Saturday 2 August 2008

Let me eat cake/I like books

So, yesterday was my birthday and to celebrate I bought myself a book (of course) and had some cake in a glass. That's not a metaphor for tequila shots - there's a restaurant here in Toronto that makes a dessert called Decadent.

You pick your favourite vegan cake (chocolate fudge), your favourite soy ice cream (chocolate almond bark), and you blend these with some vanilla soy milk and then drank the best damned "milk" shake the world has ever seen. You also feel your metabolism stop to punch you in the neck.

I also, apparently, make lists for my birthday. The following comprises my favourite books published for each year of my life. (Yes, I was born in 1975 and could be your tragic teenage mom.)

I got this idea from another book blog and I have to say I had a difficult time filling out each year and apparently haven't yet read anything published in 2007. Entries with asterisks need some explaining (see below).

*1975 – The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
1976 – The Names: A Memoir by N. Scott Momaday
1977 – Dance Me Outside by W. P. Kinsella
1978 – Night Shift by Stephen King
1979 – The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
1980 – The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
1981 – Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark
1982 – Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
1983 – Waterland by Graham Swift
1984 – The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
1985 – Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
*1986 – It by Stephen King
1987 – Tales from Firozsha Baag by Rohinton Mistry
1988 – Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
1989 – The Ancient Child by N. Scott Momaday
1990 – Immortality by Milan Kundera
1991 – Angels in America by Tony Kushner
1992 – The Crow Road by Iain Banks
1993 – One Good Story, That One by Thomas King
1994 – The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith by Peter Carey
1995 – Tie between The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and Sabriel by Garth Nix
1996 – Tales from Watership Down by Richard Adams
*1997 – The Pillow Boy of the Lady Onogoro by Allison Fell
*1998 – The White Mercedes by Philip Pullman
1999 – Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
2000 – Tie between True History of the Kelly Gang and The Toughest Indian in the World by Sherman Alexie
2001 – The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
2002 – Dead Air by Iain Banks
*2003 – Mister Monday by Garth Nix
2004 – Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
2005 – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
2006 – Black Swan Green by David Mitchell
2007 – I haven’t read anything published in 2007 apparently
*2008 – His Illegal Self by Peter Carey

About my choices for 1975, 1998 and 1993 - those are pretty much the only books I could find for those years. I love Pullman and Nix but I don't think The White Mercedes and Mister Monday really serve as good examples of their genius. Further, I don't think I liked The Woman Warrior at all - but then again, I doubt I liked being born either, so maybe it's fitting.

1986: That year was seriously shiteous but having It to read - twice - helped. I'm still scared of clowns though. *Shiver*

In its test sample of one, His Illegal Self was the best book I've read from 2008. It may be there, in the long run, for the same reasons that The White Mercedes and Mister Monday are. It's like trying to find a cute guy in the English Department at any university of your choice: slim pickins.

1997: The Pillow Boy of the Lady Onogoro. HOT. Apparently, this book was created out of a 1oth-century Japanese manuscript fragment, but it reads seamlessly. Did I mention that it was hot? Phew. Where's my fan?

What surprised me most about this list was how few Japanese books ended up on it. But then I realized that all my favourite Japanese authors died in the '60s and '70s, many by suicide. What can I say? Morbid is my middle name.


Anonymous said...

oh hey this is an awesome idea. except it also seems hard to execute. i'd actually need a list much longer than to then whittle down to specific years. i should try this.

Angels in America - so it was a book first, huh. not surprising. i'm currently in the process of watching the movie.

Bookphilia said...

Making up this list was kind of hard to execute but not because the internet isn't helpful but because I'm not, apparently, very well read for the years 1975-present.

Wikipedia has lists of books published by year but it's not very international, which also made it more difficult for me.

What I did when the Wiki lists failed me was start thinking about my favourite books ever and then filling in some blanks that way.

Angels in America is actually a two-part play, by Tony Kushner.

Send me your list when you've made it!

Anonymous said...

Happy belated Birthday! I loved your list. Some of your choices were so good I had to go back and look at my own to see if I had any regrets. THE BLOODY CHAMBER is fantastic, but THE BOOK OF LAUGHTER AND FORGETTING is one of my favourite books. I was excited to see some of my fav writers on your list like Banks, Adams and Kundera. I have two questions: 1. tell me about BATTLE ROYALE and why I should read it, and 2. do you think the list would change much if revisted at different times in your life?

Bookphilia said...

Those are great questions, Andrew.

I think Battle Royale is worth reading because it works perfectly as complete pulp and a vicious critique of Japan's competitive school culture at the same time. I think it's smart pulp, which is a rare thing that in my experience I've seen in only one other place: Natsuo Kirino's Out.

As for how my list would be affected by being considered at different times in my life, all I can say is: absolutely. Some of the books I loved 10 years ago make me cringe now to think of (in fact, I'm so embarrassed, that I won't list any here). It's the ones that I look back at 10 years later (like Kundera) and still love and want to read again that made this year's list.