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*Retired* 2008 Lists > David G's books read in 2008

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message 1: by David (last edited Feb 01, 2008 01:39AM) (new)

David (david_giltinan) Coming somewhat late to this group, but I've been tracking the progress of some of my friends here, so I thought I should give it a shot.

The first 10 for January 2008: 1. The Smallest People Alive (Keith Banner) 2. This I Believe : The personal philosophies of remarkable men and women, edited by Dan Gediman. (R) 3. The Rabbi's Cat, by Joann Sfar. 4. In Fact: Essays on Writers and Writing, by Thomas Mallon. (R) 5. Listening is an Act of Love : Stories from the StoryCorps Project, edited by Dave isay. (R) 6. The man who mistook his wife for a hat (Oliver Sacks) 7. The Microbe Hunters (Paul de Kruif) (R) The Gashlycrumb Tinies (Edward Gorey) 8. Typical. (stories by Padgett Powell) (R) 9. The World Without Us (Alan Weisman) (R) 10. What hearts (Bruce Brooks)

('R' in parentheses indicates I wrote more than a cursory review)

message 2: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) the other books that I read in January (in the approximate order of reading them). 'She-Devil' and 'Post-modern Pooh' were re-reads.

11. Snobs (Julian Fellowes)

12. The Indian Clerk (David Leavitt) R

13. Life and Loves of a She-Devil (Faye Weldon)

14. The Brain-Dead megaphone (George Saunders) R

15. Kill all your Darlings : pieces 1990 - 2005 (Luc Sante)

16. The Nine (Jeffrey Toobin)

17. Best American Essays of 2007 (edited by David Foster Wallace) R

18. The Basic Eight (Daniel Handler) R

19. At Large and at Small (Anne Fadiman) R

20. Postmodern Pooh (Frederick Crews)

An 'R' after the author's name indicates that I wrote more than a cursory review.

Currently reading - She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb), Mister Pip (Lloyd Jones), Essential Stories (Victor Sawdon Pritchett).

Every year in February I try to re-read one of the 'long classics' (last few years choices were The Raj Quartet, Lord of the Rings, and ulysses). This year I have the six volumes of Galsworthy's Forsyte Chronicles on my shelf, which I read as a teenager. Somehow I doubt I'll make it through all six volumes this time around...

message 3: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Just finished book #21, "She's Come Undone", by Wally Lamb. Still collecting my thoughts - I enjoyed it, but found it exhausting.

Continuing with "Mister Pip" and the Pritchett stories.

message 4: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 46 comments Hear, hear, Abigail. David's reading progress if just remarkable.

David, what is the secret to your time management skills?

message 5: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Well now, The Gashlycrumb Tinies wasn't exactly a demanding read. January was an unusual month - things will slow down quite a bit from here on out, I suspect.

message 6: by Danine (new)

Danine (dulcemea) woooooow. And I was bragging about my 10 books for January. Well done. The Gashlycrumb Tinies is a classic.

message 7: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #22 was the relatively short, but satisfying, collection of short stories by Anna Gavralda: I wish someone were waiting for me somewhere.

message 8: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 25 comments Aw, David, I'm bummed! You're one book ahead of me -- here I thought I was the only crazy person to close out 20 during January.

I believe I've only read 2 of your books -- Snobs and She's Come Undone. I agree with the exhausting 'diagnosis' of Lamb... although I read it too long ago to remember any salient details.

message 9: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Just finished #23: "Out stealing horses", by Per Petterson. Four stars, review to follow.

I did post a 'review' of She's Come Undone, which stayed at 3 stars:

message 10: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Finished books 24 and 25:

"How to Read Literature Like a Professor" by Thomas C. Foster

"Foreign Affairs" by Alison Lurie

message 11: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) David, I take it you have not yet reviewed "How to Read Like...." I'll be interested in your opinion of it. I'm a former English teacher and wonder if it is worth the read....

message 12: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) Hi David, what do you think about The Nine (Jeffrey Toobin)? This book was included in various lists of best nonfiction books for 2007.

message 13: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Judith: The short answer is that I did enjoy Foster's book very much. I hope to post more detailed comments about it in a day or two. In the class of 'books about how to read books', I've read maybe four or five within the last 18 months:

Harold Bloom (How to Read and Why)
Francine Prose (How to Read like a Writer)
Thomas Foster (How to Read Literature like a Professor)
Jane Smiley (13 Ways of Looking at the Novel)
Fintan O' Toole (Shakespeare is hard, but so is life)

I'd rate Jane Smiley's book at the top of this list, with Foster's book coming in second. For reasons which are essentially similar to those outlined in this piece:

Choccy: I liked 'The Nine', and found it much more interesting than I had expected. I posted a couple of paragraphs with a little more detail:

I thought it deserved a spot on the various 'best lists'.

my comments on 'Out Stealing Horses' are here:

on 'Foreign Affairs' here:

message 14: by David (last edited Feb 14, 2008 05:17AM) (new)

David (david_giltinan) Also, finished Book #26 (I'm on a roll) late last night: Quentin Crisp's "The Naked Civil Servant". Not bad, but not terrific either. More detailed comments here:

message 15: by Bishop (last edited Feb 11, 2008 11:33AM) (new)

Bishop (a_bishop) | 152 comments Judith,

I've read "How to Read Literature Like a Professor" and I can vouch for it. I teach high school lit/comp and I have excerpted several sections for my students to read as we move through novels like Grapes of Wrath and The Great Gatsby. The book lends credibility to interpretation since it's coming from an "expert" and not just the crazy guy in the front of the room. Also, I think it helps make them more fearless in their own interpretations as they realize that authors are pulling from a massive body of myth, history, literature, and poular culture. It's definitely worth the time and money, in my opinion, especially for younger readers.

PS - Thanks for the link to the article. That might be useful, too.

message 16: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) Thanks, David. You're a real asset to this group.
I always enjoy reading what you are reading and thinking.

message 17: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Thanks for your kind words, Judith. I'm enjoying the goodreads site no end.

I just finished Book # 27 for this year - Jennifer Egan's "The Keep". A stunning book, which delivers everything that we look for in fiction. Once you start reading, you won't be able to put it down. Egan is a prodigious talent. Five stars for an amazing book.

message 18: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Just finished Book #28 : "The Necklace, and Other Stories", by Guy de Maupassant.

message 19: by Judith (new)

Judith (jloucks) I have The Keep on my shelf. I look forward to starting it. I also like The Necklace and Guy de Maupassant as an author. Hope you enjoyed him too.

message 20: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book # 29: Kate Atkinson's "One Good Turn". Review here -

message 21: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #30 : "Made to Stick" (Chip Heath and Dan Heath)

message 22: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Currently reading:

The Man of Property (Galsworthy)

February is one of the best months for reading. I don’t care about the Superbowl; the Oscars are a snoozefest, so there’s plenty of time to hit the books. Every year I try to revisit one of the longer “classics” during February. This year’s choice is Galsworthy’s “The Forsyte Saga”.

Galsworthy wrote a total of nine novels about the Forsyte family, collectively referred to as “The Forsyte Chronicles”. The entire series is normally grouped into three trilogies: “The Forsyte Saga”, “A Modern Comedy”, and “End of the Chapter”. I’ll be happy to make it through the first trilogy: “The Man of Property”, “In Chancery”, and “To Let”, though my boxed set does contain novels 4-6 as well, in case I should get ambitious. I don’t know if anyone ever makes it through the entire set of nine novels – it doesn’t help that the action in books 4 and 5 drags considerably.

Like most readers of my generation, I first discovered the Forsytes courtesy of the BBC’s 26-part serialization of the first six novels, first broadcast in the late 1960’s as “The Forsyte Saga” (there is a slight discrepancy between the BBC’s nomenclature and that of Galsworthy). Here is a link:
A newer production of the saga aired on several PBS stations two or three seasons ago, but in my heart nobody will replace the originals. There can be no Irene other than Nyree Dawn Porter (the recent production’s Irene wasn’t even a blonde, for crying out loud); Margaret Tyzack *is* Winifred; Fleur can only be played by Susan Hampshire, and only Eric Porter is capable of embodying the ‘now you love him, now you hate him’, tortured “man of property”, Soames Forsyte.

About 100 pages into the first book, it’s amazing how vividly it all comes back to me. The piano piece that Irene plays when Soames first meets her? Chopin’s waltz in C# minor. Seeing the Forsyte Saga was what gave me the perseverance to learn to play this particular waltz properly myself, much to the amazement of my piano teacher.

So I surrender myself to the pleasure of re-acquainting myself with all of these characters, rediscovering their quirks and foibles, as Book 1 moves towards its shocking climax – that unforgettable scene where Soames, the man of property, exercises his conjugal rights over an unwilling Irene, thereby setting the stage for the rest of the story which unfolds down the generations.

message 23: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #31: "Um... Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean", by Michael Erard.

An astonishingly dull book, remarkably devoid of intellectual content. My review is here:

message 24: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #32: "New Ideas from Dead Economists" by Todd G. Buchholz.

I appreciated Professor Buchholz's valiant effort to inject a little life and wit into his exposition of various schools of economic thought. I'd be lying if I said he achieved more than modest success in maintaining my interest. And my scepticism regarding the value of economic models and forecasting remains strong.

message 25: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book # 33: "A Changed Man" by Francine Prose.
Three stars.

An enjoyable read, though I had hoped Francine Prose might deliver a 4-star book. The plot is hardly rich enough to warrant a 400-page novel, but Prose makes it a fun read. Characters are interesting and expertly drawn. Prose takes aim at a number of sacred cows, but does so with such wit and humor that it's hard to resist the charm of this novel.

As plot summaries are widely available, I won't attempt one here.

message 26: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #34: "The Nudist on the Late Shift" by Po Bronson. 3.5 stars. (review to follow)

message 27: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Thanks, Ginnie. I enjoyed the Lutz article very much. And when I read anything online, I invariably go to the 'print' view. Sadly, within the last six months I've noticed a growing need to move up the font size as well, but so be it.

Book #35: "The Emperor of Scent" by Chandler Burr.

My review is in comment 4 of the thread. A terrific book!

message 28: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #36: "Making History" by Stephen Fry (that's Hugh Laurie's buddy, for all you rabid "House" fans).

Four stars; more detailed comments later, I hope.

message 29: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #37: "Best American Science Writing of 2007", edited by Gina Kolata.

Review here -

message 30: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #38: Finished "A Man of Property". Starting number 2 in the series, "In Chancery".

message 31: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #39: The Little Book of Plagiarism, by Richard Posner. (2 stars)

Book #40: Letter to a Christian Nation, by Sam Harris. (0 stars for a shrill, unhelpful book)

Though I've read 150 pages of Don DeLillo's "White Noise", it won't be making this list, because I find it too poorly written and irritating to finish. For some of the reasons why, see discussion here:

message 32: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Comments on Making History, by Stephen Fry are at

Book #41: Michael Dirda - "Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments.

Book #42: Ant Farm: and Other Desperate Situations, by Simon Rich.

Book #43: The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket, by John Weir.

Book #44: Cards of Identity, by Nigel Dennis.

Book #45: In Chancery (Book 2 of "The Forsyte Saga") by John Galsworthy. Comments to follow.

message 33: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #46: To Let (Book 3 of "The Forsyte Saga") by John Galsworthy.

Comments on "In Chancery" here:

Book #47: Sex for America : Politically Inspired Erotica, edited by Stephen Elliott.

message 34: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book # 48: "In a Cardboard Belt! Essays" by Joseph Epstein.

message 35: by Danine (new)

Danine (dulcemea) Jealousy. rage. :) I haven't even printed out the 50 books 2008 diplomas and you and others are already finishing. Well done :)

message 36: by David (last edited Mar 08, 2008 06:53AM) (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book #49: "The Overcoat, and other Stories" by Nikolai Gogol.

and - hooray!!!!

Book #50: "The White Monkey", Volume 4 of Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga .

We get a diploma?? How cool!

message 37: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Book 51: "The Silver Spoon", Volume 5 of the Forsyte Saga.

In this book, which is nothing more than an extended account of a kind of Lindsay Lohan - Hilary Duff feud between Fleur, Soames's daughter, and another socialite, there is the distinct impression that Galsworthy has allowed himself to be trapped by format. The Forsyte Chronicles are arranged as a sequence of three trilogies: obviously there's something aesthetically pleasing about the inherent symmetry. Unfortunately, the price is that not all volumes among the nine really warrant being full-sized books. In particular, there is barely enough action in this book and its predecessor combined to flesh out just one interesting novel. He is clearly just marking time before bringing the Fleur-Jon story arc to its conclusion in Book 6.

message 38: by Danine (new)

Danine (dulcemea) Yay! Congrats. Are you going to go for 100 books. You are well on your way. I enjoy reading your reviews and I hope you keep posting :)

message 39: by David (last edited Feb 25, 2009 03:24AM) (new)

David (david_giltinan) Thanks, Danine. I do have a goal of 100 books for the year. But beginning early April I will be traveling for close to 3 months, so that my reading will likely fall to nothing during that period.

Book 52: "Swan Song", Book 6 of The Forsyte Saga .

Book 53: "A Person of Interest" by Susan Choi.

Reviews to follow.

Book 54: "Endurance : Shackleton's Incredible Voyage" by Alfred Lansing.

Book 55: "The Endurance : Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition" by Caroline Alexander.

Both the Shackleton books are excellent - Lansing's is probably a little better written, but Alexander's story is augmented with 170 totally awesome photos taken by Frank Hurley, the expedition's official photographer.

message 40: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Books 56-65. Reviews at:

"Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic" by Elizabeth Little.

"Bizarre Books: A Compendium of Classic Oddities" by Russell Ash.

"Bertha Venation: And Hundreds of Other Funny Names of Real People" by Larry Ashmead.

"Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" by Dan Ariely.

"Rock On: An Office Power Ballad" by Dan Kennedy.

"South from Granada" (Penguin Travel Library) by Gerald Brenan.

"Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen : Reflections on Sixty and Beyond" by Larry McMurtry.

"The Archivist: A Novel" by Martha Cooley.

"The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security" by Kevin D. Mitnick.

The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford

message 41: by David (last edited Apr 28, 2008 03:06AM) (new)

David (david_giltinan) Books 66-70

"How Doctors Think"
Groopman, Jerome

"My Uncle Oswald"
Dahl, Roald

"Cuba and the Night: A Novel"
Iyer, Pico

"Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart"
Ayres, Ian

"The Museum Guard"
Norman, Howard
One of the best novels I've read in quite a while -

message 42: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Books 71-75

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop
by Lewis Buzbee.

Lush Life: A Novel
by Richard Price.

Visiting Mrs. Nabokov: And Other Excursions by Martin Amis.

The Kreutzer Sonata and Other Short Stories Tolstoy, Leo

Snitch: Informers, Cooperators, and the Corruption of Justice
by Ethan Brown.

message 43: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Books 76-80

A Phone Call to the Future: New and Selected Poems
Mary Jo Salter
Great selection from one of my favorite poets.

Why Things Break: Understanding the World By the Way It Comes Apart
Eberhart, Mark
A truly dreadful book:

The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare
Chesterton, G.K.
A thought-provoking classic.

A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans: Pirates, Skinflints, Patriots, and Other Colorful Characters Stuck in the Footnotes of History. Farquhar, Michael.
A great collection of colorful characters:

When Science Goes Wrong
LeVay, Simon
A somewhat disappointing collection:

message 44: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Books 81-87:

The Colonel's Daughter
Tremain, Rose

one last Waltz
Mordden, Ethan

The Third Man and The Fallen Idol
Greene, Graham

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software
Rosenberg, Scott

Midnight Champagne
Ansay, A. Manette

Restless: A Novel
Boyd, William
I read this in one sitting.

Time after Time
Keane, Molly

message 45: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Books 88-92

The Man Who Smiled
Henning Mankell.

The Mail from Anywhere (Poetry)
Brad Leithauser.

Don't Bump the Glump and Other Fantasies Shel Silverstein.

The Pharmacist's Mate
Amy Fusselman.

The Sin Eater
Alice Thomas Ellis.

message 46: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Books 93-97

Eugene Onegin
Pushkin, Alexander S.

Heirs of General Practice
McPhee, John

Kiss in the Hotel Joseph Conrad and Other Stories Norman, Howard

Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Reason Behind the Rhyme
Roberts, Chris

Madame Bovary
Flaubert, Gustave

message 47: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) Yes, but a week from tomorrow I start my new life in Mexico, wrestling once more with the nuances of the subjunctive in Spanish. So, expect my reading pace to take a precipitous dive from here until September.

But at least I managed to hit a few classics recently.

message 48: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) # 101: Shakespeare Is Hard, but So Is Life: A Radical Guide to Shakespearian Tragedy
Fintan O'Toole

# 100: The Transit of Venus
shirley Hazzard

# 99: The Music Lesson : A Novel
Katharine Weber

# 98: From Altoids to Zima: The Surprising Stories Behind 125 Famous Brand Names
Evan Morris

message 49: by David (new)

David (david_giltinan) It's been quite some time since I checked in here. In the intervening six months my total for the year did get above 200. Of the books I read since may, I will just mention those that I thought truly outstanding. I gave 5 stars to each of the following:

Essential Stories (Modern Library Classics)
by V.S. Pritchett

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness
by Richard H. Thaler and Cass Sunstein

The Pilgrim Hawk: A Love Story (New York Review Books Classics) by Glenway Wescott

War by Candlelight: Stories by Daniel Alarcón

Homage to Catalonia : George Orwell

A Collection of Essays : George Orwell

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008 (edited by Judy Blume)

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008 (edited by Jerome Groopman)

Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam (Hardcover) by Pope Brock

There were maybe half a dozen '4.5 star' books, which I will mention in a later post if I get the chance.

Here is the link to the full 2008 list, for completeness:
I will be pretty busy during December so I doubt it will get much longer.

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