Friday, January 16, 2009

Review of Books - 2008

Due to sudoku and Battlestar Galactica obsessions, I only read thirty books in 2008. The quality of the books was good, I'm happy to report.

In terms of non-fiction, two books stand out:

  • Omnivore's Dilemma - Michael Pollan - This book makes me want to grow all my food. Fascinating insight into the food industry and how much corn we eat with every bite.

  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience - Carl Sagan - This is a collection of lectures that Sagan gave on natural theology, to understand god without invoking the miraculous. A wonderful book, reminding me of all the reasons why astronomers were snapping up these Sagan posters at AAS last week.

    The generation of astronomers who belittled Sagan as a "popularizer" is being replaced by those of us astronomers who exist because of him. He is still so missed.

Two of my favorite books of the year are debut novels by good folks I'm happy to know:

  • The Magic Thief - Sarah Prineas - Aimed at middle-grade readers, this story is engaging and fun. A warning, though - do not read while hungry, or you'll end up making the biscuit recipe in the back of the book, just like I did. Yum!

  • Superpowers - David Schwartz - College kids develop superpowers and deal with the consequences. This book manages to be both fun and poignant.

I have a few more books to recommend:

  • Life As We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer - This book is aimed at a YA audience, and it's all about the end of the world. I appreciated that the author managed to pull off a satisfying ending, well within the scope of the protagonist.
  • The Necessary Beggar and Shelter - Susan Palwick - These two unrelated books are engaging and possess deep emotional power. The first is more magical, the second is more science fictional... they've both helped Palwick become a must-read author for me. More books, please!

  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves - M.T. Anderson - The language of this book is so luxurious I just wanna roll around naked in it. Not an appropriate response to what is supposedly a YA book, I know, but the word-for-word prose is just stunning. Anderson has crafted an amazing look at the plight of slaves during the Revolutionary War, and there is as much, if not more, there for adults to read, just like all of Anderson's books.

Happy reading in 2009! (Doh, new BSG is on in two hours!)


Sarah Prineas said...

Aw, thanks.

The corn thing is amazing. My kids are militant vegetarians, as you know, and they also look on labels for corn syrup and think it's "evil." It really is! We don't have a microwave just so we won't eat too much processed food, 'cos it really is in everything.

Dr. Lisa said...

Corn syrup is evil, but I rank artificial sweeteners even lower. Your kids are awesome!