Thursday, December 27, 2007

Memory Month: The Best Books of 2007

At the start of 2007, I told myself that I would read 10 books each month. Believe it or not, this used to be an easy accomplishment for me, as I read extremely fast. However, 2007 was an entirely different animal than years past, so reading took a back seat to everything else. I have managed, though, to read 75 books as of this posting and am hoping to finish off a couple more before the end of the year, as I have quite a few in progress right now. One thing I did this year was reread quite a few books, so I won't be including the books that I reread on my list of best books of the year.

Without further ado, here is the list of books that I enjoyed most this year (in the order I read them), along with the reasons why. I didn't force myself to pick 10 books; it just happened that way.

1) What No One Tells the Bride by Marg Stark
One thing every bride needs is a good book that helps her understand her many conflicting feelings that she encounters as she plans her wedding. This is one of those books that I'm so glad I read before getting married. I was one of those moody brides who had very happy highs and really depressing lows. I felt a lot of confusion about all my different emotions, and reading this book (as well as The Conscious Bride) really helped make sense of it all. I ended up embracing all these feelings (even the negative ones), and even though they were hard to handle sometimes, I count myself a better person for having gone through planning a wedding. Books like What No One Tells the Bride really helped me keep a firm grip on my sanity in dealing with family, friends, vendors, Roy, and even myself and my own expectations.

2) No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy is an amazing writer, and this is an amazing book. The story is compelling (and violent), the writing is top-notch, and I couldn't put this one down. It was suspenseful and interesting. I would love to see the movie, but I'm afraid it just won't live up to the book. However, I could just see the book unfolding in my mind as I read it, so maybe it'll make a good movie after all.

3) The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
Sue Monk Kidd is a delicious writer, particularly in this book. Her writing style makes me want to engage in all things sensual. Her descriptions are incredibly vivid, so much so that her writing sometimes contains echoes of the Latino/a tradition. The story is one that every person can relate to, where the protagonist goes searching for something she can't quite put her finger on and ends up with a better understanding of herself and her life. The myths and legends within the story really gave it its punch and depth. The ending was surprising, which is always welcomed.

4) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
This was probably the most anticipated book of the year, and I am so happy that it lived up to the hype. It answered all my questions and tied up all the loose ends. It also brought up some relevant issues, giving this fantasy story a strong basis in reality. It was a definite page-turner. I laughed, I cried, I got angry. Despite the epilogue (which I thought was unnecessary) and very weak concluding sentence, I was completely satisfied with this book - and also happy to see how the series matured and found its real theme and subject.

5) Was by Geoff Ryman
This was an excellent book. It's The Hours meets The Wizard of Oz, with an obvious twist of Wicked. The story was powerful, complicated, and challenging. The writing was great. All in all, Was is a very brave book that seeks to reexamine stories and characters we've all grown to know and love.

6) One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry
I highly enjoyed this graphic novel. I could relate to it very much. Each of the stories/chapters contained within struck a nerve with me, because they showcased the demons that latch onto us and follow us around all our lives. In a sense, this book reminded me very much of PostSecret, in that its very personal revelations felt like they were about me personally, not about some woman (the author) I've never met. The writing was good, and so were the accompanying graphics/pictures/illustrations. I highly recommend this book for everyone. Remember - graphic novels aren't just for nerds!

7) Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
I thought this book was pretty amazing, and I've actually already talked about it in another blog entry. It actually forced me to reexamine my eating habits by telling it how it is. This book explores the horrific happenings in slaughterhouses, how different foods affects our body, and what we can do to make ourselves healthy. Essentially, the book is all about diet and exercise, but there's no feel-good spin to it. It's very matter-of-fact. Some would even call it bitchy. But I liked the attitude - it helped drive home the main points the authors were trying to make.

8) Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
Every woman should read this book. It taught me so much about my body and really made me realize how lacking my health/sex ed classes really were. It is amazing how ignorant most women are about the processes of their bodies - well, this book demystifies it all. It also explains a natural method of birth control, which sounded far-fetched to me at first. But it really works if you know how to do it correctly. I would recommend this book to any and every woman out there. Even though it was first published 10+ years ago, it is still groundbreaking.

9) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
This book was an easy, fast, and gripping read. For the most part, it lives up to its critical acclaim. It is a great book. But it's not the best book I've ever read, and it won't be going on my "best books of all time" list. It's pretty easy to guess the ending, and I wouldn't say the writing is absolutely phenomenal. What I would say, though, is that this book is extremely relevant. It offers a look into Afghanistan through the eyes of its natives and reveals a timeless story of love, friendship, and family.

10) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
This is a hefty young adult book. At 500+ pages, it's quite daunting. However, I read this book in the space of a day or 2, mainly because much of the story is told through pictures. These pictures are pretty amazing works, and they are composed entirely of pencil. The story would be nothing without the drawings. It's not just a book with illustrations added in for fluff - the drawings simply make the book. Although there's a strong story behind the drawings, both story and drawings would be incomplete without each other. This is a really fascinating read.


As much as I enjoyed these books, I doubt any of them are going to make my Favorite Books of All Time list. If I had to choose any, though, I would probably choose No Country for Old Men and/or Was.

I am not really going to make any reading goals for 2008. I would really like to make a dent in my unread books though, but the only way I'm going to be able to do that is if I stop buying books (yeah, right) or get rid of the ones that have been on my to-be-read pile for years (which I do quite often, actually). So, who knows what 2008 will bring?


A Real Librarian said...

Great post - I'm always looking for good reads!! I've got Skinny Bitch on hold at my library!! Loved the Kite Runner and Harry Potter of course! I also really liked What No One Tells the Bride - great insights!!

Discombobulated said...

Thank you for this post. I want to get The Mermaid Chair, Was, One Hundred Demons, Skinny Bitch & even Taking Charge of Your Fertility, even though I am not sure if I am ready to go off BC.

amber said...

i <3 this post! i love to read and am always happy to get personal reviews from people about the books they have read. i usually tend to read a lot of chick lit and slightly more mature chick lit, but recently i've been trying to branch out a little more.

maybe i'll try to come up with some reading goals for myself for 2008 -- sounds like a fun thing to do!

Aline said...

YEY! I totally agree on the Kite Runner! So good!

Have you read the new follow up yet?

Librarian Girl said...

You write great reviews. You are a closet-librarian for sure!

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