Sunday, January 6, 2008

2008 Booklist

I love books in every way that it is possible to love books (legally, that is). I love wandering aimlessly in Barnes and Noble, drawn from spine to spine, analyzing titles and covers and back blurbs and inside jackets. I love buying books and carrying them around in my oversized purse - anywhere from one to three at a time. I love sitting (standing is more of a challenge) on the subway reading on the way to and from work, squeezed between two strangers, trying to keep my elbows tight against my sides as I flip the pages. And when I don't have books of my own, I love casually reading over the shoulder of the stranger closest to me, delighting when I discover that theirs is a book I have already read or when I eavesdrop on a particularly juicy passage.

So I find it surprising now, after having compiled my 2008 Booklist, to discover that I have never done this before. Why, if I love reading so much, have I never determined ahead of time what I will be reading next - before?

I believe the reason is that reading has always been a fluid experience for me. Although I try to read only one book at a time (more focus, fewer entangled subplots), I never really know what will strike my fancy next, after the last page has been turned. There are certain genres that I browse the most frequently - fantasy, teen fiction, novels recently adapted to film - but I never really know if I will follow an epic fantasy with a current New York Times Bestseller or wash it down with a nineteenth century classic. My shelves are regularly filled with 30-45 books I haven't read, but as I skim the covers, my fingers itching for inspiration, I'm just as likely to pick up one of those as re-read Harry Potter for the twelfth time and buy half a dozen new books next week.

Despite the problems inherent in making a list of books that are supposed to satisfy me for the next 52 weeks, I've gone ahead and made a list of 50 as a start - about half of which I already own and the rest being titles that have recently struck my fancy.

*Bolded means I actually got through them in '08!

  1. All Things Alice, Linda Sunshine
  2. All Things Oz, Linda Sunshine
  3. The Amber Spyglass, Phillip Pullman
  4. Atonement, Ian Mcewan
  5. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
  6. Belladonna, Anne Bishop
  7. The Black Cauldron, Lloyd Alexander
  8. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  9. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
  10. Emma, Jane Austen
  11. The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom
  12. Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
  13. Gathering Blue, Lois Lowery
  14. A Great and Terrible Beauty, Libba Bray
  15. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J K Rowling
  16. The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler
  17. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke
  18. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
  19. I Am America (And So Can You!), Stephen Colbert
  20. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
  21. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
  22. Lies My Teacher Told Me, James Loewen
  23. Lucky, Alice Sebold
  24. Madeline is Sleeping, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
  25. Minority Report and Other Stories, Philip K Dick
  26. Mirror, Mirror, Gregory Maguire
  27. Naked Pictures of Famous People, Jon Stewart
  28. The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
  29. The Nanny Diaries, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
  30. The Nimrod Flipout, Etgar Keret
  31. No Plot? No Problem, Chris Baty
  32. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
  33. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  34. Rebel Angels, Libba Bray
  35. Redwall, Brian Jacques
  36. Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs
  37. Sebastian, Anne Bishop
  38. Seven Basic Plots, Christopher Booker
  39. She’s Come Undone, Wally Lamb
  40. The Shining, Stephen King
  41. The Subtle Knife, Phillip Pullman
  42. Tangled Webs, Anne Bishop
  43. The Third Witch, Rebecca Reisert
  44. The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield
  45. Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
  46. Why Buffy Matters, Rhonda Wilcox
  47. Wicked: The Grimmerie, David Cote
  48. The Will of the Empress, Tamora Pierce
  49. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
  50. Women and Children First, Francine Prose

I wanted to keep the list at 50, but of course I've already discovered omissions I had intended to include (Paradise Lost, Beowulf - preferably illustrated copies), and what about all of the deliciously wonderful books that aren't in print yet? Woe is me! This list may need to be a fluid one after all.

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