The OF Blog: 2006 Reads: August-October

Friday, December 22, 2006

2006 Reads: August-October

Since it's been way too long since I've updated this, there won't be much more than a Recommended/Not Recommended comment for most of these. Sorry about that - I'll try harder in 2007 to have blurbs written for each and every book. But starting with my notes for August, here are the books read since then, in order:

67. José Saramago, Todos los Nombres - It's freakin' Saramago and if you don't my admiration for his stories by now...Most Highly Recommended.

68. Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five - Re-read from my grad school days a decade ago. It somehow managed to improve with age. Most Highly Recommended.

69. Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea - As big of a fan of Hemingway's that I am, somehow I managed to avoid reading this until now. My loss then and my gain now. Of course, Most Highly Recommended.

70. Umberto Eco, Il Pendolo di Foucault - As much as I enjoyed reading this in English translation, it was a nice challenge to attempt to read it in Italian (first book read in that language for me). It had a different magic to it and my familiarity with the translation helped me through the rough patches. Most Highly Recommended (in your native language, if you aren't fluent in Italian).

71. Robert Jordan, Crossroads of Twilight - I read this book almost solely to do a MST-3000 treatment to it. If you think I'm going to recommend this book...Not Recommended.

72. Ernesto Sabato, Sobre héroes y tumbas - Re-read from late 2004. Very moving story, one that I enjoyed greatly. Highly Recommended for those who read Spanish (or just search for it in translation, as it has been translated).

73. Subcommandante Marcos, La historia de las colores - Only in Mexico could a guerrilla leader write a children's book based on Chiapas-region mythology and have it be a decent read. Recommended for those who like children's stories. Bilingual edition.

74. John Lukacs, The Hitler of History - As a general rule of thumb, I have avoided reading non-fiction (and especially that of the Hitler era) after my grad school burnout on academic histories almost a decade ago. This is a historiographical look at how Hitler research has evolved over the past 50 years. Lukacs does a fine job here, but this isn't a book for the casual history buff, but instead a nice primer for majors and those beginning an in-depth exploration of the National Socialist era. Recommended for those "experts" and lukewarm rec for the informed history buff.

75. Jorge Volpi, En busca de Klingsor - Re-read from late 2004. Very enjoyable thriller-type novel about the search for this mysterious advisor to Hitler named Klingsor. Has been translated into English and other languages. Highly recommended.

76. Rumi, The Essential Rumi - Nice intro to the works of the medieval Sufi poet, Rumi. The translations are adequate, but I wished for more. Lukewarm rec for those who enjoy mystical poetry, but with the caveat that a more complete edition would be better.

77. Alejandro Dolina, Crónicas del Ángel Gris - Re-read from August 2005. Very enjoyable collection of short stories that make the Flores neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina a mysterious and fascinating world. Highly recommended for those fluent in Spanish, but unfortunately there are no known translations into other languages.

78. José Saramago, Ensayo sobre la ceguera - Re-read from 2004. See above comment about Saramago. Most Highly Recommended.

79. Alberto Fuguet, Mala Onda - Re-read from March 2004. While this work (available in English as Bad Vibes) might ultimately fail to match the overall power of Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (to which this book has often been compared), it comes mighty damn close, plus it shows disillusioned Chilean life under Pinochet. Highly Recommended.

80. Carlos Ruiz Zafón, La sombra del viento - Re-read from July 2005. A story set in post-WWII Barcelona around a book, a mysterious author, and a lurking figure who seems set to burn all the remaining copies of this obscure novel...while something else is happening beneath the surface. Very well-written story. Most Highly Recommended.

81. Edmundo Paz Soldán, Sueños digitales - Interesting story about the manipulation of images to bolster a South American president's status. Recommended for those fluent in Spanish, no known English translation.

82. José Saramago, Ensayo sobre la lucídez - Again, it's Saramago. One of my most favorite reads of 2006, now available in English as Seeing. Most Highly Recommended.

83. Alberto Fuguet, Las películas de mi vida - Interesting concept of telling how one's life developed and spanned over two continents and countries via the connection between contemporary movies and the events in one's life. Available in English as The Movies of my Life. Highly Recommended.

84. Harry Mulisch, The Discovery of Heaven - While it was certainly thought-provoking, ultimately I found it to be too drab and cynical for even my tastes, although I recognize that many others would enjoy it. Lukewarm Recommendation.

85. Alejo Carpentier, El siglo de las luces - Historical novel about a Frenchman, Victor Hugues, in the Caribbean during the 1790s and his role in spreading the ideals of the French Revolution among the ancien regime's strongholds in the Caribbean. Highly Recommended for Spanish readers, as I do not know of any translation, which is a shame.

86. Gabriel García Márquez, Del amor y otros demonios - Re-read from August 2005. While not as well-known as Cien años de soledad or El amor en los tiempos de cólera, this novel about love and cultural differences (and much, much else) set in colonial New Granada (Colombia) is quite powerful in its own right. Highly Recommended, available in English as Of Love and Other Demons.

87. Gabriel García Márquez, Crónica de una muerte anunciada - This account of the "honor killing" of a young man is extremely moving. Highly Recommended, also available in English as Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

88. Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciónes (Spanish) - As I've said with Saramago, I'll say here with Borges. It's Borges, enough said. Most Highly Recommended.

89. Milorad Pavić, Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel - Wow, just wow. The concepts and the execution here were superb. Most Highly Recommended.

90. Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Vista del amanecer en el trópico - A fictionalized "history" of Cuba as told in very short but powerful vignettes. Highly Recommended.


In the next week or so, I'll have the November-December entries done, likely around the 31st. Hope some of these books sparks curiosity on your part, as it's usually some form of communication between people that lead to book borrowings/purchases.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

and i thought i read a lot. a great list. think i will try to tackle a few of the ones i had never heard of.

Add to Technorati Favorites