Books I Read in 2007: A Review

As I did in 2006 and 2005 I thought I’d do a roundup piece on the books I read/heard in 2007. You can always see a list of what I’ve read since starting tracking in mid-2003, but the 2007 list is:

Looks like I forgot to write reviews for a couple, but that’s 34 books –11 paper and 23 audiobooks. Disappointingly that’s down from 49 in 2006 and almost half the 61 books I read in 2005. I plan to correct this trend next year, which I’ll talk about later. In the meantime here’s the breakout:

  • Non-fiction books: 11
    • Science: 2
    • History: 2
    • Biography: 4
    • Business: 1
    • Other: 2
  • Fiction books: 23
    • Sci-Fi: 2
    • Fantasy: 5
    • Horror: 8
    • Literature/Other Fiction: 8

And here’s this year’s winners/losers:

Best Book I read in 2007

East of Eden

Actually 2007 didn’t have many books that really blew me away. Steinbeck’s East of Eden (see my original review here) was one of them, though. Sure, Steinbeck was about as subtle with his allegory as a ton of bricks (we GET IT, it’s ADAM AND EVE and the GARDEN OF EDEN, over and over again), but there’s still a ton of stuff in here that’s subtle and it should speak directly to just about everyone. It’s about redemption, choosing good over evil, free will, and mercy. And while the character of Cathy seems more like a walking caricature of evil drawn with simple, flat lines, she’s still one of the most memorable villains that I’ve read. Just a great book.

Honorable mentions:

Worst Book that I read in 2007

Moby Dick

There were a few books I started and hated so much I decided to quit them (Erikson’s The Gardens of the Moon and Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice come to mind), but I decided to limit this award to a book that I actually suffered all the way through. Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (see my original review here) harpoons that prize easily. I swear, there’s some kind of conspiracy among high school English teachers that has placed this book so high in the pantheon of literature. I hated it. Just blah, blah, blah, whales, blah, whales, blubber, blah, harpoons, whales, blah, whales, whales, whales. There was a story and a masterfully crafted novel in there for sure, but I just couldn’t get past all the stuff about whales. I think I can’t say it any better than I did in my initial review:

Melville strikes me as one of those people who would corner you at a party and talk incessantly about whaling, whaling ships, whales, whale diet, whale etymology, whale zoology, whale blubber, whale delacies, whale migration, whale oil, whale biology, whale ecology, whale meat, whale skinning, and every other possible topic about whales so that you’d finally have to pretend to have to go to the bathroom just to get away from the crazy old man. Only he’d FOLLOW YOU INTO THE BATHROOM and keep talking to you about whales while peering over the side of the stall and trying to make eye contact with you the whole time.

Honorable mentions:

Miscellaneous Awards:

Not as much this year. James Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong wins the award for being the most disappointing book, since it set up a premise about various factual errors in textbooks and then largely failed to deliver. Julian Dibbell’s Play Money, a book about how the author quit his day job and made a living selling virtual items in massively multiplayer online games, gets the award for being way more interesting than it had any right to be. Max Brook’s World War Z gets the award for being the best concept gone awry given how the author took the idea of a zombie apocalypse and handled it in a way that made it devoid of any suspense, horror, or drama.

So that’s it for 2007, but I’ve already got a stack of books for 2008. What about you? What were your best reads in 2007?

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2 thoughts on “Books I Read in 2007: A Review

  1. I loved East of Eden and the Thunderbolt Kid!! I’ve been on a British culture and history kick lately. I am currently reading a book about British culture written by an anthropologist. It is facinating and I find my self yelling out things like “that is so true!”
    Next in line are two books one London in Elizabeth’s Time and London in Victoria’s Time. I have been spending way too much time in the Selfridge’s book department. I will put that bookmark you gave me to good use!

  2. I definitely need more fiction in my reading diet. Michelle bought me the Kite Runner for Xmas which I plan to read during the break. I had two favorite books this year. My criteria is plain and simple: 1) Good writing; and 2)Made me think in a totally different way. The first book is, “The Halo Effect” by Phil Rosenzweig. The second book is, “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer.

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