Book rundown, 2008

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What is a storyteller to do? Considering that time is limited—she must get to work before too long—she must choose between two compelling stories. There’s only time enough for one.

The first possibility relates to the events of Monday evening. It involves a wildly improbable scenario with unlikely main characters, replete with dramatic tension and thought-provoking plot elements. Profuse literary allusions, multiple plot twists, social and political intrigues, and a cliff-hanger ending contribute to this fast-paced, provocative narrative.

Or I could slog through the list of the books I read last year.

I’m torn, I’m really torn, but my keen instinct for storytelling leads me to intuit that readers would rather have the drudgery of the books from 2008. Am I right? Am I right?

So, to follow-up from the smash-hit Book rundown, 2007, and its predecessor, 67 Hours, I present Book rundown, 2008.

It does not take a mathematical genius like Hypatia of Alexandria (whose biography is annotated in the book I just finished writing) to see that the number of books I read in 2008—eighty-three in all—is less than in previous years, but this is mitigated, slightly, by that fact that I myself wrote a book.

Wrote, as in past tense. The revisions are done, as of twelve minutes ago. Let us never speak of it again.

Total books read, cover-to-cover:

  • 83, including 11 re-reads. Sadly, I had been avoiding re-reads, for the horribly geeky reason that I couldn’t figure out a good way to account for this in my spreadsheet of books read. (Other people keep lists. I keep a spreadsheet.) The pleasures of re-reading were again opened to me, now that I have a work-around.
  • 69 were fiction. 14 were nonfiction.

Books published in 2008:

Something like eleven, I think. I don’t keep track of pub dates.

Total books skimmed, perused, and considered for purposes of inclusion in the book I wrote:

several thousand

Most-read authors:
Bill Willingham (11 titles), Brian Azzarello (11 titles), and Jim Butcher (10 titles). This is what happens when you get hooked on a series.


  • 77 Adult
  • 6 Young Adult
  • 0 Children’s. I feel terrible about this. I’ll totally make up for it in 2009, I promise.

Nonfiction genres:

  • 1 grammar book
  • 6 humor
  • 1 sex manual—as always, a waste of my time. Will I never learn?
  • 1 history of fashion
  • 1 career guide
  • 2 memoirs
  • 2 personal finance
  • 1 photo-essay
  • 1 social science
  • 1 survival guide (The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook)

Fiction genres:

  • 2 literary canon
  • 11 Crime
  • 33 Fantasy
  • 9 Historical
  • 5 Horror
  • 13 Mysteries
  • 2 Literary Fiction
  • 8 romance (Wasn’t my fault. They were genre crossovers.)
  • 5 Science Fiction
  • 5 Suspense/Thriller


  • 26 graphic novels
  • 1 play (see “Annual Russian classic,” below)
  • Annual Russian classic: The Cherry Orchard, by Chekov
  • Books with werewolves, vampires, zombies, and assorted undead: lots

Best and Worst:


  • Best NF: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, by Mary Roach
  • Worst NF: (tie): Smooth Operators, this really lame humor history of men’s fashion by Richard Jarman, and The Elusive Orgasm: A Woman’s Guide to Why She Can’t and How She Can Orgasm, this completely unhelpful book by Vivienne Cass
  • Best Adult Fiction: Watership Down, by Richard Adams (I’m so happy to be re-reading books again!)
  • Worst Adult Fiction: Master of the Delta, by Thomas H. Cook. What, was I supposed to be scared when I read this?
  • Best YA Fiction: The Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer
  • Worst YA Fiction: The Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer
  • Best Graphic Novel: (tie): Bill Willingham’s Fables and Brian Azzarello’s 100 Bullets
  • Worst Graphic Novel: Fullmetal Alchemist 1, by Hiromu Arakawa

16 responses »

  1. The slightly older other Jessica

    Congrats on getting it really done!Now I really need to read Jim Butcher. Third rec for that series this month.

  2. the lesbrarian

    Jessica-who-is-not-me:Jim Butcher is not what you might call profound, but he’s awfully enjoyable. Read the series in order, and try not to be discouraged by the sophomoric writing. Butcher gets better as the series progresses. By the third book I was hooked.

  3. Hey…I kinda like Fullmetal Alchemist…And oh…I love Jim Butcher’s Codex series!

  4. the lesbrarian

    Yes, but you know how I am about manga.I’ve been meaning to get around to Butcher’s Codex books. Once I get my brain un-fried, I’ll give them a try.

  5. eleemosenary archvist

    messed up enterpost;Ya look more relaxed.Good.Provide 30 day notice pls on destruction of Universe.want to bathe beforehand:"Cast a Giant Shadow" recommended David Marcus bio for midEast backgrounder. His own correspondence at Yad Vashem,Berlin and at special collections West Point mightly interestin.Thayer Hotel up there fine spot for overnighting whilst archiving one’s days away."a soldier for all humanity" reads his marker on a last small plot of real estate he’Occupies’ Great kid from it & weep.out-4-now.tgb/EA

  6. the lesbrarian

    E.A.: When I start pacing the street corner while sporting my "The End Is Nigh!" sandwich board, you’ll want to take that bath.This David Marcus fella sounds intriguing. And I think you might like Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia. It’s about a woman who helped shaped the boundaries of the Middle East in the early twentieth century. And then try Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark, about a woman diplomat who argued against the creation of Israel. Actually, you’ve probably already read it. Hmm.

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