Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tell me

What were the best books (old or new, fiction or not) you read this year?


Emily said...

I finally read Don Quixote this year and I loved it.

I taught My Antonia, which my students really got into. The immigration issues are remarkably familiar to students in South Florida.

In terms of other books, I enjoy popular histories (as opposed to strictly scholarly histories). This year, I liked The Great Mortality by John Kelly and The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. I've been interested in reading medical histories, particularly histories of diseases lately. I think this is a convergence of interests from my spouse and my dissertation director -- one has written about personal medical problems and the other wrote a book about the use of medicine on the early modern stage. Both teach medicine in literature. It's just what surrounds me.

(I don't know why I'm so interested in such things, since I cannot watch medical procedures on television or in movies.)

SJ said...

I'm a grad student in your program, so my list looks suspiciously like a year's worth of syllabi greatest hits list...

My biggest find of the year was Maxine Hong Kingston's Tripmaster Monkey, and I also liked the sequel-ish follow-up, The Fifth Book of Peace. I already knew she was awesome, but now she's pretty much in my pantheon.

I also really liked Cynthia Shearer's The Celestial Jukebox.

I tend to like difficult novels that end up making me feel something in the end anyway--Larry Brown's Joe fell in that category.

I read Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe trilogy back to back to back, and that was intense and more than a little depressing, but there were so many beautiful and unexpected passages.

Probably, this list would be a lot more interesting in about two weeks :)

Bradley said...


Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver


Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
"On Some Verses of Virgil" by Michele de Montaigne (he's this new kid who I think is really going to go places in this whole "Fourth Genre" scene-- not exactly a book, but pretty damn long. Much longer than what we would call an essay today)

S.O.S. said...

Joyce's Ulysses
Joyce's Portrait of the Artist
Joyce's Dubliners (I see a trend)

Griffith's A Good War is Hard to Find
H.S. Thompson's Hell's Angels
Seymour Krim's essay "For My Brothers and Sisters in the Failure Business"
Virginia Woolf's essay "The Death of the Moth"

Mark Scroggins said...

I reread some old favorites -- Ulysses, To the Lighthouse, Treasure Island -- but the biggest real delights in fiction were A.S. Byatt's The Biographer's Tale and Jane Austen's Emma (which I'm embarrassed to admit I read for the 1st time).

In nonfiction, I was really bowled over by Lyndall Gordon's biography of Virginia Woolf & Claire Tomalin's life of Samuel Pepys.

And everybody should read Guy Davenport's last collection, The Death of Picasso, which is a ragbag of his fabulous essays & intricate, painstakingly erotic short stories.

Anonymous said...

Enjoying Joseph Stroud's Below Cold Mountain & Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, Revisiting Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, and Looking Forward To Galápagos by Vonnegut.

Anonymous said...

My favorite book this year was Crescent, by Diana Abu-Jaber. I also really, really liked Love Medicine. I am about to read On Chesil Beach, which I predict I will also like. And of course I loved all the books we read in your class too.


Bradley said...

D'oh! I forgot that David Griffith's A Good War is Hard to Find was my favorite book of the year. Stupid, stupid...

Michelle said...

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Anonymous said...

I reread Atlas Shrugged, as I am entering an essay contest on the novel. I was struck by how good the book was despite its very many flaws. Rand’s ability to create a page-turner out of a kind of didactic, philosophical rant is really quite amazing. I am glad to have rediscovered it.