Books finished in 2000

1/25/2000: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
It's fitting that I should start off the 2000's with a book from the 1800's. And even more fitting that I read the whole book on my Palm III ;-) You can probably imagine the outrage this inspired in all my paperphilic friends. I read the book after seeing the recent film. I think the things I really enjoyed in the film were the parts added by the filmmakers with more of a late 20th century sensibility. Not to say that I didn't enjoy the book. It's interesting reading books written early in the novel form. The book is in a kind of omniscient point of view that I don't see much in modern writing. We are privy to everyone's thoughts and nearly everyone's motivations. The story is about relationships and morality and the bearings of class on those subjects. Class gets billed these days as an outmoded concept, but the class issues in Mansfield Park are quite familiar if somewhat changed in trappings over the decades.

2/5/2000: Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
Subtitled "The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life", Csikszentmihalyi (the back cover helpfully provides the pronunciation "chick-SENT-me-high") has done studies using the Experience Sampling Method which uses a pager to signal the subject to fill out a form about what they're doing and how they feel at random times throughout the day. The "Flow" of the title is smiliar to Maslow's "peak experience". Flow is the feeling of total concentration where we are so involved in what we're doing that we lose track of time in a sort of euphoric state. Flow is attained when we are challenged and have the skills we need to address those challenges.

It's refreshing to read a psychology book that's actually based on some fairly large behavioral studies in the real world. Csikszentmihalyi has a lot of interesting insights, and I'll probably have to reread the book more carefully to decide whether I agree with some of them or not. One parallel he draws that I find compelling is likening Evil to Entropy and Good to that which resists it. He writes:

Entropy or evil is the default state, the condition to which systems return unless work is done to prevent it.

What prevents it is what we call "good"--actions that preserve order while preventing rigidity, that are informed by the needs of the most evolved systems. Acts that take into account the future, the common good, the emotional well-being of others.

While the book is very much about how to make your life better, it is not a self-help book. The suggestions are largely theoretical with the application left to the reader.

2/6/2000: The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry by Wendell Berry
A selection of poems from a selection of Berry's many books. The poems center around his usual subject matter of life and death on a farm, and how living in a place and working with the soil affects him. I read the book very quickly without really taking the time to savor any of the poems, but even at a breakneck pace, I got occasional bright flashes, sometimes an image from the poem itself, sometimes some memory of my past that the poem yanked to the surface. At one point he even had me imagining what it would be like to plow land with a team of horses. Made me wonder how one would go about learning such a skill in this day and age. Of course, the next day in a mailing list I subscribe to someone posted a list of courses one of which was driving a team. Fortunately by that point the sudden desire had long worn off ;-)

2/9/2000: The Interior Life by Katherine Blake
I've been saying to people about this book, "I never thought I'd read a book that would make home economics exciting and suspenseful!" The book focuses on a suburban housewife with three school-age children and a husband who's climbing the management ladder in his company. Her dissatisfaction with her mundane life leads her into a fantasy world being attacked by a mysterious darkness. Soon, the characters in her fantasy start talking back to her and their battle against the darkness parallels her efforts to take charge of her life. The fantasy portions of the book are infused with a Tolkein-esque sensibility without being derivative. Blake does a nice job of making even the minor characters seem real with very human strengths and foibles. There's an occasional dip into after-school-special message mongering and a little lack of focus towards the end, but overall I really enjoyed the book. It appears that the two worlds in the book are set in slightly different type faces and I seem to remember hearing that this was the case, but it would take a better eye for type than mine to be able to consistently tell the difference between the two, they're so similar. Fortunately, it's always clear from context what's going on where even though the location often changes in mid-paragraph (and sometimes mid-sentence).

3/7/2000: The Stars Compel by Michaela Roessner
When I read Roessner's The Stars Dispose, I got to the end and thought she was through. Sure there was a lot of stuff left up in the air, but I was willing to let her leave it, especially since the subject matter is semi-historical and doesn't really have an end. Then I found out there was a sequel planned. Well, that's fine too. Here it is.

The Stars Compel continues her fictional setting of the life of Catherine de Medici (that's 16th century Florence (unless you pay attention to the date on chapter 29 which says "Late November, 1931" oops.)) The story is told mainly through the eyes of Tommaso Arista, a fictional chef to the non-fiction de Medici. It's a novel of political intrigue and coming of age and food. Lots of food. Plan to be hungry. Roessner's writing is as enjoyable as always, and I'm not at all disappointed to have it be abundantly obvious that there is another book coming in this story.

3/10/2000: Airframe by Michael Crichton
I don't generally read these best seller type books, but a friend promised me my money back if not completely satisfied (of course I paid a buck for it used, so he's not taking a huge risk here ;-) Well, it was a page turner if not particularly meaty and completely lacking in any sort of literary aspirations. I enjoyed it enough that I won't be looking for my money back, but it certainly doesn't send me racing back to the store for the rest of Crichton's books. Oh, it's mostly about a minor airline disaster with lots of commentary on how the industry is run and regulated as well as a healthy poke at the media's treatment of air disasters. The characters are a bare step above cardboard, and some of the suspenseful bits are pretty contrived. I expect there'd be some rewriting before this one would make it to the silver screen.

4/3/2000: All New People by Anne Lamott
This was the only one of Lamott's novels that I had not read. It is quite similar to Hard Laughter, her first novel. It's good in the way that all Lamott novels are good, but it's not her best story. The writing is interesting with some nice flash-back and flash-forward effects. It made me want to go read Joe Jones again. Now I just have to find it.

4/26/2000: A Deepness In the Sky by Vernor Vinge
Boggle. Set in the same universe as his marvelous A Fire Upon the Deep, this one is set 30,000 years before Fire, but other than the setting and one personality, there isn't any connection. Deepness is the story of a Qeng Ho trade voyage to a far off and peculiar star system in search of the double whammy of profit: new markets and new stuff. Unfortunately when they get there they're joined by competition, and they are not nice people. Interwoven with the human plot is the story of what's going on on the system's single planet where it's spider-like inhabitants are scurrying full-tilt into the information age. Great book, and would be fun to have read first because Fire explains some of the minor mysteries left at its end.

4/28/2000: Galaxy Quest by Ellen Weiss
My dear sister-in-law, Rachel, bought me the "Junior Novelization" of the movie Galaxy Quest knowing how much I would enjoy the enduring literary quality of such a seminal work. There's not anything particularly wrong with it, but it adheres very closely to the screenplay on which it is based. Much more fun to just see the movie.

4/30/2000: Tools of the Trade by Jeff Taylor
26 essays, each pulled from Taylor's career as a carpenter. Each of the essays focuses on a particular tool. There are hints about how to use the different tools he talks about, and safety tips and even the occasional brand shill, but for Taylor, tools are more like family than mere inanimate objects, so you get the story of how one of his versions of a tool (Sounds like he doesn't have just one of anything) found its way into his possession, and what he's done with it. His human family appears too, especially his daughter, Serenity, who is reputedly the current incarnation of Grace Kelly. (Read it! He has evidence!) Funny, informative, occasionally sad, and well written.

5/6/2000: Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolver is the darling of the book group set. This book is the story of a woman returning to her home town to take care of her ailing father, worry about her sister who is off doing agricultural relief work in a war zone in Central America, and face up to her own past and present selves. It took me a while to get into the book, and I occasionally found her writing too self-conciously literary, but overall it's a very well written and imagined book. I'll read more of her stuff.

5/8/2000: Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin
More erotica from the notorious diarist. She supposedly wrote these stories for collector who paid a dollar a page (in the 1940s). There's only one that seems to be padded out, and that's pretty impressive all by itself. She's a fine writer.

5/21/2000: Candle by John Barnes
This one starts out like Rambo with the bad guy hunter being called back into service when it turns out that the baddest of the bad that he thought he disposed of years ago is back somehow. The hunt is almost just a device to allow Barnes to expound at great length on the backstory of this book and a couple of his other books. It's a book of ideas with a thing gloss of action. I haven't quite made sense of the ideas, but they're at least interesting, and are making me think about some stuff which is always a nice side effect of a book. I need to go back and read some of his other stuff that impressed me like Mother of Storms and see if endings have always been a problem for him and I just didn't notice back then.

5/24/2000: The Soul of a Tree by George Nakashima
This book is part memoir, part essay on the nature of wood, part coffee table book on his furniture. Nakashima grew up in the Pacific Northwest, born of Japanese parents. He spent much of his time in the rainforests among the ancient trees of the region. He spent a year in Paris working for a music publisher, then moved to Japan where he worked for an architect (somewhere in there he got a degree in architecture from MIT) who eventually sent him to India where he worked at and eventually joined an ashram. He returned to Japan where he married and moved back to Seattle shortly before Pearl Harbor when he and his family were placed in an internment camp in Idaho. When they were allowed to leave, they moved to Pennsylvania where he began his career as a woodworker. Nakashima's philosophy of wood is that furniture is a means for dead wood to have another useful lifetime. He talks a lot about finding the one perfect use for a given slab of wood. No dimensioned lumber for him, he works with full slabs of trees cut all the way through the trunk. The pictures in the book are lovely and many are simply of pieces of wood. His furniture designs are clean and simple yet richly sculptural.

6/4/2000: Great Sky River by Gregory Benford
Benford is one of those treasures of hard SF, an actual genuine working scientist. Add to that the fact that the man can actually write, and you have the makings for a really good book which this is. Set in an indeterminately distant future where mankind lives in fear, constantly on the run from the mechanical lifeforms that have hunted him to near-extinction. That sounds like an SF cliche, and it is, but Benford manages to make it both technically gripping and literarily fun to read. His characters are interestingly flawed, and just alien enough to make the backstory believable.

6/8/2000: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin (repeat)
Urras is the rich, earth-like planet, Anarres is its barely-habitable, desert moon. 100 years before the action of LeGuin's book, a group of anarchists, dissatisfied with the capitalistic semi-democracy of Urras, leave to try to live their anarchistic ideals on Anarres. In the book, subtitled "An Ambiguous Utopia", LeGuin tells the story of Shevek, a gifted physicist born on Anarres who becomes the first person to return to Urras since the split. You can't read The Dispossessed as an endorsement of either governmental style, but the capitalists aren't portrayed very attractively. As always, LeGuin's writing is clean and elegant and perfectly suited to the tale.

6/17/2000: The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
Numerous people I respect had raved about this book, so even though I don't usually read mysteries, I finally broke down and gave it a read. What fun! Mary Russell, a blindingly intelligent and hyper-observant teenager, while walking and reading near her home in England, stumbles across (literally) an aging and depressed Sherlock Holmes. Their friendship and then collaboration is charming. I'm certain there are a gajillion in-jokes and references to the Holmes cannon, but as I'm completely ignorant of any of it, they flew harmlessly over my head. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Holmes, confronted by a seemingly insoluble problem, defies standard fictional practice and uses an imminently sensible and seldom-seen solution. Highly recommended.

6/24/2000: Free Space by ed Brad Linaweaver & Edward E. Kramer
An anthology of stories center around the topics of tyranny, property, and commerce. The word Libertarian appears. I enjoyed some of the stories, but found a number of them to be pedantic and self-congratulatory rants about freeloaders and how they leech off those who are doing real work (which seems to consist in securing wealth for themselves). I don't claim to have any hard answers to how we can govern ourselves without restricting our individual and corporate potential, but the answers held up in some of these stories seem overly-simplistic and verging on the dogmatic. Ironic.

There are some fine stories inside, most notably Gregory Benford's "Early Bird" which has some fun science at its center, William Alan Ritch's fine little Heinlein juvenile pastiche "If Pigs Had Wings", L. Neil Smith's "A Matter of Certainty" with its great aliens and resonable couching of long philosophical discussions in an actual story, and the reason I got the book from the library, John Barnes's "Between Shepherds and Kings". The fact that this last one made it into the book at all is a tribute to some degree of open-mindedness on the part of the editors since it's mostly a rant on how the collection's premise is fatally flawed.

7/3/2000: Traditional Woodworking Handtools by Graham Blackburn
A compilation of Blackburn's articles from Popular Woodworking, Fine Woodworking, and Woodwork magazines. Each chapter describes the features and uses of a variety of woodworking handtools accompanied by Blackburn's marvelously informative line drawings. There's also lots of notes on the etymology of the names of some of these tools which helps to make some sense of it all. Fascinating stuff.

7/6/2000: Queen of Angels by Greg Bear
A big complicated book about mental illness. Set in an indeterminate future USA where a majority of the people are "therapied" to avoid aberrant behavior. Violent crime is nearly unheard-of, so naturally the book revolves around the investigation of an 8-person murder by a prominent poet (one of the less believable parts of the book is that poetry has become a mainstream entertainment). There's consideration of class relations; the morality, efficacy, and practicality of universal therapy for better living; even voudoun. It's a good read, but a few inconsistencies in the magic^Wscience kind of bugged me.

7/9/2000: Blood Music by Greg Bear
I'd been meaning to read this for years, and a friend loaned me his copy to read since mine is still in a box somewhere after a recent move. A researcher in bioengineering learns how to use the unused portions of human DNA to make cells into complex computers. Complex enough to develop conciousness and societies. Naturally he injects some into his own body. (Granted, he does it in a bit of a panic, but still) Once inside, they start redesigning his physical structure and finding ways to propagate to other people. From there, things just get weirder. Fast-paced exciting story.

7/25/2000: The Workbench Book by Scott Landis
Another great book from Taunton Press. Landis gives the history of the woodworking bench with all its variations. The best part of the book is all the profiles of various different woodworders' benches. Required reading for anyone planning to build (or buy) a bench for woodworking.

8/1/2000: Rimrunners by C. J. Cherryh
This could easily have been a simple soldier in hiding does everything in her power to stay alive and kicking book with a supposedly female character who acted just like the cliche male in that storyline. Cherryh is better than that, and takes her character both lower than the typical soldier and in some ways higher. Bet (the main character) is almost the whole book, and she's interesting enough to carry it. I wouldn't call the book "fun", but it is certainly well-written.

8/4/2000: Callahan's Key by Spider Robinson
I wouldn't recommend this to anyone who doesn't already like Spider. 1 part family reunion of the gang from the various Callahan's books, 1 part road trip, 1 part polemic on topics near and dear to Spider's heart. Plot? Yeah, but it's pretty much boilerplate by now for anyone who's read more than a couple of the Callahan's books. Spider can make a basically dull story fun to read, but it's not very satisfying as a literary exercise. More like a long crazy letter from an old friend.

8/16/2000: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
Rowling continues to produce a high quality adventure even in book four of her absurdly popular series. This one seems to be written in full confidence that we will see Harry all the way through his Hogwarts tenure at the least (always, of course, assuming that You-Know-Who doesn't get him first) This volume has the added bonus of a pronunciation guide for Hermione's name. There's kind of a civil rights crusade subplot that doesn't really go anywhere, but maybe it will bloom in future volumes. We're still waiting for the Dursley's to get a Dahl-ian comeuppance. Goblet was a real page turner and left a fine setup for more adventure to come.

8/17/2000: Chimera by Will Shetterly
Compared to his last book, Dogland, Chimera is fluff, but it does continue some of the race relation thematic material of that book. And fluff is too harsh. Chimera is a hard-boiled detective story with even more wisecracks than are usual for the genre. Shetterly's setting is a future Los Angeles where animal and human genetic material have been combined to produce a new class of people who suffer from brutal persecution because of their mixed heritage. Along with this development, Shetterly throws in some future tech that is nicely indistinguishable from magic. (the tech implies a breakthrough that we don't have an inkling of today, but he uses it consistently (though it's maybe a bit too handy in places)) I spent two late nights charging through the book. Good stuff.

8/28/2000: The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes, Fables & Reflections, The Kindly Ones, Worlds' End, The Wake by Neil Gaiman et al.
Each of these is a collection of five or six issues of Gaiman's Sandman comics. The storytelling in all is worldclass, and the art is wonderfully suited to the stories. These are the only ones in my local library, so I suspect I'll be shelling out some cash pretty soon to get the rest of the compilations. The total run of The Sandman was 76 issues or so, so that's more than a few books to get the whole series. I think they're worth it.

9/4/2000: Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb
Third and final book of her Liveship Traders series. Destiny picks up right where the last book (Mad Ship) left off. Hobb is really at the top of her game in this series, and though I could quibble over how neatly she ties up all the loose ends in this story, she does such a fine job of imbuing all the action with a sense of inevitability that it's hard to be disappointed. Looks like her next book will go back and play with FitzChivalry from the Assassin books again. I can only hope that she'll do something as interesting with that disappointing series as she has done here with the Liveship books.

9/9/2000: Ringworld by Larry Niven
Somehow I missed reading this until now. This is a fun little science-driven story that spends most of its time exploring a tiny portion of a ringworld, a constructed ribbon of flat ground a million miles across that completely encircles a star at about 1AU. Which makes it something over a billion miles in circumference. The aliens Niven writes are pretty good aliens. The human women in the book are really more of another alien species too, and are really the most dated part of the book (published in 1970). Won the Hugo _and_ the Nebula, and I'm not surprised; it's a fine book.

9/21/2000: Web of Angels by John M. Ford
Published in 1980 before the World Wide Web had been conceived. Ford tells the story of a future where status is conferred by computer literacy, and the genius artists of "spinning" the web are renegades above and beyond the law. Ford's writing is mind-altering, with the lyricism of LeGuin and the flash and startlement of Delany, plus he's one of those writers who holds the tone through the whole book instead of only for the first few pages. His protagonist is empathetic, idealistic, and reckless. The culture is one of langour and distraction brought on by extended lifespans and near-universal wealth. Great piece of writing.

9/24/2000: Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
All about a princess who becomes so bored and annoyed with the conventional life of a princess that rather than waiting around for a dragon to carry her off, volunteers to be a dragon's princess. Great fun, set in a world where all the fairy tales you ever heard are set and everyone is aware of the standard conventions and takes them into account.

9/30/2000: Searching For Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
I love these books! Wrede's Princess Cimorene isn't just another discontented princess, she's a sensible person. It's so refreshing to read fairy tale characters who don't just do the standard thing, but actually think things through and ask sensible questions and take appropriate actions in response to the answers. Of course, there are some characters who are trapped in what is proper, but Wrede's main characters recognize that those people are silly. I started this at 1am and finished it at 4am. I can't wait for book 3 to come from the library.

10/11/2000: Calling On Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Third book in Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles, this is the first to be from a point of view other than that of Cimorene, the princess from the first book. In Calling, the main character is Morwen the witch and her bevy of cats. The plotting feels a bit more forced in this than its predecessors, but the characters are fun, especially those of the cats who are very catlike. Now I get to dive into book 4 (and last :-()

10/15/2000: Talking To Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
This fourth book in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, follows Daystar, son of Cimorene as he leaves home with the enchanted sword his mother has been hiding. For reasons that eventually make sense, no one tells him much of anything about where he's going or why or what exactly that sword is for. He's left to figure things out for himself which is one of the biggest skills of Wrede's characters. He's accompanied on his quest by a firewitch who hasn't figured out how to use her powers reliably, and a young dragon. There's plenty of room here for more books, but I don't think Wrede has gotten around to writing them yet. Too bad.

10/25/2000: Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon
Sturgeon takes a crack at the equality of the sexes. A guy gets sucked into a future where humans have become hermaphrodites. Plays a lot of the traditional utopian cards of the SF genre. There are some nice twists that make it more than just a thought experiment, but the thought experiment is interesting enough and detailed enough to make for an interesting read. Would make a good paired-reading with Russ' The Female Man and I suspect that's no mere coincidence.

11/1/2000: The King's Peace by Jo Walton
You'd think that there are already enough fantasy novels written based on the Arthurian Legend. Think again. Jo Walton's first novel is an alternate universe retelling from the point of view of a woman soldier in Arthur's army. And she's not an exception, the army is fully co-ed. Walton's language is poetic, and her universe is fully-realized with history, language, and religion. The book (well, half a book... It ends rather precipitously, and a single sequel is forthcoming) really reads less like yet another Arthur book, and more like a story of some interesting people living in an interesting time in the history of their world. If fantasy with integrity is something that you enjoy, then The King's Peace is worth a look.

11/8/2000: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman (repeat)
Since the third book of Pullman's His Dark Materials series has finally arrived, I'm working my way through the first two books so I've got the context.

The Golden Compass is still as much of a knockout of a book as it was when it first came out. Pullman has built an alternate universe that is enough like ours to be familiar, and with enough differences to really blow your mind. Human beings in his universe have daemons. Daemons are talking animal companions that are linked to their human counterpart in some way. While their human is a child they change from one animal form to another at will. When the human reaches puberty, the animal settles into a single form and retains it until it and its human die.

The main character is Lyra Belacqua, a frightfully intelligent young semi-orphan with a destiny. I don't want to get into spoiler territory here, so I'll just say that even with the cliff-hanger ending, The Golden Compass is an exciting and thought provoking novel.

11/12/2000: The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman (repeat)
The second volume of Pullman's His Dark Materials sets up what the first book had merely hinted at: this is the story of the war in heaven and the fall round two. Lyra meets up with Will, a boy from our own world who is her equal in bravery, but far beyond her in tact and caution. Will is seeking his father who disappeared on an arctic expedition. Lyra consents to help him in his quest, and their pairing results in dangerous adventures. The subtle knife is a knife which can slice through the barriers between alternate universes. The book is even more of a page turner than the first with excitement on every page, and some genuine horror as well. The ending is abrupt and alarming. On to the final volume.

11/18/2000: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
This is the final book in Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. In the first two books, things just kept getting more and more complicated and scary and intriguing, and Amber Spyglass continues the trend. I enjoyed the book and the series, but I was a little disappointed too. Some of what led the characters to their defiance of The Authority was the arbitrary manner with which He dealt with the worlds in His dominion, and yet Pullman's conclusion has some pretty arbitrary elements to it that while they partly make me wonder if being arbitrary just comes with supreme power, they mostly just make me mad at Pullman for being so mean to his characters. But then I'm not sure how else he could have concluded the series either. Beware that there are some pretty heavy tweaks here against organized religion, so if you're into that sort of thing, prepare to be tweaked.

12/5/2000: The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories by Gene Wolfe
Wolfe is one of the most literary SF writers I've read. His stories are always rich with careful and beautiful use of the English language. Unfortunately they sometimes have meanings which fly right over this reader's head. At least I assume that's what's happening. But even when I find his stories mystifying, I still enjoy the ride.

12/12/2000: Friday by Robert A. Heinlein
Heinlein writes good solid readable prose. He writes characters that think things through or face the consequences. He writes interesting and fairly plausible future societies without getting too in your face about it. This book reflects those skills. There's some strong opinions that seem to be expressed by the book, some of which I agree with and some not, but it wasn't enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book. If there's any annoying fault to Friday it's that most of the characters are a little too sane. Or consistent. Or something. Anyway, it was a fun read.

12/16/2000: Disgruntled by Daniel S. Levine
Subtitled, "The Darker Side of the World of Work", this book grew out of Levine's web magazine of the same name which featured info and rantings about why and how work sucks. It's a quick read and has lots of information. While a lot of it comes off as sort of whiny and anecdotal, if you find yourself in a really nasty work environment, there's information here that will point you in the right direction to get help, especially if you're suffering under harrassment. The last section, "Getting Gruntled", has some really good stuff about how to escape the world of work and/or make it less sucky.

12/18/2000: Joe Hill by Wallace Stegner
A "biographical novel" about Joseph Hillstrom, the labor organizer, songwriter, and eventual martyr for the cause of the IWW, the International Workers of the World, commonly referred to as the Wobblies. Stegner's foreword repeatedly asserts that this is a work of fiction, so it's hard to know 85 years later how much of his story of Hill is "true." As fiction, it's a stirring chilling book.

Hill is portrayed as a thoughtful zealot for the cause of the worker. But Stegner's Hill is no saint. He is angry and violent in equal shares to artistic and dedicated. Human. Stegner's portrayal of the circumstances around Hill's execution for murder in Utah never tries to even guess about his guilt or innocence, indeed, the last chapters of the book are seen from the point of view of Hill's friend Reverend Lund, a Lutheran pastor who is as in the dark as anyone about what really happened. These chapters are just wrenching to read as we watch Hill go through his trial, the inflation by the IWW of his cause into a major rallying point, repeated delays of his execution date, and finally the end.

This is one of those books that will stick in your head for a while, stirring thoughts about the plight of the working class, they nature of martyrs, and what constitutes a life well-lived.

12/29/2000: The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein
The first two sections of this book are fast-paced adventure in the Heinlein style with copious beautiful women and the men they lead around. In the third section, it devolves into fantasy (invoking Clarke's law here), but there's still enough internal consistency to make it work mostly, though there's some weird discontinuities in the narrative that I can't rationalize even using all of the space for discontinuities provided by the fact that there's time travel involved. Still, it's a fun mind-bending read as long as you don't take it too seriously. Note that the cat of the title doesn't appear until the last hundred pages of the book.

12/30/2000: Diary of an Early American Boy by Eric Sloane
Sloane found the 1805 diary of 15-year-old Noah Blake in an old house. This book consists of the text of the diary surrounded by expansion and explanation by Sloane. It was an extremely eventful year for the Blakes with the construction of a new bridge across their stream, and a new mill, Noah even fell in love. Sloane does a wonderful job of making the lives of these people real based on just the spare daily entries of Blake's diary. Here's a typical entry:
1: The First of May! We have nearly finished the bridge floor but we must abandon this work for the garden. Father is planting corn.
Sloane gives all the details of the tools they would have used, the way things would have looked (the book is fully illustrated), and the things they would have thought about what they were doing. This is a wonderful book.

jeffy's books 2000
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