Thursday, January 03, 2008

"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." *

It's the 2007 BOOK ROUND-UP.
Or something like that.

Number of books read:
(I read Austenland on NYE in one go, it was that fun. Finished it just under the wire, at 11:55.)
For a complete list, click on the "What We've Been Reading: BabelBabe" link to your left.

Number of books bought:
After a January run to Half-Price Books that totaled 43 books, and a February through April also approaching those numbers each month, I eased off considerably in the second half of the year, ending up buying no books at all in July, and only 11 from August through December.

Library books (not counting the gajillion checked out for the boys):
Approximately 90. I think I must have gotten lax about recording these though….I feel like I am constantly checking out library books and requesting library books…I just picked up an armful on New Year’s Eve.

Best books of the year (read, not necessarily published in 2007) (and I linked to my actual review where I could find it):
  • History of Love – Nicole Krauss. I did not find her debut novel, Man Walks Into a Room nearly as compelling, although it started out in a very promising fashion. (Full review here.)
  • Lost City Radio – Daniel Alarcon. Simply lovely. Mysterious yet engaging, and utterly elegant.
  • The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf - Mohja Kahf. I think this book should be required reading for anyone who doesn’t get the need for cultural diversity in America. (Small review here.)
  • Kaaterskill Falls – Allegra Goodman. I am rationing Goodman’s books now, like I ration Kate Atkinson’s. I have a bit of a thing for reading about extreme religion of any type – and this falls into the Orthodox Judaism niche – but not all of Goodman’s books do.
  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy. Simply shattering. I did NOT enjoy this one bit, but oh my God, it was amazing. (Full review here.)
  • The Book of Lost Things – John Connelly. Odd. But good. (Full review here.)
  • Liars and Saints – Maile Meloy. Jess summed it up best: Much is left to the imagination in spare detail, but the story still has the weight of a good, satisfying saga.
  • The Used World – Haven Kimmel. Liked it enough to make me go out and buy some of her other books. Her characters are quirky, relatable, and totally unpredictable.

Books I really just enjoyed, regardless of their literary worth:
  • Long May She Reign - Ellen Emerson White. I waited twenty years for this, I am relieved I liked it. Actually, I more than liked it, it was more satisfying than my high school reunion.
  • The White Darkness – Geraldine McCaughrean. Feeding my Ant/arctic obsession. (Small review here.)
  • Popco – Scarlett Thomas. Satiric comic novel dealing with the marketing of children’s toys, although I really enjoyed the homeopathic sidebar bits as well. Thomas is so smart, she’s scary.
  • Austenland - Shannon Hale. Fluff, but oh such fun. Made even better by the fact that the heroine feels as ambivalent about her part in the book as I did about reading it.
  • Instances of the Number Three – Salley Vickers. Vickers writes quiet lovely little novels. This is my favorite of the three I read this year (the other two were Mr Golightley’s Holiday and Miss Garnet’s Angel). Thank you , Suse!
  • I Know This Much is True – Wally Lamb. As engrossing as She Came Undone. I liked the main character and all his flaws and foibles – and his honesty about them.
  • Baker Towers – Jennifer Haigh. Just a good read. Thanks, Gina!
  • Doomsday Book – Connie Willis. The Black Plague. Need I say more? (Full review here.)
  • Mommies Who Drink – Brett Paesel. A very honest look at life-after-children.

Books I started but simply could NOT make myself care enough to finish, much to my disappointment:
  • The Emperor’s Children – Claire Messud. Oh. My. God. YAWN.
  • The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai. The writing in this was gorgeous: intricate and evocative; I just couldn’t care about a single character.
  • The Echo Maker – Richard Powers.
  • The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion.
  • The Great Stink – Clare Clarke.
  • A Disorder Peculiar to the Country – Ken Kalfus.
  • Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I may be the only person alive who did not love this book.
  • Saturday – Ian McEwan. I WANT to love McEwan but after attempting several of his books, have given up.
  • Mirabilis - Susann Cokal. How could I NOT love this – it had the plague, and maniacal priests, and a main character who fed an entire town from her bountiful supply of breastmilk. But I COULD NOT get through it.
  • Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures: Stories – Vincent Lam.
  • Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl. Oh, I WANTED to love this. Pessl is so obviously bright and talented and young, what an exciting find. But oh gosh, she's so YOUNG and so is her writing. I don't blame her for her youth, we may yet see great things from her - but WHERE was her editor?

NEXT UP: What I want to read in 2008, forthcoming books to which I am looking forward, etc. Stay tuned.


* Bertrand Russell


bob said...

Oooooh, right with you on "The Emperor's Children" ... except that I did finish it for a book club. Tedious, overwritten and chock-full-o' horrible characters.

I believe it was a book written for literary critics, not for readers.

Let's hope Noah Baumbach does better with the film version.

Joke said...

I don't know what it says about me, but I am convinced that books which I did/do not enjoy are utterly lacking in literary merit.

Conversely, books which I enjoy are masterpieces.


Velma said...

Just reading this list makes me exhausted, although I thank you for the recommendations.

Kathy said...

I added some books from this list to my tbr list and I'm looking forward to your 2008 list.

Jess said...

I actually felt a stab of panic, realizing that you'd put together your year in review and I haven't even THOUGHT about doing it yet.

I agree about McEwan - I've almost loved a couple of his books, but they all end up irritating me, except for Atonement. Which I adored.

I'm relieved that I've read a bunch of your top books, because it puts much less stress on my to-read list.

Suse said...

You're welcome.

ps. Mr Soup quoted that Bertrand Russell quote at me yesterday. Freaks, you both!