Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Year In Review- Fiction and Non-Fiction

Here's a recount of my reviews from books I finished in 2008. Each section is listed from my favourite to my least favourite.

The Fiction

1. Mikhail Bulgakov- The Master and Margarita

2. Vladimir Nabokov- Lolita

3. Steve Zipp- Yellowknife

4. Paul Quarrington- King Leary

5. Elizabeth Hay- Late Nights On Air

6. Ian McEwan- Saturday

7. Rudy Wiebe- The Temptations of Big Bear

8. Anthony De Sa- Barnacle Love

9. J. N. Williamson (editor)- Dark Masques

10. Lawrence Block- Hit Parade

11. Douglas Gosse- Jackytar

12. Sarah Smith- Chasing Shakespeares

13. Saul Bellow- A Theft

14. Pierre Berton- The Secret World of Og

15. William Gay- Twilight

16. Harold Horwood- White Eskimo

17. Ivan Turgenev- A Sportsman's Notebook

18. Patricia MacClachlan- Sarah, Plain and Tall

19. Arthur Moyer- What's Remembered

20. Louisa May Alcott- A Long Fatal Love Chase

21. Ami McKay- The Birth House

Interesting that my two favourites from this year are Russian titles (though Turgenev didn't fare so well). It was hard to choose between the two, but I settled on the Bulgakov book since it has less of an "ick" factor. The better ones on this list struck a balance between well-written and entertaining.

The Non-Fiction

1. Azar Nafisi- Reading Lolita in Tehran

2. David Damas- Arctic Migrants/ Arctic Villagers

3. Jessica Mitford- The American Way of Death Revisited

4. Philip S. Foner- The Case of Joe Hill

5. Patrick J. Finn- Literacy With An Attitude

6. Dean Hill & Fred Thompson- Joe Hill: IWW Songwriter

7. Pierre Berton- The National Dream

8. Don McTavish- Big Rig

9. Chris Robertson- To The Top Canada

10. M.L.R. Smith- Fighting For Ireland?

What were your favourite fiction and non-fiction titles that you read this year?

As you can tell, I'm not exactly great on keeping up with newly released titles, but I'll get to the 2008 books. It might be in 2011, but I'll get to them.

And there you have it: my final review post of the year. I won't bother listing the handful of picture books, Bible books, and Shakespeare plays that I read this year-- I've been coasting enough with these posts as it is.

All in all, I'm happy with the reading I've done this year. I'd say the good outweighed the bad. Next year I'd like to read more graphic novels, more plays, and revisit some authors I haven't read in a while. Otherwise, I'll continue on. Happy reading in 2009!


Melwyk said...

Interesting to see that Bulgakov is at the top of the list! I've just posted my list as well, but since I never actually finished M&M I didn't feel I could put it on my list... but I mean to finish those last 2 or 3 chapters in 09...

Happy reading in 09!

Dale said...

That's quite a list! I got Anthony De Sa's Barnacle Love for Christmas and am looking forward to reading it. I enjoyed your review.

I'm all about graphic novels right now myself and just finished "Black Hole" which was really intriguing and Maus 1 & 2 which was fascinating and heartbreaking. It's been a pleasure learning to read (and look) all over again while I laze around.

Sherrie said...

Hi John,
I have finished another book from list for the 2nd Canadian Reading Challenge. A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton. You can see my thoughts here:
Have a great New Year!!


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Please Kill Me was probably my favourite non-fiction book this year. I still haven't picked my favourite fiction book yet.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,

The only book on your list that I have read is Chris Robinson's "To The Top Canada" ... which as an avid reader of true-life adventure stuff, I found to be a decent book, but not "great" ... another bicycle journey by a Canadian which is a much more interesting read is; Brady Fotheringham's journey from India to Beijing via Pakistan and Afghanistan during the height of Taliban rule in the late 1990's ... title of book escapes me at the moment (and I don't have it in front of me!)
Other good non-fiction books that I've read in '08 are;
"Under and Alone" by William Queen. Authors account of his undercover assignment for the ATF as a member of the Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang.
"The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman. A hypothetical examination of what would happen to the world if human beings just suddenly "disappeared" ... right from the moment of our disappearence to several thousand years afterward. Fascinating and sobering reading.
"Wild Swans" by Jung Chang. Authors memoirs of 3 generations of Chinese women during the Mao era ... from her grandmothers time as a young idealistic communist in the 1930's to Changs time as a Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution of the 60's and her eventual emmigration to England in the 1980's


Remi said...

A Canuck triumvirate took the cake for me:

Coupland's The Gum Thief, Toews' The Flying Troutmans and Pyper's The Killing Circle.

Honorable mention to Young's The Torontonians.

John Mutford said...

Melanie: Looking forward to your thoughts on M&M.

Dale: Maus is on my horizons hopefully. I'll keep an eye out for Black Hole, too.

Splummer: Have a great New Year, too!

Barbara: I haven't read that one, but looking forward to it.

Perry: My masterful Google skills tells me it's probably On the Trail of Marco Polo. Sounds right up my alley! I've heard of the Weisman book you mentioned. Definitely sounds intriguing.

Remi: I'm skeptical on the Toews books, but will probably give the others a shot.

Kate said...

Fiction: Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden (just finished it, as I work my way through the Giller shortlist)

Non-Fiction: An Imperfect Offering by James Orbinski (difficult subject matter, but brilliantly written - I just gave a copy of it to my father for Christmas and have been recommending it to everyone I meet)