It's that time of the year, when poinsettias bloom and a thousand bright rays come forth.
It's also the time for bests of - best films of the year, best songs, best albums, best soundtracks, best books, even the best sex lines (or worst sex lines) in novels.
Joining the fray and for whatever it's worth (yeah, I know, nobody's asking), here are the books that I liked this year, not necessarily new 2019 books, but books from here and there, old and new, fiction but mostly non-fiction (take that, John Waters, for offending the pup).
Dog Soldiers - Robert Stone
The only fiction I read, but a damn good one. A 70s novel, chronicling a Vietnam vet's descent into a world of chaos after a simple drug deal. Gritty, scary and full of nifty dialogue, a great read to wipe away the bad taste of a day gone wrong - worse things can happen to a guy, and you can read it here.
The Din In The Head - Cynthia Ozick
The language is superb, languorous, and elegant. Why did I took so long to read this book of essays. Ozick writes about the young Tolstoy, Updike, Bellow, Sylvia Plath, the Jewish writer, a dissertation on Robert Alter's literary translation of the Pentateuch, and a delicious fictional interview with Henry James. Read it if you value good writing.
By The Sword - Robert Cohen
A magisterial history of swords and sword making and gladiators and duellists and musketeers and fencers and samurais and swashbucklers. Very learned and entertaining. (Cohen is an actual British Olympic fencer). Found this book secondhand in a dim upstairs store in Hong Kong a long time ago, and it has languished like an outdated samurai sword in my shelves since then. Glad to finally read this gem this year.
Reelin' In The Years - Mark Radcliffe
This British DJ's memoir reads like a chronicle and timeline of the entire rock era - from doowop to rock to punk to disco to new wave, etc. From Cliff Richards to Elvis to Chubby Checker, to Led Zep to The Ramones to Pulp to Radiohead and so forth. It is funny, serious, and authoritative. Each chapter is a year of the author's life, with a favorite song from that year. And it is sprinkled with tidbits that only a music insider knows, like, say, did you know that Axl Rose is not Axl Rose's real name but is an anagram of Oral Sex? Things like those.
Vitamania - Catherine Price
The Secret Life of Fat - Sylvia Tara
I'm a sucker for health books and anything related to nutrition and fads and diets and the science behind them. Vitamania is the history of how vitamins were discovered and how they revolutionized the food industry. The Secret Life is about the science of fat and why they stay and how. I learned many things here.
Days Of Rage - Bryan Burrough
There was a time, in the 70s, that America looked like Beirut or Baghdad, with almost daily bombings, demonstrations, race riots, scary cities - real turmoil unimaginable now. This is the history of that period, the history of all the radical groups that sprouted then in the wake of Vietnam and general political malaise. A very nice read - gripping and total. I was familiar with some of the events, and this book seemed like a tour that took me back to all those headlines of a long time ago. Nostalgic.
My Life With Bob - Pamela Paul
Bob is actually the Book of Books, and this is what Pamela Paul has done - compiled and written down in a journal every single book she has read since her teens - where she read it, when, any significant event during that reading, and so on. I should also have done that, but I did not have that solid vision she had. A quirky book that appeals only to booklovers, so I loved it.
Edited by bods1000, 20 December 2019 - 10:59 PM.