Best of 2001

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at ic.ac.uk
Mon Jan 21 06:06:30 EST 2002


Hallie wrote:
>I'll propose a new category, which I hope some others will at least
understand:
>Book I Most Enjoyed While Thinking It Was Awful.  Mine is _Evelina_ 
>by Fanny Burney.  I read it because of Jane Austen's wonderful 
>defense of the Novel scene in _Northanger Abbey_.  I think it's 
>actually another book by FB mentioned there, but I found this one 
>first.  It was really enjoyable, in a very painful way.  Swoonings on 
>virtually every other page, fits of weeping galore, and the most 
>pitiful, silliest heroine one could wish for. :)  I kept thinking how 
>far JA brought the novel on...

Ooh, yes, I liked that too! After _NA_, I also read "Cecelia" by Burney, and
"Castle Otranto" (so I knew what the Gothic novels JA was satirising
actually *were*), and Tom Jones, and something by another early woman
novelist whose name I forget. All in a lump of a couple of months, after
which I spoke with capital Letters on words for a little While.

How about Most Eyeopening? Jean Kilbourne's "Can't Buy My Love: how
advertising changes the way we think and feel" [I think that's the correct
subtitle] was a very good book, well-written, very scary, very, well,
eye-opening. I tried to be sceptical of mass culture before but she really
supports her thesis, of how corporations manipulate our whole society,
strongly and it has made me look at a lot of things in a new way. (And mute
the TV during ad-breaks.)

I'd also propose a category for Book I Am Most Glad To _Have Read_ Even
Though I Didn't Enjoy Reading It if I'd actually managed to get through
Oliver Twist. For some reason Dickens represents to me all the Important
Victorian novelists that I find really, really dull but think I ought to
read because of Culture. Maybe I should stop making new yr's resolutions to
try and get through them. There's lots of bits of Culture that I do enjoy.
(Latin poetry. Yum.)

Most of my favourite books read last year have been mentioned already,
except for some of my odder tastes like cookbooks (the collection of
Elizabeth David's journalism, Is There A Nutmeg In The House? came out in
paperback). Bujold's Civil Campaign, Hughart's Bridge of Birds. Thank you to
the list for recommending Caroline Stevermer, I love her.

My Most Disappointing, like most people's, I think, was not actually bad but
couldn't live up to my expectations. Sherri Tepper's early True Game series
and the sequel Jinian series are some of my favourite YA fantasy (I like her
newer books a lot less.) They are out of print but gettable. The prequel
Mavin series is even more out of print, and I eventually gritted my teeth
and bought them over the internet for a lot more than I would usually even
consider paying for paperbacks. And they're good, and I'm glad to have them,
but not really worth the price.
Jennifer
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