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Thread: Best Reads of 2004

  1. #31
    Chant Starter clutch's Avatar
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    The updated CIA training manual "Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare" was excellent. It provides insight on how to out think your enemies in both urban and jungle survival scenarios. It is a must read for anyone who is interested in staying alive in these violent times.

  2. #32
    Livin' the life Dinahann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clutch
    The updated CIA training manual "Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare" was excellent. It provides insight on how to out think your enemies in both urban and jungle survival scenarios. It is a must read for anyone who is interested in staying alive in these violent times.
    Actually, this sounds interesting, but if it's a CIA manual, how is it available to the general public?
    Well I was born in a small town
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  3. #33
    What do you DO all day? totoro's Avatar
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    Hey guys. I read a lot. A LOT. I walk and read at the same time, much like Belle on Beauty and the Beast, although without the accompanying music and dance all around me. I sometimes walk into things...and people. I am known in my building as the girl who walks and reads AT THE SAME TIME!

    That being said, I am pleased to jump into the fray and offer up some of my personal favorites of 2004, in no particular order:

    Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood. This book has stayed with me all year -after reading it January, I cannot eat at KFC without thinking of this book. If you've read it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't - I highly recommend it.

    The Red Tent - Anita Diamant. I don't know how I missed this book for the last 3 years. A captivating look into the lives of the women of the Old Testament. I'm not a religious person, but the author's ability to bring to life the stories of the Bible almost made me run out, buy a copy and start reading. Almost. I think I'll just re-read this book instead.

    Battle Royale - Koushun Takami. In the not-too-distant future, the Japanese government randomly selects one high school class each year, deposits them on a fortified and deserted island, and supplies each student with a backpack full of survival gear, complete with one weapon. The weapons range from a rusty fork, to assault rifles. The students must begin to kill each other off, one by one, until the last student stands. If an hour passes without a death, the explosive necklaces each student wears will detonate. Sound violent? It is. I loved every last drop of it.

    Song of Susannah - Stephen King. I'm a HUGE fan of Stephen King, especially his non-horror stuff...like The Stand, Eye of the Dragon, and the Dark Tower series. As a matter of fact, I'm heading out now to buy the final installment.

    Party Monster - James St. James. As a reformed club-kid wannabe, I enjoyed the insider look at the wacky and outrageous antics of St. James, and that other guy who actually committed the murder of Angel Melendez. I James St. James.

    The DaVinci Code, etc. - Dan Brown. I started with The DaVinci Code, and worked my way backwards. Dan Brown is John Grisham-lite. Fascinating and quick reads.

    The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold. Sniff. Sniff. Repeat.

    Suzanne's Diary For Nicholas - James Patterson. OK, I almost don't want to admit this one, but DAMN, sometimes I enjoy a good cry, and this book served it up, in under 6 hours. On the other hand, I read The Notebook, and it blew chunks.

    Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris. Yeah, I'm behind the times, but the story of how he outsmarted his speech therapist had me in stitches. "I've dropped my left glove...and my right glove...."
    Last edited by totoro; 12-20-2004 at 06:48 PM.
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  4. #34
    Come Along, Pond phat32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dinahann
    I'm showing my ignorance, but what exactly is a graphic novel? Is it sort of like a comic book? Does the author also illustrate or does someone else?

    I loved the two Gaiman books I've read and would probably consider these also. What is the general plot line, and can you get them at a bookstore?
    You caught us! A graphic novel = fancy-pants term for "comic book" so we can avoid the term "comic book" because it carries so many negative connotations (and misconceptions) in the United States. Most people think of the Bam!-Biff!-Pow! Batman series from the '60s when they think of "comic books."

    SnowflakeGirl and Charstar may have their own definitions, but a "graphic novel" is not a comic book you could roll up and put in your back pocket. A graphic novel can be hardcover or softcover and may be a collected edition of single-issue comic books (the kind you do roll up and stick in your back pocket) or a longer-length original work.

    The Sandman graphic novels listed above are collections of stand-alone stories. Neil Gaiman does not illustrate; you'll find many illustrators with different styles in the collections above. Some of them are lavishly illustrated, and you may find as much to enjoy in the illustrations as you would the writing.

    As for the story...? Oh boy. (SfG and Charstar, care to help me out here?) This is going to sound hokey--even crazy--but here goes: Sandman is the story of Dream of the Endless, who along with his "siblings" (Destiny, Death, Destruction, Delirium, Desire and Despair) make up the "Endless"--they are not "gods" who represent these concepts; they are the embodiments of these concepts. (Still with me?)

    Some of the stories are modern mythologies, some are romance, some are fables, some are adventures, some are mysteries and some are fantasies. (They're hard to explain.) Uniformly, Sandman is considered by most fans to be one of the very best comic series ever created--most definitely top ten, some say top five and you've got a few who would say the best.

    Do I think you would enjoy them? If you enjoyed American Gods and Coraline, I think you would. The last time I visited Barnes & Noble, I saw the Sandman graphic novels. If you can't find them in a local bookstore, try calling a local comic book store. If all else fails, there is always Amazon.com (which was my source for the list above, as a matter of fact).

    If you do try a Sandman, I would love to know what you think. And there's always someone here who would be interested in discussing Sandman, in the "Comic Books" thread, if nowhere else.

    Happy hunting!
    "...Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things donít always soften the bad things, but...the bad things donít always spoil the good things." - The Doctor

  5. #35
    Culture slut geek the girl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SnowflakeGirl
    5. Haruki Murakami & The Music of Words by Jay Rubin Ė loving paean to one of my favorite all-time authors, Haruki Murakami
    I LOVE Haruki Murakami, especially Norwegian Wood, Sputnik Sweetheart and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, so this one sounds like a must. Or at least a much-needed fix until a new Murakami novel is published.
    "There's more to life than books, you know, but not much more" (Morrissey)

  6. #36
    Best Ever Pool Runner Angry Birds Champion, Rancho Ice Racer Champion pikachu's Avatar
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    Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz was one of the best books I read this year.

    Most of the books I read this year were ones that I'd read before.

  7. #37
    FORT Fogey Salome's Avatar
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    TOP 10 READS OF 2004

    01. One-Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - Truly indescribable.
    02. Perfume by Patrick Suskind - Again, indescribable.
    03. The Aeneid by Virgil * - This took me ages to finish, flipping back to the glossary six times per page, highlighting the whole damn thing in different colors. God, I feel so accomplished now!
    04. Metamorphoses by Ovid * - Familiar mythology, finally read closer to the source.
    05. The Shape of Love by Gelsey Kirkland - An out-of-print dancer's autobiography. Gelsey's first book, Dancing on My Grave, is much darker and still on the shelves. Drugs and anorexia therefore must be necessary in getting people to read about ballet, because this out-of-print sequel was more about regaining life through the artistic process and ballet itself. It taught me a lot.
    06. Quo Vadis? by Henryk Sienkiewicz - A page tuner. I read this in Poland before my first visit to Rome, how apropos. I developed something of a crush on Petronius.
    07. 1984 by George Orwell * - This book must become more and more significant. At the same time, I think it's oversimplified; I felt there was a lot there beyond the dystopian message, though I'm not quite sure what.
    08. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray - Loved the characters. There's something to be said about reading it with Thackeray's original plates. I still like my "picture books."
    09. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser * - Never a junk food junkie, but wow. Shocking and educational.
    10. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Like others here, I had to include this in my list somewhere but would be ashamed to place it any higher. What a plot.

    ETA: Starred books were read for one class or another. I took Brit Lit my senior year of high school, and Roman Lit this past semester. Next semester, I'm not taking any literature classes (!), so I'll have more time to make my own selections.
    Last edited by Salome; 12-25-2004 at 10:59 PM.

  8. #38
    Livin' the life Dinahann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phat32
    You caught us! A graphic novel = fancy-pants term for "comic book" so we can avoid the term "comic book" because it carries so many negative connotations (and misconceptions) in the United States. Most people think of the Bam!-Biff!-Pow! Batman series from the '60s when they think of "comic books."
    You're absolutely right Batman immediately came to mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by phat32
    Some of the stories are modern mythologies, some are romance, some are fables, some are adventures, some are mysteries and some are fantasies. (They're hard to explain.) Uniformly, Sandman is considered by most fans to be one of the very best comic series ever created--most definitely top ten, some say top five and you've got a few who would say the best.

    Do I think you would enjoy them? If you enjoyed American Gods and Coraline, I think you would. The last time I visited Barnes & Noble, I saw the Sandman graphic novels. If you can't find them in a local bookstore, try calling a local comic book store. If all else fails, there is always Amazon.com (which was my source for the list above, as a matter of fact).

    If you do try a Sandman, I would love to know what you think. And there's always someone here who would be interested in discussing Sandman, in the "Comic Books" thread, if nowhere else.

    Happy hunting!
    Well, I did get a $50 gift certificate to Hastings for Christmas, but I wouldn't bet that they'll have any of these. I will be going today, however, and I'll see what I can find. Just this morning I was explaining the plot line to American Gods to my son. I just love, love, love finding a "new" author, and Gaimen was my find for the year (with Jasper Fford running a close second). Thanks for the synopsis, phat.
    Well I was born in a small town
    And I can breathe in a small town
    Gonna die in this small town
    And that's prob'ly where they'll bury me

  9. #39
    FORT Fogey nausicaa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salome
    Perfume by Patrick Suskind - Again, indescribable.
    Grotesque but compelling. This is totally a great rec.

  10. #40
    FORT Fanatic charstar813's Avatar
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    Phat, readreadread Kabuki! Start off with Circle of Blood and then get into Skin Deep, and let me know what you think. I totally recommend it!

    Dinahann, I can't recommend Sandman enough. I got into Gaiman's work a few months ago, and love it! You won't be sorry, and I also suggest you get The Sandman Companion by Hy Bender. It's full of interviews, commentary, and some really cool artwork.

    Since this is a best reads thread I better submit mine.

    *The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende I had been meaning to read this a long time. So glad I did.
    *Rain of Gold - Victor Villasenor I couldn't put this book down. Finished it in a day.
    *Life of Pi - Yann Martel - I'm the only one I know that loves this book.
    *Heaven Lake - John Dalton - Simple and beautiful.
    *The Love Artist - Jane Alison Interesting twist on Ovid's exile.
    *Swift as Desire - Laura Esquivel She wrote it for her father, very touching.
    *American Gods - Neil Gaiman I can never watch "I Love Lucy" without thinking about this book. Thanks for the recommendation, Fort!
    *Frida: A biography of Frida Kahlo - Hayden Herrera Hate the movie, love this book.
    *As Meat Loves Salt - Maria McCann I was so repulsed by the main character, but I couldn't stop reading.
    Ludicrous speed!

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