Tuesday, January 01, 2008

More on 2007 reading

Book of the Year – Fiction:

Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson
Norwegian writer Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses is wise and touching; spare, yet lyrical -- superbly written, superbly told -- it is a powerful novel of loss and self-discovery.

Book of the Year – Non-Fiction:

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan
A difficult decision because I also liked Hampton Sides’ Blood and Thunder a lot. I chose The Omnivore’s Dilemma because I think it is an important work,
bringing to mind Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle or Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is really two books. On one level there is author Michael Pollan’s interest in food and in cooking, and his comparison of three very different meals. On another more important level is Pollan’s exploration of the industrial food network and the refreshing alternatives that have sprung up as an answer to it.

Best Books – Fiction:

  • Finn, Jon Clinch – a brilliant re-imagining of a classic work of American fiction.
  • The Gathering, Anne Enright – a challenging book that rewards the patient reader with a powerful story and insignificant insights into human nature
  • Returning to Earth, Jim Harrison – a man and his family come to terms with his death. This ranks among Harrison’s best.

Best Book – Non-Fiction:

  • Blood and Thunder, Hampton Sides – an extraordinary history of the taming of the Southwest. Sides weaves a compelling narrative with the skill of a novelist and with an artist’s eye for detail.
  • Dog Years, Mark Doty – a profound meditation on mortality as viewed through the loss of a dog.
  • The Soul of Baseball, A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America, Joe Posnanski – Baseball reads, and there is no better example than this book. It is filled with marvelous stories of negro league baseball as well as of Buck O'Neil's experiences during his "tour" of America. Mostly, it is about O’Neil, who was a wise, kind man and whose personality shines forth in this book in unexpectedly powerful and poignant ways.

Fiction I recommend:

  • Thirteen Moons, Charles Frazier
  • Blood of Paradise, David Corbett
  • The Pesthouse, Jim Crace
  • Winterton Blue, Trezza Azzopardi
  • On Chesil Beach, Ian McEwan
  • The Children of Húrin, J.RR. Tolkien
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon
  • Bangkok Haunts, John Burdett
  • Blood at the Root, Peter Robinson
  • Spook Country, William Gibson
  • Glasshouse, Charles Stross
  • Kentucky Straight, Chris Offutt
  • Afterwards, Rachel Seiffert
  • Bridge of Sighs, Richard Russo
  • Cheating at Canasta, William Trevor
  • Run, Ann Patchett
  • Blonde Faith, Walter Mosley
  • You Don’t Love Me Yet, Jonathan Lethem
  • Gentlemen of the Road, Michael Chabon
  • Secondhand World, Katherine Min
  • The Uncommon Reader, Alan Bennett
  • The Ministry of Special Cases, Nathan Englander
  • Every Visible Thing, Lisa Carey

Note: The books by Walter Mosley and Peter Robinson are representative. I’d recommend any mystery by these two.

Non-Fiction I recommend:

  • Calvin Coolidge, David Greenberg
  • Gerald R. Ford, Douglas Brinkley
  • Richard M. Nixon, Elizabeth Drew
  • George H.W. Bush, Timothy Naftali
  • Shakespeare, Bill Bryson
  • The Tenth Muse, Judith Jones
  • Falling Through the Earth, Danielle Trussoni

Note: The four Presidential biographies are part of Times Books’ American Presidents Series. It is uniformly good.

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