Today I finished reading Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, which is the 100th book to be added to the list of books I have read since November 2006. In celebration of this, I have made a Top 10 list of my favourite reads of the last two years, in no particular order.
Top 10 Favourite Books
The Broken Shore by Peter Temple
The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
Underworld by Don DeLillo
The Innocent by Ian McEwan
Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre
True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
And now for some of the clangers …
Top 5 Least Favourite Books
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
Eucalyptus by Murray Bail
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Mrs. Dalloway by Virgina Woolf
Special Mention: Weirdest Book
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – I can’t be bothered explaining the bizarre concept of this book. Let’s just say it was a chore to get through, yet enjoyable at times. I have Danielewski’s even weirder second novel, Only Revolutions, under my bedside table, having stalled at about page 30.
Below are some other books I have read in years past, which are among my all-time favourites.
The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe – One of my favourite books ever, just amazing. I’ve read a bunch of books by great authors over the past two years (DeLillo, McEwan, etc.) but nothing draws me back like this hilarious, beautifully written brick of a book.
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi – This is the lawyer who put Charles Manson in jail, and the book covers the murders carried out by the so-called Manson Family, and then Bugliosi’s account of the trial itself. The absolute best of true crime, incredibly detailed and gripping from page one.
Cujo by Stephen King – I had to put one Stephen King novel in here, so this is one my favourites. Simple concept, perfectly executed – typical of his early novels. I have read all of his books and will continue to read them, even though his later work (since, oh, 1990) has been patchy.
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer – An amazing tale, well told. What else could you ask from a book? This is the story of the 1996 Everest disaster, told by journalist Jon Krakauer, who happened to be on the mountain at the time. Not without its flaws, but I’ve read it four of five times and love it each time.
One Day in September by Simon Reeve – Another non-fiction book, this time about the kidnapping of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Reeve writes impartially about this quite unique event in modern history, and details the background and shocking aftermath. Again, a book I can read over and over. (Reeve was the first person to write about Osama bin Laden in The New Jackals, published well before 9/11).
The Beach by Alex Garland – Most people who have read this book seem to either love it or hate it. I love it. Shame that Garland’s output since this, his first novel, has been so infrequent.
The Real Frank Zappa Book by Frank Zappa – Of all the books I have purporting to be biographies of bands or musicians this is one of the few I trust. Totally frank (no pun intended), hilariously funny, and often touching (more so since his premature death at age 52), this is Zappa’s story in his own words. Genius is not too strong a word.