#60 The Spies of Warsaw, Alan Furst. terrific WW2 spy novelist. to “weigh patriotism against self-interest” – timeless dilemma.
07 Dec

#59 The Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka. prequel to Emperor/Divine; first person plural style reads more like a catalog than a novel
30 Nov

#58 Complete Wine Course, Kevin Zraly. “The Most Famous Wine Book in the World”? comprehensive introduction to the world of wine
28 Nov

#57 The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides. throwback to a victorian model of a novel. well crafted tale, esp of living w/ mental illness
28 Nov

#56 The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes. “a highly wrought meditation on aging, memory and regret”. quiet, powerful – one of the best
20 Nov

#55 Small Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver. personal/political (9/11) essays; some very good, others less powerful. Read Poisonwood instead
16 Nov

#54 1493, Charles Mann. The post-Columbian world (vs his earlier 1491). “unintended consequences” writ large. 1491 is the one to read
9 Nov

#53 The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt. western with perfect mix of comedy & sadness. Eli Sisters = best 2011 fiction character yet
7 Nov

#52 We the Animals, Justin Torres. engaging slim work about boys figuring out their place in a mysterious adult world. violent & tender
1 Nov

#51 Incognito, David Eagleman. “the neural underpinnings of everyday thinking.” ‘team of rivals’ model for brain function is compelling
26 Oct

#50 Daytripper, Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon. “exquisite study in existentialism” beautifully drawn stories of life, death & possibilities
18 Oct

#49 Tiger’s Wife, Téa Obreht. amazing debut; (recent) history as myth. fantastic storyteller w/a bit more style than heart (for now)
14 Oct

#48 The Arctic Marauder, Jacques Tardi. Fabulous blend of woodcut style, the foundations of steam (or ice) punk and a Jules Verne plot
8 Oct

#47 Reamde, Neal Stephenson. ‘Bourne’-style international thriller; brilliant if by almost anyone else; a bit conventional for NS
7 Oct

#46 Habibi, Craig Thompson. graphic novel of the shared heritage of Islam & Christianity. overly dark at times, but in all, astonishing
22 Sep

#45 Paris to the Moon, Adam Gopnik. essays re: his time as an expatriot in Paris. insightful descriptions of our differing cultures
21 Sep

#44 2030, Albert Brooks. Entertaining vision of one possible (likely?) future. Some good guesses, maybe a bit less humor than expected
14 Sep

#43 The Little Book, Selden Edwards. when dual time travel isn’t the least likely part of a story, there are flaws. pleasing but fluffy
9 Sep

#42 Solace of Open Spaces, Gretel Ehrlich. beautifully plain spoken paean to WY via filmmakers eyes. to be tender is to be truly fierce
4 Sep

#41 Program or Be Programmed, Douglas Rushkoff. 10 arguments for critical thinking about networked technology #tweetingisnotprogramming
29 Aug

#40 Bicycle Diaries, David Byrne. not so much about cycling as “an impressionistic glimpse of visited cities”, but an ideal tourguide
29 Aug

#39 Swamplandia!, Karen Russell. dazzling and original writing, but also “a creepy and sinister” story. #mixedbag
21 Aug

#38 Turn Right at Machu Picchu, Mark Adams. funny, insightful; dismissive of the usual woowoo re: MP, yet – appropriate use of #sublime
16 Aug

#37 The Shallows. What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr. the web is tinkering with our brains, and not in a good way
11 Aug

#36 Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann. homage to NYC & Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk between the towers. riveting & gorgeous
7 Aug

#35 True History of the Kelly Gang, Peter Carey. gripping drama, deadpan humor, and a voice that rings true on every level #adjectival
29 Jul

#34 State of Wonder, Ann Patchett. Heart of Darkness but with women? “alive to the nerve ends of philosophical life” reliably terrific
17 Jul

#33 Strength in What Remains, Tracy Kidder. Deo’s story, a journey to hell & incredibly, back again, through the Burundi genocidal war
15 Jul

#32 Netherland, Joseph O’Neill. living in a post-9/11 world; love, marriage – and simply brilliant writing. read fast. pause. reread
6 Jul

#31 Letters to a Young Novelist, Mario Vargas Llosa “world’s cheapest MFA”? I prefer “will make you a subtler taster of novels.”
30 Jun

#30 Bossypants, Tina Fey. she’s brilliant, but reading about how comedy is made is never as good as… comedy #planetripbook
27 Jun

#29 Parrot & Olivier in America, Peter Carey. improv on life of de Tocqueville; terrific scenes of 19th c America & France. more Carey!
23 Jun

#28 Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan. colorful, interwoven character stories (tracks?); technically perfect, but missing heart?
12 Jun

#27 How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne, Sarah Bakewell. engaging biography w/a novel format. you’ll want to read his Essays = perfect
1 Jun

#26 The Reserve, Russell Banks. surprisingly disappointing work by a terrific writer. dull soaper set amidst the lives of the idle rich
24 May

#25 Becoming Odyssa, Jennifer Pharr Davis. latest AT thru hiker read, impressive effort. 30-40 mile days; unclear to me how that’s done
24 May

#24 Cloud Forest, Peter Matthiessen. retelling of a 1960 journey across South America. first 1/2 lags, but trip on the Pongo = amazing
24 May

#23 Skippy Dies, Paul Murray. a universe “built out of loneliness”, or so it seems to a 14yr old. brilliant, funny, sad – huge talent
15 May

#22 Trail Life: Ray Jardine’s Lightweight Backpacking. best overview yet of the state of lightweight backpacking. best advice & ethos
5 May

#21 A Year in the Merde, Paul West. account of year in Paris by a randy young Brit. entertaining, but a few too many easy stereotypes
3 May

#20 Hiking Through, Paul Stutzman. recent AT thru hike story; good detail of the challenges & also a fair amount of ‘walking w/God’
3 May

#19 A Dirty Job, Christopher Moore. goofy, twisted, Tom Robbins-ish fun. not great, but solid guilty pleasure. satisfying, like bear!
1 May

#18 Book Lust to Go: Recommended Reading for Travelers, Nancy Pearl. Reliable recommendations from a beloved Seattle librarian. Corfu!
21 Apr

#17 The Unnamed, Joshua Ferris. “biblical degree of suffering and sorrow”, but hard to empathize. even readers are exhausted by the end
16 Apr

#16 Driving Over Lemons, Chris Stewart. NOT another “we had just 2 mill to spend but a real story of pastoral life in a new land. great
12 Apr

#15 The Storyteller, Mario Vargas Llosa. literature as profound force in culture, particularly the telling of stories. strange & lovely
6 Apr

#14 In Praise of Shadows , Junichiro Tanizaki. lovely piece on Japanese aesthetics, esp shadow / subtlety & mindfulness in architecture
31 Mar

#13 Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe. best selling book, 19th c! Sentimental & uneven; powerful & timeless (see migrant labor)
30 Mar

#12 A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson. 2d (3d?) read, still hilarious & more detailed on some AT challenges than many ‘serious’ titles
12 Mar

#11 Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination, Hugh MacLeod. so many ‘business’ titles = awful; Evil is smart & refreshing
8 Mar

#10 My First Crush: Misadventures in Wine Country, Linda Kaplan. informs & engages, albeit the “we bought a great biz & then…” genre
6 Mar

#9 The Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk masterful meditation on time, desire & possession; a Proust for our time: http://bit.ly/hgWhMr
4 Mar

#8 The Long Road Turns to Joy, Thich Nhat Hanh ‘Peace is Every Step’ is better, but Hahn is a prescient guide to the art of mindfulness
3 Mar

#7 Bring It! Tony Horton. it’s a book length Men’s Health article (2/3 pix), but it’s as good as these get. holistic in the best sense
2 Mar

#6 Gryphon: New & Selected Stories, Charles Baxter. amazing ability to observe, and no one does the midwest better. “Feast” still my #1
2 Mar

#5 Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Backpackin’ Book, Allen O’Bannon. entertaining stuff, and good sketches = surprisingly useful (+funny)
1 Mar

#4 Under the Poppy, Kathe Koja. read Poppy solely on Cory Doctorow’s recommend. Lush, original style; 1st half more compelling than 2nd
1 Mar

#3 Long-Distance Hiking

#2 Secrets of the Sommeliers, Rajat Parr interesting glimpse into the life of a sommelier, and their relationship to the wine business
28 Feb

#1 How to Hike the A.T., Michelle Ray some good research. first of many of these this; I have a lot to learn, and winter is the time.
28 Feb