Sunday, December 31, 2006

Open the book; its pages are blank. We're going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity; its first chapter is New Year's Day.

[Quote by Edith Lovejoy Pierce.]


Number of books read in 2006: an even 100, wrapped up with Penny Vincenzi’s huge and lovely Something Dangerous

Book I HAVE to finish: The Kindly Ones (Sandman vol. 9), but God, have I mentioned how I hate the artwork?

Book started last night so will be my first finished in 2007: Lily Brett's You Gotta Have Balls

Looking back at my list, I feel like I read some amazing books this year, but here are, for lack of any other limits, my top five:
The Sandman books – Neil Gaiman (if I counted each of these separately, it’d take up my top ten)
Broken for You – Stephanie Kallos
Hilary McKay’s Casson family series
The Brief History of the Dead - Kevin Brockmeier
Motherless Brooklyn - Jonathan Lethem

I can’t really list my most disappointing, as I will not finish a book if I find it that disappointing. (I will say that Memory Keeper’s Daughter was a book I looked forward very much to reading but could not finish. But since that was only last month, that might have something to do with why I remember that one.) The most pleasant surprise, though: Water for Elephants. I did not expect much from this book, after all its hype, but it was a good read, with wonderful characters. The Thirteenth Tale would fall into this category as well; I know many of you did not like this book but I stand by my statement that it is this century’s Jane Eyre. And the book I was most pleased to have soldiered through a slow beginning? A tie between Sarah Dunant’s In the Company of the Courtesan and Markus Zuzak’s The Book Thief.

Books that have crossed my radar enough times in the past few months and now are on The TBR List:
Snow - Orhan Pamuk. Sitting on my shelf, just awaiting my eyeballs.
The Echo Maker (77 holds!!) – I thought I’d beaten the rush on this one. Apparently not.
The Emperor’s Children - Just waiting for my personal library collection (otherwise known as our university's way-underused popular reading collection) to acquire this.
Eat the Document
Then We Came to the End
Death and the Penguin
The Lost Painting
The Ghost Map

Books liked by people I trust, so therefore I must read because I know I probably will too:
Doomsday Book (courtesy of Lazy Cow)
The Observations (ditto)
Secret River and Eucalyptus (both courtesy of dear Suse)
Almost a Crime - Penny Vincenzi (the same neighbor who gave me the Lytton trilogy)

Books that have sat on my TBR shelf long enough – this will be the year. Maybe.
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Johnny Tremaine
Shalimar the Clown
The Left Hand of Darkness
The Children’s Blizzard
Howard's End

Books I know I am going to buy:
The Christmas Quilt and Circle of Quilters (just out in paperback)
(I enjoy Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilt series, not just because I am a quilter but because her characters are real and her stories are fascinating, especially the historical bits.)
Kafka’s Parables, as part of my Winter Classics Reading Challenge, courtesy of Booklogged at A Reader's Journal.
At least the next two or three Sandman volumes; I just bought volume 1 before Christmas
One Good Turn – Kate Atkinson, when it comes out in paperback, along with Case Histories, which I want to reread.
Garlic and Sapphires – Ruth Reichl. I read, liked, and own Reichl's first two books; this one was incredibly fun and readable.

Books I am excited about:
The Art of Detection - Laurie King; but I need to finish the last Kate Martinelli book first.
Sing Them Home – Stephanie Kallos (Dec 2007)
The Terror – Dan Simmons (January 2007)
What Came Before He Shot Her – Elizabeth George
Skylight Confessions - Alice Hoffman (January 2007)

Questions to which I would like answers:
Is Rosamunde Pilcher really done writing as she's asserted?
Is Andrea Barrett ever going to write another book?
Is Audrey Niffenegger ever going to write another REAL book?
Why are circuses so popular a setting for recent novels?
What is it about Jonathan Safran Foer, Jonathan Franzen, and Dave Eggers? I just don't get it. What am I missing?
When did Rita Mae Brown stop being funny and start being tedious?
Am I the only person who thinks Joyce Carol Oates is a hack?
Will the Shopaholic and Baby book be as dreadful as the Shopaholic and Sister book?
Will I be stupid enough to attempt to find out?

Book blogs with way better roundups than mine:
Lazy Cow's Only Books All the Time
Reading Roundup 2006

Pages Turned
End-of-year reading stats

Kimbofo of Reading Matters
Top Ten Fiction Reads of 2006

Booklogged at A Reader's Journal
13 favorite Books Read in 2006

These were some of my favorites, but you can find a comprehensive list with links here. I suggest having a pen and paper handy, or at least another document open on your computer, for your list.
There WILL be a list. Trust me.

I will try to keep better records next year, but I am not promising anything - even if I have already created a "2007 Books" spreadsheet...


blackbird said...
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blackbird said...

You know I don't read - so much of this is lost on me, but you may also remember that I worked in publishing and I am here to tell you that Joyce Carol Oates is, without a doubt, a HACK.

Any time we needed a quote for any worthless bit of tripe we got one from her.

Sarah Louise said...

Oh, you just serve us well. We will now be in books for the years.

Johnny Tremain is a treasure. I read it eons ago, but it is one I remember liking quite a bit.

I can't read anything by Kinsella after reading Shopaholic gets married or whatever it was. Gag, choke.

Anonymous said...

So many books, so little time.

The 7th Harry Potter book might come out this summer, so I have to reread 5 and 6 so I know what's going on when I read 7. That will keep me busy.

TLB said...

I don't like Joyce Carol Oates either. I think her whole career is based on "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"

Suse said...

Are you enjoying the Lily Brett?

I'm reading 'Snow' at the moment and finding it hard to continue.

lazy cow said...

I was just going to email you to beg you to do a roundup. Goody!
Stayed up till 2 this morning reading Markus Zuzak's The Messenger. If the Book Thief is 1/2 as good I'll be happy (off to Borders with my $10 off vouchers today). I'll be reading Shopaholic and Baby, I just can't help myself. Glad Stephanie Kallos has a new one, but a year to wait? And I didn't know Alice Hoffman has one too, fantastic. Love Kate Atkinson and Ruth Reichl, and I think you'll like Doomsday book. Hey, it's about the Plague :-) Tractors in Ukranian is a fun read, it'll take you 1-2 evenings, tops. Off to investigate the books on your radar (apart from Messud and Pamuk I've not hear of the rest). Happy new year dear!

Kathy said...

I've never been able to finish a Joyce Carol Oates book -- ever.

When did Rita Mae Brown stop being funny and start being tedious? -- I would say around the time she wrote Venus Envy -- I hated that book and have never really liked anything of hers since.

Sarah Louise said...

I read "Them" by JCO ages ago b/c the library pickings were really slim. I don't remember if I finished it but I haven't ever read anything else by her...

My sister thinks the HP book is coming out on 7.7.07. I guess that would be cool, but I don't know how reliable her info is.

Gina said...

I was totally bored by The Emperor's Children, and felt ripped off. In fact, this was a disappointing year for me and new fiction.

I did just read The Thirteenth Tale, though, which wasn't disappointing in the least. I won't go as far as to call it our century's Jane Eyre, but I liked it a whole lot--thanks.

David said...

Doomsday Book, by Willis? I loved that book. I like everything she's written actually. My favorite is a book you could likely read in an hour called "Remake"

I'd be surprised if I read ten books this year. Way to up the average for all of us BB!

Anonymous said...

I read The Woman in Black yesterday afternoon whilst trying not to barf. Even with the queasiness, it was creepy enough that I exclaimed, "oh!" several times and that is my creepiness barometer.

The Emperor's Children - I have started it four times and now began it again in the ped's office waiting with the youngest.

And due to you, and so I told my husband, needing to cast blame on why it is only 1/3/07 and I've already broken the Buy Nothing for 45 days rule he is trying to impose, I have the Lytton trilogy winging its way from Amazon.

I love librarians!!!

Anonymous said...

A woman named Cathleen Schine wrote a piece on in The New York Review of Books on a collection of Joyce Carol Oates's stories. Reading her paean to Ms. Oates, I couldn't help thinking that her descriptions of Ms. Oates's supposed writerly virtues also constitute a telling criticism. Most incriminating was Ms. Schine's assertion that, "there is, first of all, no room for humor in Oates's intense, fevered world."

I needn't elaborate on how the last century and the beginning of this one have suffered no dearth of violence. Perhaps in direct response to this fact, the works of the greatest fiction writers have been animated by humor and love. I'm thinking of Ulysses, Lolita, In Search of Lost Time, and Beckett's trilogy, as well as his plays.

Even Kafka had a sense of humor.

In movies, violence is a dependable crutch: it's easy, it titillates -- witness Quentin Tarantino's popularity. To make violence one's métier as a writer is to pander to a similarly shallow, calloused audience.