I’m Biz and I’ll be submitting book reviews on a fairly regular basis on tdaxp. These won’t all be new books, just books that I happen to read and enjoy. I’m making this first post on tdaxp my year in review for the best books I read in 2005.
10. Amber & Ashes – Margaret Weis
This book isn’t what I normally read, but I couldn’t help but like it. I loved the Dragonlance series when I was younger and this book made me want to get back into the series again. It helps that it was written by Margaret Weis, one of the three Dragonlance authors that doesn’t just write random weird crap.
9. The Best Recipes in the World – Mark Bittman
This was the best cookbook that I read all year. As the title states, these are the best recipes from all over the world in a form that makes them accessible. It mainly focuses on Italian and Asian cuisines, with a bit of French thrown in for good measure. Lots of helpful sections on varients of cooking methods that are aided by a world perspective.
8. The Agony and the Ecstasy – Irving Stone
I read this at the beginning of the year and although it was a bit of a struggle, I’m very happy that I got through it. The movie starring Charlton Heston and Rex Morgan didn’t do this book any justice. This is a biographical novel of the artist Michelangelo, fictionalized but still exhaustively researched. The rich world of the 15th century portrayed by the author also helped me understand the Medici family that I had seen referenced in other texts. I really enjoyed this book.
7. Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home – Rupert Sheldrake
A camera crew recorded a dog that had a proclivity for waiting for his owner going about his daily business of scratching and sleeping and at the same time they had a seperate camera crew following his owner. At a random time it was communicated to the owner by a third party that it was time to go home. At the exact moment she was told this, the dog perked up his ears and went to wait for her in his usual place at the window. No one in the home with the dog had any way of knowing when the owner was coming home. This story is only the beginning of a great book about the animals we share our lives with.
6. Made in America – Bill Bryson
An Informal History of the English Language in the United States
I read a lot of Brysons work this summer and this was the best. As a lover of books, I’m also a lover of language and this gives a history of the English language as it evolved in the United States. This side of the Atlantic has contributed more than “asshat” and “light skinded” to the way we speak.
5. Global Brain – Howard Bloom
The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
Blooms followup to The Lucifer Principle is just as insightful. Howard Bloom has to be the hardest working writer in the science field. All of his books are researched like crazy. The bibliography of this book was about 40 pages long and filled with journals and books in several different languages. The thesis in this book is that the idea of a global culture isn’t new, but something that has been in the works since the dawn of time. Excellent stuff.
4. 1491 : New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus – Charles C. Mann
In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety One the Indians had lots of fun, In Hundred and Ninety Two Columbus gave them smallpox flu. This unexpected history of the Americas before Columbus uses archaeological, biological, and linguistics evidence to support theories that have never been previously collected. I love this type of book.
3. A Feast For Crows – George RR Martin
I love epic fantasy books. If it weren’t for this series I would be saying that I used to love them. The epic fantasy genre is big business. All you have to do is hook people on the first book and you’ve hooked them for life. Jordan, Goodkind, and Martin are the giants of this genre and only with Martin do I enjoy the series more and more with every book. This book is actually half of what was intended to be the 4th volume. The final draft of Crows was 1800 pages in length, so it was issued as two volumes, with the second to be released in 2006. I can’t wait.
2. Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
In keeping this short, this book is everything tdaxp says it is. It is the smartest book that I’ve read in a very long time.
1. Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maugham
This book was first published in 1915 and I think it is the “On the Road” of its time. It’s simply about a man coming of age in the late 1800s and realizing that he doesn’t have to grow up to be a rich asshole like all of the other ‘gentlemen’ of his time. The protaganist is very easy to identify with, and I liked him immediately, despite his faults, of which there are many. This writer also wrote “The Razors Edge” which was made into the best Bill Murray movie ever. Maybe it’s the fact that I live with a bohemian hippie chick, but I love this stuff.