Thursday, January 1, 2009

I have been meaning to do this for several days. I have been distracted by a.) travel b.) loss of power c.)holidays d.) a particular Xbox game called Fable2, e.) new anime additions to my collection and f.) figuring grades from last term (praise Excel) and g.) pure decadent laziness-- but I have finally generated a list of books that I read in 2008 that particularly wrapped themselves around my spine. Pete helped with this conquest as he would nod and say "Yeah that one got under your skin." I suppose that means I babbled about it in addition to blogging about it.
SOooo w/out further padding--the '08 recommended reading list.

The most striking book I read last year was definitely All Shall Be Well; And All Shall Be Well; And All Manner of Things Shall Be Well: A painfully true novel by Tod Wodicka. If you even know WHAT the SCA is--you need to read this book. It, like Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, is a fable of obsession. A warning...

In second place was the Sonnet Lover by Carol Goodman. Mysterious and lush. The perfect mix (for me) of subject matter and craftwomanship.

Showing up third I have decided David Liss's The Coffee Trader was pretty damn good. Granted he does get brownie points for complimenting me (via a surprising email) on a glowing review I wrote.

In fourth place on the list but prly the most life changing was Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. She is my hero and as soon as I am done typing I am gonna fill up my mug and starting pawing through seed catalogs. 75% of the motivation for this new "hobby" is her doing. This book definitely altered my existence.

Speaking of the SCA, craftsmanship and food, number five on my 2008 list is an out of print book titled The History and Culture of Japanese Food by ISHIGE and Naomichi Ishige. This book was assigned to me by His Majesty Raito of Northshield as I prepared his coronation feast. The research and learning demanded for this project began with a simple joke two years ago when I announced to him (I think we may have been painting toenails or floating in an innertube) "When you crown Aesa, I am cooking your feast." Months later, after his victory-- I saw him quietly perusing the merchants at Crown Tourney and I approached him. I bowed--he grinned as if to say "I'm not wearing my hat" and I then leaned against him (cuz that is what dogs do to tell you they love you). THEN he said, "Will you still consider our feast?" HELL YEAH! but then tricky sensai that he is--he announced..."You do know sushi isn't period." At that point I was cocky and confident. I can do anything. That attitude changed quite drastically as I discovered the first of many obstacles in this quest. Not the least of which was the fact that I had to interlibrary loan the book from CMU. I haven't smashed so much learning into my thick little skull since grad school. I learned. That project was accomplished. It was not perfect. It did not look like Hauviette was in charge, but...thanks to my minions: esp, my girls Clan In gen Aeda, MyThomas and the Chiv he wrangled into serving, my darling lord husband who grilled 75 portions of salmon in the freezing rain, poor seasick preggers Carol being my moral support and DukeHardbutt washing sticky rice dishes all afternoon. That mission was accomplished.

This post is about books right???--

Books about Food apparently becasue the next one on the list is Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. Hilarious!!! and enlightening and filled with butter and garlic! (BTW-- if any of you freaky darlings wants to set up a paypal account so I can buy awesome ingredients you go right ahead!)

Number 7 is also working my prevalent theme of medieval matter is The Voyage of the Short Serpent eeep!!! Cannibal Catholics attack Vikings. EEEP! This delicious little volume by Bernard du Boucheron and Hester Velmans just fucked with me. CRAZY!

Number Eight (Eight, Eight. Eight is great...Eight is the number we do not hate!) A series. I enjoy reading series. I wish that books never ended. If I can't get a series in toto-- I will devour all that an author has written. Case in Point? Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials. More carefully written than HP and twice as mature. The little Lyra's Oxford etc are delish little bites that extend the narrative. I am sure you are well aware that the movie SUCKED! However, in sharp contrast to the cinematic dreck-- I heartily recommend these, especially if you like sharp knives, parallel universes, hot air balloons and gorgeous evil chicks.

Number Nine (can you hear John Lennon? Number 9...Number 9?) It is true that Generally speaking-- the closer Oprah is to a book the further away I stand; but The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel by David Wroblewski is a keeper. This story is beautifully written and heart achingly honest. Despite it's designation in Oprah's Book Club as #62, these characters authentically materialize and you worry about them when you can't be in their universe.

There is a tie for my number ten spot. Two ugly, mean and petty books. The characters are selfish and vicious. They are vile and reprehensible, I love to hate them more than the baby eating catholic (#7), more than Mrs. Coulter cutting away children's daemons (#8),more than High Fructose Cornsyrup(#4). They are titled Finn and Mister B. Gone.

Let's start w/Finn because he is quite possible the sickest character I have ever encoutered. Yes dear one, this version of Huck's daddy is right up there with Thomas Harris' famous Hannibal Lecter and his far far less sympathetic nastycreep in Red Dragon. I mentioned to my friend Joe C. at work that I was reading Finn by Jon Clinch. Joe was immediately on a soapbox pontificating and pronouncing. It was fun for me to pick a renowned Twain scholar's brain I went through this juicy tome. We still haven't fully discussed the haunting white room completely--I'll get to him at Burn's Day I suppose. THAT should be a lovely drunken conversation!!
If you enjoyed Huck Finn as a naive child, the bitter adult in you may get quite a kick out of Pap Finn's gruesome truths.

'K--so I said Finn was tied for last spot on the "Books Daye thinks You should read List." If you see a little book called Mister B. Gone by Clive Barker. PICK IT UP!! that is a little joke--for you see dear reader like Inkheart and it's sequals--there is a little space time continuum thing working. Things get misplaced including your sense of reality. Characters going into and out of texts--for example fForde's The Eyre Affair, like Will & Lyra in Pullman's books. I really want to design a class around this meta-fiction concept. Barker does a stupendous job of finally creating a character that isn't one dimensionally evil. That isn't a caricature of Hell, this poor narrator is ensconced in an upside down world where "bad" behaviour is the social more and yet... you like him...

So there they are, in contrast to Andre's MILF of the first annual Books I'd Like to Fuck.

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