Monday, January 03, 2005

2004 year end summation:

This year I read 112 books and abandoned or postponed 5.
Among that 112 were:
24 non fiction
21 science fiction
21 mystery
7 short story collections
and 1 play

I couldn't decide on just a top 10, so this is a top 15. And because I couldn't decide on ranking after #3, I'm just going to list them alphabetically by title.

1. 25th Hour by David Benioff
I'm not sure if this one should really be on the list. I enjoyed it a lot and I love the movie. But it got the nod because it's well written and interesting and has stuck in my mind longer than other books on my list.

2. 1968 by Mark Kurlansky
This was a powerful book to read this year because there are so many parallels to be drawn between 1968 and 2004. I was both inspired by the passion and conviction of the students of the world and depressed by how little has changed.

3. Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gould
This was the first great book I read this year. I love how it totally transports the reader to the turn of the century vaudeville circuit.

4. The Confusion by Neal Stephenson
I don't know of any other writer who could make the development of the stock exchange and the politics and science swirling around Europe at that time so entertaining and exciting.

5. Feed by M. T. Anderson
This is the only YA novel I included on this list, although there were one or two others that could've been here. I picked this one because of the fascinating glimpses of the future and how eerily right they feel given our present.

6. Ghost Writer by John Harwood
This is my #3 best book of the year. It's so creepy and the short stories included are fantastic. And no other book this year scared the pants off me like this one did.

7. Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart
And this is my #1. It was an easy call, really. I absolutely love Sean Stewart and this is his funniest and best book to date. It's got all the Big Ideas in it - family, self, life, death, love... plus it scared me nearly as much as Ghost Writer.

8. Shape of Snakes by Minette Walters
This one kept me on my toes the whole way through, wondering which character to believe and what was the truth. The ending felt true to the buildup and was at the same time a complete surprise.

9. The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel
This is a beautiful meditation on love, full of big ideas about religion and philosophy. I think I cried all the way through it.

10. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace
I firmly believe DFW is a man who can make anything funny. And when people or events actually are funny, he can make me fall on the floor laughing.

11. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger
This is a glorious love story in the best sense of the word.

12. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
Alan Moore might be the best discovery I made this year.

13. Watchmen by Alan Moore
I had to put both of these on here and as it was I debated about whether I should put From Hell on here instead, but this one won out because I love the alternate history aspect.

14. White Jazz by James Ellroy
Jazz describes it perfectly - the rhythm of the language and the sharp beats of the action. This is a truly great book and my #2 pick of the year.

15. You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett
These are short stories, each of which hit me hard. They are delicate and wrenching and made me regret wasting so many years disliking short stories on principle.

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