Monday, March 13, 2006

Favorite reads of 2005

We're well into 2006, and I had planned to type this up near the beginning of January... better late than never, I suppose. This is a list of the books that I read for the first time in 2005 that I enjoyed the most, and they're listed in no particular order. I read a lot of books in 2005. I know I read more than one hundred and that most of those were ones I'd never read before. That's the life of this humanities grad student for you: I read for school, and then I find myself needing to go read something else in order to make me forget about school.

The Shadow of the Wind. By Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a Spaniard. I loved, absolutely loved this book. Here's what I wrote when I finished it. The next novel he publishes I will preorder.

Eragon. This novel was written by a bestselling author who happens to be younger than I am: Christopher Paolini. The first time I read the book, I had the sensation that I was soaring alongside Eragon on a dragon. That feeling, plus the intense glee I was experiencing from just having finished a school term and the taste of the icy vanilla flavored drink I was sipping as I turned the book's first pages in a coffee shop, was intoxicatingly gorgeous. I think that was more glorious than any reading experience I'd had previously. It was certainly memorable! The sequel that was published in 2005 (Eldest) is pretty good, but I maintain that the first book is better.

Empire: How Spain Became a World Power, 1492-1763. The author is one Henry Kamen. Nonfiction. History. My dad might want to borrow this book from me someday. That is, in the event that he were to tire of his usual diet of history books relating to Churchill, Lincoln, and the Byzantine empire, he might be persuaded to read Empire...

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. From J.K. Rowling, of course. If it's a surprise that this made my list, forgive me for not having been explicit enough about just how much I revere and adore Joanne Kathleen Rowling's writing. Related: I ardently hope that the seventh Potter book will have more pages than my heavily annotated study Bible.

Dune. Frank Herbert is the author. This is the first Dune book I ever read, and after Firefly & Serenity it's the primary culprit for my renewed interest in science fiction. We had fun with the appendices at the back, did we ever, my precious.

Orlando Bloom Has Ruined Everything: A FoxTrot Collection. Drawn by Bill Amend. I wept with laughter.

The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 3/4. Authored by, well, Adrian Plass. I laughed even harder than I did reading the aforementioned FoxTrot book, if that comparison means anything to you.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz o las trampas de la fe. One Mexican literary genius, Octavio Paz, writes about another in this biography of Sor Juana, who happens to be my favorite poet. While not a new title by any means, I think many would say that it's still the best biography of her that there is.

The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force in the Western World in a Few Centuries. By Rodney Stark. Nonfiction. Altered many vague assumptions I had about how the gospel spread throughout the Mediterranean.

Don Quijote de la Mancha. Miguel de Cervantes. I read it unabridged and in Spanish. It took me a while to finish, but I finally made it to the end! It was a lot funnier than I expected it to be. There's no link since I couldn't find the page for my edition at