Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My Favorite Non-Genre Books of 2000

Since it's now the end of one year, this is slightly less random than it would be if I posted it in June, so it's going up now. It was originally posted to rec.arts.sf.written 1/11/01, and probably existed because someone asked "Hey, what books did everyone like this past year?":

Well, of the books I read in 2000 that don't get put on the usual SF/Fantasy/Horror racks, the best were:

Paul Hoffman, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers -- a great biography of mathematician Paul Erdos, who was practically an alien himself.

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs & Steel -- explains all of human history, based mostly on geography and domesticable animals.

Joe Queenan, Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler -- zippy collection of essays from my favorite movie reviewer (it's perfect because he hates everything and I hardly ever get to see movies, so I don't feel like I'm missing anything).

Joel Achenbach, Captured by Aliens -- a serious look at UFO loonies by a guy previously known for lightweight "silly fact" books.

Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm and Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle -- two funny and touching looks at rural England in about mid-century.

Paco Underhill, Why We Buy -- a fascinating look at modern marketing strategies

Slavomir Rawicz, The Long Walk -- this guy was a Polish POW in Siberia and, with a few others, broke out and walked to India. Amazing true story.

Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country -- I still think Notes from a Small Island is his best & funniest book, but he's one of the smoothest, most engaging writers around.

Lawrence Block, Ronald Rabbit Is a Dirty Old Man -- either the funniest sex novel ever written or the comedy with the most "good parts," take your pick. Back in print recently for the first time in decades.

And, last but not least, Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth -- an absolutely brilliant graphic novel about despair, loneliness and other cheery topics.

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