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WHAT WE  READ IN 2001

 

TITLE

AUTHOR

COMMENTS

Molto Agitato

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Johanna Fiedler

If your taste in opera runs to the Three Tenors, you'll like this book.  If you're more serious about opera, you'll love it.  If you hate opera, you'll loathe it. (12/01)

Getting a Life

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Helen Simpson

Having a successful career while being a mother to small children is hard.  There, I've saved you from reading this collection of over-praised short stories from England.  Nice cover, though. (11/01)

Bruce Chatwin

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Nicholas Shakespeare

Everything you wanted to know about the author of In Patagonia and more.  Much more - 618 pages.  (11/01)

A Cold Case

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Phillip Gourevitch

Interesting true story about a detective finding a murderer in a 27-year old case.  Kind of a rip-off as it can be read in one sitting.  See if you can borrow a copy. (11/01)

Word Freak

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Stefan Fatsis

A Wall Street Journal reporter takes a year off to become a Scrabble expert.  He learns the game and meets some unforgettable characters.  These people are nuttier than bridge players.  (10/01)

Words and Rules

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Steven  Pinker

You might think that 348 pages on how to form the past tense in English is excessive, but this moves along nicely.  For language freaks only.  (9/01)

White Teeth

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Zadie Smith

An impressive first novel from the UK.  It is the story of two families - the Jones' and the Iqbals - whose histories are intertwined over sixty years.  Well-written and entertaining. (9/01)

Hotel Honolulu

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Paul Theroux

This novel is really eighty connected entertaining short stories, in which the author displays an impressive understanding of contemporary Hawaii culture.  The mix of real and fictitious characters is seamless. (8/01) 

Up in the Air

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Walter Kirin

Our protagonist is a man on a mission - to accumulate one million frequent flyer miles on one airline before he loses his job.  Anyone who has spent time in the air will find a lot of familiar situations here.  A definite Dilbert's-eye view of corporate America. (8/01)

Seek - Reports from the Edges of American and Beyond

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Dennis Johnson

From meeting with born-again bikers in Montana to tracking down the President of Liberia, these stories are fascinating.  All the writing is first rate, with the stories of his adventures in West Africa unforgettable.  (7/01)

The Death of Vishnu

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Manil Suri

Is Vishnu a man or a god?  He appears to be nothing more than a drunk sleeping on the first floor landing of a somewhat seedy apartment building in Bombay, but at least one resident believes otherwise.  This first novel by a math professor at the University of Maryland is a bit esoteric, but I just ignored the references I didn't get and still found it worthwhile reading. (7/01)

Death in Holy Orders

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P. D. James

Another winner from the great English mystery writer.  One warning - bring your dictionary.  Unless words like anodyne, aspidistra, jule, jerkin and alb are in your lexicon (they're not in mine), you'll need a little help. (7/01)

Bobos in Paradise

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David Brooks

The first half of this book is great.  You will learn why everyone you know has an SUV, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, and can be often spotted at Starbuck's.  The second half of the book is a waste of time, but you can get the hardcover at Amazon for $5, so what the heck. (6/01)

The Interpreter of Maladies

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Jhumpa Lahiri

An excellent collection of short stories by a first time author.  The experience of assimilating first and second generation Americans of Indian descent is brought into sharp focus.  Everyone I know who has read this book has liked it. (6/01)

In Harm's Way

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Doug Stanton

The story of the sinking of the Indianapolis is told through the collective memories of it's survivors.  The description of the men in the water under attack by sharks is truly gut-wrenching.  Well-researched and well-written, this book is hard to put down. (6/01)

Strip Squeezes

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Hugh Kelsey

This book was not inspired by HBO's G-String Divas as you might guess from the title.  If you are a bridge enthusiast, this one might help you pick up a trick every thousand hands or so. (5/01)

The Blind Assassin

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Margaret Atwood

Time magazine called this the best book of 2000, and I would not disagree.  It is a story within a story within a story.  The best story is the story, but the story within the story within the story is better than the story within the story which is a science fiction kind of thing.  Its a little confusing but well worth your time. (2/01)

The Constant Gardener

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John Le Carre

Not Le Carre's best effort, but even his weaker books are better than 99% of anything else you might read.  The only problem with this one is that the bad guys are too evil and the good guys too pure of heart.  Despite the shortcomings, the writing is so good, you won't want it to end. (4/01)

The New New Thing

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Michael Lewis

This book was written before the dot.com collapse, but reading it will give you a good insight as to why it did.  It is the story of Jim Clark, founder of Netscape and various other new age companies.  You've never met anyone quite like him.  Although he shuns publicity, he gave the author sufficient access to allow him to put together a fascinating story. (3/01)

Time to be in Earnest

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P. D. James

Dead boring.  It is hard to believe that someone who writes such outstanding novels could have assembled this dry, uninteresting autobiography. (3/01)

In Patagonia

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Bruce Chatwin

This has been called the best travel book ever written.  The author traipses around southern South America on the trail of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  The situations and characters he encounters along the way are unique.  Chatwin's unusual life and death have made him a true cult figure. (1/01)

Roads

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Larry McMurtry

Another example of a good novelist who should not try other forms.  This attempted travelogue never gets going.  The only thing I remember from the book is that people from Arkansas tend to drive in the left lane on two lane highways.  After that blockbuster observation, it's all downhill. (1/01)

 

Books 2002

Books 2003