Friday, December 28, 2007

Best Books Read in 2007

I'm still working on writing about my end of the year reads, but with all three of us in the house, well, it's been difficult to find the time. Here I present my favorite reads of 2007. Most of the books on my list are there due to pure enjoyment - they were all great reads for me. Some made me laugh, many made me think, some I learned from, some I'm sure were just the right book at the right time and gave me pleasure. All of them have stayed with me.

In compiling my list, I've decided to leave off two books which were favorite books but were rereads for me. I considered them favorite books in their respective years. They are:

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

The following books, in no particular order except that in which I read them, are books 2 through 10, the last book is my Book of The Year.

Miss Mole by E.H. Young - A Virago Modern Classic and the first book I finished in 2007, here's what I wrote about it in my book journal: Very funny and witty, never 'met' a character like her before, enjoyed and could appreciate her unique point of view.

The Birth House by Ami McKay - A historical novel set in remote Canada looks at midwifery vs. the medical establishment. Enjoyed the unique way McKay told this story, prose alongside letters, articles, diary entries and old advertisements.

Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee - Fascinating biography of arguably the most influential person in the US promoting sustainable eating and her world renowned restaurant. Does not gloss over the negative.

The Observations by Jane Harris - Loved this fun and bawdy historical novel that is reminiscent of Slammerkin and Sarah Waters.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson - Bryson writes lovingly of Australia with his trademark humor.

The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn - Gorgeously written account of a man searching the world for information about his relatives lost in the Holocaust. The highlight for me was when the author's brother left me a comment about my review.

Asta's Book by Barbara Vine - Loved this historical psychological thriller.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - Wonderfully entertaining novel about a subject I'd never seen explored in fiction.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff - Delightful book of letters sent me looking for more of Hanff's writing.

Finally, my Book of the Year is:

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan - Farming, our food supply, our eating habits - this covers it all. I think about this book almost every day, have sung it's praises to many, and delight in how it's changed my life and my attitudes towards food. Pollan is not the first to write about this subject, but does it most engagingly.

My author Finds of the Year are Barbara Vine and Helene Hanff. Thanks to all the bloggers out there who inspired me the read these two, and many other authors this year. I look forward to continuing the conversation.


Literary Feline said...

I love reading blogger's best of lists. :-) I hope to get to The Blind Assassin this next year. It'll be my first Atwood novel.

You have a wonderful list there and I'm taking notes! I recently came into a copy of The Birth House and am glad to see it is among your favorites.

I hope you have a wonderful New Year!

Cath said...

I too plan to get to Margaret Atwood next year. It's time. Enjoyed reading your list, I'm starting a new book journal and plan to make a note of some of your favourites so that I can look for them. Particularly like the sound of The Birth House.

A Happy New Year to you and yours, Tara.

Carrie K said...

The Blind Assassin is the first Margaret Atwood novel I've ever finished. I like her style - all of them - it's just easy for me to put them down and waltz off.

Thanks for the list! My favorite end of the year pasttime.

BooksPlease said...

I've only just started thinking about my favourite books from this year's reading. I haven't read any of the books you list - apart from The Blind Assassin, which is one of my favourites by Margaret Atwood, and 84, Charing Cross Road, which I also loved. So, more ideas for books to read next year.

Happy New Year to you and your family, Tara.

melanie said...

i love knowing our tastes are similar and finding so many books on your list i haven't read...yet. i also loved water for elephants and 84 charing cross is an old fave.
have fun planning your reads for 08:) mel

Danielle said...

I really liked The Blind Assassin, too, and hope to read Suite Francaise next year! I know what you mean by choosing books that stay with you (for a variety of reasons)--some of my favorites aren't necessarily award winners, but they were, as you said, the right book for me at the right time! And I am definitely going to read the Pollan next year! :) Thanks for sharing your list (I also love B. Vine, and H. Hanff, and loved the McKay book!

Iliana said...

Suite Francaise was one of my favorite reads of this year. What a great book. I'm taking note of some of your other reads here... In particular I really want to read The Birth House and The Observations - I just know I'm going to enjoy those. Hope you have a happy new year (filled with lots more good reads!)

Olivia Kroth said...

Hello Tara,
I found your blog through Becca's and read your top-reading-list with fascination.

At the moment I have Barbara Vine's "Asta's Book" on my table. I have just started reading, the author draws me from page to page. I have read all of her novels, and all those she published under her other name Ruth Rendell, too.

I also read most of Margaret Atwood's novels and liked the realistic part of "The Blind Assassin", but not the phantastic part. I must admit that I just skipped those pages.

Irene Nemirovsky's "Suite Francaise" is still on my "to-buy-list". I will wait until I can get it cheaper through Abe-Books. That's a very good address to get books at reasonable prices.

Have a happy new year 2008 with many good reads!

Tara said...

Literary Feline, so do I - I've been having so much fun looking over everyones. Your first Atwood novel - wow! I hope you like her. I think some of her other books are more accessible, such as Alias Grace and The Robber Bride.

Cath, I'm always interested to see what people think of Atwood so I hope you'll try her. I think I read her before I realized she was sometimes considered difficult or intimidating - which made it easier for me, not having any preconceptions.

Carrie K, I'm laughing over you 'putting them down and waltzing off'. I also love these lists.

Booksplease, I just love looking over the books I've read and remembering them and thinking about how they made me feel. Happy New Year to you and your family, as well.

Mel, I feel the same way when I see what you've enjoyed! Yes, I am already having fun thinking about it - 2008.

Danielle, I couldn't agree more. I look forward to your list!

Iliana, I hope that you enjoy them. Happy New Year to you and your family!

Hello Olivia, thanks so much for saying hello! I am wondering what your favorite Vine books are! I actually surprised myself by enjoying the science fiction portions of The Blind Assassin - not my usual fare at all. I agree with you about Abe books - what an amazing resource. Thank you for your link, I am enjoying your blog!

Nan said...

I really want to read the Alice Waters. And I think his Australia book is the very best Bryson has written. The stats about the poisonous creatures over there are astounding! Tom and I still talk about it. Such fun reading all your lists!

Tara said...

Yes, I specifically remember Bryson writing about all the poisonous creatures -eek! And I think I agree with you that it is his best book, that I've read.

Lisa said...

That's a nice list. I absolutely loved 84 Charing Cross Road. One of my top 5 for the year is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I haven't read the Blind Assasin, but I plan to read a lot more of Atwood's work. If you haven't already read the Handmaid's Tale, I highly recommend it.

lazy cow said...

Oooh, I have a an E H Young Virago novel on my shelf - don't think it's the same one though. Must dig it out.
I just can't like Barbara Vine's books. I've read several of them and she's just not my cup of tea. Adored The Blind Assassin, read it twice so far. Thanks for the list.