Saturday, January 13, 2007

2002 - Best Books of the Year

The Life of the Bee, Maurice Maeterlinck, translated from the French by Alfred Sutro.
A naturalist’s poem in prose by a gifted Belgian playwright. The details of close attention, a philosophy of life based on the natural parable offered by the bees. 427 pages.

alpha beta: How 26 Letters Shaped the Western World, John Man.
A history of the alphabet. Fascinating facts wittily written. 312 pages.

One Year Off: Leaving it All Behind for a Round-the-World Journey with Our Children, David Elliot Cohen.
Made me want to travel like this too. 312 pages.

The Secret Adversary, Agatha Christie.
Mystery. Anything by Agatha is a treat, thanks to her felicitous storytelling. But this is one of the best — the light-hearted thriller where Tommy and Tuppence first meet. 426 pages.

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslovakia, Rebecca West.
Travel/ History. As wonderfully wonderful as this Eastertide Balkan journey is I despair of ever getting anyone else to read it because it is so long—nearly as long as War & Peace. But so good. Rebecca West is not fair-minded. She is the gallant champion of the more gallant Serbs and Croats and Bosnians—writing like an angel back on the eve of the Nazi invasion of Eastern Europe and the false dawn of a new Yugoslavia. History and prophecy, all in one. As rich as a novel, as intense as a poem. I’ve read it twice already. 1181 pages.

Italian Vegetarian Cooking, Emanuela Stucchi.
Cookbook. Vegetables approached with restrained elegance and simplicity. Plus we like the food that results.

The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton.
Essays. The first chapter is especially magical. A thoughtful exploration of what it means to travel and why we do it. 272 pages.

Kershisnik: Painting from Life, Leslie Norris, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Mark Magleby and Brian Kershisnik.
Biography and reproductions of my favorite Utah painter. Library Journal: “an exploration of the work of a particularly gifted artist. Kershisnik works in a small Utah town, creating images of people in quiet, evocative moments of their lives. With wry humor, he paints young musicians asleep in a landscape, three girls watching a fourth fly an unseen kite, and a child cavorting delightedly in a graveyard. His style calls on Chagall, Blake's mysticism, and the portraitists of the Renaissance.” Yup. 128 pages.

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