January 2nd, 2006

last unicorn

Extra Bonus Book Wrap-Up (2005)

Given that I completed my book goal (and associated end-of-year post) on December 22, it should not be too surprising that a few more books were completed before the end of the year. So here they are...

53. The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way (Bill Bryson)
This book was, alas, something of a disappointment. I wanted to like it, but when I was confronted within the first few pages with the old "Eskimos have fifty words for snow" myth, it became painfully clear that I couldn't believe anything he said (and that's without even mentionning that he's still using the word 'Eskimo' and, later, 'Indian' -- rather careless terminology for someone writing a book about words). So while it was a light, fluffy, enjoyable read in many ways, it was not a well-researched or trustworthy one. Indeed, I rather doubt it was researched much at all -- in the acknowledgements, he thanks his mother for sending him clippings, suggesting that, rather than do any actual research, or even read any actual studies, he has based a large portion of the book on newspaper and magazine reports of research -- hardly the most reliable source I can think of! *

54) Fables: Homelands (Bill Willingham et al.)
This is the latest in what is probably my favourite comic series at the moment. In this installment, we finally find out who the Adversary is (confirming, incidentally, a suspicion I had), and get a fair bit of back-story. It's something that probably needed to be done, but I'm not entirely happy with how the extended exposition was handled. And since I desperately want to know what's going on with Bigby and Snow and their kids and his father, it was a disappointment that they were entirely absent from this volume. (It's true, I prefer the soap opera love story element to the grand epic quest element, at least in this series. Is that so wrong?) Still a good read, and highly recommended, of course. ****

55) American Gods (Neil Gaiman)
I love this book, and I probably loved it even more upon re-reading it this time. I love the way it's a puzzle that fits together so neatly in the end, and I love the epic "battle of the gods" storyline. This continues to be one of my favourite books. *****

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