January 8th, 2006

books

Books 2005

Since I'm keeping track of the books I'm reading in 2006, I thought I'd try to list all the books I read last year. Here is an incomplete list of books I read during 2005. It's incomplete because I deliberately excluded books I'd already read in earlier years, and because it's pretty likely I've just forgotten some of them. Graphic novels are listed separately. Both lists are in alphabetical order by title. Titles I particularly enjoyed are in red.

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Looking over this list, I'm surprised so few of them (17) are non-fiction titles. I usually try to maintain a better balance between fiction and non-fiction than that.

  • Current Music
    The Kinks - Destroyer
books

Books 2006: Our Endangered Values

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This was neither the book I expected it to be, nor, I guess, what I hoped it would be. What it is is a collection of short essays by former President Carter setting forth his position on various moral and/or political issues and explaining how his Christian faith and his personal experiences have shaped those positions. And as such, it's a fine book. But I found it a little thin. For example, at various points throughout the book, he cites statistics and quotes newspaper articles, but doesn't provide references. That bothered me a bit. And frankly, I was hoping he would provide a more forceful denunciation of the moral failings of the current administration. Yes, he was consistent in his criticism of religious and political fundamentalists, but it would have been nice to see him link the current occupant of his old office with said fundamentalists. Oh well.

  • Current Music
    Naked Eyes - Always Something There to Remind Me
books

Books 2006: By Order of the President

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This is a novel of great contradictions. FIrst of all, it promises "plenty of action" on the back cover, but the action sequences are few and far between, and they're described so clinically that they end up having little impact. And the terrorist plot at the center of the novel is completely ludicrous &mdash which isn't necessarily a flaw; a terrorist plot to explode a shrapnel-filled blimp over the Super Bowl is pretty ludicrous too, yet Black Sunday is one of the all-time classics of the genre — but Griffin robs it of any sense of danger by having the characters comment repeatedly on how silly it is.

The biggest problem is with the protagonist, Major Castillo. He's even more over-the-top wonderful than the back cover would have you believe. He's not just a pilot, he can fly everything from a Huey to a Boing 727. He's not just a West Point grad, he's got Special Forces training too. He's not just a veteran of Desert Storm, he also received a combat decoration for mounting a risky mission (against orders) to rescue a fellow soldier. Also: he speaks seven langauges; he's the son of a posthumous Medal of Honor winner; he's independently wealthy and ruggedly handsome; he's simultaneously a major in the U.S. Army, top personal aide to the Secretary of Homeland Security, and a supervisory special agent in the Secret Service; countless beautiful women want to have sex with him; and he's the lifelong friend and protege of the commanding general of the US Army Central Command. And once he made a woman climax just by pointing at her and saying, "boo-yah." Wait, no, that was Chuck Norris.

Anyway, for all his mighty powers and abilities, Castillo pretty much does nothing. He flies all over the world to meet with CIA operatives and Russian arms dealers and counter-terrorism specialists and the commanding general of Delta Force, who in turn do all the actual work of tracking down the missing airplane. Castillo is basically a glorified project manager. Which, I suppose, is sort of the point Griffin is trying to make. In an environment where the various intelligence agencies refuse to share information and are as interested in covering their asses as in getting the job done, maybe you need someone like Castillo to get things moving. That doesn't make it any less ridiculous, though.

See all the books I've read this year