The book I just finished reading turned out to be pretty good: The Face by Dean Koontz. The first 100-200 pages, I didn't like it -- it didn't fit any types -- it wasn't a ghost story -- it wasn't a detective story, but it had elements of both. Once we finally got around to looking at the antagonist, an MLA type guy, it got interesting. And the ending addressed larger questions -- like I said, interesting.
But not my favorite book.
Favorite fiction was Jasper Fforde's Lost In A Good Book. No deeper questions here -- just good fun, science fiction and very heavy literary allusions (but not so heavy so as to lose this non-Lit major). This is really a laugh out-loud book. Nevertheless, it is imperative that you start, if you have not done so, by reading The Eyre Affair first. This will introduce you to the heroine, Thursday Next, and the villain, Acheron Hades. Not to mention Goliath Corp., The Socialist Republic of Wales, Jack Schitt, The Crimean War (still going strong after 130 years), and the ChronoGuard. (Did I mention everything takes place in an alternate universe?)
Favorite Non-Fiction was probably Paul Johnson's The Renaissance: A Short History. I really like Johnson's insights, even when I disagree. His book Modern Times is probably the best overview of the 20th Century (and one I hope he again updates). In reviewing Art: A New History, David Gelernter offers comments that are appropriate for this book as well:
[Th]is not so much a book as a sparring partner. It is a chronological, comprehensive narrative, brilliant and cranky by turns. Brilliance predominates, but if you intend to read Johnson seriously (as he must be read), bring boxing gloves.Almost all of this applies to The Renaissance, except it is very short, indeed, it can be read in one sitting. It should also be noted that Johnson spends a good portion of this small book on Art, perhaps because he was writing that other one as well. (BTW, I do have the other one, but I don't think I'm going to be reading it anytime soon -- and certainly not in one sitting.)
JohnsonÂs History is extraordinary in part because his eye is sharp, his prose is dangerous to opponents, and his book is formidable in every wayÂstarting with the fact that it weighs a ton. More important, Johnson is no mere professional art-writer. He is a wide-ranging, deep-digging thinker and scholar whose books on history, religion, and culture are classics in their own time. Johnson disdains the ever-tinier subfields bequeathed by thesis advisers to their academic offspring. (A typical academic specialty today is barely wide enough to turn around in.) He disdains politicized, "postmodern" scholarship. He understands artÂs place on the map of human thought, its historical and intellectual context. And Johnson writes about art from the best possible vantage point: he is a painter himself.
Criticisms of Johnson's Art here and here.