Warning: A full-tilt pooter post ahead, with lists and random ramblings and personal opinions from someone who doesn't get paid to give them. (If you haven't been keeping up with the pooter debate, well, you'll just have to trust me on this one.)
1. Worst of 2006: I have a theory about crappy books, novels or otherwise. Bad books are like bad relationships: You get out as soon as decently possible and never look back. How long you stick with an untenable situation is an individual preference; me, I tend not to hang around more than 30 pages (with a book; I've been known to last fewer than 30 hours with a bad relationship).
But this year was different. For various (and somewhat unsavory reasons) I actually read a bad book, cover to cover. So, now I have a Worst of 2006 to contribute. And the loser is: The Mephisto Club by---Whoever it is Authoress I Shan't Read Again.
To put it in Paid-Book-Reviewer parlance, what a piece of drek. Cardboard characters, unconvincing romance (with a priest, no less. Hasn't Tess Whose-It ever heard of The Thorn Birds?), over-the-top gratuitous violence and a rather morbid fascination with autopsy detail. (I think the author is a slicer-dicer in "real life," but I am feeling pretty uncharitably disposed toward this author who obviously has signed a multi-book deal along the way.)
I hated it. There, an uneducated, unsubstantiated, full-on personal Pooter opinion.
2. The Best of 2006. Swann's Way, of course. I can't rave on about Proust enough, but I can say I have cleaned off a shelf for him on my newly purchased bookcase (and considering how valuable bookshelf real estate is in MY apartment, that's saying a lot). I can't wait to continue with the Proust Project. And I hope I have something less Pooterish to contribute about him in the future. For now, RAH!
3. Never Cry Wolf: The Good Weekend Read. What with Christmas and 10-hour work days and multiple appliance disasters, I haven't been able to concentrate on really good fiction. So, this weekend I spent time cleaning my bookshelves (including purchasing two new ones from Craig's List). I now have an official TBR shelf. And I gave my books a good shot with Windex and a paper towel (works wonders on most books, save the really old ones) and then packed them into shelves with books of similar topic. I felt like a matron who had scrubbed up her scruffy little orphans and tucked them into a nice, clean bed. One of the glories of cleaning bookshelves is discovering hidden treasure. I found something I must have picked up from a 4-for$1 cart, Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf. What a great read! Mowat spins his tale about wolf observation in the Canadian wildnerness with a gentle sense of humor. Really enjoyable. (Mowat also wrote one of my favorite bios, about Dian Fossey, called Woman in the Mist.)
I leave you with one last thought: Pooters Rule!