Books Read 2008

2008 was a year of reading about the world and looking back at classic science fiction.  18 of the 45 books I read this year were SF.  11 were non-fiction.  12 books were ones I had read before – for some reason I listened to many SF classics that I first read back in the 1960s.  Although I enjoyed many science fiction and fantasy novels this year, the stories that moved me the most were two by Edith Wharton.  Two other novels stood out, The Road was intense and Oscar Wao was dazzling.

Science fiction books from the 1950s and 1960s are starting to show their age.  I think Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke holds up the best.  I liked City and The Case of Conscience, but structurally they had problems.  City and Way Station presented wonderful sense of wonder ideas, but the writing is so dated that I worry that kids today will find them hard to read.  I still have nostalgic love for the Heinlein juveniles Red Planet, Starman Jones and Podkayne of Mars, and they hold up enough to get reprinted as audio books, but I also worry that young people will have problems reading them.  Their science is very dated, with canals on Mars, Venus being habitable, and people doing calculations for interstellar space jumps with pencil and paper.

Favorite Fiction:

  1. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  2. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
  3. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  4. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Favorite Non-Fiction:

  1. Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman
  2. The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  3. The Post American World by Fareed Zakara
  4. Einstein by Walter Isaacson

The Whole List:

  1. Old Man’s War – John Scalzi
  2. Candy Girl – Diablo Cody
  3. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  4. Running with Scissors – Augustine Burroughs
  5. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
  6. Einstein – Walter Isaacson
  7. Marsbound – Joe Haldeman
  8. The Cult of the Amateur – Andrew Keen
  9. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
  10. The Coming Economic Collapse – Stephen Leeb
  11. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick (3rd time)
  12. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls – Robert A. Heinlein (2nd time)
  13. Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton
  14. The Maltese Falcon – Dashiell Hammett (2nd time)
  15. Death by Black Hole – Neil deGrasse Tyson
  16. Territory – Emma Bull
  17. Drop City – T. C. Boyle
  18. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Diaz
  19. Podkayne of Mars – Robert A. Heinlein (4th time)
  20. The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
  21. The Post American World – Fareed Zakara
  22. After Dark – Haruki Murakami
  23. Twilight – Stephenie Meyer
  24. City – Clifford Simak (2nd time)
  25. Proust was a Neuroscientist – Jonah Lehrer
  26. Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny (2nd time)
  27. Starman Jones – Robert A. Heinlein (4th time)
  28. The Little Book – Selden Edwards
  29. The House of Mirth – Edith Wharton
  30. Hot, Flat and Crowded – Thomas L. Friedman
  31. Way Station – Clifford Simak (2nd time)
  32. Spin – Robert Charles Wilson
  33. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick (2nd time)
  34. The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life – Steve Leveen
  35. Red Planet – Robert A. Heinlein (4th time)
  36. Swords and Deviltry – Fritz Leiber
  37. METAtropolis – ed. John Scalzi
  38. The Space Merchants – Pohl & Kornbluth (2nd time)
  39. Living Dead in Dallas – Charlaine Harris
  40. When You are Engulfed in Flames – David Sedaris
  41. A Case of Conscience – James Blish
  42. The Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
  43. Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke (3rd time)
  44. Like a Rolling Stone – Greil Marcus
  45. The Last Man on the Moon – Eugene Cernan & Don Davis

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