13.12.05

My Year End List

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile. This is my contribution to the year end list madness. My 12 favorite books published this year.

No. 1: The Fate of Africa by Martin Meredith

By far the best book I read this year. It's a one volume history of Africa in the post-colonial era.

No. 2: Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs

Jacobs wrote the Death and Life of Great American Cities back in the 60's. She's still awesome. This book covers a lot of ground and focuses on cities, culture and development and the direction that North America (she's an adopted Canadian) is taking.

No. 3: 1491 by Charles C. Mann

This is a really fascinating book about the Indian cultures in the Americas before Columbus. He focuses on the urban cultures and does a great job forcing you to compare 15th century Indians to 15th century Europeans (I think we have a tendency to compare 15th century Indians to 19th century European/Americans).

No. 4: Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto

I read this right before a trip to New York this year. When you hear about colonial history in the states it's always Jamestown and New England, this book gives a you a good idea of the Dutch contribution to the United States.

No. 5: Extremely Load and incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

I don't read much fiction, so I'm probably not the best judge, but this was my favorite novel.

No. 6: Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland

And my second favorite novel. Douglas Coupland is one of the few authors where I get really excited when I see he has a new book. He knows what's going on in people's minds to a degree that amazes me.

No. 7: Up from Zero by Paul Goldberger

If you've ever wondered how the whole development (politicians, public, planners, architects, developers) process works this is a great book.

No. 8: Genghis Khan by Jack Weatherford

Weatherford teaches at Concordia in Minnesota. I met him once when I was working at the Borders in Richfield. Nice guy. It's also a good book. I love learning non-euro-centric history, especially how it relates to the development of the western world.

No. 9: Ghost Wars by Steve Coll

This was the Pulitzer Prize winner this year. It's a great read. Not a happy ending though.

No. 10: A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby is another author I'm always happy to see a new book from. This isn't his best (I like How to Be Good the most) but it's still better then pretty much everybody else.

No. 11: Children at War by P.W. Singer

This is a hard one to read, but I think it's a really important book. There have been a lot of changes to the way wars are fought in the past twenty years that a lot of the developed countries have yet to come to terms with.

No. 12: Resistance by Barry Lopez

This one is fiction too. It's a series of short stories and letters from a group of expatriate artists who are forced to go underground after an all powerful "Dept. of Homeland safety" declares them unamerican and bans their work. Really it's a look at the maxim "The Personal is the Political" and how identity is shaped by the mundane. There is a part in there about the difference between innocence and ignorance that I just love.

4 comments:

Driver2165 11:16 AM  

I did not like that Hornby at all. The Foer was awesome, though. That's all I read from your list :(

onetenchelsea 6:20 PM  

You didn't like it that much? I mean, it wasn't his best, but I enjoyed it.

I think you'd really like the Jane Jacobs book. And if you haven't read The Death and Life of Great American Cities, you really should. I'm sure you'd love it.

Wasp Jerky 3:28 PM  

And suddenly I have a lot of books to add to my must read list.

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