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goddess of clarity: a blog about politics, culture, and serenity

Books Read This Year

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
This is one of those books that's been on my "to read" list forever. I thought I'd save it for when I joined or started a book club, but that hasn't happened yet, and I didn't want to wait anymore.

Peril at End House by Agatha Christie
It's funny but reading the Sandman books made me want to revisit one of my first favorite characters: Hercule Poirot. I love a good origin story, and this is Poirot's first appearance. I first read this book in fourth grade, and have read it several times over the years. When I first read it, I thought it was so adult and so clever, but now the murder mystery is so completely ridiculous and quaint. Still fun, though.

Dream Country by Neil Gaiman

The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman

Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil GaimanI'm just starting to get into graphic novels and I've never read the Sandman series. It's pretty amazing. I love seing the creation of a character -- like Buffy, or Dr. Who, or Hercule Poirot -- that you can just imagine starring in a never-ending series of stories. The possibilities are endless.

Winkie by Clifford Chase
This is a novel about a teddy bear who unaccountable comes to life and soon fines himself a suspect in a terrorist bombing plot. You would expect such a book to be laugh-out-loud funny. And so it is, but only occasionally. More often it is an exploration of what it means to be alive: truly alive. It's occasionally it bit overwrought and takes itself too seriously given its absurd premise. But it is definitely a novel that makes you think even if you weren't really prepared to.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
I wanted to read this before seeing the recently released film, and boy I'm glad I did. It's 100% delightful -- a fanciful narrative that still creates a perfectly logical and tightly drawn story.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling
Wow, where to begin. I love how the action starts immediately. I love how you instantly recognize the Rowling is not playing around; the stakes are real. And I love that Harry survives and how he survives. And I love that I will be re-reading these books every so often throughout the rest of my life, and I will have these books to grow old with.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling

The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green
My new guilty pleasure is the BBC America series Robin Hood. It's like a Robin Hood for the chavs: Robin Hood in a hoodie, if you will. The wonderfully cheesy show at least inspired me to learn a little more about the history ,of the legendary figure, and this work from the 1950s is essentially a children's book but it seems to be the best sourced drawing from the scant number of original materials available dating to the mid-1600s.

Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff
This book and the thinking behind it are now new. Cognitive linguist George Lakoff makes the point that you cannot argue against a frame by using the language of that frame: by evoking the frame, you reinforce the frame. So Democrats cannot fight against tax relief by calling it tax relief. Unfortunately, Lakoff is a better thinker and speaker than a writer. The book is repetitive and a little boring after you get past the initial points behind Lakoff's theory.

Naked Pictures of Famous People by John Stewart
This book of essays was written by the Daily Show host before September 11th and the 2000 presidential election. The opening essay -- written as a young Jewish guest at the Kennedy compound in the 1920s -- is a pip. Unfortunately the rest of the collection doesn't rise to that opening salvo.

Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis
Ellis argues that the personal relationships between co-workers have a huge imact on the work they produce. In this case, the co-workers in questions were the founders of our democracy -- Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Burr, etc. -- and the project they were working on was not an Powerpoint presentation for the board of trustees. It was the Constitution of the United States.

The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 Katrina by Frank Rich
Now this one was a just a political screed. But a fun one. Sometimes the choir just needs a little preaching to.

Fiasco by Thomas Ricks
I walked up and down the "Current Affairs" aisle at Barnes and Noble for a good 25 minutes, trying to pick a book that would just explain -- without partisan screechiness -- just what the heck is going on in Iraq. This was a good pick. Ricks, a long-time defense correspondent, provides a blow-by-blow military analysis of the tragicomedy of errors this war has become. If Hitler had invaded the Societ Union twice, he couldn't have gone more wrong.