Tuesday, December 19, 2006

List 2 of 2006 - The Books

2006 was more productive than other years in terms of book reading. In addition to Harry Potter V and VI, I read Fast Food Nation, a few Eugene O'Neill plays, A Scanner Darkly and What's the Matter With Kansas? But since this list pertains to the books of 2006, here's my top - based ENTIRELY on what I read - not books I haven't read but think they should be at the top of the 'best of' list (see Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, Douglas Brinkley's The Great Deluge and Richard Ford's The Lay of the Land) ...

4. jPod - Douglas Coupland
As a summer diversion while recovering from surgery, it did the trick. But then I picked up Microserfs, and it paled in comparison in terms of both heart and craft. Still, for bubblegum, you could hardly do worse. And hell, who doesn't get an ego boost when they can say they blew through 50 pages in less than two minutes? (the notorious reprinting of the strands of Pi)

3. Cobra II - Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor
Oh Jesus, this was an exhaustive read. Tons of military alphabet soup going on. But I would also say that this was one of the most balanced books you will probably ever read about Iraq War II.
2. The Quitter - Harvey Pekar
Stunningly illustrated by Dean Haspiel, Harvey Pekar's "story of my life" captured unplaced teen angst/anger/class resentment in just a few panels what other books may take chapters to accomplish. Pekar's love of jazz comes through this book and the love is infectious. I dare anyone who reads this book to restrain themselves from wanting to spin a few John Coltrane albums while buzzing through this quick, but sharply-written read.

1. Everyman - Philip Roth
Short - yes. But Philip Roth doesn't waste a word, detailing the slow decline of an everyman. His usual muses of sex, religion and family are all there. His The Plot Against America may have overshadowed this one, but for anyone wanting to get a sample of Roth's genius, give Everyman a quick three-day read.

"Small Stakes" - Spoon *****
"You've Been a Friend" - The Jesus and Mary Chain ***
"Blowin' in the Wind (live)" - Bob Dylan ***
"Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" - The Mars Volta ***
"Back in the Village" - Iron Maiden *** (up the Irons!)
"Iron Of it All" - The Streets *****
"Wish I Could" - The Jesus and Mary Chain ****
"Time For Livin'" - The Beastie Boys ****
"All For Swinging You Around" - The New Pornographers *****
"Is it Live" - Run D.M.C. ****
"Misti Blu" - Amillonsons **
"Clang Boom Steam" - Tom Waits ***
"Modern Girl" - Sleater-Kinney *****
"9th & Hennepin" - Tom Waits ****
"Bigmouth Strikes Again" - The Smiths ****
"Underwear" - The Magnetic Fields *****
"When Your Number Isn't Up" - Mark Lanegan ***
"The Union Forever" - The White Stripes ****
"I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" - Prince *****



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