The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
This book was perfect except for the last 100 pages or so. Which were dreadful. So I would say I liked the book.... but I'm not sure I can recommend it. Also while the protagonist and several of the secondary characters were extremely interesting and the writing (until that last 100 pages) was brilliant, all of the women suffered from "I have no plausible independent motivations" syndrome - they didn't all start out that way, but they got there pretty fast.
Nonfiction Readers' Advisory, edited by Robert Burgin
Very interesting essays. Not so much concerned with nuts and bolts, book lists, etc and more with philosophy, approach, and that sort of thing. Definitely worth my time.
The Known World, by Edward P. Jones
It's a historical novel about a community, not any one person. Slow but very good read.
Kings of Madison Avenue: The Unofficial Guide to Mad Men, by Jesse McLean (ARC - ECW "shelf monkey" program)
So glad I requested this one! My favorite bits are the essays about stuff like The Feminine Mystique and Nixon's actual ad campaigns. The show summaries are quite on-target as well. Good way to steep myself in the milieu of the show while waiting for Season 2 to come in at the library. (I skipped the episode guides for 2nd season but am looking forward to reading them once I've seen it.)
Just Like Us, by Helen Thorpe
Marvelous book that mostly talks about the lives of four Mexican girls living in Denver (2 undocumented, 1 with a green card, 1 a naturalized citizen) as they graduate high school and begin their adult lives, and secondarily talks about immigration policy in the US and particularly in Colorado. I was a bit dubious because the author is the wife of Denver's mayor, but I didn't realize she was also a longtime New Yorker writer or I wouldn't have worried.
Whoo Goes There?, by Jennifer Ericsson, illustrated by Bert Kitchen
Delightful kids' book about an owl trying to catch its dinner. The illustrations are incredible and the story is just exciting enough.
Wildfire, by Sarah Micklem
I completely and utterly loved Firethorn, the first book in the series - I think it is one of my favorite books of the entire decade. This sequel took five years to come out and in the meantime my expectations built up to an incredible high. Sadly, this book didn't QUITE meet them. The writing is just as good (amazing!), the characters are just as interesting (for the most part), and the setting is just as concrete and splendidly described as in the first book. But the plot is all over the place and the religious/philosophical accoutrements felt more shoehorned in and less original. But!!! This is still a really really good book. Just, you know, not one of my favorites of the decade. Which is a pretty short list.
My Little Red Fire Truck, by Stephen T. Johnson
This is a pop-up book about a truck. I totally wasn't going to count it except that as I read it, I realized it's actually a frigging *pre-ride inspection manual* for a fire truck and the level of technical detail totally merits counting as a real book:). It's pretty nifty. I was more enthused about the papercraft than the technical stuff, but my 5 year old self would have LOVED the realism.
Musicophilia, by Oliver Sacks
A bit scattered and all the stuff he wants to tell you about is kind of squeeeeeezed in there when fewer anecdotes would've made for a smoother narrative.... but it's still awesome! Oliver Sacks! Stories about musical neurology! Bizarre diseases! Personal anecdotes of his own life! AWESOME!!! *beams*
The Windup Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi
I think I was in too much pain from the dental extractions to really appreciate this book. It's brilliantly conceived and written and falls just under Ian McDonald but well above William Gibson on the "novels of ideas about the near future with noir sensibility" scale. If a disease-ridden world where agricultural corporations have incredible amounts of power and Thailand strives to maintain its political and biological integrity at all costs is your thing? You will like this book. I also found the "Windup Girl" of the title, Emiko, to be a compelling character. (An aside: The women in this book really felt like they had their own purposes in life, which was a nice thing so soon after The Magicians.) A word of warning, though - this book is very bleak. The characters are well-realized, very human, but almost none of them are good.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley
This book has some very silly underpinnings and that really put me off at first. But once I suspended my disbelief sufficiently I found myself becoming really fond of it. Delightfully daffy and charmingly mawkish under cover of very geeky and unsentimental exposition about chemistry and stamps.