Am I the first blogcritic to post a Book of the Year award for 2003? Probably, but then, this isn't a book of the year award in the sense of what-was-the-best-book-that-came-out-this-year. The only qualification to be eligible for my Book of the Year award is that item in question must be a book, I must have read it over the course of the year and, for metaphysical completeness, I must remember having read it. (I'm over forty, that's not a small concern anymore.)
First off, let me say that I know a number of you will be wondering why a little book called Business As Usual isn't on this list. You see, that would qualify as shameless self-promotion. And I would never use blogcritics.org for shameless self-promotion. Never ever.
Here are four runners-up in no particular order:
Casino Royale, Ian Fleming
The first appearance of James Bond celebrated its 50th birthday this year. If one can cast aside any preconceived ideas brought on by 40 years of Bond films, one will discover a straightforward, tautly-written espionage thriller, that offers some insight into the mindset of the early fifties when smoking, drinking and misogyny were all the rage. I did a thorough review over at kuro5hin in my pre-blogcritics days.
Pattern Recognition, William Gibson
A somewhat improbable mystery/thriller where the non-mystery elements save the day. A woman with a near mystical ability to identify successful corporate logos gets tangled in a proverbial web of deceit and danger over something called "The Footage" – enigmatic film snippets seeming randomly released across the net, only to be discovered and hyper-analyzed. This has caught the attention of a high-powered advertising scion and the search for the footage creator begins. The search follows a confusing path from London to Toyko to Moscow and the resolution isn't all that satisfying, but Gibson is still Gibson; his prose has a riveting, high-speed immediacy, like a cyber-savvy Kerouac. This best part of this book are the passages describing the sub-culture of the followers of the film snippets — Footage-heads – and there electronic interactions through email on web forums. For anyone who has spent a fair amount of time engaged in web communities, these passages will seem absolutely genuine.