Saturday, January 05, 2008

2007: Books I loved, and read

This post is probably more for my own enjoyment than yours, but feel free to read on anyway.

According to my library record and some fuzzy recollections (I really should keep track of this more systematically), I read 58 books during 2007. I'll highlight my favorites, and then just slap a big old list up here, commenting sparingly, for you to comb through the rest.

My Favorite 12 Books of 2007 (in no particular order, because that would just be too hard):


1. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak). If you read this book, give it the benefit of the doubt for the first 50 pages or so. You won't be sorry you stuck with it.


2. The complete novels of Jane Austen, except Lady Susan (I don’t do epistolary novels). I know it's cheating to count this as one, except that in my copy, they are all bound into one book. Among them, I would choose Pride & Prejudice and Persuasion as my favorites, though Northanger Abbey got an unexpected reprieve on a second reading.


3. Blood & Sand (Frank Gardner). I enjoyed this book so much that I actually did something as nerdy as write the author an email telling him so.


4. A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens). One of my all-time favorites.


5. A Pair of Blue Eyes (Thomas Hardy). Another one of my all-time favorites. I'm telling you, if all you've read of Thomas Hardy is Jude the Obscure, you're missing out big time.


6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling). Also cheating, since I mean for this book to represent the whole series. I just love it. Attached to Book 7 are interesting memories of going to great lengths to acquire an English copy in Amman, Jordan.


7. Birth: the surprising history of how we are born (Tina Cassidy). You already know how I feel about this one.


8. Vanity Fair (William Makepeace Thackeray). Yet another all-time favorite. And the movies (both the British miniseries and the Hollywood version) are very good, too.


9. In Plain Sight: the startling truth behind the Elizabeth Smart investigation (Tom Smart). This book was fascinating all the way through, very suspenseful, and made me cry at the end, even though I already knew what was going to happen.


10. Taken on Trust (Terry Waite). It really got me thinking and caused me to write what was probably my most boring blog post ever (besides this one).


11. Eclipse (Stephenie Meyer). Again, I mean for this book to stand for the whole series. I know not everyone loves these books, but I do.


12. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte). Fantastic book. And the newest Masterpiece Theater adaptation is sumptuous.

And now, the rest:

Young Adult or Juvenile Literature

Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)

New Moon (Stephenie Meyer)

Enthusiasm (Polly Shulman)

Fairest (Gail Carson Levine). Not nearly as enjoyable as her other books, which are not nearly as enjoyable as Shannon Hale's books.

Pretties (Scott Westerfield)

Specials (Scott Westerfield)

Journey to America (Sonia Levitin)

Enna Burning (Shannon Hale)

River Secrets (Shannon Hale)

The Princess Academy (Shanon Hale). Don't be fooled by the title. This is a good book.

*****

Popular Fiction

The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)

Pemberly (Emma Tennant)

Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Marisha Pessl). This was a mystery book, which made the fact that I had to quit reading it about halfway through due to the introduction of a character who favored the f-bomb even more depressing than it would have been otherwise.

Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys)

The Boleyn Inheritance (Philippa Gregory). Meh. I read one more of her books after this one but they are nothing special.

Mr. Darcy’s Daughters (Elizabeth Aston)

A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Husseini). Very good in a depressingly uplifting kind of way.

Austenland (Shannon Hale). Disappointing.

The Constant Princess (Philippa Gregory)

The Painted Veil (W. Somerset Maugham). Um, the movie was SO much better.

Atonement (Ian McEwan). Again, meh. I don't see the genius here.

The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. (Sandra Gulland). I meant to read the other two in the trilogy but there was too much degenerate behavior going on without enough redemption. I know it was a time of revolution, but still.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Gregory Maguire). Crystal, thanks for the recommendation, but this book kind of freaked me out.

The Guardian (Nicholas Sparks). I hated the movie of The Notebook, but this was the perfect book to read in the car on a long trip.

*****

NPR-type books (Either I actually heard about them on NPR, or I could have)

The Price of Admission: how America’s ruling class buys its way into elite colleges – and who gets left outside the gates (Daniel Golden)

The Great Influenza (John M. Barry)

Thunderstruck (Erik Larson)

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your America history textbook got wrong (James Loewen)

The Fight for Jerusalem: radical Islam, the west, and the future of the holy city (Dore Gold). Extremely biased, so I didn't finish it.

Fear less: real truth about risk, safety, and security in a time of terrorism (Gavin De Becker)

Protecting the Gift: keeping children and teenagers safe (Gavin De Becker)

Fleeing Hitler: France 1940 (Hanna Diamond)

The Gift of Fear: survival signals that protect us from violence (Gavin De Becker)

Misconceptions: truth, lies, and the unexpected on the journey to motherhood (Naomi Wolf)

*****

Classics

The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Moonstone (Wilkie Collins)

Some Oscar Wilde plays

Wives & Daughters (Elizabeth Gaskell)

*****

Miscellaneous

The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands (Laura Schlessinger)

Brainiac (Ken Jennings)

Confessions of a Slacker Mom (Muffy Mead-Ferro)

Married to a Bedouin (Marguerite Van Geldermalsen)

The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri (Hugh Nibley). Well, I read parts of it anyway (have you seen how big it is?)

The Happiest Toddler on the Block (Harvey Karp)

Excuse me, but I was next: how to handle 100 modern-day manners dilemmas (Peggy Post)

In the Presence of My Enemies (Gracia Burnham)

15 comments:

Alyson P. said...

What did you think about Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands? I read it, and liked it, but other women have told me they didn't like it. I think it made me see how I am unfair to my husband sometimes.

Bridget said...

Well, first of all, I've never listened to Dr. Laura so I don't have all the accompanying baggage that a lot of people have regarding this book. I thought it was good. I'm not sure I liked it, since vast portions of it made me uncomfortably aware of my weaknesses, but it certainly had value.

Eevi said...

I love the fact that I probably read close to 100 books last year and none of the books except Jane Eyre were the included in your list. I think I will use this post as my reference when we get back to Tucson and I will visit the library:)

Jen said...

You have a lot of books on your 2007 list that I've been wanting to read, and your post was an impetus to request them from the library... I'm very interested in "Blood and Sand," but not a single library in the greater-Boston library network has it.... =(

What did you think of "Brainiac?" I read that one last winter--I thought it was a good "I-can't-go-outside-today-so-I'll-just-read-all-day" book

Bridget said...

Eevi, I wish I had kept track of how many books I read each year before I had Miriam. But don't believe anyone who tells you you won't have time to read when they're teeny tiny - I read more books while nursing a newborn than I can even remember.

Jen, I hate it when the library doesn't have a book! Did you try their request system? That's why the Tucson Library acquired Birth, and also The Price of Admission: because I asked them to.

Brainiac was a very witty, entertaining, and informative read. I will confess, though, that I enjoyed the Jeopardy! parts more than the general trivia parts, even though he said his whole point was to not write a whole book about Jeopardy!.

Mikael said...

wow, SOOO many books. i am jelous! Where do you find time for all of these? You may be a fast reader. I have missed reading dearly, you have given me some great picks and I think I will start next week :)

Jeremy Palmer said...

Here is Jeremy's list:
Books in 2007

Total books and textbooks: 38 (These are the ones I can remember. I also read about 100 academic articles)

Books:28

1. Blood and Sand, Frank Gardner
2. Harry Potter 1-7, JK Rowling - yes, I reread the first 6 again.
3. Taken on Trust, Terry Waite
4. The Price of Admission: How America's ruling class buys its way into elite colleges, Daniel Golden
5. The proper care and feeding of husbands, Laura Schlessinger
6. Married to a Bedouin, Marguerite Van Geldermalsen
7. The Happiest Toddler on the Block, Harvey Karp (ok, I may not have read the entire book)
8. Excuse me, but I was next: how to handle 100 modern-day manners dilemmas, Peggy Post (ok, I may not have read this entire book either but I am trying increase my book total to make myself look smart by adding in a book or two I partially read)
9. Imperial Life in the emerald city, Rajiv Chandrasekaran
10. Wilderness survival 2nd edition, Gregory Davenport
11. SAS Survival Handbook: How to survive in the wild, in any climate, on land or at sea, John Wiseman
12. Jaw Breaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander, Gary Berntsen (this may have been 2006)
13. Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror, Anonymous. I stopped reading this. The author seemed overly arrogant and his conclusions did not add up with other books I have read.
14. Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude, Robert Baer.
15. See No Evil, Robert Baer.
16. Fiasco, Thomas E. Ricks
17. State of Denial, Bob Woodward
18. Cobra II The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq, Michael R. Gordon
19. The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End, Peter W. Galbraith
20. The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq, George Packer
21. The Shia Revival,
22. Imperial Grunts, Robert D. Kaplan


Course and textbooks: about 10

Course books, Textbooks, and other Academic stuff

1. Elementary Turkish, Kurtulus Oztopcu
2. several linguistic articles in Arabic about the Arabic langauge
3. Wardhaugh, Ronald (2005) An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, 5th ed.
4. Ager, Dennis, 2001, Motivation in Language Planning and Language Policy
5. Suleiman, Yasir. 2003. The Arabic Language and National Identity:
A Study in Ideology.
6. Shohamy, Elana and Bernard Spolsky. 2003. The Languages of Israel.
7. Lewis, Geoffrey. 2002. The Turkish Language Reform: A catastrophic Success.
8. about 100 academic articles about linguistics in preparation for my Ph.D. comp exams and other classes
9. Holes, Clive. Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, and Varieties.
10. Versteegh, Kees. The Arabic Language.
11. Hadley, Alice. Teaching Language in Context
12. The Handbook for Arabic language teaching professionals in the 21st century
13. A hundred or more academic articles for classes and Ph.D. comp exams.
14.

Shannan said...

Yipee!!!

Another great book list for me to peruse. I seriously never thought I would have enough time to read all these books, but since I ahven't been in school or applying to grad schools, I have had TONS of time to myself.
I think you're much more of an intellectual reader, while I'm more chick lit, but for me it is always a good mental activity to stretch out to books you wouldn't normally be attracted to.
PS - try the Philip Pullman series - you know, the Golden Compass books. My husband and I love them. Yes, they attack and contort Christianity a bit, but nothing a thinking and rational person can't decipher.

Oh and huge tip from a fellow reader/blogger. Have you checked out Goodreads.com? I still haven't learned how to hyperlink text, otherwise I would do it right now, but it is a great way to organize what you've read, when you finished the book, share book lists with other people, etc. It takes a little time to get started, but once you get going, it is so great to add in your book list, your ratings, and when you finished the book.
okay, long comment done.

Shannan said...

Oh and thank you for reminding me about Birth - I need to get that ASAP because I'm about to give "birth" very soon.

Bridget said...

I think Jeremy needs to branch out a little bit from his ONE genre.

Shannan, for me, the YA/juvenile stuff is great, quick reading. I've never really tried chick lit. Maybe I should.

I've been wanting to look into the Golden Compass books, and I think your recommendation has pushed me over the edge!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I have never kept track of my reading and like the idea. I do have a running list of what I would like to read. Today I ordered two books by mail from the library from my long list. They are: "Walking Since Daybreak," about Lithuania during WW2, and "The Terrible Hours," about a deep-water submarine rescue in 1939.

Next up will be "World War II: Tragedy in Slovakia," and "The Great Mortality," about the black plague in Medieval Europe.

Almost everything I read these days is non-fiction, and most of my fiction reading happens only because of my Book Group. "Snowflower and the Secret Fan" and "A Thousand Splendid Suns" I recommend.

"Blood and Sand" is fascinating but I didn't get through the last few chapters of the borrowed book, and no library around here has a copy. Didn't care much for "Married to a Bedouin" because her cavalier attitude toward propriety and safety annoyed me.

You and Jeremy have given me some ideas to add to my list for future reading (but I'll skip the Turkish & Arabic stuff ;-)

Crys said...

Bridget in my defense I had ordered Wicked and the Ugly Step Sister at the same time. I started out with Wicked because 1/2 the Mormon Ladies I know are always singing the songs from the musical. Note to self musicals can apparently be drastically different from the original text. I kept reading, and reading, and reading hoping to find the musical worthiness part. No it was just one big freaky mess. After that Ugly Step Sister seemed almost normal :) I understand the whole stuck in one genre thing with Jeremey. Jason is the same way. Um how many middle Eastern and policy books can one family possibly own? I've decided to drop Once Upon a Country. It isn't that it isn't good. I'm just tired of rehashing this subject out in my mind :) I'm going to have to check out Princess Academy. I think this is the third time you've mentioned it :)

The Ensign's said...

Janae's reading for 2007.....
Intouch, Us weekly, and Supernanny
..... and that's about it. I'm crossing my fingers my kids enjoy reading more than myself.

Liz Johnson said...

So... what did you think about "Protecting the Gift" and "The Proper Care and Feeding?" Both have been recommended to me, and I haven't read either yet.

Did you absolutely hate any of these books?

Bridget said...

Protecting the Gift was such an informative book. Some of it is repetition if you've read The Gift of Fear, but I would recommend it to anyone.

Usually, if I hate a book, it wouldn't be on this list because I'd stop reading it. Time was (read: before Miriam) that I'd stick with it no matter what, but my time is too valuable now :). That said, I hated Wide Sargasso Sea.

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