Tuesday, January 16, 2007

2004 - Best Books of the Year

Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation Of Language And Music And Why We Should, Like, Care, John McWhorter
Cultural critique. Witty and insightful, McWhorter, an African-American professor at Berkeley and acclaimed linguist, pinpoints 1967 as a watershed shift from classical education to multi-culti relevance. 304 pages.

One More River to Cross (Standing on the Promises, Book 1), Margaret Young & Aidan Darius Grey.
Historical novel with foot-notes. Early Latter-day Saints who faced slavery, prejudice, and unfairness at the hands of their European-descent brothers and sisters, even within the church they loved. Opened my eyes and, I hope, my heart. 337 pages. (2 other books in series as well.)

Black Athena: the Afro-asiatic Roots of Classical Civilization vol 1, Martin Bernal
Non-fiction (though some critics would disagree). A rewriting of ancient classical history—the African and Hebrew roots of Greek traditions. Interesting thesis and engaging writing—I also enjoyed the insight into the quarrelling of academic life. 575 pages.

A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
Novel of India, a story of life in this world. I have rarely loved characters so dearly. Makes me question the foundations of the life worth living and fills me with a deep courage to try better to face horrors with the power of my human heart. 624 pages.

The Dancing Bear, Peter Dickinson.
Historical novel. The fall of Byzantium, a boy and a girl and a dancing bear. We can’t decide which of the three is our favorite character. The boy is kind and learns to be strong, the girl is brave and learns to love, the bear is wholly bear. There is also a Byzantine monk turned missionary, wild Huns, villages of Slavs and the last descendant of a Roman aristocrat. A beautiful book and worth the effort to hunt it down. 300-ish pages

The Year 1000 : What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, Danny Danziger and Robert Lacey.
History. Month-by-month, illustrated with drawings from the medieval Julius Work Calendar, a lively examination of daily life in the year 1000. We read it aloud and we all enjoyed it—did skip reading aloud for one section about medieval sexuality—not particularly offensive, just not appropriate for a read-aloud to preteens and a preschooler. 240 pages.

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