Playlist 7 -- Fave books, Miles, candidates

Happy New Year and best wishes to everyone for a successful and satisfying '08! I return this week with a long post, but a resolution to write shorter ones this year.

In recent weeks, we've put out Distractions 10 Best Albums of the Year List and Distractions 20 Best Songs of 2007. This week's Playlist introduces ...

Distractions Favorite Books (Read) in 07

I know I'm late with this list. Some of you out there have already listed your favorite books of the past year. And I appreciate your suggestions. Unlike my music lists, these books were not all published last year. It just so happens that I read them over the last 12 months. Of those books I read, these are the ones that stick with me most and that I'd recommend to anyone. In no particular order ...

Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
Riven Rock and East is East by TC Boyle
No Country for Old Men and The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich by Mark Kriegel
Bowl of Cherries by Millard Kaufman
The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs
Here They Come by Yannick Murphy
Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski
Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson
How to be Good by Nick Hornby
Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
About Alice by Calvin Trillin
The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

... And I highly recommend David Eggers' What is the What, a novel (sort of) that helped me better understand what's going on in the Sudan.

Wait, I've left one great book out. The best book I've read all year actually hasn't come out yet. (I was lucky enough to read the ARC -- advanced reader copy). But when it does hit the bookstores in February, be sure to get it, especially if you have a teen-ager in the house. And that's .... As if Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President by my favorite author Donna Gephart.

And now, the rest of this week's Playlist.

Choose Your Candidate. Believe or not, the Iowa Caucus (see this week's Wikipedia link) is just a couple days away. And the Florida primary is later this month. Whether Republican or Democrat, you have a lot of options this year. This fun little interactive quick from the Washington Post helps you narrow your choice.

Are you more of a moderate? Need a slogan. Then check out this funny list of lesser known political slogans of moderates.

Traveler IQ Challenge/How Well Do You Know the World?
Beware, this is a highly addictive game, but it will help you improve your geography knowledge.

WPRB/Princeton. Back when I lived in Philly, I'd occasionally listen to this college station. I liked their 24 hours of mostly obnoxious and bad, yet surprisingly fun, Christmas music. Turns out the Christmas show is a labor of love for DJ Jon Solomon. On Christmas Day, I found the station's Web page and listened to Solomon's show from sunny FL. The station is even more eclectic than ever with a mix of rock, classical, jazz, etc. And since some of the stuff is
pretty far out there, it helps to have the running playlist.

Miles Davis. On the Corner. Speaking of far out there, this album turned heads and created a lot of confusion when it came out in 1973. There's tabla, electric guitar, numerous drummers, synthesizers and, of course, Miles' trumpet creating a funky brew of noise. Only one song Black Satin has anything resembling a melody. But it's the grooves that keep you coming back for more. It's an album that's still ahead of its time. Sony recently released the The Complete On the Corner Sessions, a 6-disc set that includes the original CD as well as numerous outtakes. That might be just a little too adventurous for me.

St. Vincent. Marry Me. St. Vincent is actually Annie Clark. And based on her work with Sufjan Stevens and Polyphonic Spree, you'd expect an ambitious outing for her first solo album. And that's what you get. She earns the comparisions to Kate Bush, Bjork, Feist and Regina Spektor with inventive compositions that will stick in your head. Favorite tracks: Landmines, Jesus Saves, I Spend and Now, Now.