Frivolity: Fave Reads '00

From the "Who asked You?" Department, it's

Larry's Top 10 Fave Reads for 2000

Maze Maker, Michael Ayrton
I noticed the spine of this book when I was in the library. It (the spine) showed part of a labyrinth design. This book tells the story of Daedalus from Daedalus' point of view. Reading it, you can tell that the author actually knows how to build stuff. It turns out that Michael Ayrton was a sculptor, who obsessed over Daedalus.

Ship Fever, Andrea Barrett
My mom loaned me this book of short stories. They've each got some kind of life-sciences gimmick to them. There's a story about some famous biologist going on a sad sleigh ride. (I forget which biologist. Linnaeus?) There's a scary epidemic story set close to the exotic land of Canada. There were many good stories, though some of them were sad.

The Pretty Good Jim's Journal Treasury, Jim (Scott Dikkers)
I read The Pretty Good Jim's Journal Treasury and it was pretty good.

Cod, Mark Kurlansky
It's a book about cod. It's a book about Europeans and Americans fishing for cod until the cod are all dead. It's about the human culture that took form around cod. It's about the origin of national boundaries that extend out into oceans. It's got cod recipes, but I don't know if they're any good.

Maakies, Tony Millionaire
A big collection of Maakies comics came out. You can read the comics at, but the book has got much better resolution than your monitor. And these comics have got some pretty penwork going on.

The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean
To research this book, its author slogged through Florida swamp with machete-wielding convicts. She talked to confidence tricksters, thieves, and greenhouse managers. Is this not gonzo journalism of the highest order? Yeah, I know. This book came out years ago, and was a bestseller, and you already read it. Whatever.

Moo, Jane Smiley
Yeah, okay. This book was a bestseller, too. You already know about this book. You don't need me to point this book out to you. But really, I'm not trying to tell you about my favorite reads-of-the-year-which-you-might-have-missed. I'm trying to tell you about my favorite reads of the year, period.

We All Love PANCAKES!, various ("Whitey," ed.)
There's this web page where people can leave pancake recipes and pancake-related comments. People have added many comments, and the page has become pretty long. There's some not-so-interesting comments and some useful stuff. Here's an example of something useful:

Recipe Today is Shrove Tuesday, which we in England celebrate by eating pancakes. These are usually large thin pancakes served with lemon and sugar, presented flat on the plate but then rolled up by the eater. My husband and I would like to send you our very best wishes on this special day. Sometimes I wear a pancake instead of my crown.
Name Elizabeth

I haven't finished reading this page, and perhaps never will. But every so often I'll start in some random place and read for a few minutes, and I have never regretted doing so.

To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
I liked this book a lot, but when I read it, it was my only reliable source of english text. I was in Japan, and nobody would speak English with me. And in this book, there was modern English and older, stuffier British. I liked this book, but maybe I wasn't being objective. And if you read science fiction, you already know about Connie Willis, so what do you want me to say?

On Blue's Waters, Gene Wolfe
This is the first book of a series. Reading this book, you can tell that the author has set up some interesting time-sequence things. There's lots of mysterious foreshadowing. Which is nice, because it suggests that he's thought pretty hard about the plot for the series. Yayy! Three cheers for an intricate plot!

Honorable Mention

All Tomorrow's Parties, William Gibson
It has people living on the San Francisco Bay Bridge, convenience stores, and watches. What else do you need?

Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
Yes, another bestseller. I liked another bestseller. Shut up. Anyhow, this story puts my most disastrous travelog to shame.

Three Kingdoms, Lo Kuan-chung (Moss Roberts, tr.)
Can I put a book on my fave reads of 2000 page if I haven't finished it yet? This is a long book. I read an abridged version, and liked it. Now I'm struggling my way through the whole thing. Should I put the abridged version in my 2000 list, and then put the big book on my 2001 list? That would be silly. Oh, I don't know what to do.

Dracula, Bram Stoker
This scared the hell out of me. It was pretty spooky. I had nightmares. Then I read Stoker's Lair of the White Worm, and that was just dumb. Don't read that. Read Dracula instead.

Riding the Iron Rooster, Paul Theroux; Saiing Through China, Paul Theroux; In The People's Republic, Orville Schell
I read a lot of China travelogues this year. I probably liked Riding the Iron Rooster the best of these. But I can't remember much about it now. So I guess it wasn't a favorite. Or else I should maybe reread it.

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