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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The year in review: Booking and Blogging 2007

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It’s an old question, but a good one . . . What were your favorite books this year?

List as many as you like … fiction, non-fiction, mystery, romance, science-fiction, business, travel, cookbooks … whatever the category. But, really, we’re all dying to know. What books were the highlight of your reading year in 2007?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

Even though this post went up on Wednesday, I'm counting it for this week's "Booking Through Thursday" response.
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This is my first year of keeping a reading journal - still the official stated purpose of this here blog - so it's the first time I get to do a year-end recap of my reading activity.

I've learned a few things from my book blogging, but these stand out:
The label "reading" has been attached to a total of 64 posts, including book-related memes; 27 posts are actually book reviews. (Out of 300-plus posts, on a blog that's supposed to have "reading" as one of its main reasons for existence - 27?! That's it? I'm beginning to doubt myself here, or at least wonder if this blog needs a new name.) But 6 of those 27 posts discuss multiple books, so as of this writing, the actual number of books I blogged about this year stands at 46. However, the six books I included in my very first post were all read in late 2006, so they don't count for this year, which makes for 40 books read in 2007. I may finish one or two more before New Year's, but we'll have to see - I'm currently reading The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud, but I just started it a couple of weeks ago, and with Christmastime and all, I'm not sure how much reading time I'll find. And since I still haven't finished The Historian, I'm not counting that one either. But the actual tally isn't too bad, all things considered. Since I have some data now, I'll be able to track next year's reading against this year's, and make comparisons. At least I have a "quantity" goal for 2008 now. (Trust an accountant to turn reading into a numbers game...)

It's not just about the numbers, though - this is my chance to look back at my 2007's best, worst, and most memorable book experiences:

My book club's favorite read this year: The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Not my personal favorite, but this had the most generally positive responses from the membership.

My book club's least favorite read this year: His Lovely Wife, by Elizabeth Dewberry. I had the dubious distinction of being the one to select this year's biggest loser, although I don't think I disliked it quite as much as the rest of the group did. It did generate some robust discussion, though; we sometimes have better meetings over the books we didn't much care for, as long as enough people have actually plowed through to finish them!

Best reading experience: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling. This final trip to Hogwarts - which spent relatively little time there - wasn't quite as bittersweet as I expected it to be, and on the whole I found the series wrap-up satisfying. Reading it was part of a Harry Potter theme weekend at my house; Tall Paul and I sat side by side, each reading our own copy of the book, and the biggest chunk of time we spent away from reading was at the movies, seeing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Most disappointing read: The Man of My Dreams, by Curtis Sittenfeld. Prep was one of my favorite books this year, and I was looking forward to Sittenfeld's second novel. It's not bad; it just seemed lackluster and didn't resonate with me.

And now, my first-ever "Book of the Year" picks:

Book of the Year, nonfiction: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia, by Elizabeth Gilbert. That may not be a fair choice, since I did just finish it, but since I'm the entire award committee, that's how it goes. Great writing, a great story, and so many things that struck chords with me - I'm not going to forget this book for a long time, and I'm not going to give away my copy, either.

Nonfiction Honorable Mention: Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, by Julie Powell. I like food writing and enjoyed reading this, but it's also notable for me because, as a book that came from a blog, it was influential in my getting more serious about this whole blogging thing.

Book of the Year, fiction: Lost and Found, by Carolyn Parkhurst. This was the somewhat strange, yet gratifying, experience of liking a book just as much as - maybe even more than - I'd expected to. I knew that I'd get into the premise of following the participants of an Amazing Race-type reality show through the last rounds of their competition, but Parkhurst did a great job defining her characters as well as in telling their story, and I loved the behind-the-scenes production details.

Fiction Honorable Mention: I'm a little surprised that Deathly Hallows is not the Book of the Year for me, but it's definitely near the top of the list. As much as I love Harry Potter, though, the only book in the series that was a true peak experience for me was Order of the Phoenix.

Book of the Year - Overall: For what little it's worth, the honor goes to Eat, Pray, Love.

I hope some of my favorite book bloggers will be doing year-end recaps of their own! I'd also love to see mention of your favorite - and least favorite - books of 2007 in the comments.

11 comments:

  1. Blogging has definitely taken a toll on my reading too, I'm afraid. Still, I figure it's all a part of the process. :-)

    Thank you so much for the link! I think you do a great job with your blog. It's diverse and interesting.

    I really must get to Eat, Pray, Love next year. I'm always so behind . . .

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  2. Wow... 40 books is a lot!

    I must tell you, I really didn't like "Prep" at all-- it seemed a little too hyped by the press. Maybe if you tell me what you liked about it I'll be able to see it through different eyes, though.

    And now I'm intrigued about "Eat, Pray, Love"!

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  3. Literary Feline - I think you're right about it being part of the process; I just find it ironic that since I started a blog to keep up with my reading, I've ended up reading less.

    Madame Meow - I think what appealed to me about Prep was that its depiction of how adolescence feels rang very true to me. Maybe it just felt a lot like the way I remember my adolescence. Granted, not much actually happens in the book, though.

    I can't recommend Eat, Pray, Love highly enough, but now I'll feel guilty if people read it based on that and don't like it!

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  4. I too agree! Blogging has taken a toll on my reading!

    Poetry writing too has taken a toll. I have another blog rooted where I post my poetry.

    I did not like HP 7!

    list

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  5. I better start reading Eat, Pray and Love, since many of you list it as favorite. And The Kite Runner too

    Great list! Happy BTT

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  6. Interesting post. I'm always reassured when I find someone else for whom the Kite Runner wasn't a personal favourite.

    I'm another who now has Eat pray love on my wish list!

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  7. For those of you considering Eat, Pray, Love, I'm linking to this review at Curled Up With a Good Book, just to share an opinion other than my own! I feel such a sense of responsibility now. :-)

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  8. Since this is the third blog where I've seen Eat, Pray, Love recommended, I'm adding it to my TBR list! It was your description that finally made me add it!
    SmallWorld visiting from BTT

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  9. Sarah - Thanks for visiting!

    Oh, the pressure! I hope everyone makes sure to come back later and let me know what she thought of Eat, Pray, Love!

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  10. my mom bought me Eat, Pray, Love for Christmas, primarily on the strength of your earlier review. (i'd heard some good things about it but still a bit ambivalent until i read your post - but don't feel any additional pressure. lol.) mom and i are both going to read it in the next few months.

    and i'm definitely going to read Lost and Found in 2008 too; thanks for turning me on to it.

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  11. Alisonwonderland - As a fellow Amazing Race fan, I think you'll like Lost and Found. I'll look forward to reading your reviews of that and Eat, Pray, Love.

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