28 December 2008

favorites books of 2008

i read things much later than they are released... so only one of these is actually a 2008 book. but these are my top six of the fifty-five i read this year. not too shabby a number for two months on a bike, i don't think. i'd recommend any of these books hands-down.

1. everything is illuminated, jonathan safran foer
2. the old man and the sea, ernest hemingway
3. the namesake, jhumpa lahiri

1. the omnivore's dilemma, michael pollan
2. common wealth, jeffrey sachs (2008)
3. ghost map, stephen johnson

got a favorite from this year? i'd love to have a recommendation to start off 2009 right. just as soon as i finish off the three i'm in the midst of at the moment, of course... :)

happy reading!

25 December 2008

merry christmas!

hope you all have a fantastic holiday.

to come sometime this week, a list of my favorite reads of 2008, and hopefully some actual progress in my knitting works-in-progress.

oh, and renewed attention to my marathon training, to begin compensating for the obscenity of this week's diet. holidays, it was nice but please take your sugar and go away. thanks.

18 December 2008

a spot of bother - mark haddon

a spot of bother || mark haddon || 4.0/5.0 stars

i was quite surprised by this book! i really enjoyed his popular curious incident of a dog in the nighttime, but knew that a book like that can't be duplicated. a was a bit nervous, therefore, trying on a spot of bother. i was certainly rewarded!

its a wonderfully british book (and if you're an audio reader, like me, you'll appreciate a fantastic narration). the book is incredibly sad at points, wildly funny, and in general very enjoyable.

the story follows george, an elderly man, as he goes through a bit of a mental breakdown, and the rest of his family. all the characters are experiencing a bit of a life changing moment, and haddon adds depth by describing the same interactions from different points of view.

one of the best straight-up novels i've read in a while. definitely worth a look!

11 December 2008

david mitchell - cloud atlas

cloud atlas || david mitchell || 5.0/5.0 stars

i absolutely loved this book. so much, that i'll just leave you with a quote from the new york times, and a few of the quotes from the book that i wrote down as favorites.

from the new york times review on the back of the book:

So let it be said that Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel's every page.

granted, that leaves out the reviewer's reasonable complaints about some aspects of the book, but i think is a good description of the author overall.

some of my favorite quotes:

1. i knew not the answer, nor whence flew the surety of my younger years.
2. yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?
3. a half-finished book is a half-finished love affiar.
4. fantasy. lunacy. all revolutions are, until they happen, and then they are historical inevitabilities.

maybe i'm just a sucker for well-written prose. the six stories in the book cover six very different styles and command of the english language. i loved them all.

07 December 2008

do they know they've ruined christmas?

this time of year, its pretty easy to keep me happy. i'd consider myself pre-wired for holiday spirit and christmastime joy. one thing, however, has the power to throw me off into an uncontrollable rage:

how does this song continue to parade around as a feel-good anthem to the world? these lyrics are ridiculous and offensive, and really throw me off my good-mood game:

do they know its christmastime at all?
yes! they [being those suffering from the late-1980's famine in ethiopia and eritrea] aren't stupid, they are hungry.

well, there won't be snow in africa this christmas...
no kidding! the parts of africa that do receive snow are in the southern hemisphere. what does this have to do with anything? no snow = no christmas? i think i miss the point here.

the greatest gift they'll get this year is life
the greatest gift we all will get this year is life.

thank god that it's them and not you
WHAT?! no, i don't think i'll be thanking god for famine anywhere. what is going on with this song?

i understand the origin of the song lies in a good intention. my point is that is wasn't articulated very well. the lyrics reveals some disturbing truths to how americans approach global relief, and i think its high time this song loses its place in the holiday song rotation.

feed the world? of course we should. but not because it's christmas.

02 December 2008

erik larson - thunderstruck

thunderstruck || erik larson || 4.0/5.0 stars

great book! the book (which is non-fiction) intertwines the story of wireless telegraphy's inception and a good-ol' murder mystery. the history of wireless was really interesting - just to imagine what it would have felt like to be alive during such a daring change in technology is really intriguing. larson does a great job of capturing the wonder and disbelief of the time.

the murder mystery is likewise quite interesting - though because the details were never discovered, a lot of the crime remains unresolved. the two are connected because the arrest of the murderer was the first public demonstration of wireless' capabilities. the chase was onboard a trans-atlantic ship, and the details of the guilty's daily life were transmitted far and wide to great public interest. (sounds very familiar to the 21st century, eh?)

a nice read. can't wait to pick up devil in the white city, larsen's big success.

01 December 2008

the future of aids

a recent study in the medical journal the lancet has been making some national news outlets for its finding that prevalence of aids could be drastically reduced in just five years, and reduced to below 1% within 50 years. its quite a shocking claim, and unfortunately rather unrealistic. the study uses mathematical modeling to determine what could be done, if only we could get past the poverty, corruption, and misinformation that serve to keep the virus strong.

still, its an exciting realization that the control of this inconceivably damning virus is within reach. and its a bright spot on an otherwise dreary topic of research. if only we as a collective humanity could summon the collective will to tackle it.

its world aids day. read up.

U2 - one

today is the twentieth world aids day. love bono.