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Best books of 2007

The big fandom events of 2007, for me, were much more in the TV arena than the books or movies, what with my Buffyverse and then Doctor Who obsessions. But all the same, I did see some great films and read some great books, so here are the books in alphabetical order. They were too different from each other to rank in terms of quality. Best films to come in a separate post.

Best Books I Read In 2007

(Fiction only)

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. :)


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 7th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
You should read Bernard Cornwell's Warlord Chronicles (which starts with The Winter King). My favourite King Arthur books, yep - and I have read quite a few!
Jan. 9th, 2008 03:24 am (UTC)
Ooh, cool! I bet we could trust him to keep the legend lively and not start dragging on the dry side like Mary Stewart's (which I liked, but, yeah...).
Jan. 7th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
I love Chris Bohjalian's novels. Loooooooove. I have most of them, my favorite being Trans-Sister Radio.

I've also read quite a bit of young adult novels lately, totally the fault of Brotherhood 2.0. Hee.
Jan. 9th, 2008 03:27 am (UTC)
Trans-Sister Radio was the first I read of his, and is still one of the best. I mean, who's not kind of fascinated by sex changes, really?
Jan. 7th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
Aww! Neat list. :-) I'm glad to see Twilight was such a memorable book for you. Yay! I still would love to send New Moon your way.....I apologize that I'm so tardy with that.

I've not read the McCafferty novels yet, but I've heard such good things about them! Good to know that you've recommended them, too. :-)

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants *is* wonderful, isn't it? I've read the second one, and I think I started on the third (but didn't finish). I've intended to revisit them, because I really liked the stories. I loved the movie, too! Did you know that they're filming a sequel?
Jan. 9th, 2008 03:29 am (UTC)
That's okay; I'm tardy with my entire reading list. :)

I mean to read the second one in the Traveling Pants series too, and see where everyone goes next. Was cool to see Alexis Bledel as something other than Rory, in the film--though I suppose her character was rather Rory-ish all the same. She definitely got the prettiest locale to film in. Santorini, wow!
Jan. 7th, 2008 04:25 am (UTC)
Somedays, I swear I'm the only person not under Stephenie Meyer's spell. I read Twilight and didn't see the big deal.

Then again, my "best read" award almost always goes to Terry Pratchett....
Jan. 9th, 2008 03:31 am (UTC)
Well, I'm not going so far as "under her spell," but I thought it was an addictive read all the same. :) And hey, who doesn't like Pratchett?
Jan. 7th, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
You could take up the Russian reading challenge!
Jan. 9th, 2008 03:32 am (UTC)
Oh yes, meant to remark upon that. Sounds fun! In the world of the true huge Russian novels I have only read The Brothers Karamazov, but I loved it. Maybe this will be the year for some War and Peace or Anna Karenina.
Jan. 7th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
As I started this post I planned to ask you if you've read Stephenie Meyer yet. Glad I kept reading. :) I think you'll like the sequels, too, and there obviously needs to be a fourth book!

My Fluffy Muffin (age 11) adores this series, she was introduced to it by her brother's 17-year-old girlfriend, and I liked it too - they're surely a couple of cuts above most of what passes for teen fiction these days. Where's Judy Blume when you need her?

Plus, if you didn't know the author was LDS, you'd never glean it from reading the books.
Jan. 9th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
*nods* I learned she was LDS somewhere, but I'm sure it wasn't from reading the book. That felt quite secular-teen. :)
Jan. 8th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
Re: #1 -- I just finished six Nora Roberts books in four days (I was on a cruise, and got help me I think I spent more time reading than doing "cruise" things). I can't help it -- yes, they're all cheesy romance novels at heart, but I find her writing style compelling enough to keep picking them up and devouring them when my mom buys them.
Jan. 9th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
They're kind of a nice lightweight palate cleanser between more serious books, if you will.
Jan. 9th, 2008 02:10 am (UTC)
After watching the Sundance Channel's Iconoclasts with Jon Krakauer and Sean Penn, I picked up Into the Wild. I devoured it in a few free hours. The Tolstoryan tragic protagonist is both heartbreaking and annoyingly idealistically reckless. I'm somewhat haunted by it. I'm glad I read this story now as a mother of a son, and not when it first came out over 10 years ago. My maturity made it much more powerful.
Jan. 9th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
Hmm, intriguing. We have Into Thin Air, and I've meant to read that for years; sounds like this is a good companion piece. I do like incredible true stories quite a bit...reminding me I didn't include my nonfiction reads, but oh well, there weren't many this year.
Jan. 9th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC)
Plug time:

Historical fiction: A Pickpocket's Tale and The Hope Chest, both by Karen Schwabach

F/SF: Dark Winter and Curse's Captive, both by Jennifer Schwabach
Jan. 15th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
Absolutely! I hear they're awesome!


I need to make sure those are on my wish list...
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )