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Book Report December 18, 2010

Posted by Kimmothy in Books.

I started a book journal in 2008 where after every book I read, I listed the title, author and number of pages, a short summary and a score based on a stolen-from-Netflix idea one to five star rating. As I’m winding down my third year of doing this, I still feel a little like punching myself in the face for not having started this practice years ago. Not only do I live for documenting and listing, it serves as a useful tool for preventing buying a book I already own (this happens more than I’d like to admit) or to refer back and see what my feelings about a particular writer are. It also amuses me to look back and see I have truly schizophrenic reading tastes.

In 2008 I read 69 books (and to be honest, the fact I couldn’t make it an even 70 bothers me a lot). 2009 must’ve been a rough year for my concentration levels because I only made it through 48. For this year I just finished my 65th book, though there are still two weeks left of 2010 and in that two weeks I don’t have to go to work so there’s actual hope I could make that goal of knocking out 70 after all. I could cheat and read a couple of 200 pager’s, but that would mess up the integrity of my system and I’d rather have a non-cool number than do that. Why yes, I do devote a lot of thought to this, thanks.

For no other reason than it’s Saturday night and I’m bored, here are my top ten faves of this year and then the five I liked the least.

1. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl – a totally lucky book sale find I picked up for no other reason than I liked the title and the way the cover looked.

2. Under the Dome by Stephen King – Steve usually figures into my life at least once a year; several times if I’m lucky as was the case this year. It’s not my favorite novel of his by far, but the fact it’s over a thousand pages long and that the majority of those pages kept me glued to the book speaks volumes of my deep and unabashed love for this man. Anyone who says SK is a shitty writer is a pretentious asshole.

3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett – Usually when there’s a book Oprah raves about, I automatically go on the defense. I’ll wait it out and let the hysteria pass and then I’ll quietly go about looking into what all the fuss was about before I throw my opinion in there, if I choose to at all. This is the exception to that rule. This would probably have to be my number one pick for the year, if not the last few years. I wanted to eat it so I could keep it inside me forever.

4. The Best of Dorothy Parker – I thought I’d pretty much read everything of hers so I was pretty excited to come across this at yes, another book sale. She and Shirley Jackson are my two favorite women who ever put pen to paper and the fact we’ll never get anymore from them depresses me very much.

5. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron – One of those where I knew by the end of the first page I’d love it and I was right. I’m pretty sure I read this in a 24-hour time period.

6. Unless by Carol Shields – I’d read another book by her a few years ago that I’d absolutely HATED, so it surprised me I liked this one so much. This happens to me a lot so I try to be forgiving to writers who make me angry the first time around. Unless the writer’s name happens to be Stephanie Meyer.

7. Countdown by Deborah Wiles – Another case of not knowing a damn thing about the book or writer but it was cheap and looked fun and isn’t that reason enough to do a lot of things? This one served my unending fascination with 1960’s America perfectly and was one of the best dollars I spent this year.

8. Kissing in Manhattan by David Schickler – I’m pretty sure this was fairly popular a few years back and it was one of those once I finally got around to I was pissed at myself for waiting so long to get to it. I’m also a sucker for short story collections and this one was stellar.

9. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King – And speaking of short stories, look who popped up on the list again! Mr. King is the supposed Master of Horror, but I consider him more of the master of the short story/novella situation, master of characterization, master of my world, whatever, and I jumped on this one pretty much as soon as it was released.

10. High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips – I’m a sucker for a good druggie celeb memoir and this did not disappoint. What with all the incest stuff thrown in as well it was like getting two for the price of one except I got it from the library.

And the five books you should avoid at all costs and use the money on a nice coffee instead:

1. Leave the Building Quickly by Cynthia Kaplan – Sometimes the universe conspires to leave me bookless and I start to get a little panicky. This is a very dangerous situation, as it leads to reading more than one book by a writer I never liked before, which is the opposite of my forgiveness rule above. Next time she writes a book I’ll make sure I have plenty of reading material or else I’ll re-read a Stephen King book.

2. Crazy Love by Leslie Steiner – A memoir about a woman in an abusive marriage. What bothered me more than her husband hitting her or calling her by his favorite nickname, “Retard,” was the fact that she fed her dog a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup every day when she took him for a walk, until he died from complications of the chocolate poisoning. As I wrote in my book journal, “I was under the assumption most people, even non-dog owners, knew chocolate is bad for dogs, let alone a Harvard graduate.” I mean, come on.

3. Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock – Sometimes even though a book is a quarter at the thrift store that doesn’t mean I should buy it.

4. The Mistress’s Daughter by A.M. Holmes – Besides fiction I’m pretty sure my most-read genre is the memoir. In fact I’m completely sure it is. And most of the time that means reading amazing life stories by Augusten Burroughs, David Sedaris and even Sarah Silverman (her memoir missed my top ten by only a little). But sometimes it means reading things like this: a whiny, bitchy long-winded complaint about a girl who was adopted by lovely people but spent most of her adult life obsessing over her biological parents who were complete assholes.

5. Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis – This man defies every reading rule I’ve ever imposed on myself. Time after time I go back for more abuse. The only, ONLY book of his I’ve ever felt good about afterwards is Lunar Park and even that left me with a confusion headache. When I reached the end of American Psycho, I literally threw the book across the room and Less Than Zero made me contemplate suicide for a short time. Yet I fell for it again. I guess sometimes even self rules are meant to be broken, but at least I’ve learned to ONLY EVER get his books from the library and MAKE SURE I never incur a late fee.



1. Heather - December 19, 2010

Under the Dome was one of my favorites for this year and also Bite Me by Christopher Moore. Getting to meet Christoper Moore this year was an awesome book geeky thing for me as well.

My least favorite was Wicked: A Tale of Two Schools by Jilly Cooper. (However I LOVED Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Macguire and I don’t even care for anything Wizard of Oz.)

I only keep lists of Stepehen King and Anne Rice books because I have bought double copies of their stuff. And once I got a few chapters into a Rice novel and realized I’d read it before (even with the list). Sheesh!

Thank you for my new Christmas read, Kee-Yim! I can’t wait to finish that “other” book so I can start it. 😀

2. Heather - December 19, 2010

Actually, you’ve given me lots to read this year with your Augusten Burroughs library book sale finds and the Denis Leary (damn I to love him) too!

3. Kim - December 20, 2010

The Denis book almost made my top ten too – I loved it and I love him! I’m just glad you like Augusten and I’m hoping he comes out with something new soon; I miss him. If I ever got to meet him like you did Mr. Moore, I’d vomit in his lap.

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