Thursday, December 3, 2009

NPR's Best Books to Share with Friends

This is one of my favorite times of year. And not because the store is full to the gills with wonderful new books and other gifts, although that would be true. And not because the store is full of wonderful customers, many looking for help in choosing just the right gifts for special someones in their lives, although that would be true as well. And not because it gets dark so early at night, because that would definitely not be true. But because -- and yes, you can call me weird for this -- this is the time of year when everyone under the sun puts out their "Best X Books of the Year."

I get such a kick out of reading all of these lists, both for general amusement and for inspiration for more to-be-read books to add to the already teetering stacks around my house of books I intend to read someday.....

You've got your generic "Best books of the year" lists, from copious periodicals. And then the more nichy "best books to read in the bathtub," or "best books to give to children," or "best cookbooks," or "best books for changing your life," or "best books about animals whose names start with the letter M." Lists of best books for just about anything.

Today I will share with you one of the new lists from National Public Radio: NPR's Best Books to Share with Friends. Why didn't I think of that? And isn't it easy to share a bound book with a friend? Just hand it to them. Not like trying to share a book on your Kindle. The list was compiled by Glen Weldon. Here we go:
  • Asterios Polyp, by David Mazzucchelli. This envelope-pushing graphic novel is about a pompous middle-aged architect. You'll hear more about this one from us later.

  • The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. This is an adorably packaged (my guess is she would hate that description) collection of stories that is spare but not slight. She was in town recently to read as part of the Literary Arts series. NPR calls the book a "quiet, witty, thoroughly absorbing read."

  • Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. NPR says this book is "so good you forgive the exclamation point." I love that! (and I forgive my own exclamation point.) This is a haunting, imaginative novel about how to live in a world without meaning but that is grounded in the messy, mysterious business of human interaction.

  • The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy and the History of Comic Book Heroines, by Mike Madrid. Pretty much what the titles says: a complete history and anlysis of women in comics.

  • Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo, by Werner Herzog. Film director Herzog spent three years in the Amazon making the movie Fitzcarraldo, which included pulling an actual steamship over a real mountain. Ugh. I don't think I'd want to do that anywhere, but especially not in the Amazon! (Oops -- there's that darned exclamation mark again.) The book provides an intimate portrait of an artist whose life work explores the place where determination shades into madness.

Ok, there you have it. Would YOU share these books with friends? If not, what books would you share with friends? Send us your nominees. Hey, we could build our own list! Wouldn't that be fun???

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