1.02.2008

A look back...and a look ahead

Happy 2008, everybody. I don't know about you, but I'm very glad the holidays are over and done with for another year. Frankly, 2007 was stressful. I switched jobs, for one thing -- and as I reread my journal, I realized that the year as a whole was riddled with anxiety. I took a major trip to Spain and Morocco -- a stress, yes, but a positive one. (Although getting traveler's sickness added a debit on the negative stress side.)

I thought I'd take a look back for myself at what I read this year. Although I lost my list when I had that Blogger sidebar snafu, I've recreated a fair proximation, give or take a few books. I am really impressed at what I managed to read in 2007, both in quantity and quality. One of my "reading resolutions" last New Year's Day was to read nightly -- and to read more classics. I can rightly say 'Mission Accomplished' on both counts. (Sans the aircraft carrier, of course.)

As for 2008, I have joined the Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge which, with Carl V.'s RIP Challenge, will probably be the most I will be able to manage. I'm straggling through Don Delillo's Underworld (I'm not finding the characters or story very interesting or progressing, but he's one of my "challenging" contemporary authors to read) -- as soon as I'm done (if I ever am!) I'm starting in on the third Proust volume, The Guermantes Way.

Below is my list of Books Read in 2007. Boldfaced titles are the ones I enjoyed and remembered most. The only "classic" that I did not enjoy was I Am Legend. I did not boldface Trilby -- it wasn't horrible; simply not in the same league as the others. All the rest were superb -- there is a reason they call them classics! Other thoughts on Reading in 2007:

* Joyous discoveries: Dracula -- a complete revelation. I didn't expect to enjoy this one as much as did. Runner-up: Hunchback of Notre Dame. I really struggled with the long detailed passages that took me out of the story. But the ending pulled everything together marvelously -- it took my breath away. Not many contemporary writers do that, you know!
* Authors to read more of: I just finished Murakami's After Dark -- it blew me away. I can't wait to read more of him. Alas, I cannot get my hands on my copy of Kafka on the Shore. Runner-up: Falling Man by Don DeLillo. I was intrigued by the fact that many DeLillo fans didn't like this book, and I admired it a lot. It seems that this book is not representative of his writing. So, it's time to read more...
* Best nonfiction: American Bloomsbury was a delight to read. On the other end of the spectrum, Imperial Life in Emerald City was disturbing to read...but worthwhile nevertheless.

As for this year, I just have one resolution to fulfill: Must*renew*library*card.

Cheers to reading great in '08!

Books read in 2007

Classic fiction

In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower, Marcel Proust
Trilby, George Du Maurier
Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
Dracula, Bram Stoker
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Persuasion, Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
Love in Excess, Eliza Haywood
Don Quixote, Book 1, Cervantes
Voyage in the Dark, Jean Rhys
The Subterraneans, Jack Kerouac
Miss Lonelyhearts, Nathanael West

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
A Child’s Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas


Modern/contemporary fiction
My Uncle Napoleon, Iraj Pezeshkzad, Azar Nafisi, and Dick Davis
Cat’s Eye, Margaret Atwood
Falling Man, Don Delillo

Slow Man, JM Coetzee
Memoirs of a Muse by Laura Vapynar
After Dark, Haruki Murakami
Windows on the World, Frederic Beigbeder
The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Nonfiction
Assassin’s Gate, George Packer
Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Rajiv Chandrasekaran

A Strange Piece of Paradise, Terri Jentz
Jane Austen, Claire Tomalin
The Beautiful Cigar Girl, Daniel Tashower
9/11 Commission Report
Sleeping Where I Fall, Peter Coyote
Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire by Morris Berman
The London Scene: Six Essays by Virginia Woolf

The Autobiography of Margaret Oliphant
American Bloomsbury, Susan Cheever
Ghost Hunters, Deborah Blum
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown

14 comments:

Iliana said...

Happy New Year LK! I think renewing the library card is a very good goal :)
I need to read After Dark - I've read two Murakami books and loved them. I highly recommend Sputnik Sweetheart.

Amanda said...

I need to read Murakami. He is one of those readers that I always MEAN to read and then I get distracted in the library and come home with too many books yet no Murakami.

By the way, The Blog Jar is back!

debhagan said...

Happy New Year Lit Kit

Great list --very impressive indeed. I happened to meet Susan Cheever when she came to Andover, Mass., and read from American Bloomsbury.

Anyway, I've been trying to reach you. Your e-mail bounced. Your Christmas card came back. Send me an e-mail so I know where you are.

By the way, I love your blog.

Eva said...

Love your resolution! I lost my library card. :( It was in my wallet, which my toddler niece got her hands on. I'm hoping it's still somwhere in the house!
Assassin's Gate is on my TBR list, so I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Dark Orpheus said...

ARGH. My last comment just disappeared into cyberspace, so I'm retyping this.

Your non-fiction list is impressive. I really need to look into my own non-fic reading for 2008.

I read Shadow of the Wind 2 years ago, and it was fun. One of those books I turned up really late to finish. (If I read less I would probably get more sleep)

But in case you are looking for more Spain related recommendation -- I just finished "The Spanish Bow" -- a good mix of history, politics, music and regrets. One of my last book for 2007 -- so it was a great book to end the year.

"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" -- that book has been on my TBR pile for years.

Dorothy W. said...

Happy New Year! Your list of classics is impressive -- Proust, James, Austen, Cervantes, lots of great stuff! I need to get a hold of that Austen biography; I haven't yet read a proper biography of her.

LK said...

Iliana, happy newe year to you! Never heard of Sputnik Sweetheart -- hey, I'll see if my library has a copy!

Amanda, YAY BLOG JAR! I was wondering where you were. Glad you are back in the saddle.

Deb, I'll email you straightaway. I feel like I fell off the face of the earth, but I am still here.

Eva, Assassin's Gate is very good. I think your niece is going to follow in her aunt's footsteps as a reader, no?

Dark Orpheus, Thank you for the Spanish Bow recommendation. Will see if I can get my paws on a copy of it. I read a lot of non-fic, actually. I love history, bios, memoirs.

Dorothy W., thank you! Considering the stressful year, I feel really good about what I read. It was one area of my life where I achieved what I wanted to achieve! And they were all so enriching and wonderful. I hope I will finish Don Quixote, but I honestly don't know...I hope you get to read the Austen bio.

Tara said...

Great list! I also really enjoyed the Jane Austen bio, and plan to reread it someday.

Stefanie said...

What a great list of books you read last year! I really must read American Bloomsbury and soon! Happy reading in 2008!

bloglily said...

Happy New Year LK! Your list is terribly inspiring. It's lovely to think that there's a whole year ahead of even more great stuff. (And I really like Claire Tomalin in general, and thought the Austen bio very good. It's not terribly long, and it's very interesting.) Much love, BL

Courtney said...

Oh, don't finish Underworld. Because if you do, and you enjoy it, I'm going to have to return to it. I sacrificed it somewhere during one of the desert scenes...okay, if you finish it and say it's worth it, I'll make it a goal in 08....Happy New Year.

LK said...

Tara, hi, HNY!

Stefanie, thanks, I really enjoyed the classics. As I said, there's a reason why they are classics! Here's to a great '08!

BL, happy happy to you and yours! I look forward to reading about all of your journeys in 2008...

Courtney, hey, there, HNY. I REALLY doubt I will love Underworld. I'm at least 250 pages in and it's a slog. I haven't hit the desert scenes yet. Dear god.

Andi said...

Cheers to great reading in 2008! Good luck!

snackywombat said...

but even if it was a stressful year you still read a massive amount of books! yay!