Best of 2001

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Wed Jan 2 13:27:53 EST 2002

Melissa came up with a List...

(I'm gonna play; I love lists, though like Melissa I have difficulty
remembering what I read when.)
> *********************************
> Best Book of the Year: This is usually a book that a) I was unable
to stop
> reading until it was finished and b) I could not stop talking about
to other
> people after I'd finished it and c) left me feeling physically and
> emotionally wrung out.

This one has to be "Ash: A Secret History" by Mary Gentle.  I came
across it in the library, was attracted by the cover art, and
immediately hooked when I looked inside it and saw how wonderfully it
was presented as a "real but suppressed" book.  I love that kind of
thing when it's done well.  It's an enormous book, but I just couldn't
stop reading, and bored everyone I know for weeks after I finished it.
It looks like a relatively ordinary high fantasy with the framing
device of letters and e-mails between the author (of the supposed
non-fiction book) and his publisher, but as you go along it becomes
more and more apparent that the framing device is not a device at all,
but an integral part of the story...I don't want to say more because
you all have to read it if you haven't already!  But the end just
smacked me in the gut.

> Most Addictive Book: This is a book that I read at least twice in a
> back-to-back, dreamed about, fantasized about, etc.

Probably "Passage" by Connie Willis, which is also a contender for
Best Book.

> Most Unexpected Discovery:

I think this has to be Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy,
which I heard people raving about on several mailing lists, so picked
up when I saw it in the library - and now own my own set.

> Biggest Disappointment:

This is a tie between "The Sterkarm Handshake" and "I Capture the
Castle".  Both came highly recommended, and I really wanted to like
both of them, and both just annoyed me.  In the former, the characters
irritated me beyond bearing, and the story just didn't seem to be
going anywhere; I gave up around chapter six.  In the latter, I was
unreasonably annoyed by the main character's behaviour in particular,
and thoroughly furious when she went off with what I considered to be
the wrong guy at the end.

> Book I Had the Most Fun Reading:

Another tie here - "Bellwether" by Connie Willis and "The Truth" by
Terry Pratchett.  Both books kept me reading with a silly grin on my

> Book I was Angriest about Not Liking:

"A Kiss of Shadows" by Laurell K. Hamilton.  I just loved the idea of
elves and such running around the real world, and of an elven princess
in disguise as a PI.  But it rapidly degenerated into one kinky sex
scene after another, where I'd been expecting a story, not soft porn.

> Best Sequel:

"Ender's Shadow" by Orson Scott Card.  It's not really exactly a
sequel to "Ender's Game", since it covers the same time period and the
same events as the earlier book, just from a different character's
point of view...but I'm going to count it anyway, because it's
wonderful!  I almost think I like it better than "Ender's Game".

> Favorite Guilty Pleasure:

"Promises, Promises" by Patricia Scanlan.  Ms. Scanlan writes
chick-lit set in Ireland and I always feel I should be reading
something more "worthy", especially since I detest most
chick-lit...but her books are just so much fun, and unlike many in the
genre, are full of very real characters, and tightly plotted.

> Worst Book of 2001:

Another piece of Irish chick-lit: "Three Times a Lady" by Sarah Webb.
Dull characters, trite plot, badly structured, and obviously
completely untouched by the hand of a copy-editor, which might have
averted such foolish mistakes as having a character cross the Atlantic
in a 737!

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at

"Where-e'er you find 'the cooling western breeze,'
In the next line, it 'whispers through the trees':
If crystal streams 'with pleasing murmurs creep,'
The reader's threaten'd (not in vain) with 'sleep'"
-Alexander Pope, "Essay on Criticism"

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