[DWJ] Best Books of 2006

Roger Burton West roger at firedrake.org
Wed Dec 27 19:00:35 EST 2006

Since for the first time I've kept a list of the books I've read this
year, I suppose I can join in too...

I'm not including role-playing sourcebooks among my candidates (they're
designed to be dipped into rather than read through), but I am including
non-fiction, mostly so that I can say:

*Best Book 2006: Tooze, Adam: The Wages of Destruction: The Making and
Breaking of the Nazi Economy

Quite simply, an economic analysis of Nazi Germany from the seizure of
power until the collapse. It makes a great deal of sense of seemingly
senseless decisions just below the top level (senseless decisions at the
top level are of course the hazard of having a person in charge to whom
nobody dare say "no"), and I recommend it very strongly to anyone with
an interest in the period.

Other great books I read this year:

Everything I could get hold of by Nevil Shute (all but two). Very fine
stuff, and I'd have read him years ago if I hadn't been at school in the
1970s/1980s and therefore been more or less ordered to read _On the
Beach_ so that I'd be properly terrified by anything nuclear. (I managed
to avoid reading it then, though I'm not quite sure how).

All the Vorkosigans, in chronological order. Because I finally got hold
of all of them, and could.

Chesterton, G.K.: The Man Who Was Thursday. Because I felt I ought, at
last, to do so. And I was right.

*Best First Novel: Devereux, David: Hunter's Moon

For you lot it's going to have to be the Most Anticipated Book of 2007
because it's not coming out until next June or so. Har har.

*Best New Series: Jacobs, W. W.: Many Cargoes (etc.)

Ripping yarns in the traditional style. Though I have to say that there
wasn't a lot of competition; I am very wary of new series these days.

*Most Anticipated Book of 2006: Devereux, David: Memoirs of an Exorcist

Because I'm in bits of it.

*Best Guilty Pleasure: Burroughs, Edgar Rice, the Barsoom series

...which I came to for the first time this year. Thanks, Project
Gutenberg! Refreshingly short of heroes who consider themselves Unworthy
(yes, I'm a fan of Sabatini, though Salgari's _Sandokan_ took things too
far even for me).

I've also been working my way through Doc Savage. It's research! Really!

*Biggest Disappointment: Asaro, Catherine et al.: Irresistible Forces

Because even Catherine's story didn't seem up to much. Oh well. "The
Trouble with Heroes" wasn't too bad, I suppose. (I'd read the Bujold
as an independent entity, so I'm not counting it here.)

*Best Recommendation: May, Jesse: Shut Up And Deal

Supposedly true tales of the poker table. The man is messed up in an
interesting way. Should be read by anyone who's thinking of playing
poker with any seriousness - this is what happens if you _win_.

*Strangest Reading Experience: Scalzi, John: Old Man's War

Mostly because, while I can see he's copying a lot of the simpler parts
of Heinlein, I really don't see the point of what he's doing; he never
seems to go beyond Heinlein's model. It's _Starship Troopers_ without
any societal ambiguity. And it's certainly not Hugo-grade, unless the
competition was particularly poor this year. Perhaps I am missing

*Best Re-read: most of Ellis Peters

The modern works, not the historicals, which really don't work as well
for me for all they were vastly more popular (too much that throws me
out of period). If I have to pick one book, probably _Never Pick Up
Hitch-Hikers_. It's a cozy without the country house. Apart from that,
though, I think she was going off towards the end, and was probably glad
to switch to Cadfael full-time.

*Worst Book 2006: Kurtz, Katherine (ed.): Tales of the Knights Templar

Not that I was surprised, really; I only got it for the Doyle/Macdonald
story. But I have a low tolerance for sloppy romanticism.


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