Best Books I Read In 2007
1. Blue Dahlia, Black Rose, and Red Lily (the "In the Garden" trilogy), Nora Roberts. I feel stupid for even including these, since they are cheesy romances at heart. But they include gardening and ghost stories, and enough humor and good characterization that I kept reading all the way through the trilogy despite the cheese. So that's a sign of quality in a writer. You've earned your sales, Ms. Roberts, unlike a certain Danielle S. I could name.
2. Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer. In a sometimes-surreal novel that turns its plotlines inside out in order to make past and present touch, Foer tells the story of what might have happened in one Jewish village before--and after--the Nazis arrived. In addition, the modern Ukrainian narrator Alex tells his side in a unique and hilarious voice you won't soon forget.
3. Gallows Thief, Bernard Cornwell. This is the first I've read by Cornwell but it will not be the last. Historical fiction at its accessible and exciting best, this one's set in 18th-century England when public executions were the height of entertainment.
4. Gospel, Wilton Barnhardt. This mammoth novel, chock-full of scholarship but also humor, traces a lewd Catholic professor and a prim Catholic grad student as they track down a long-lost gospel through Europe and the Middle East. Manages to skewer every last religion and nationality on the planet, if I'm not mistaken, while maintaining a certain reverence for the whole enterprise of religion nonetheless.
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling. Just because I parodied it mercilessly doesn't mean I didn't devour it with interest and emotion. A big finish for the biggest series in recent history, which I don't really need to talk any more about since you've already heard more about it than any other book that ever existed except maybe the Bible.
6. His Majesty's Dragon, Naomi Novik. It's always cool to see an original idea crop up in fantasy. This time it's a crossover into historical fiction that introduces dragons into the fighting equipment of the Napoleonic Wars. Interesting, touching, and sometimes humorous, this tale provided a lot of fun and should become a movie. (Maybe this isn't the place to mention that I couldn't get into the sequel, though.)
7. Midwives, Chris Bohjalian. Man, I hate it when I enjoy a book that Oprah also picked. But as usual Bohjalian did his research extraordinarily well, so that this novel reads almost as a dramatized version of the ongoing real-life debate between natural childbirth and the medicalized hospital births, without choosing sides. Glad I read it after giving birth myself, that's for sure.
8. Second Helpings, Megan McCafferty. The sequel to Sloppy Firsts impressed me just as much as its predecessor, and reminded me that young adult fare definitely needn't be dumbed down for its audience. Teen angst can go hand in hand with intelligence and deep emotion, not to mention frequent comedic commentary. Inspires me to write more myself!
9. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Ann Brashares. Ditto all I said for McCafferty, though this one has cleaner language. Have to admit I enjoyed the movie version too, despite the many changed plot points.
10. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer. Thanks to modmerseygirl for recommending this one. Though again a young adult novel, this carries a lot of crossover appeal, particularly for Buffyverse fans, given the large amount of vampire activity and romance. Plus, it's set in Washington! (That's the state, where I live, not the US capital city thousands of miles away.) I haven't read the sequels yet, but look forward to doing so, and also to the movie now in production.
I'd ask you to recommend more, but I already have over a hundred books on my Amazon wish list, so maybe you shouldn't. :)