Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Book List

In 2006 I read 100 books.

55 are non-fiction.
6 are adult fiction.
22 are junior fiction.
17 are graphic novels.

100. The Know-it-All by A.J. Jacobs

99. The House Without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock

98. Goodbye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson

97. Brainiac by Ken Jennings

96. The Museum of Hoaxes by Alex Boese

95. An Underground Education by Richard Zacks

94. Instant Knowledge by Will Pearson

93. Condensed Knowledge by Will Pearson

92. Forbidden Knowledge by Will Pearson

91. My Secret by Frank Warren

90. Black Hole by Charles Burns

89. The Thanksgiving Treasure by Gail Rock

88. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

87. The Homecoming by Earl Hamner, Jr.

86. The Dead Beat by Marilyn Johnson

85. Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson

84. Sleepwalk and Other Stories by Adrian Tomine

83. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

82. Monopoly by Philip Orbanes

81. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

80. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

79. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes

78. Don’t get too Comfortable by David Rakoff

77. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

76. Maus II by Art Spiegelman

75. Maus by Art Spiegelman

74. Blankets by Craig Thompson

73. Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine

72. My New York Diary by Julie Doucet

71. Wanderlost by Ben Olson

70. Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

69. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

68. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

67. In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman

66. The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket

65. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

64. The Ersatz Elevator by Lemony Snicket

63. The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket

62. World War Z by Max Brooks

61. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks

60. Maybe Baby by Lori Leibovich

59. Why do Men Fall Asleep After Sex by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg

58. Why do Men have Nipples by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg

57. A Round-Heeled Woman by Jane Juska

56. The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket

55. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

54. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

53. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

52. Becoming Myself by Willa Shalit

51. The Fatal Bullet by Rick Geary

50. Dirty Sugar Cookies by Ayun Halliday

49. Knitticisms by Kari Cornell

48. When you Ride Alone, you Ride with bin Laden by Bill Maher

47. New Rules by Bill Maher

46. Nothing’s Sacred by Lewis Black

45. Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper

44. An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore

43. Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado

42. Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman

41. Princess in Pink by Meg Cabot

40. Project Princess by Meg Cabot

39. Princess in Waiting by Meg Cabot

38. Princess in Love by Meg Cabot

37. Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot

36. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

35. How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life by Kaavya Viswanathan

34. Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar

33. Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

32. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

31. Fired! by Annabelle Gurwitch

30. Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

29. Before the Mortgage by Christina Amini and Rachel Hutton

28. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

27. Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

26. My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler

25. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

24. Braving Home by Jake Halpern

23. Star-Spangled Men: America’s 10 Worst Presidents by Nathan Miller

22. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

21. Secret Lives of U.S. Presidents by Cormac O’Brien

20. The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell

19. Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell

18. The President’s House by Margaret Truman

17. How to be President by Stephen P. Williams

16. Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent

15. Brothel by Alexa Albert

14. Like Family by Paula McLain

13. Bold Spirit by Linda Lawrence Hunt

12. Idaho Loners: Hermits, Solitares, and Individualists by Cort Conley

11. A Day in the Life: Diaries from Women Across America by Joni Cole

10. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

9. Post Secret by Frank Warren

8. This Day: Diaries from American Women by Joni Cole

7. Cell by Stephen King

6. Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent

5. Booty: Girl Pirates of the High Sea by Sara Lorimer

4. I am Spock by Leonard Nimoy

3. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

2. Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

1. Mothers Who Think by Camille Peri and Kate Moses

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Book #100 - The Know-it-All by A.J. Jacobs


At the beginning of the year, I made it my goal to read 50 books in 2006. I'd never kept a reading list before, so I didn't know how many books I was reading. Fifty books seemed like a lot. Fifty books seemed almost impossible.

I finished my 50th book in June. So then, because I can't leave well enough alone, I changed my goal to 100 books.

It seems fitting that my 100th book would be about someone who had a reading goal of their own. Granted, reading the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica is a little more ambitious than what I did.

I enjoyed The Know-it-All. You wouldn't expect it, but the book was humorous. Jacobs is likeable, and he weaves in stories about his life, from joining Mensa but feeling inadequate to visiting EB headquarters to he and his wife's struggle to get pregnant. And, keeping with my unintentional theme this month, there's all the trivia you'd expect.

Reading a set of encyclopedias seems like something I'd dream up. I feel grateful for this book, because now I know how painfully boring and life taking-over it would be. I can file the idea away in the back of my head, along with all my other poorly thought-up schemes, and go about thinking up other bad ideas, like reading 150 books next year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Book #99 - The House Without a Christmas Tree by Gail Rock

My mom used to read The House Without a Christmas Tree to me every year when I was a kid. Or at least she tried to read it to me every year, but I probably gagged and started daydreaming the second she pulled it out. My mom has a wonderful habit of trying to give me ample doses of sap whenever possible, which I have been resisting ever since I was a little girl and she tried to convince me The Waltons was quality programing. Love you mom!

It's been so long since I heard the story that I didn't remember it at all. It's about a 10-year-old girl named Addie. She and her father live with her grandmother. Her mother died when she was a baby, and she's never had a Christmas tree because it reminds her father too much of her mother. All she wants is a Christmas tree, but Dad's kind of a dick, and won't let her have one because he's too wrapped up in his emotions. Dad doesn't really pay much attention to Addie, and she's not even really sure that he loves her.


Of course, at the end Addie gets her tree and the book turns to syrup in your hands. I'm pretty sure this book was written just so parents would be able to say 'At least you have two parents! And we love you! And you got a Christmas tree! You should be thankful. Now shut your damn mouth about (insert desired present here)!'

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Book #98 - Goodbye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson


Goodbye, Chunky Rice explores love, loss, and never giving up hope through the eyes of a turtle, a deer mouse, siamese twin sisters, and two brothers.

It's a lovely story. And at 120 pages, that's really all I can say.

Book #97 - Brainiac by Ken Jennings


It's only fitting in a month where I seem to be reading nothing but trivia that I read the book written by closest thing us trivia nerds have to a superhero.

I should admit upfront that I didn't watch Jeopardy! once while Ken Jennings was on. Of course I heard about him, and I was curious, but once everyone starts talking about something, it makes me want nothing to do with that thing.

I should also admit I was expecting Brainiac to be kind of boring. I'm sure it's horrible of me to assume this, but growing up in Idaho I've met a lot of Mormon's, and they all seem to be a little wide-eyed and humorless. Jennings is neither. There are parts of the books where I actually laughed out loud, which isn't an easy thing to get me to do, and he even talks about such scandalous things as people who were writing Jennings/Trebek slash, which, what?

Brainiac covers both his time as a contestant on Jeopardy! (although not as in-depth as I'm sure a lot of people were hoping) and the history of trivia, from the origin of the word to the rise in popularity of trivia-themed radio, tv shows, and books to trivia bowls and contests (ranging from high school and college competition to pub trivia). He also talks with people who write trivia for a living. And, not surprisingly, he sprinkles bits of trivia throughout, with the answers at the end of each chapter.

I enjoyed every page of this book. A rare treat indeed.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Book #96 - The Museum of Hoaxes by Alex Boese


The first hoax I clearly remember was from when I was in high school. My sister worked at Safeway, and she told me about post made on the bulletin board at her work.

Supposedly, it was an email passed down from Safeway corporate, letting their employees know to be wary of strangers in bars offering to buy them drinks, because there was a group of highly skilled organ thieves operating in large cities. Victims would remember taking a sip of the drink, and then the next thing they knew they'd wake up in a bathtub full of ice with instructions in front of them saying to call 911 immediately, using a phone conveniently placed next to the tub. And 911 operators, who were very familiar with this scenario because it was happening so frequently, would tell the victim not to move because one of their kidneys had been removed!

Did I believe it? I don't know. Who wouldn't want to believe such a fantastic tale?

The Museum of Hoaxes is about the tricks and deceptions people have played on one another from Medieval times to the 21st century. From Jesus's foreskin to girls posing for photos with fairies to hoaxes developing out of September 11th, the books covers them all. Who would believed that as late as 1957 the BBC would be able to convince people spaghetti grew on trees? Or that in 1995 a Canadian DJ would be able to mimic the Canadian Prime Minister well enough to not only get through her staff, but fudge his way through a 17 minute phone conversation with Queen Elizabeth?

We seem to be constantly bombarded with the serious and the urgent, and it is refreshing to read about the funny, and mostly non-mean spirited, jokes and tall tales that have colored our society through the ages.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Book #95 - An Underground Education by Richard Zacks


I’ve tried to write this several different times, and it’s not coming out the way I want it to. Mainly, I think, because I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t feel very excited about it.

Usually when I’m reading a book I’m really into, I can’t put it down. I couldn’t put An Underground Education down, but only because my goal is to read 100 books by the end of the year and I’m starting to feel a little panicked.

Maybe it’s because when I was in college I knew a number of people who read this book and really liked it, making my expectations too high. Maybe it’s because I’ve just read a string of trivia books, and I need to read something different.

Or maybe it was because I felt like the author interjected his own opinions into things, and I prefer the straight facts. Perhaps I would have been more forgiving if he had actually gotten all the facts correct, which he didn’t (contrary to what the book says, John Hanson was NOT the first president, for instance).

And, unfortunately, he used comments about people’s weight as an insult.

I did learn a lot of interesting information. But I feel I could have learned it elsewhere and enjoyed myself more. Until I find that elsewhere, I’ll recommend this book.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Book #94 - Instant Knowledge, edited by Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur

The only reason I can't recommend Instant Knowledge is because a lot of the content is recycled from previous mental_floss books. Not that the bits weren't fun to read a second time around, but with all the flotsam floating around out there, there is enough material to fill fifty books with no repeats.

However, this is the perfect book for someone who enjoys trivia but isn't much of a reader. The book is pocket-sized, and most of its 227 pages only contain one fact.

The 7 Best (non-recycled) Facts in this Book:

1. Two old order Amish men were arrested in Pennsylvania in 1998 for buying cocaine from a motorcycle gang and selling to members of their community.

2. In the 1970s, Gerber introduced Gerber Singles, which were individual servings of food marketed towards single adults. Packaged in jars nearly identical to those of baby food, they were a complete failure.

3. Tin cans were patented in 1810. The can opener wasn't invented until 1858.

4. Contrary to what I was taught in elementary school (and believed until I read this book), the Brontosaurus never existed. The scientist, O.C. Marsh, who discovered the "Brontosaurus" in 1879 didn't realize it was really an Apatosaurus (even though he discovered that too), and because the fossil lacked a head he substituted a skull from a Camarasaurus. Marsh thought the skulls from the two dinosaurs were probably similar (the skulls of the Apatosaurus and the Camarasaurus are completely different) and none of this went noticed until 1970s, when the error was corrected by everyone except my first grade teacher.

5. In the 1960s, PEZ tried to cash in on the hippie generation by offering their candy in azalea, daffodil, and pansy flavors.

6. John Denver once got so mad at his wife that he sawed their bed in half. Rebel.

7. Riders of the Flip-Flap, one the first roller coasters with a loop, experienced up to 12 g's of gravitational force, which was so much that some peoples' necks actually snapped. Oh, and there were no safety belts either. Still, the ride was open for eight years, until about 1903.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Book #93 - Condensed Knowledge, edited by Will Pearson et al.


You know what I love more than feeling smart? Nothing. I'm the librarian you want if you have a strange question and need to know an odd fact. I happily soak trivia in like a sponge, and that's what makes the mental_floss books so delicious to me. It's all trivia, all the time. Yeah, baby.

Condensed Knowledge covers 15 major topics (including history, literature, art history, music, physics, and pop culture. Do not try to tell me that pop culture is not a major topic, because you are wrong and I might hate you), and breaks each down into bite-sized lists that are as fun to read as they sound (6 Musicians Who May (or May Not) Have Choked on Vomit or a Ham Sandwich, 3 Famous Studies That Would Be Illegal Today, Dysfunction Junction: 5 Crime and Kidnapping Capitols).

(I am really into parentheses today).

While I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Forbidden Knowledge, I realize it would have been almost impossible to like it more since Forbidden Knowledge was all sin and scandal, and nothing is better than sin and scandal (not even parentheses).

Three things I learned from this book:

1. Eating the after-dinner mints many restaurants offer is a good thing. The oils in peppermint help to relax your sphincter, which makes you less farty.

2. Half as many people live in Ireland now as compared to before the potato famine.

3. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (which is by far the best Star Trek movie and also one of the greatest movies ever made - don't question it) is basically a retelling of Moby Dick.

Sunday, December 3, 2006


I seem to have all my brilliant ideas in December. Ha, ha.

Last year I decided to start a reading list, which I should have done years ago, but it never occurred to me because I am dumb like that. It's been a year since the reading list was started, and I love it blah, blah, blah, but I feel like I need something more. Soon I will start to forget my thoughts on all the books I am reading, and I don't want to do that. And this is where all those thoughts will go.