Take a leaf out of their books

From Guardian: It has been a good year for polemics on the war in Iraq, poetry, graphic novels and a late 18th-century wood engraver. Writers and critics make their picks of 2006.

Christmas_1 Monica Ali
I’ve spent far too much time this year reading kitchen books. One that I particularly enjoyed was Anthony Bourdain’s collection, The Nasty Bits (Bloomsbury), especially his commentaries on his own essays in which he tends to say: “I think I had my head up my ass when I wrote this thing.” Another was Molecular Gastronomy by Hervé This (Columbia University Press), which brings the instruments and experimental techniques of the laboratory into the kitchen. In fiction, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (Fourth Estate) was outstanding.

Tariq Ali
Patrick Cockburn’s The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso) is an excellent account of a disastrous imperial war and should be required reading for the newly elected Democrats in the US Senate and House of Representatives. America’s Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier by Robert Vitalis (Stanford University Press) is a devastating critique of the oil giant Aramco and how strike-breaking and racism cemented the US-Saudi relationship. Atiq Rahimi’s exquisitely crafted novel, A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear (Chatto & Windus), describes two days in Kabul. The native communist regime is crumbling and the Soviet Union is about to invade. Rahimi’s prose poem evokes the terror of the period, which would lead to endless war and destruction.

More here.