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Monday, January 01, 2007

Books of 2006

Last year, I posted a complete list of books I read in 2005. I'm not sure the post was revisited much, but I decided to make a 2006 list too.

Note that 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 nominees 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 youngest daughter, even though some of them are fairly substantial.

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


The Purpose of Intervention, by Martha Finnemore.

Blood and Oil, by Michael T. Klare.

Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists Have Fueled the Climate Crisis and What We Can Do to Avert Disaster by Ross Gelbspan.

The European Dream, by Jeremy Rifkin

Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby.

The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems, by Will Carroll.

Game Time: A Baseball Companion, by Roger Angell.

I also read just about every word in Baseball Prospectus 2006, but not in cover-to-cover fashion. It was edited by Steven Goldman and Christina Kahrl.

Of these, all were worth reading, though this was not Angell's best book. Carroll's writing is rough around the edges, but I learned from his look at steroids in my favorite sport. Rifkin's work is overlong, but parts of it would be great for an American student audience. Klare and Gelbspan were used in class last spring.


A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby.

The Quiet American, by Graham Greene.

The Secret Agent, by Joseph Conrad.

The Hot Kid, by Elmore Leonard.

Hombre, by Elmore Leonard.

The Simple Art of Murder, by Raymond Chandler.

Trouble is My Business by Raymond Chandler.

Deep Blue Good-by, by John D. Macdonald.

Nightmare in Pink, by John D. Macdonald.

A Purple Place for Dying, John D. Macdonald.

Meet Me at the Morgue, by Ross Macdonald

Baseball and Benevolence, by Mark Valenza

The Seventh Babe, by Jerome Charyn.

Double Play, by Robert B. Parker

Spanking Watson, by Kinky Friedman

Saving Faith, by David Baldacci

Of these, I put the best first, then the genre fiction, and then the worst. I really like Nick Hornby's work and this book was very entertaining. John D. Macdonald's Travis McGee stories are a pleasant diversion, but the Pink one is kind of dated -- and none of them were as good as Leonard's latest paperback.

Currently, I'm about halfway through James Ellroy's oddly written The Cold Six Thousand, which I think one reviewer said was narrated by a hopped-up Dr. Seuss, hungry for violence. Also well underway is Richard Ned Lebow's The Tragic Vision of Politics: Ethics, Interests and Orders, which figures into my latest writing project. More on that soon.

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