Best 5 Books I Read in 2002
2002 was a bad year for me reading. It's not that I read bad books this year, I just didn't read a lot of them. In fact, I read terribly few. I've always been a slow reader & somehow in '01 I felt I'd recovered, which just fell apart in '02. I guess not working in the 'Deis Library is partially to blame, since that was such a great source of reading time. Other culprits include Those Barren Leaves, an Aldous Huxley book that I spent months of 2002 trying to finish & ultimately failing, as it is easily the most dull of his books I've ever attempted, & arguably the most dull book ever written. At 2002's conclusion, I am reading both Tender is the Night (F. Scott Fitzgerald) & The Ides of March (Thornton Wilder), both of which would contend for spots on this list (so far). In fact, I considered hedging on this list till I finished those two & then seeing what made the cut. But this I cannot do. So look for those in '03, & enjoy this year's picks instead:
July, July (Tim O'Brien) ~ a book that actually came out this year was the best I read this year. There's parts of it, as with almost any O'Brien work, that I can't quite relate to. But there's so much that knocks me out that it doesn't matter. It's almost like a collection of short stories that all come together & retrace each other. Almost all of them show O'Brien's understanding of human nature, of the way it is to live as a thinking, caring, regretting human being.
Animal Dreams (Barbara Kingsolver) ~ this book wasn't coming close to this list for most of the time that I read it, but then it more than salvaged itself in the last 50 pages. That shouldn't spoil it if you want to read it, it should keep you getting through it. Basically, the book's about a flake, but one who starts to realize what's wrong & makes real strides to fix it. & that's what makes it cool, rather than wallowing in her flakiness, she up & changes. The dream stuff that made me pick it up in the first place is also great.
Bluebeard (Kurt Vonnegut) ~ no one should up & make comparisons between this & something as good as Jailbird, but it's still a great read. Unlike the above selection, this tapers off at the end rather than picking up steam, but it retains enough of its overall quality to make the list. If you like modern art, steer clear, but if you disrespect it the way I do, you'll enjoy this a lot. Even if you're unsure, it's really easy to get into & has some great character development, which is never guaranteed with Vonnegut.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick) ~ I've yet to see the movie "Blade Runner" that was inspired by this film, & that probably kept this a good read for me. In addition to a clever title, this work offers one of the bleakest views of the future on record, with interesting & compelling analysis of the nature-of-AI debate. The philosophy is backed by some unlikely characters & it all ends up good.
The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway) ~ I'm generally not one for a straight-up adventure story... Treasure Island (which I read in 1987) was pretty much the last one I enjoyed as much as this one. But there's something richer in this work that makes it very compelling & a surprisingly quick read for a fish story (though it is admittedly short). The metaphor of the whole storyline is easily worth a book thrice its length.
The Time Machine (H.G. Wells)
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