Top Ten Twelve of 2004

I was putting together my top ten list, and had a really hard time cutting it down to ten. I already left out several other very good books, but I tried to get a few from various different genres. If I tried to put these twelve in order, I probably won't get these posted by the end of the year. So, here they are, in no particular order:

First, two "complete" cartoon collections: The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson and The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker edited by Robert Mankoff. The Far Side, of course, is brilliant, and the experience of reading the entire run of comics is not to be missed. New Yorker cartoons are not for everyone, I admit, but it does offer an interesting snapshot of the New Yorker's view of the world through the decades. It's a bit more variety than the Far Side collection, and with the two CDs containing every New Yorker cartoon ever published, it's a massive collection.
In the graphic novels category, Kingdom Come by Mark Waid & Alex Ross takes the prize for showing that superhero comics don't have to be cartoony, and for introducing a new dimension to comics art.
I also read several excellent novels this year, but cut my list to three: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, an imagined exploration of the heady beginnings of superhero comics intertwined with World War II; Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, also a story of war, but told in three intertwined strands of narration; and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, a modern Greek opera about an unlikely protagonist.
I had a number of non-fiction books as well, so here's a selection of varying sorts. 1421: the Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies is of questionable historical accuracy. However, if true it's a completely different look at the history of world exploration, and even if not, the parts that could be verified still provide an eye-opening picture of Chinese technological advances.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson spins a chilling tale of America's first known serial killer who operated a hotel-turned-murder-factory during Chicago's world fair.
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell isn't a new book, but I finally got around to it this year. It explains how trends catch on, and is filled with illustrative examples and fascinating anecdotes.
Last on the non-fiction list is Going Nucular by Geoff Nunberg, a collection of essays examining our society from a linguist's point of view. Sharp, witty, and often hilarious.
The best children's book this year was Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, a book about reading (one of my favorite topics). It's a world where characters from books come to life, with dastardly consequences.
And, rounding out the list, a science fiction book, Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card. It's a parallel book to one of my favorites, Ender's Game, telling essentially the same story but centering on a different character. It's the first of its type I've read, and works quite well, giving a different tone to many familiar scenes.

Well, that's my list. Here's to another year of great books!

Fed to jonathan's brain | December 31, 2004 | Comments (0)


Post a comment

Remember Me?