It’s an old question, but a good one . . . What were your favorite books this year?
List as many as you like … fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, science-fiction, business, travel, cookbooks … whatever the category. But, really, we’re all dying to know. What books were the highlight of your reading year in 2007?
Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!
Even though this post went up on Wednesday, I’m counting it for this week’s “Booking Through Thursday” response.
This is my first year of keeping a reading journal – still the official stated purpose of this here blog – so it’s the first time I get to do a year-end recap of my reading activity.
I’ve learned a few things from my book blogging, but these stand out:
- Blogging activity – reading and commenting, as well as writing posts – has taken a toll on my available reading time! However, I think it’s been a good trade.
- Knowing that I’ll be writing a review post about a book does make me read it more carefully and critically, which may be another reason I’m not exactly a speed-reader these days.
- The first item is why I think I’m a sorry excuse for a book blogger! Here are just a few blogs whose owners seem to get through a lot more books than I do: A Life in Books, Books.Lists.Life, Musings of a Bookish Kitty, So Many Books, So Little Time, the hidden side of a leaf, The Paperback Stash, and the community of contributors to The Book Book. Then there are the bloggers who mix in the occasional book-related post on their personal blogs – I think I’ve ended up being in that niche as opposed to a true “book blogger,” but I’ve reflected on my blogging identity before – or have separate review blogs; suffice it to say that, as far as I can see, many bloggers love to read.
The label “reading” has been attached to a total of 64 posts, including book-related memes; 27 posts are actually book reviews. (Out of 300-plus posts, on a blog that’s supposed to have “reading” as one of its main reasons for existence – 27?! That’s it? I’m beginning to doubt myself here, or at least wonder if this blog needs a new name.) But 6 of those 27 posts discuss multiple books, so as of this writing, the actual number of books I blogged about this year stands at 46. However, the six books I included in my very first post were all read in late 2006, so they don’t count for this year, which makes for 40 books read in 2007. I may finish one or two more before New Year’s, but we’ll have to see – I’m currently reading The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud, but I just started it a couple of weeks ago, and with Christmastime and all, I’m not sure how much reading time I’ll find. And since I still haven’t finished The Historian, I’m not counting that one either. But the actual tally isn’t too bad, all things considered. Since I have some data now, I’ll be able to track next year’s reading against this year’s, and make comparisons. At least I have a “quantity” goal for 2008 now. (Trust an accountant to turn reading into a numbers game…)
It’s not just about the numbers, though – this is my chance to look back at my 2007’s best, worst, and most memorable book experiences:
My book club’s favorite read this year: The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Not my personal favorite, but this had the most generally positive responses from the membership.
My book club’s least favorite read this year: His Lovely Wife, by Elizabeth Dewberry. I had the dubious distinction of being the one to select this year’s biggest loser, although I don’t think I disliked it quite as much as the rest of the group did. It did generate some robust discussion, though; we sometimes have better meetings over the books we didn’t much care for, as long as enough people have actually plowed through to finish them!
Best reading experience: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling. This final trip to Hogwarts – which spent relatively little time there – wasn’t quite as bittersweet as I expected it to be, and on the whole I found the series wrap-up satisfying. Reading it was part of a Harry Potter theme weekend at my house; Tall Paul and I sat side by side, each reading our own copy of the book, and the biggest chunk of time we spent away from reading was at the movies, seeing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Most disappointing read: The Man of My Dreams, by Curtis Sittenfeld. Prep was one of my favorite books this year, and I was looking forward to Sittenfeld’s second novel. It’s not bad; it just seemed lackluster and didn’t resonate with me.
And now, my first-ever “Book of the Year” picks:
Book of the Year, nonfiction: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert. That may not be a fair choice, since I did just finish it, but since I’m the entire award committee, that’s how it goes. Great writing, a great story, and so many things that struck chords with me – I’m not going to forget this book for a long time, and I’m not going to give away my copy, either.
Nonfiction Honorable Mention: Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, by Julie Powell. I like food writing and enjoyed reading this, but it’s also notable for me because, as a book that came from a blog, it was influential in my getting more serious about this whole blogging thing.
Book of the Year, fiction: Lost and Found, by Carolyn Parkhurst. This was the somewhat strange, yet gratifying, experience of liking a book just as much as – maybe even more than – I’d expected to. I knew that I’d get into the premise of following the participants of an Amazing Race-type reality show through the last rounds of their competition, but Parkhurst did a great job defining her characters as well as in telling their story, and I loved the behind-the-scenes production details.
Fiction Honorable Mention: I’m a little surprised that Deathly Hallows is not the Book of the Year for me, but it’s definitely near the top of the list. As much as I love Harry Potter, though, the only book in the series that was a true peak experience for me was Order of the Phoenix.
Book of the Year – Overall: For what little it’s worth, the honor goes to Eat, Pray, Love.
I hope some of my favorite book bloggers will be doing year-end recaps of their own! I’d also love to see mention of your favorite – and least favorite – books of 2007 in the comments.