Thursday, January 03, 2008

... A Book A Week

That comes to 52 books a year. It's also how many books I read in 2007 and it's time to review them.

Oh, just in case some of you don't read to the end (I wouldn't blame you), I'll ask you now to post a comment and share with me what book you read in 2007 that you would recommend to me and why.

An Excellent Read ****
A Good Read ***
When You Find the Time **
If You Must *

Water For Elephants: A coming of age/love story in the depression era. I posted on this earlier in the year and I still get the warm and fuzzies when I think of it.****

Beloved: A weighty story of a woman in slavery and the desperate acts she takes to escape. ***

Till We Have Faces: Mythology CS Lewis style. I've read it twice, need I say more? ***

Special Topics In Calamity Physics: As if sounding way smart when telling people you're reading this book isn't enough, read it because it's fantastically written. (Abi, if you're one of my blurkers, this is my recommendation to you.) This book is Marisha Pessels first attempt at a novel and she hit it out of the park. There is nothing to compare it to. I also wrote more here. ****

The Memory Keepers Daughter: The story follows a families heavy, emotional journey as they respond to a poor decision made by the father early on in the book. It's one of those books that helps you to see through other peoples eyes. **

If I Perish: A biography of a Korean woman who takes it upon herself to bring to light the atrocities that Korean Christians are facing. **

The Heart of Christianity: If you're longing to consider some points of views in your Christian walk that are likely going to be different than where you are now... but it didn't speak to me so much. *

The Omnivores Dilemma: It changed my life. The author follows the natural path of four meals from origination to his table. So so fascinating. I wish everyone would read it. Corn-- who knew it was so interesting. ****

The Secret Life of Bees: I'm not sure why this was talked about so much. I wasn't particularly moved. *

March: The author takes the fictional character Mr. March -- as in the father in Little Women-- and tells his side of the story. Ingenious. Geraldine Brooks is quickly becoming a favorite author. And guess where she lives? Charlottesville. Do all authors live there or what? ****

How I Learned to Cook: A fun collection of essays from a number of the top chefs in the world. *

Lamb: I laughed out loud when I read this book. I still chuckle when I remember it. Warning: don't read if you get easily offended. There, now you can't blame me. ****

The Civil War Diary of Sarah Morgan: Not quite Anne Frank but not too bad. *

The Bookseller of Kabul: A biography of an Afghan family. Pretty eye opening. **

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: The coming of age of a young Chinese girl with a moral for all of us. ****

The Wal-Mart Effect: Gather the knowledge then decide for yourself. ***

The Grapes of Wrath: Another book whose effects on me are far reaching -- likely life changing. I can't recommend this book enough. Read it every other year lest you loose perspective. ****

Gilead: A mans journal to his young son. Friends of mine loved it. I could barely finish it. Maybe it was me. *

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: The story is as cute as the title. Its about an autistic boy as he works through the death of his neighbors dog. It honestly helped me to understand how autism effects thought processes. **

9 Marks of a Healthy Church: Maybe if you have no idea what you are looking for. *

Madame Bovary: The fall of a spoiled rotten girl. *

The Namesake: A Bengali couple moves to America and raises their family here. The story follows their lives and the adjustments they make. **

Blood Done Sign My Name: Non-fiction account of a small southern town in the civil-rights era. **

The Good Earth: The life and labors of a Chinese farmer and his family. Slow at points but stick with it. ***

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency: A female detective solving mysteries in South Africa. *

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: I've no idea what it was even about. It was torture to finish. *

Grace (Eventually): More thoughts by Anne Lamott. Always refreshing. **

Good News about Injustice: I wrote a rather lengthy post about it here. ***

School(s) for Conversions: 12 essays highlighting the marks of New Monasticism. Another life changing book. Convicting. Compelling. Radical. Hosanna, you should pick it up. ***

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Add me to the list of millions of potter fans. ***

Middlesex: The story of Calliope's journey. It's a Pulitzer Prize Winner for a reason. The author did an amazing job at giving his characters life and depth. He delicately navigates through a potentially uncomfortable topic. He fills his story with so much truth and history you wonder if it's really fiction. This is what story telling should be. I look forward to reading him more. ****

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: A somewhat radical view of the farming world. *

You Suck: Vampires in love. Lamb was better. *

The Man Who Was Thursday: An alligorical tale, but who here knows what that ending meant? **

White Oleander: Astrids mother goes to jail for murdering her boyfriend and Astrid is left bouncing between foster homes trying to figure life out. I started off liking it but by the end was counting down the pages until it was finished. *

What Every Church Member Should Know About Poverty: The parallels between lower class and middle class really bring to light the different ways of thinking. I think that's necessary for us to know. **

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: When I read the forward I thought this was going to be the best book ever. I wish the rest of the book lived up to it. *

The Dante Club: Shirlock Holmes meets Stephen King. *

Angela's Ashes: Wonderful autobiographical story of an Irish family. Add it to your list. ***

Freedom from Fear: If you struggle with anxiety or fear, you may want to look into picking this book up. **

The Prince: If you've haven't heard of Machavelli by now, you likely don't want to read this. *

The Scarlet Letter: Adultery. Guilt. Revenge. Insight into us all. **

Tuesdays with Morrie: Life lessons from a dying man. This book got a lot of press a few years back. It's some good food for though, but not that radical in my opinion.*

A Long Way Gone: An autobiography of a boy who is recruited to fight as a soldier in his home country of Sierra Leonne. Sad. Educational. I hope those that read this follow through with it and don't forget. ***

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Sad that it ended but happy with the ending. ***

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: It's always good to remember ol' Tom and his shenanagins. *

Super Natural Cooking: Already said what I had to say here. ***

Innocent Traitor: I have this not-so-little obsession with the Tutor reign. The author does a great job at chronicling the 9-day queens life and death. **

Cheap Talk with Frugal Friends: Want ideas on how to save money. This is the book for you. *

Loaves and Fishes: The history of the Catholic Workers movement. **

Supercapitalism: Read this post. ***

Confessions of St. Augustine: Oh that I could think this way. *


Catherine said...

Wow, spies must have a lot of spare time on their hands to read so much ;) (at least that's what Dean and Jeremy would say)

Very cool. Looking forward to jumping into Middlesex - after Water for Elephants - after Devil in the White City...

Erin said...

Hi Michelle, I'm blurking around...and always enjoy my stops here, btw.

I'll definitely try Water For Elephants and Omnivores Dilemma...the former becuase I was at the bookstore yesterday considering it and Secret Life of Bees. I'd heard of both and you gave Elephants a better review. So what the heck? That latter because it sounds so interesting. I recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns. Have you read that one? Also, in the food/health category I'm really enjoying You: THe Owner's Manual. I'm sure you've heard of it or seen this series around. I love Dr. Oz's emphasis on prevention and healthy lifestyles. He even has some great recipes in the back.

Great post!

wendy said...

Thanks Michelle. If only I could finish a book a week...sigh. I have to be pretty selective as my time is more limited, but there are a couple I would love to pick up. A Long Way Gone and Cheap Talk look interesting to me. I will let you know what my 2008 list shapes up to be. Happy New Year!

Michelle said...

Cith - What's your recommendation? Or do I have to use my spy equipment to see what is on your shelf?

Erin- I have A Thousand Splendid Suns on my 'to read' list... it's been recommended by a few different people so I have pretty high expectations. I haven't heard about The Owner's Manual so I'll look into that one. Thanks!

Wendy- If you want to email me your address, I'll send you Cheap Talk... get ya started on saving $$. :) (wordconnoisseur at hotmail dot com). Do you have an recommendations for me?

Catherine said...

Hehe! Yes, Meesh. I just assumed you'd already know that sort of thing.

Well... I haven't read anything that's "Power-of-One quality" recently, but...

I really enjoyed Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts - it's a long one, but very interesting and I loved learning about Bombay and Indian culture. And although fictional it's based on the author's amazing, amazing life story - had me in tears... I think the movie is coming out soon with Johnny Depp - oooh!

Oh, and a Thousand Splendid Suns is also on my "To read" list. We should read that together :)

Lizzy said...

I applaud both your voracious appetite for all sorts of literary genre and your self-discipline to "plow through" even the mediocre (sp?) books you mentioned! Coming from the perspective of a teacher...if only the next generation would be that excited about reading! )o:

PS ~ have you read A Severe Mercy? Good so far!!

Danielle said...

Enjoyed reading your book list. So many of my friends have raved about Harry Potter I think I'll have to give him a try. Fantasy isn't my favorite genre, but you never know. I added "Water for Elephants" to my list of books to read this year.

hosanna said...

Can't wait to read School(s) for Conversions, thanks for thinking of me. We'll have to compare notes after I read it.

Judy said...

Wow! How do you find the time to read so much?!?!?!? I envy you... Sigh. I have resolved to read many more books this year, than last year. I started on the Harry Potter series Monday & I'm on the 4th book. I can't put them down! I'm even dreaming about Ron, Hermoine & Harry. Ha. I'm sure Ill have a big brain fart once I've finished them, but I'll press on... Maybe I'll read some of your recommendations.

Oh, I really disliked The Memory Keepers Daughter, the mom (I forget her name now) irritated me to no end. Also, I agree with you about Tuesdays with Morrie, it wasn't 'all that'.

Ginger said...

wow- I wish I read that much. I want to read Water for Elephants. Mark bought me March about 2 years ago and still Ive only read 3 ch in it. I did like it but couldnt make time for it I guess..this helps motivate me. Great post!

Michelle said...

Ok. Added Shantaram to my list. Thanks Cith.

Lizzy- yep, read A Severe Mercy a number of years ago. Do you have another suggestion?

Danielle - I wouldn't say Harry Potter is fantasy necessarily... It's not all strange and dark and weird like I picture other fantasy books to be. I hope you enjoy it.

Hosanna- yes, tell me what you think.

Judy- how can you say ask me how I have the time to read so much when you've already completed 3 books in under the span of a week?! That's crazy! Though, I totally understand. Every time I finished a Harry Potter book I was sad because I missed the characters. They do grow on you, huh?

Ginger- I hope you like March and Water For Elephants.

Is everyone choosing to read Water because of the post I did about it earlier? I need to write more posts about the good books I read. Someone needs to read Snowflower and the Secret Fan too.

Now Danielle, Hosanna, Judy, Ginger, everyone else -- where are my recommendations?!?!

Danielle said...

Hey, I wrote about the books I read this year on my blog. Check it out. We have the same rating system, which is funny. I've used this rating system since in high school!

Judy said...

I don't know how I've managed to read so much in the last week. I've been neglecting my wife & mothering duties I guess... ;) The kids were all dirty & stinky, the house was a mess & the laundry was piled up, but I was happy as a clam because I was hanging with the Hogwart's crew.

So, recommendations, huh? Hmmmm, I read "The Ways of White Folks" by Langston Hughes a while back. It's a collection of short stories. I really liked them. Have you ever read "Out of the Silent Planet" by C.S. Lewis? I'm not normally a sci-fi fan, but I really liked that one too.

Well, I'm off to see what my new best friends (Harry, Ron & Hermoine) are up to. Peace!