That’s SO 2006! – Reading

It’s time to round up 2006. I’m going to talk about the stuff I read, watched, listened to, and the sporting moments I enjoyed the most this year. This kind of post is pretty much why people write blogs off as navel gazing. Yeah, I know, but it’s FUN, hey?

I read a pathetic 19 books this year, here’s my top 5. They’re not all new books, but I read them in 2006, so they go on my list – geddit?

5. Kitchen Confidential / A Cook’s Tour – Anthony Bourdain.
Probably the coolest guy in the world – writes how he talks, and is really funny. I love reading about garlic and knives, and picked up a few tips about cooking for nothing. I loved the chapter about his trip back to France with his brother, and was extremly jealous of his Mexican feast.

4. Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs – Chuck Klosterman.
Klosterman reminds me of the two guys in Human Traffic talking about how Yoda was a stoner (hence the reason he had the power and spoke back to front)… not that that’s a bad thing. Chuck is the US indie kids’ darling right now and in these essays, he comes across like a neurotic first year arts student with a wardrobe of alphabetically arranged band t-shirts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (ahem), but I’d like him to lighten up a bit. He can really write, and I particularly enjoyed the essay about his trip to see a Guns n Roses tribute band play.

3. Southern Style – Craig Marriner.
I always thought there was a really good book to be written about the Antipodean UK experience – I’m not sure this is it, but it’s bloody close. The ‘Tri-nations’ characters are all utterly believable, with a few cockney wide boys and random gangsters thrown in for good measure. From his detailed knowledge of the London party scene, and the rock and roll bio, you’d say Marriner’s done some serious time in pubs, bars and dive-y flats around the world, and made his dirty London really come alive. I really enjoyed Southern Style, and just felt it was a little long in places – it’s a very DENSE read. I’m definitely tracking down Stone Dogs, his first novel over the hols, though.

2. Departure Lounge / Electric – Chad Taylor.
Chad Taylor fuckin ROCKS, his Auckland is dark and humid, where shady characters lurk in the Westhaven Marina, or the Stanley Street gully. Mt Hobson, K Road nightclubs and art galleries, and even the Chelsea sugar works feature in these books, almost always at night, and I was thrilled every time these places were mentioned. These are the best Auckland books I’ve read, evoking the beauty this town offers, but making it dangerous and cool, too.

1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Michael Chabon.
This is a fantastic book (thanks Mum!). It is the story of Joe Kavalier’s escape from WWII Prague to New York, where he and his cousin Sam Clay create a comic book super hero. The Escapist becomes a huge smash, and we follow their rise to stardom, as they meet Orson Welles, Salvador Dali, and Stan Lee, amongst others, as they find fame and (some) fortune, until America enters the war and it all starts to unravel. This is a bit of an epic (over 600 pages), and a fantastic, ripping yarn. Very highly recommended.

Recommended: A year in Provence – Peter Mayle, Underworld – Don Delillo, The Life Of Pi – Yaan Martel, The Liar’s Club – Mary Karr
Meh: Lunar Park – Brett Easton Ellis, John – Cynthia Lennon

Bonus list: Top three meals

3. Pork Belly @ Craggy Range, Napier. Crackling.

2. Roast Beef Yorkshire Pud @ Earl Spencer Pub, Southfields. Rare.

1. Fish and Chips @ Terrace restaurant whose name I’ve forgotten, Bol, Croatia. Salt and Garlic.

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