Monday, January 14

Books Read 2007

I know you've all been eagerly awaiting my annual list of books read in the past year. Now the anxious clamor can subside. Without further ado, here are the books I read in 2007:

January
1. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (f) (reread)
2. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (f) (recommended by Bethany)
3. Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie (f)
4. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (f)
5. On Being Presbyterian by Sean Michael Lucas (nf)

February
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (f) (reread)
7. Dreaming in Clay by Christopher Maurer with Maria Estrella Iglesias (nf)

March
8. Dragons in the Waters by Madeleine L’Engle (f)
9. A House Like a Lotus by Madeleine L’Engle (f)
10. The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs (nf)
11. I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being A Woman by Nora Ephron (nf)
12. Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (f) (reread)
13. Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott (nf)

April
14. An Acceptable Time by Madeleine L’Engle (f)
15. Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (f)
16. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (f)

May
17. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (f) (reread)

June
18. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (f) (reread)
19. The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene (f)
20. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (f) (reread)
21. A Treasury of Great Mysteries Vol. 2 edited by Howard Haycraft & John Beecraft (f)
22. The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden (f)
23. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie (f) (recommended by Daniel)
24. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (f)

July
25. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (f) (recommended by Liz)
26. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (f)
27. The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis (f) (reread)

August
28. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (f)
29. Greenwitch by Susan Cooper (f)
30. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Spoto (nf)
31. The Grey King by Susan Cooper (f)
32. Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper (f)

September
33. The Luckiest Girl by Beverly Cleary (f) (reread)
34. Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (f)

October
35. Atonement by Ian McEwan (f) (recommended by Kari)
36. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder (nf) (recommended by Wendell and Sara)
37. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding (f)
38. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (nf)

November
39. The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie (nf)
40. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (f) (reread)
41. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien (f) (reread)
42. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (f)

December
43. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (f)
44. To Own a Dragon by Donald Miller (nf)
45. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (f)
46. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (f) (reread)
47. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (f) (reread)
48. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (f)

You'll notice that I did not reach my goal of 50 books. I suppose I could have rushed through two more books to have them completed in time to make the list, but what would be the point of that? To meet an arbitrary deadline I've imposed on myself and miss the content of the books in the process? Instead I've resolved to read less in 2008 (which I'm chronicling at GoodReads.) I want to devote more time to making art and getting exercise, and I know that time is going to have to come from somewhere.

The Enchanted April was probably my favorite book of the year. It came at just the right time and told me truth about myself and the world while entertaining and giving hope in the dreary month of January. I wouldn't expect everyone to get as much out of it as I did, but it is certainly worthwhile, and the movie version is lovely.

Cold Comfort Farm and The Know-It-All were two of the funniest books I read all year. If you've ever read Wuthering Heights and thought, "Get a grip, people! Take a bath and get over yourselves!," Cold Comfort Farm is the book for you. The movie with Kate Beckinsale, Ian McKellan and Rufus Sewell also quite amusing. The Know-It-All is A.J. Jacobs account of his attempt to read through the Encyclopedia Brittanica. I laughed a lot, learned a little bit, and found his thoughts on Ecclesiastes interesting.

In the original version of The Hidden Staircase, I learned that Nancy Drew kept a loaded revolver under her pillow. And she had curly hair! These two facts make her a lot cooler than the 60's version of Nancy I grew up with.

A Treasury of Great Mysteries was a garage sale find that included The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Chandler and Dashiell Hammett pioneered the hardboiled detective novel in the 20's, 30's and 40's. True to its reputation, I found the plot of The Big Sleep hard to follow, but I loved the heavy use of similes like "...he used his strength like an out-of-work chorus girl uses her last pair of stockings."

Atonement was another of the best books of the year. I still find myself thinking about it, but perhaps that's because I've been looking for a movie location near me (there isn't one).

I will always be grateful to Charlotte Bronte for giving us Jane Eyre, but Villette was hard to get through. At first I wasn't all that interested in the story or the characters, and when I did finally get hooked, the ending was crushing. SPOILER: I'd imagined M. Paul Emmanuel to look like this guy, so I had to make some adjustments in my imagination to see him as a romantic possibility.

In addition to reading less in 2008, I also want to choose books carefully and examine my motives for reading. If it's to get something checked off a "must read" list someone else has compiled, that's a bad reason. If it's to learn more about a subject I enjoy, that's a good reason. So here's to reading good books for good reasons!

7 comments:

LADYBUG said...

Greetings from a fellow blogger who stumbled across your site when I googled "Madeleine L'Engle," one of my favorite writers. Reading your book list made me smile, as I recognized other names and titles I also enjoy (Tolkien, Lewis, Lamott, Christie...). I have not read "The Enchanted April," but I was, indeed, enchanted by the movie of said title.

Happy reading in '08!

actonbell said...

Congratulations on reading 48 books in 2007! You were more industrious than I was, and I like your list. Thank you for the recommendations, and happy reading in 2008.

Sarah Jo said...

I've never thought of compiling a list of all the books I read last year - how...odd of me - I think I'll do it right now.

:-] i love you.

guitta chaiban hogue said...

hey caroline, what is cold comfort farms about? i looked at the book at b&n after your recommendation but could not tell what the premise was.

Caroline said...

Guitta, Cold Comfort Farm was published in the 30's and takes place on an isolated farm in England. When Flora Poste's parents die, she decides to move in with her relatives there. She's a modern, educated young lady, and they're ignorant, fearful and dirty. Flora applies common sense to their emotional problems, and helps them move into the 20th century. Imagine a sensible, well adjusted person walking into Wuthering Heights and getting everyone to shape up.

Bonehead Mcgoo said...

Hey, there's nothing wrong with dressing up your pets!

Brent and Noele said...

Caroline,
You really need to blog more often--I so enjoy reading your entries! Won't you please come visit me in Germany? In exchange for great conversation, I'll take you to visit a few castles and feed you tons of delicious german food. =)
Noele