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2007 Books

Hope I'm not running afoul of the community's new posting guidelines here. These are the books I read this year, with links to reactions on my blog where applicable. My goal was to post a reaction for every book I read, but I didn't quite manage it -- I only have comments for about half of these books. If you have any questions about the others, just ask!

By genre:

  • Robertson Davies, The Manticore (sequel to "Fifth Business", main character discusses events of the previous book with a psychiatrist)
  • Edwidge Danticat, The Dew Breaker (Haitian immigrants in the US)
  • Dubravka Ugresic, The Ministry of Pain (Yugoslav exiles in Amsterdam)
  • Upamanyu Chatterjee, English, August (about an unhappy, unambitious officer of the IAS (India Administrative Service))
  • Celestine Vaite, Taire in Bloom (set in Tahiti, sequel to "Breadfruit" and "Frangipani")
  • Paulo Coelho, THe Alchemist (philosophical re-telling of a story from the Arabian Nights)
  • Jean Webster, Daddy Long Legs (women's college scholarship student writes letters to her mysterious sponsor)
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were Orphans ("detective" novel set in Hong Kong on the eve of WWII)
  • Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (sympathetic portrayal of a sociopath doctor in Prague, sort-of love story, eventually some politics)
  • Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (beautiful language, short and easy book, pre-colonial Africa)
  • Alice McDermott, A Bigamist's Daughter (set in NYC, sociopath main character works at a vanity press)
  • John le Carre, The Looking-Glass War (Cold War-era spy novel)

Total: 12


Total: 4

  • Caleb Carr, The Italian Secretary (Sherlock Holmes mystery)
  • Caleb Carr, The Alienist (1900 NYC, detective is a psychoanalyst)
  • Dorothy Sayers, Lord Peter (collection of Peter Whimsey short stories)
  • Dorothy Sayers, Murder Must Advertise (Lord Peter undercover at an ad agency)
  • Dorothy Sayers, Strong Poison (Lord Peter defending mystery writer/future love interest Harriet Vane)
  • Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (still haven't forgiven the person who spoiled me for this)

Total: 6

  • Ursula LeGuin, Earthsea
  • Ursula LeGuin, The Tombs of Atuan (second in Earthsea series)
  • Ursula LeGuin, The Farthest Shore (third in Earthsea series)
  • Fuyumi Ono, The Sea of Shadow (light novel, first in Twelve Kingdoms series)
  • Tamora Pierce, The Will of the Empress (YA, Circle Opens series)
  • Lemony Snickett, The End (YA, final book in Unfortunate Events series)
  • Diana Wynne Jones, Conrad's Fate (YA, fifth in Chrestomanci series)
  • Diana Wynne Jones, The Pinhoe Egg (YA, sixth in Chrestomanci series)
  • Diana Wynn Jones, Unexpected Magic (collected short stories, includes the novella Everard's Ride)
  • Diane Duanne, Wizards at War (YA, Young Wizards series)
  • Paticia Wrede and Caroline Stevemer, The Mislaid Magician (third in Cecilia series)
  • JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (YA, seventh (final) in series)
  • Naomi Mitchison, Travel Light (fast, easy and inventive, draws from fairytales)
  • Naomi Novik, Empire of Ivory (fourth in Temeraire series)
  • Guy Gavrial Kay, The Lions of Al-Rassan (Moorish Spain with the names changed, very little fantasy)
  • Takabayashi Tomo, Kyou Kara MA no Tsuku Jiyuugyou! (light novel, first in series, translated here. hilarious!)

Total: 16

  • Tanith Lee, The Book of the Damned (Paradys series, alternate reality Gothic Paris in various time periods)
  • Tanith Lee, The Book of the Beast (same)
  • Tanith Lee, The Book of the Dead (same)
  • Tanith Lee, The Book of the Mad (same)

Total: 4


Total: 4

  • Abe Ignacio, The Forbidden Book (Philippine political cartoons)
  • Ruth Rosen, World Split Open (cultural history of American feminism)
  • Mary Roach, Stiff (survey of the uses of dead bodies, newsreporter style)
  • William Finnegan, Cold New World (portraits of struggling teenagers in New Haven, East Texas, Washington state, and northern Los Angeles)
  • Bruce Schulman, The Seventies (US cultural history overview of the decade)
  • Stuart Creighton Miller, "Benevolent Assimilation" (Philippine-American War 1899-1903)
  • John A. Larkin, Sugar and the Origins of Modern Philippine Society (what the title says)
  • Michael Cullinane, Illustrado Politics (extremely dry who's who for Philippine politics 1880-1930)
  • Benedict J. Kerkvliet, The Huk Rebellion (classic counter-history originally published in 1977)
  • Michael Kennedy, Cultural Formulations of Post-Communism (my professor wrote this. has good interviews but the analysis is confused, not recommended)
  • Jill Quadagno, One Nation, Uninsured (cultural history of the US health-care system)
  • William H. Chafe, Civilities and Civil Rights (civil rights movement in Greensboro, North Carolina)
  • Glenn Altshuler, All Shook Up (subtitle: How Rock and Roll Changed America0
  • Tom Engleheart, The End of Victory Culture (US cultural history)

Total: 14

  • Les Standiford, Last Train to Paradise ("great men" history of the Florida railroad)
  • Daniel Brook, The Trap (subtitle: "selling out to stay afloat in winner-take-all america")
  • Babara Walroff, Word Court (reprint of Atlantic Monthly columns on grammar)
  • Robert Angell, Let Me Finish (author's memoirs)
  • David Kamp, The United States of Arugula (history of gourmet/organic food in the US)

Total: 5

  • Jojo's Bizarre Adventure vol 1-2 (Araki Hirohito)
  • Land of the Blindfolded vol 1-2, 7-8 (Tsukaba Sakura)
  • Pearl Pink vol 1-3 (Meca Tanaka)
  • Scott Pilgrim vol 4 (Bryan Lee O'Malley)
  • Mushishi vol 1-2 (Urushibara Yuki)
  • Cantarella vol 4-8 (Higuri You)
  • Vampire Knight vol 1-3 (Hino Matsuri)
  • Petshop of Horrors vol 1-3 (Akino Matsuri)

Total: 23

Grand total: 78 (55 books and 23 graphic novels)

Made the 50 book challenge!

For fun, here's my 2006 list.


( 11 pithy comments — Say something pithy! )
Dec. 28th, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
I read Fool's Run in 2006 but didn't like it much. (My much briefer review is here.

Otherwise, the only titles I've read from your list fall under the "fantasy" heading...which is kinda weird, actually, as my reading tastes tend to be pretty eclectic.

I have been thinking of picking up Connie Willis's short story collection, The Winds of Marble Arch, but haven't read her before and don't know whether I'd like her style. You didn't much like To Say Nothing of the Dog; have you read anything else of hers?

(Oh, and Stiff and Sorcery and Cecelia are on my "to read" and "to buy" lists, respectively.)
Dec. 28th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
Haha, maybe that's because there are more books in the "fantasy" category than any of the others. XD This year I spent I lot of time reading on recommendation, and my friends list likes fantasy.

I thought Fool's Run could have been a lot more interesting than it was. The characters end up as cliches and the worldbuilding was completely shallow. I kept waiting for the plot to take an interesting turn and it didn't. On the other hand, I do think the book would make a very good movie.

I didn't think that much of Stiff, either, but that could have been because it was a gift and I wasn't very keen on the topic. There was a great section on med student practice dissections and some of the historical background (Renaissance artists, Victorian grave robbers) was interesting, but overall I thought the author spent too much time covering her reactions as the dead bodies were displayed to her, and not enough time conveying information. Another thing I didn't like was the writing style. It's present-tense journalistic: "Next Theo coats the face with what I assume to be some sort of shaving cream. The reason it looks like shaving cream, it turns out, is that it is." (And that's another thing, most the jokes just aren't funny.) But I'm a bit of a snob about these things. The book covers a wide variety of topics, brings in a lot of interesting information, and is written in an accessible, engaging style.

To Say Nothing of the Dog is the only book by Connie Willis I've read, but I have it on good authority that her novellas and short stories are much better than her novels, and Bellweather (a novella about trend-studying scientists) is on my "to-read" pile.

I <3 Sorcery and Cecilia. Are you a Patricia Wrede fan? Someone wrote a Mairelon/Sorcery/Enchanted Forest Chronicles crossover for yuletide this year.
Dec. 28th, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
Of the fantasy books you mention, I've read the "staples" -- the three Earthsea books and the Harry Potter. I've read earlier Lemony Snickett books (but haven't kept up with the series), as well as the first Duane Wizard novel.

With its funky music focus and penal-colony-in-space setting, Fool's Run probably would make for an interesting -- and visually spectacular -- movie. On the other hand, the somewhat anticlimactic ending would likely be even more anticlimactic on film -- if only because the idea of extraterrestrial life of a kind never before imagined has been -- well -- frequently imagined. They'd probably end up Hollywooding it with Sigourney Weaver or Vin Diesel kicking alien butt.

Thanks for the thoughts on Stiff. I'm sure I'll read it in '08, as the topic does interest me. I've read similar books with varying degrees of morbid interest. One of them (Cemetery Stories) grated on me a bit in that the writing was too subjective -- the narrative voice too oppressive at times -- so I may have the same problem with the writing style of Stiff.

At some point, I'll probably pick up a copy of the Connnie Willis collection...but after it comes out in paperback!

As for Wrede, I've never read her or her co-author before; I just came across the Sorcery series and thought it looked fun.
Dec. 28th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC)
Just took a look at some of the book entries on your journal. You read a lot more nonfiction than I do! Generally the only books we had in common were children/YA books: The Westing Game, Number the Stars, The Devil's Arithmatic, The Witches, The Bridge to Terrabithia, The Midwife's Apprentice, and Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series. But I read these so long ago that I really couldn't tell you anything about them.

If you're into the occult, you should check out Tanith Lee's Paradys series! Unfortunately, the books are out of print, but they are not too hard to find at used book stores. The books can be read in any order, so I recommend you start with The Book of the Dead, which is a series of death-themed short stories set in Paradys (Paris) and its colonies in the 18th-19th century. The Book of the Damned is three novellas about cross-dressing set in Revolutionary, Medieval, and present-day Paradys, The Book of the Beast is a single story about a family curse which switches between 18th century Paradys and the Roman outpost Par Dis, and The Book of the Mad is two intertwined stories about insanity, set in 19th century Paradys and the future dystopic city of Paradise. It's all extremely Gothic, surreal, and decadent, and also frequently very clever. Lee is particularly good at bored aristocrats.
Dec. 28th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)
The Things They Carried was recommended to me by one of my English teachers. I found it to be long and quite disappointing.

I also expected more from The Wizard of Earthsea. It seems like there wasn't much of a plot in that book.

The Deathly Hallows was by far my favorite of the Harry Potter series.

I really enjoyed the Lemony Snicket series but I was hoping that all of these questions throughout the series would be answered.

Dec. 28th, 2007 07:36 pm (UTC)
I liked The Things They Carried on the whole, but some chapters were definitely better than others. This is what happens when you collect stories that were previously published in magazines and try to fit them together into a single book, I think. (Generally the "bridge" chapters, between previously published material, were the weakest.) I did really like the author's liberal bias, however.

I just re-read the Wizard of Earthsea, and I have to say I was surprised by how much does happen -- Ged moves all the way from the island where he was born to the island of the wizards, learns magic, makes a mistake, and then he goes sailing all around the world for ten years. But it still FEELS like nothing happens because the focus of the book is internal. I liked the second book in the series The Tombs of Atuan, much more. (The Tombs of Atuan is about a priestess of a dying religion who traps Ged in an underground labyrinth, and how she slowly begins to question her upbringing. The third book, The Farthest Shore, is a really weird book about death, but it does have a beautiful young boy who is "in love" with Ged. Generally, I like Ged a lot more when he is not the viewpoint character.)

The third and sixth Harry Potter books are my favorites, but seven wasn't bad.

Can't say anything about Lemony Snicket, as I cheated and skipped to the end. ^^;

Dec. 28th, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
I loved Goblet of Fire the most before Deathly Hallows came out. A lot of people didn't like the epilogue but I really enjoyed the closure.

LOL! I kept thinking about skipping to the end of The End.
Dec. 29th, 2007 06:41 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed Chabon's book...his others are excellent as well.
Jan. 3rd, 2008 06:40 am (UTC)
repost logged in to the right journal
I've been thinking about picking up Gentlemen of the Road. Have you read that?
Jan. 3rd, 2008 06:43 am (UTC)
Er, posted to 2006 by mistake, but my point stands. ^_^;
Jan. 3rd, 2008 07:00 am (UTC)
I might have forgotten a few. ^^;
( 11 pithy comments — Say something pithy! )



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