Books I Read This Year (2010)

A Listmania! list by R. Nyburg "Zombie Critic" (Eugene, Oregon)
 
The Act of Creation (Arkana)
1.  The Act of Creation (Arkana) by Arthur Koestler
The list author says:
  "A brilliant work of scholarship from one of the foremost intellectuals of his era. Studies the human creative act using both literary and scientific methods of explanation. The first half of the book is the most fun, full of insight and literary references. The second half delves into the science of his claims and is slower going, but is still enthralling."
Used & New from: $33.21
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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The Tenants of Moonbloom (New York Review Books Classics)
2.  The Tenants of Moonbloom (New York Review Books Classics) by Edward Lewis Wallant
The list author says:
  "Lyrical and flowing tale of a man who collects rents for his slumlord brother and how his personal shell is cracked open by the people he comes across in his rounds. A disjointed kaleidoscope of characters and a beautiful writing style carry the novel, though some of the metaphors for Moonbloom's awakening are hit much to strongly and much too often."
$13.16   Used & New from: $4.32
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

A Canticle for Leibowitz
3.  A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The list author says:
  "Imaginative and intelligent work of science fiction that tells the tale of North American civilization recovering after nuclear war. The plot focuses on a group of monks who worship a patron saint, Leibowitz, who was an engineer before the war and focused his life on protecting human knowledge afterward, a tradition the monks continue through the next 1600 years."
$14.02   Used & New from: $5.44
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (421 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Confessions of an English Opium Eater
4.  Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincey
The list author says:
  "Classic memoir from De Quincey concerning his longtime use of opium during a time when it was legal and widely available. The highlight is the sequence concerning his dreams. Everything builds up to this short passage, but its worth slogging through a lot of rambling drivel to get to it. Decent, but a curiosity these days more than anything."
$10.95   Used & New from: $3.92
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Ask the Dust
5.  Ask the Dust by John Fante
The list author says:
  "Novel about a struggling writer in late 1930s Los Angeles. Pose flows and has great lyrical moments, a style woven into the DNA of many writers to follow. Interesting, but having read so much of the type of work this inspired I found the source tedious. Good, but I'm half-hearted in my praise."
$12.85   Used & New from: $7.96
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

The Collector
6.  The Collector by John Fowles
The list author says:
  "A novel concerning an obsessive man who imprisons a young woman. Told from both the man and woman's perspectives, it's a look at obsession, class conflict and friction between different modes of living. Starts off feeling bland, then it seems as if its trying to force its ideas too hard, but it all pulls together smoothly in the end."
Used & New from: $5.19
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)

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The Golem (Dedalus European Classics)
7.  The Golem (Dedalus European Classics) by Gustav Meyrink
The list author says:
  "Tale of fantasy and madness set in the 19th century Jewish ghettos of Prague. The title figure isn't the well-known golem, but rather a catalyst for the action surrounding the narrator. Disjointed and full of fascinating diversions."
$7.93   Used & New from: $3.85
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Alchemy - a Pelican Original
8.  Alchemy - a Pelican Original by Eric John Holmyard
The list author says:
  "A fairly thorough and well-explained history of alchemical practices and practitioners. Strongly focused on the technical aspects of the pseudo-science, with some discussion of its symbolic and mystical elements."
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4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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The Outsider
9.  The Outsider by Colin Wilson
The list author says:
  "A philosophical work that tackles some of the problems of existentialism and modern alienation. The author uses literary and historical examples to deal with the issue of "the outsiders," those in society who have become dissatisfied with modern life. Thoughtful, if not always thought-provoking."
$10.85   Used & New from: $4.54
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

The Man in the High Castle
10.  The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
The list author says:
  "One of the early works of alternate history, though with a totally different purpose than what that genre eventually came to. Dick uses the tale of an America that lost WWII and is ruled by Japan and German as a reflection on the nature of reality and authenticity. One of his best, most fully realized works."
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4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (399 customer reviews)

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Storm of Steel (Penguin Classics)
11.  Storm of Steel (Penguin Classics) by Michael Hofmann
The list author says:
  "The memoir of a German soldier in WWI, this reveals the harsh life of a front line fighter on the losing side of one of history's bloodiest conflicts. Junger skips politics and context, making this a straight meditation on war and soldiering."
$9.32   Used & New from: $7.48
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)

Pricksongs & Descants: Fictions
12.  Pricksongs & Descants: Fictions by Robert Coover
The list author says:
  "Collection of short stories from Robert Coover. Ingenious, fascinating and sometimes heartbreaking looks and modern life, fairytale realities and social degradation."
$12.66   Used & New from: $1.01
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Giovanni's Room
13.  Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
The list author says:
  "Decent enough minor work from Baldwin detailing a man's affair with another man in early 1960s Paris. Fairly mundane plot and rushed characterizations would leave this nothing but a brief melodrama if it weren't for Baldwin's often sparkling prose."
Used & New from: $6.99
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

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Plagues and Peoples
14.  Plagues and Peoples by William H. McNeill
The list author says:
  "Examination of the role infectious disease has played in shaping human history. Revealing work that foreshadows Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" by around 30 years, though with a more limited focus."
$14.45   Used & New from: $4.75
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)

Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar
15.  Richard Brautigan's Trout Fishing in America, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan
The list author says:
  "A collection of three of Brautigan's strange, funny books. The language is rich with invention, though it makes for light reading. "Trout Fishing in America" is a straight out classic, not really a novel and not really poetry, but a meditation on prose, Americana and whatever happened to be going through the author's head."
$13.23   Used & New from: $4.57
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

English as She Is Spoke: Being a Comprehensive Phrasebook of the English Language, Written by Men to Whom English was Entirely Unknown (Collins Library)
16.  English as She Is Spoke: Being a Comprehensive Phrasebook of the English Language, Written by Men to Whom English was Entirely Unknown (Collins Library) by Jose da Fonseca
The list author says:
  "Classic of unintentional humor. Intended to teach English to Portuguese students, yet written by a man who possessed a French to Portuguese phrasebook and a French to English dictionary but no knowledge of English. Great for those into absurd humor, but this kind of thing has become so common that it sometimes reads like a long email forward."
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4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Titus Groan
17.  Titus Groan by Mervyn Laurence Peake
The list author says:
  "The first book in Peake's "Gormenghast" trilogy. Tells the story of the inhabitants of a large, crumbling castle, all obsessed with the ancient rituals and ceremonies that seem to have no purpose. Pure, unadulterated atmosphere and poetry."
$13.13   Used & New from: $4.80
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)

The Cruel Sea (Classics of War)
18.  The Cruel Sea (Classics of War) by Nicholas Monsarrat
The list author says:
  "Fictional tale of the British convoys that fed the Allied war effort in WWII. Thrilling and engrossing look at an often forgotten aspect of the war."
$12.56   Used & New from: $2.15
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)

Fifth Business (Penguin Classics)
19.  Fifth Business (Penguin Classics) by Robertson Davies
The list author says:
  "The first book in Davies' classic "Deptford Trilogy." Tells the story of a scholarly young man whose life is changed by a chance throwing of a snowball. Explores the connections between myth, religion and history. Brilliant storytelling."
$12.43   Used & New from: $0.27
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)

The Manticore (Penguin Classics)
20.  The Manticore (Penguin Classics) by Robertson Davies
The list author says:
  "The second book in the "Deptford Trilogy." This continues the tale through the psychoanalysis undergone by the son of one of the characters in the first book. Wonderful storytelling mixed with Jungian psychology."
$12.18   Used & New from: $4.55
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)

Dangerous Visions
21.  Dangerous Visions by Harlan Ellison
The list author says:
  "Classic anthology of science fiction stories from what at the time was considered the hot young turks of modern sci-fi. Philip K. Dick, Philip Jose Farmer, J.G. Ballard and John T. Sladek lead the pack, but the whole thing is a must-read for sci-fi fans."
Used & New from: $21.37
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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World of Wonders (Penguin Classics)
22.  World of Wonders (Penguin Classics) by Robertson Davies
The list author says:
  "The final book in Davies' "Deptford" trilogy. Fills out the story by telling the life of magician Paul Dempson (his original, but not final, name). A nice coda to the trilogy."
$10.49   Used & New from: $2.06
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

The Lady in the Lake
23.  The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
The list author says:
  "The fourth of Chandler's Marlow series. The prose becomes even tighter, the plot a little grimmer and all of it just as much hard-boiled fun as ever."
$12.30   Used & New from: $0.01
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Zodiac
24.  Zodiac by Robert Graysmith
The list author says:
  "Excellent true crime work that exhaustively tells the story of the Zodiac killings that terrorized the Bay Area in the late 1960s and 70s. Touches on areas of police procedure, symbology and the author's own growing obsession with the killings, the latter adding an interesting subtext."
$8.99   Used & New from: $0.01
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)

Devils (Oxford World's Classics)
25.  Devils (Oxford World's Classics) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The list author says:
  "One of the better of Dostoevsky's lesser novels, dealing with political intrigues, scandal and madness that invades a small town. A wide cast of characters, some grotesque humor and an expansive plot make it an interesting read."
$8.29   Used & New from: $5.10
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Heroes and Villains
26.  Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter
The list author says:
  "A mythical tale of sorts taking place in a post-nuclear war world. A young woman from one of the few civilized cities takes up with a band of barbarians. The language is beautiful, but it's like a parable that isn't a parable for anything. You can tell why her short stories are held in such high regard, but this might not be the best introduction."
Used & New from: $3.66
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Dead Languages (Graywolf Rediscovery Series)
27.  Dead Languages (Graywolf Rediscovery Series) by David Shields
The list author says:
  "Story of a young man who becomes obsessed with the failure to communicate directly, an obsession fueled by his stuttering. Decent entry into the "quirky family story as told by dysfunctional outsider" genre of literature with an often adroit use of language, but the book ironically fails to communicate anything of value."
$12.11   Used & New from: $0.01
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Gone with the Wind
28.  Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The list author says:
  "Big epic tale of the collapse of Southern society during the Civil War, told from the perspective of a hard-headed former belle. Addictive and told in bold strokes, though the author's opinion on the history leaks in to the point of diatribe, and the racism ranges from mild to grating. Great entertainment, if you can swallow its failings."
Used & New from: $0.22
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,680 customer reviews) | 4 customer discussions

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City Life
29.  City Life by Donald Barthelme
The list author says:
  "Another in my project to dig up Barthelme's original short story collections. If you don't know Barthelme, go for "60 Stories". If you do, this has some gems you will be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Lot of storyless rambling in this one, but even at his most (seemingly) senseless, the pure rush of his language in invigorating."
Used & New from: $0.04
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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The Investigation
30.  The Investigation by Stanislaw Lem
The list author says:
  "Open-ended metaphysical mystery from Lem, one of the great minds of science fiction. Either completely unsatisfying or totally engrossing, depending on why you read mysteries. Loved it."
$16.16   Used & New from: $9.95
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

Maigret Stonewalled
31.  Maigret Stonewalled by Georges Simenon
The list author says:
  "The first of the "Maigret" mysteries I've read. It's detective fiction boiled down to its essence, just a problem and a search for its solution, with a detective who hardly seems to exist as a character, except for that he is someone interested in the "why" as much as the "how." Simple and effective."
Used & New from: $16.80
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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R. Nyburg "Zombie Critic" (Eugene, Oregon)
Last updated: 1/5/11
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