Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Books I read in 2007

So, I uh, never finished listing the books I read in 2007. As I use these posts mostly to remember what I've read (I forget the names of books I've read)..I decided better late than never. I posted the first ten books or so in February, but I just went ahead and posted the whole list today.

Peace like a river by Leif Enger. Debut books by authors are sometimes iffy, this one is a gem. Two of the main characters echo the two children in To Kill a Mockingbird, but its just a distant echo. This coming of age book was one I’d recommend to anyone.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Dan Brown used to be my most loathed living writer. Stephanie Meyer currently holds the title. Between her shabby writing, plot structure and plotting, character development, imagery etc. Dan Brown has been bested.

Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer. See above. I will give Ms. Meyer one thing. The character of Jacob. He’s alright.

New Moon by Stephanie Meyer-See above. This trilogy, oh how I loathe thee. Oh Bella how I loathe thee more.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. An example of a thriller that both Dan Brown and Stephanie Meyer can only dream of writing. An intelligent, fun, well-crafted vampire hunting story. This one I’d recommend to anyone who wants to read a well-written and extremely thoroughly researched book. The last 50 pages drag a little, but its still well worth the read.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards. The first 50-75 pages were very well written. The problem is that there is about 250 pages to this book. Definitely popular fiction, but a little more than mediocre read. The premise is fascinating but I had the feeling the author painted herself into a corner and the way she got out of it wasn’t that believable.

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. Mesmerizing. Stunning. A true American Masterpiece. The brutal, complex, story of Stingo and his telling of Nathan and Sophie. A dear, dear, read.

The Tie that Binds by Kent Haruf. Haruf is a treasure I found this year. He writes what he knows, which is small-town Eastern Colorado. All of his books I’ve read of his so far (and I believe I’ve read them all now) are set in the same little town. He writes sparingly in a style that vaguely echoes Cormac McCarthy (more or less without the brutal violence) but his true talent lies in character development. The Tie that Binds is ultimately about the price the family farm can exact on a family when the patriarch considers the farm the most important possession in the family. The story resonated with my mother especially.

Where You Once Belonged by Kent Haruf. Up until the last 50 pages of this book, I enjoyed this story about a former high school football star whose actions were tolerated but never really addressed by the townspeople. Before the ending, I considered this book the weakest of Haruf’s books (its his first, I believe) but now, I’m still haunted by this one. This was his first book, and although he’s since honed his writing voice, the strong character development is there, as is at moments the simple, profound moments.

Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger. My brother read my copy of this before I got to it. I put it off because he remarked of how graphic it was. However, I didn’t find it untolerably graphic. Although I think the Perfect Storm is Junger’s best book to date, I enjoyed this crime non-fiction about the Boston Strangler.

A Thousand Splendid Suns Khaled Hosseini. I think the comparisons to The Kite Runner are inevitable, but perhaps a little unfair. This book offers a glimpse into a world I don’t foresee myself ever experiencing, the story of the two women, the two protagonists of the book is touching.

The Jane Austen Book Club Karen Joy Fowler. I was a little disappointed with this book. The writing was okay, the story was fine but I was expecting more, I guess and it didn’t deliver. It was just a somewhat depressing story of upper middleclass suburbanites.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JKR. After finishing the series, I can honestly say that if JK Rowling would have had a better editor, and tighter story this series would have easily made the jump from popular to classic literature. As it is, the series remains entertaining, and a fun read.

Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix- JK Rowling. I thought this was the weakest of the series, and actually never finished it the first time I read it. This time through, I liked it better but still find myself thinking it easily could have been shorter.

The Last Season-Eric Blehm. Haunting. The story of a Park Service Ranger with 20+ years of experience who ended up missing in the Sierra Nevadas on the John Muir trail. The book talks about his life, the rescue effort etc. When the author started editorializing for a few pages about how the National Park Service should be changed, I wanted to sit him down and teach him a little about the Bureau.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince JK Rowling. See above. I found myself liking this one. The scene with the inferi? Great.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Phoenix JK Rowling. See above.

The Road-Cormac McCarthy. I gave this book to a friend to read recently and he hasn’t forgiven me yet. The book is beautifully written, and the story is emotionally harrowing. It’s a treasure, but McCarthy isn’t for the faint. The little boy in this book is a character that won’t soon be forgotten. This book just cements McCarthy’s place in my book universe as my favorite living writer.

Unless-Carol Shields. I honestly don’t remember reading this book. Rather than look it up, I’m just going with that summary.

The Entitled by Frank Deford. Deford is one of my favorite living journalists, and not a bad writer either. This story about a MLB manager who is faced with a moral dilemma is thought provoking. I still think about it quite a bit.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. I admit, I didn’t really like this one all that much. The story reminded me quite a bit of Bridget Jones, and I never could figure out why the main love interest was into the main character.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. This book is Morrison’s best to date, I believe. The story of a black family even rises above Beloved and the Bluest Eye.

"A Lesson Before Dying" Ernest J. Gaines. Haunting, mesmerizing story about a disullisioned teacher who is asked by one of the women in his little village to do what he believes is the impossible, teach a young man how to die with dignity.

Isabel's Bed by Elinor Lipman. Elinor Lipman is a guilty pleasure of mine and this light chick-lit book didn’t disappoint.

Roots, by Alex Haley. Ah, who cares if a lot of this book may have been made up and not the story of Haley’s family. The theme of the book, the writing, the characters sparkle in this masterpiece.

No Country for old Men, by Cormac McCarthy. First character in a book to ever give me a nightmare, and unless you have no soul, Chigurh will probably haunt your dreams also. This book isn’t McCarthy’s best novel, but it’s the one that’s most accessible, and I’m glad he’s getting more exposure thanks to the movie.

Eventide by Kent Haruf. Although I’m not usually a fan of sequels, Haruf doesn’t miss a stride with the sequel to Plainsong. This book is more haunting than Plainsong was, and builds upon the story in the first novel.

Torpedo Alley Homer Hickham Jr. Hickham’s writing is clunky in places, but that can be forgiven because the story in this non-fiction book about the German U Boats turning the US shipping lanes right off the Eastern Coast and in the Gulf is fascinating. This is one for anyone who likes non-fiction.

Telegraph Days Larry McMurty. McMurty is hit or miss with me. Lonesome Dove is one of my favorite novels I’ve read in the past five years, I adored Boone’s Lick, but I find myself trudging through as many of his books that I adore. I hated this book for the first 100 pages, and then realized by the end that this was a pretty decent western.

Plainsong by Kent Haruf. Powerful, haunting. This is the book that introduced me to Haruf and inspired me to read the rest of his works. This book is considered to be his masterpiece so far, and rightly so. It’s the story of several characters lives in small town Colorado and how they intertwine.

The Pursuit of Alice Thrift by Elinor Lipman. A light, amusing chick flick about the romancing of a Doctor in residence was a delight.

Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres. If you’ve seen this movie, well the book is nothing like it. This book-for one is nearly perfect. A wonderful story about Greece during World War II and shortly after is not a tawdry historical romance. The book is actually surprisingly clean, often laugh out loud funny, charming, and very well written. I recommend it to anyone.

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. Cormac McCarthy may be my favorite living writer but Steinbeck is one of my favorite, if not my favorite writers of all-time. This story about a farm boy didn’t disappoint.

The 5 people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom. I tolerated this book a little more than Tuesdays with Morrie. Sort of a charming story inspite of the flaws found in Tuesdays with Morrie.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I hated this book. I found it overwrought, manipulative, and barely managed to get through the slim volume.

A Death in the Family by James Agee. The story of a young boy in the early part of the 20th Century who recently lost his father and the impacts of the death on his family.

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. This book has been passed around by my friends, and with good reason. A powerful story of identity, family heritage and who we are.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisisi. Fascinating peek into Iranian culture. Enjoyed the different perspective of several classics.

A Street Car named Desire by Tennessee Williams. I adore Tennessee William’s ear for dialogue. Mesmerizing read.

She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel. The first third of the book was meh, but then the book kicked into the real story, and by the end, I’d say this was one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy

East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I’ve been taking my time getting through Steinbeck’s works and this is one book that I truly enjoyed the journey from beginning to end. The allegorical tale of Cain and Abel set in California is considered a classic with good reason.

The Power and the Glory by Graham Green. Love Graham Green and this is probably his masterpiece.

The Bee Season by Myla Goldberg. A little darker than I was expecting, but still a decent read about the disintegration of a family that revolved around the daughter studying for spelling bees. I’m still stunned by the scene of the discovery of the mother’s secret “hobby.”

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.

The Glass Castle Jeannette Walls

Pursuit of Happyness Chris Gardner

Beyond Perfection Juli Caldwell and Erin McBride

16 comments:

Brenda said...

Thanks for the booklist! I am always looking for good reads, but truthfully, most of what I actually DO read has illustrations.

caribookscoops said...

That'a quite a list. I haven't as of yet read Stephanie Meyers books. I hear mixed things, people like them or they don't. I really like Harry Potter and I will have to check out some of your other titles soon.

brent said...

First, LOVE the Dylan pic.

Second, my dear friend, I thought I was a bibliophile...until I met you. You put me to shame, miss. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your thoughts... I wish I read more fiction. I always tell myself I'm missing out.

Anonymous said...

Hello Sherpa:

It was nice to see my book made your list of reads in 2007. It's always nice to see that it found its way onto bookshelves such as yours. I would like to comment that the opinions expressed in the book are 100 percent those of the people interviewed. You mentioned me editorializing. While some of the information isn't quoted, I was careful to use only examples, and yes, opinions of the dozens of rangers I interviewed. I did interject my opinions in the author's note, and the P.S. section of the paperback. I know, a smart reader such as yourself is probably calling B.S. as EVERY writer interjects his opinion in what he writes. I can't argue with that, merely because a writer has a choice to add or subtract contact as he/she chooses. I just wanted to let you know, because I respect your opinion in the books you commented about. That, editorializing in The Last Season, was slight, and if so, unintentional. I wrote it as it was told to me by those involved. Now, you mention wanting to sit me down and tell me about the Bureau... That is something that piques my curiosity. But I digress... Thanks again for taking the time to mention my book, word of mouth has kept it in print, and it is much appreciated.

Eric Blehm
ericblehm@cox.net
www.thelastseason.com

ChelMo said...

Some day I'll have the time to read half that many books. Until then, The Economist, cnn.com, and Sherpa's Wonderin's is about as much as I can manage. Thanks for the list, though! I'm going to try and read a couple of these over winter break (I love Steinbeck as well, though I haven't read those ones yet). It'll be fun to see if I find your assessments accurate or not!

I just love that one of the authors from the books you read responded to your review. You are my blog hero.

Richard and Nicole said...

guess that answers my email (:

ben said...

I read one page of a Stephanie Meyer book and decided my time would be better spent watching "I Love Money" on VH1.

Nice list, I'm going to pick some of those up based on your recommendations.

We'll have to have a Steinbeck talk one of these days. Love his stuff.

Bernadette said...

I agree that Toni Morrison's Song Of Solomon is better than Beloved, but, to me, Bluest Eye is about equal.

slwhitman said...

I love American Plague. It got a Sibert or a Sibert Honor the year it was published, and it was well worth it. There's a LOT of great YA nonfiction that's been published in the last few years, and Jim Murphy's work is up at the top of the list of those authors. He also wrote a great one about boys who served in the Civil War, which I have been meaning to read, and a great coverage of the huge snowstorm in New York (city and state) that buried New York City and killed many people--which was the reason they decided to build the subway so as not to ever have that kind of disaster ever again.

Xandria said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sherpa said...

Brenda-No problem. I should read more books with illustrations.

Cari-The Twilight books were good when I was sick last year. But pretty lame otherwise. That being said, don't take my opinion, you should try them out for yourself.

Brent-Why thank you. You know it's funny. I don't consider myself a bibliophile per se, but I like to read, and have about a hour total on the metro each workday to read. That's where I spend the vast majority of my time reading.

Eric-Why thanks for taking the time to respond on my little blog. I feel flattered. I've worked for the Department of the Interior, Office of the Secretary for six + years and work with NPS on a daily basis (I'm not a political appointee-I'm on the GS scale like most of those you work with). I took issue with when you said that bureau needs more money specifically. Better fiscal mananagement would go a long way with solving their problems.

Chels-I'd love to hear what you think of some of these books too!

Nicole- I'll come up with a list for you.

Ben-Absolutely. I'd love to talk Steinbeck with you.

Bernadette-I'd have to go back and review Bluest Eye honestly.

SWhitman-Honestly, I wasn't much of a fan of American Plague. Very interesting subject, but I found the book lacking. Glad you enjoyed it though.

Xandria-Don't be annoying. I don't mind people pointing out my corrections, but seriously...you were being lame. Whoever you are.

NoSurfGirl said...

I also looove steinbeck. Thanks for this list, Sherpa. I needed one for this next year! Looks like we have very similar feelings about stephenie meyers' series, and about tuesdays with morrie, and the 5 people you meet in heaven... I think I might have to check over here for book reccomendations from now on. :)

Xandria said...

Um, well, it's still Torpedo Junction by Homer Hickam, not Torpedo Alley by Homer Hickham. I know because I have the book which, I agree, is very good. Over and out.

Sherpa said...

Xandria-Glad you own the book? So?

Putz said...

well of couse i have read the myer book and the rollin's book, what other books in life are there???what other celestial marriage partner is there but EDWARD/????even his bishop couldn't find anything to turn him down on, in his TEMPLE INTERVIEW

Sherpa said...

Putz- you're awesome.