Tuesday, December 25, 2007

 

Susan's Book Talk: 2007 Reading Roundup

Wow. What a year it's been. Lots of new characters here at the blog, particularly Roadie Poet and Springer. You'll definitely see more of RP; I'm into him, too.

But this is about the books I've read over the past twelve months. I'm not quite at 100 read for the year, but there are five days left and a trip in there (more on that trip to come), and I know it'll be close. I can do it.

So let's take a few minutes and look at some of the highlights from my reading year:

It took me five books before I fell in love with something this year, and when I did, it was a doozy. Clay's Quilt, by Silas House. I even blogged about it here, so go back and see what I had to say.

Then I began my year-long reviewing blitz, as I think of it. First was LL Cool J's Platinum Workout. Check out the name of my post when I told you about it! Now that I'm reviewing a bit more steadily, it seems funny to see how excited I was.

I also read two good ones: The Potter's House by Rosie Thomas and The Wild Girl: The Notebooks of Ned Giles, by Jim Fergus. I'd loved Fergus' debut, One Thousand White Women, and this follow-up was not a letdown. The Potter's House was a neat read with a kicker of an ending.

Unthinkable? I don't think so. Joshua Braff's debut novel knocked my socks off. Will there be more from Braff? I don't know, but I certainly hope so -- so long as it's of this same quality.

I revisted a now-favorite writer, Jeanne Ray, this time with Step-Ball-Change, a dance move that always makes me smile when I hear it used in real life, like it has been lately in my household. And right after, I had my first taste of James Alan Gardner via Expendable, which gave new meaning to the phrase, "Oh, shit."

2007 was the year to catch up on my Linda Fairstein books. I'm now up to Entombed. I can see it from where I sit; that's a good sign. Hopefully it'll get read in 2008. You'd think after reading four or so of her novels in a fairly short period, I'd burn out, but nope. I can't wait to see what trouble lies ahead for Alex next.

My first Tess Gerritsen, whose blog I really like, my first Nancy Martin (who is a local!), my first Susan McBride, my first Allana Martin, catching up with oldies by Marcia Muller and Edna Buchanan... it was a big year for reading mysteries, so I softened it up with some of my favorite graphic novelist's works: Joann Sfar writing with Lewis Trondheim.

Nevada Barr's books run hot and cold with me, but the discovery of debut author Jennifer Estep sure soothed my crankies. As you guys know, I've become a huge Estep fan and can hardly wait for the 2008 release of Jinx.

My favorite book title of the year? Lily Bret's You Gotta Have Balls. NOT what you're thinking, folks. This was a fun, breezy read that my book club chose, probably so I'd stop having fun with the title. And did I have fun!

I did some cross-cultural reading, with Victor Villasenor's Rain of Gold. This huge, fat book was a great read, although I'm not sure if his follow-up works could come close to matching the scale of this debut. And I kept up the cross-cultural stuff, sort of, with the self-published phenomenon, Rashi's Daughters: Book One: Jehoved. Another book club pick, I can see why this did well. It's well-crafted and I'm eager to see if author Maggie Anton's shift to a major publisher fixed the nits I had with her writing, itself. So yes, my book club will be reading Book Two: Miriam at some point.

Speaking of book club, we also read Mary Doria Russell's A Thread of Grace. Read what I had to say about it here.

At long last, I got into Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Underworld series, reading the first two. I spent some time with Rachel Caine, again, and, of course, finished off the Harry Potter series.

More reviews, this time for Colleen Gleason's first two books. Make that another sequel I hope to get my hands on during the upcoming year...

And more local writers: Lila Shaara's beautiful Every Secret Thing and Rebecca Drake's The Next Killing (the review for which is up at Front Street). Friends, too: Ann Pino's My New-Found Land was great fun, and KL Going's The Garden of Eve is a quick, thought-provoking middle-grade book. I can hardly wait to catch up enough to sink into Going's St. Iggy. And my e-published friends, who have shown me a whole brave new world and new ways of reading. Robyn Rotham and Red Garnier; you guys rock. What a great way to be exposed to e-books.

But the read of the year? The one that has impacted me the most deeply? Nope, not The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, even though I can't believe I said that. You guys know what my best of the year pick is -- Nikki Sixx's The Heroin Diaries. I still say it's a marketing failure, given that it's got its own soundtrack. And I still say it ought to be required reading in high schools. There's nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive.

Happy reading in 2008, everyone. Let me know if you read any of these; I'd love to know what you think. As always.

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Comments:
Happy holidays, Susan. You're one totally cool gal.
 
I've read about 85 books this year. I'm not sure that I will make it to 100 by 31st Dec, but I'm proud of my achievement anyway. I could probably get to 90...

The funny thing is that I haven't read any of the books that you've listed here, unless the Tess Gerritsen book involved people-trafficking?
 
Harvest did, yeah, PJ. And a climax set on a boat.

Does that ring a bell?
 
Merry Christmas Susan!!!!

I haven't read any of these, I may try for 2008 tho!!! :)
 
I think I mostly read non-fiction this year. I know as a writer I should read more fiction, but at the end of a day, I don't necessarily want to pick up something that's going to compel me to keep reading.

I appreciate your recommendations, though. It's hard to sift through the hype and flashy covers to find the good stuff.
 
I just checked: the book I read by Tess Gerritsen was called Vanish.
 
I keep meaning to do this! I keep forgetting, but ...

I'm not sure if I made 100. I'm going to have to count. I LOVED Jennifer Estep's books, and Colleen Gleason's. I just discovered Nevada Barr's books, read one, and loved it.

Here's to many great reads for you in 2008!
 
I've not read any of these, I like the way you wrote this though and some of the books caught my eye and may make it to my wishlist
 
Hey, Susan - I was delighted to show up on your list! Nothing like a devoted reader. If you send your mailing address to my website mail, I'd be happy to send you a copy of BAD BLOOD....to catch you up on Coop. Have a great 2008 - Linda Fairstein
 
I read my first Gerritsen this year but not any of the others you mentioned. But I've added several to my TBR list.
 
Jennifer Estep said...
Super cool! I made your best of list. Thanks so much, Susan! :-)
 
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