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Friday, December 30, 2005

Books of 2005

Kevin Drum posted a complete list of books he read in 2005. That seemed like a fairly good idea to me, though I do not intend to list books that I reviewed, unless those reviews were published. In my academic job, I chair a committee that awards $200,000 annually to the best "ideas for improving world order." Most of our winners have written books and I read my share of the nominations.

Of course, since I'm an academic, I read multiple chapters and large sections of lots of books related to my research and teaching. However, I'm not going to list them here unless I read them cover-to-cover. Save for the books I use in class or read for review, I often skim over some portions even of outstanding books. It's a time/efficiency issue.

Finally, I'm also excluding the books I read aloud to my daughters, even though some of them are fairly substantial.

So, what did I read this year, mostly for pleasure?

Non-fiction

America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy
, by Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay (used in class)

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris.

Fear's Empire: War, Terrorism, and Democracy in an Age of Interdependence, by Benjamin Barber

Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror, by Michael Scheuer (originally as "Anonymous")

May the Best Team Win: Baseball Economics and Public Policy, by Andrew Zimbalist

The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination with Statistics, by Alan Schwarz

The Pitch That Killed, by Mike Sowell

Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World, by Walter Russell Mead (used in class)

Of these, I make use of Mead most frequently, really enjoyed Schwarz, and found Scheuer somewhat unsettling, though convincing in many ways.

Fiction

Basket Case, by Carl Hiassen

The Bounty Hunters, by Elmore Leonard

Gunsights, by Elmore Leonard

The Lady in the Lake, by Raymond Chandler

The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler

Mildred Pierce, by James M. Cain

Mr. Paradise, by Elmore Leonard

No Way to Treat a First Lady, by Christopher Buckley

Pop Goes the Weasel, by James Patterson

Strike Three, You're Dead, by Richard Rosen

Timequake, by Kurt Vonnegut

When the Women Come Out to Dance: Stories, by Elmore Leonard

The White House Mess, by Christopher Buckley

You Know Me Al, by Ring Lardner

In all honesty, none of this fiction was particularly great. Cain's was perhaps the best. I read these somewhat marginal books by Chandler, Hiassen, Leonard and Vonnegut because I've already read their best works -- almost all their books, in fact.

I'm currently halfway through Jeremy Rifkin's The European Dream and Roger Angell's Game Time. However, I temporarily put both aside and started a collection of Chandler short stories and Michael Klare's Blood and Oil. The latter will be used in one of my classes this upcoming term.

I'm thinking about working my way through the works of Graham Greene in 2006. I've only read a few of his books, but all were excellent.


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