Everything marked "audio" is an unabridged Book on tape, because abridgments suck monkey ass.
What I read Jan-March 2004:
The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time by Douglas Adams (audio)
collected essays, magazine articles and fragments from his harddrive. good but he repeats a lot of the same jokes/anecdotes in many pieces, which gets tedious.
Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs, and Binion's World Series of Poker James McManus (audio)
Gonzo journalism in which a writer assigned to cover the world series of Poker (and a murder trial of a casino big-wig) decides to enter the high-stakes tournament and does a lot better than you think he would. Passes lara's ultimate Non-fiction test: "does the book make a topic I previously cared nothing about seem interesting and compelling?" riveting.
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal -- by Eric Schlosser
Scary. Prescient. Published before mad cow appeared in this country but saw it coming. also interesting from a labor/econ point of view.
What Should I Do with My Life? : The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question -- by Po Bronson
recommended by holyoutlaw. inspiring. favorite segment: the aimless teen trying to figure out his college major gets a letter from the Dalai Lama saying, "hey, you're a reincarnation of a holy figure, get your butt over to the monastary, Rinpoche". And you thought your career path was convoluted!
In the Little World : A True Story of Dwarfs, Love, and Trouble by John H. Richardson.
recommended by theda. A look at the world of the Little People of America (you know, midgets, although dwarf is the prefered term now), their annual convention, and how much they hate inspirational magazine features of the "famous local Dwarf has big heart but little body" type. Book is sympathetic to dwarf issues but unafraid to show dwarves as just as petty or screwed up as you or me.
Cropper's Cabin- Jim Thompson
I'll read anything of his. up to par.
Dead white Female - Lauren Henderson
"Tart noir" UK mystery. guilty pleasure for me.
The Secret History- Donna Tartt (audio)
Authors should rarely narrate their own books. If you are a woman author born in Mississippi and your first novel is in the POV of a Californian guy at a wealthy Vermont college, you look like a jackass/prima donna for not letting a professional reader narrate your book. While I'm being catty, okay first novel, but would have benefited from editing out 100 or so pages. Glad the era of the "Bennington novel" (Easton Ellis, Janowitz, McIrnerney, Tartt, etc) seems to be over.
The Far Cry- Frederic Brown
See Jim Thompson entry.
Torso: A true Crime graphic novel- Brian Bendis
okay art but sloppy research for a true story that relies heavily on newspaper clippings from the time: Bendis has the killer sending postcards to Elliot Ness and clearly shows us the postcard' s address- including a fucking ZIP CODE! (which would not be invented for 20-30 years after the story takes place). Sloppy, sloppy. Maybe the average 16 year old comix fan can ignore such things but I can't stand blatant anachronism in my true crime.
The Sparrow - Maria Doria Russell
Jesuits in Space. kinda religious in theme but not in an offputting way. Great character development.
American Gods- Neil Gaiman (audio)
Fun book, good reading. Basic premise: immigrants come to the US over the centuries and bring their gods and beliefs over, but what happens to the gods when people assimilate and or/stop believing? Answer: they lose power, and they aren't very happy about it.
Fear and Trembling- Amelie Nothomb
recommended by futch. Autobiographical novel of french girl who speaks Japanese who goes to work for big company in Japan in the late 80's; culture clashes ensue. Comic but also kinda creepy. Made me think corporate America wasn't so bad, comparatively.
Children of god- Maria Doria Russell
Sequel to The Sparrow. Eh. so-so. starts off good but at the end I was wishing she'd left the first one alone.
The Book of Illusions- Paul Auster (audio)
birthday gift from futch. I'd never read Auster; this one was pretty good. Nice blend of tragedy and insight into the creative impulse. Read by the author, who's actually not too bad at narration. Reading futch's LJ and noticing his recent obsession with silent films; it was fun to be reading this at the same time, as the plot revolves around a man uncovering the life story of a mostly forgotten silent comedian.