Daily Archives: December 16, 2009

Best of the decade

Not only is the new year quickly approaching, but so is the new decade!  I’ve been following the Guardian’s Books of the Decade series in their Books Blog (and also enjoyed their post on the worst books of the decade), and it inspired me to come up with a few best-of picks of my own:

Against the Day and Inherent Vice, by Thomas Pynchon: The past ten years brought us close to 1,500 pages of Pynchon, which could be enough to occupy most of us for the next decade!  The two novels couldn’t be more different: Against the Day takes us (in dense prose, and with typical Pynchononian humor) from the Chicago World’s fair to World War I, featuring characters such as Nikola Tesla, while Inherent Vice feels more like Pynchon’s Vineland and features a mostly stoned private eye in Southern California who is searching for his ex-girlfriend’s missing boyfriend.

Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography: In a decade that saw September 11, Hurricane Katrina, an ongoing war, an economic crisis, and a historic presidential election, Tom Cruise might not be the first person to come to mind.  But in such an event-filled decade, isn’t some celebrity dirt the perfect antidote to heavy news?  Cruise’s antics in the past ten years alone (a divorce, his declarations that psychiatry is a pseudo-science, and his very public announcements of love for Katie Holmes) make for some intriguing reading. 

Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood: Atwood brought us both a cautionary apocalyptic tale and its sequel in the past several years.  Both of these dystopian novels show us a future in which corporate greed, rampant genetic modifications, and unethical science experiments have brought about the end of the world as we know it.

Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser: I have a hard time remembering that just ten years ago this book, and all of its followers (such as The Omnivore’s Dillemma) didn’t exist.  The fast food industry is still thriving, and plenty of us eat it from time to time, but many of us are much more conscious about what we eat and where it comes from as a result of this book and similar titles. 

Those are just a few of the books that stand out for me in the past ten years.  Are there any books of the past decade that really struck you? 

–Irene

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