize it has a fair amount to learn from "faith in non-fiction" as well. This is an interesting case study as it explores religious ecstasy/being overcome by the Holy Spirit both from a third-person and first-person perspective. This is one of those fragments of Christianity I will never understand but it's an interersting glimpse inside the church's front door.

Feeding the Monster by Seth Mnookin - Perhaps the most lucky/timely sports journalist ever, Mnookin got the opportunity to sit inside the Red Sox organization as they made their run to the World Series in 2004. If you're a baseball fan, the access you get into the operations of a front office is unparalleled. If you're not a baseball fan, this would bore you to death.

Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger - Let me get this straight: You have, in your family history, a connection to a notorious killer (the Boston Strangler) that may link him with a crime attributed to another person. And somehow this becomes Book 2?! Because you have to go write The Perfect Storm? Most authors would kill for either of these--I'm not sure it's fair for Junger to have this in his back pocket.

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Picture Book

Flotsam by David Wiesner -
I've always like Wiesner's stuff. This one rates pretty near the the top of his impressive list.

Do Not Open This Book! by Michaela Muntean - Meta-fictional fun with a pig who's annoyed that you've interrupted his story before he's completed it.

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Scariest

High School Confidential by Jeremy Iversen
- A 24-year-0ld gets permission to go undercover as a student at a So-Cal public high school. What he reports nearly made my eyes bleed.

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Disappointing

The Ruins by Scott Smith -
Twelve years in between books shouldn't leave me with Little Shop of Horrors set in Mexico.

Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst - It's an interesting glimpse behind the world of an Amazing Race-like TV show but the actual novel itself was pretty weak. And it was such a suprise to see a "repentant Christian homosexual" turn out to be a hypocrite. Who could have predicted?

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(And by request, for Mark Bertrand)

Chair - This one?

Cologne -
Don't wear the stuff. But staying at the Denver Marriott hooked me up with Bath and Body Works Orange Ginger lotion/shampoo/etc. That scent is working nicely for me.