Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Favorite Books of 2007

The folks at Watermark Books published lists of their favorite books in 2007, which made me think that perhaps I ought to do the same. Since January 2008 is almost over, I guess I ought to do it now before it becomes too obsolete to be of interest.

I started keeping lists of the books I was reading about 4 or 5 years ago (in 2003). In 2007, I finished reading 47 books during the course of the year. Almost 1 per week, but far from the one-a-day that I think Prairiewolf suspects me of reading!

As I scan the list, I don't see very many books that I've read before. Only 4, and just 2 of those were mindless "comfort" books. Not bad, for a year's worth of reading.

Other categories, not including my rereads:

8 light, current fiction - mass market type
2 gardening books (cover to cover), about prairie gardening
3 other "reacquaint myself with Kansas" books
17 current fiction
4 memoir types, not including gardening/ranching/wildlife watching memoirs
4 memoir types with a gardening/ranching/wildlife watching focus
1 home remodeling book
1 book on world religions
1 book on ecology
2 self help/self education type books.

Here is a list of some of my favorites, in the order that I read them:

Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich: The idea that certain special objects somehow absorb vibrations from human spirit (esp. in a positive way), and that those objects can then influence other humans around them, intrigues me. And that's one of several interesting themes in this novel.
The World's Religions by Huston Smith: With clashes between various religious groups influencing global politics and even local mindsets, I found it educational to read this informative and positive guide to the various major world religions.
Prairie Erth by William Least Heat-Moon: One of the books I read to reacquaint myself with Kansas, this fascinating, in-depth examination of Chase County, Kansas, helps peel back the layers of culture, history, geology, biology, and so forth that have interacted to influence modern life in a central county of Kansas.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: Although the premise of the book (a young man joins the circus as a veterinarian during the Depression) didn't initially excite me, this tale was just plain engrossing. A good read.
Marley & Me by John Grogan: If you have a soft spot for dogs, especially if you've ever owned a less-than-perfect one that you loved dearly despite yourself, this is a "laugh out loud, shed a few tears" stunner of a good dog tale.
That Distant Land by Wendell Berry: A quiet look at connections between the people who populated a Kentucky community over the centuries, this series of stories manages to capture the sense of community that seems to be missing from so much of our modern life.
Buffalo for the Broken Heart by Dan O'Brien: Another book that combines the culture, history, geology and biology of a land, but in this case personalizing it through the telling of the author's struggles to live on his ranch in South Dakota.
Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy: A spot-on rationale for why it's important to use native plants in our landscapes, followed by an exceptionally interesting exploration of many of the different insects that can be found around our homes and yards.

Of course, I also have to admit to the guilty pleasure of loving to read Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series and J.D. Robb's .... in Death series, much as those are somewhat in the "junkfood for the mind" genre.

Last but not least, there were only 3 that I felt were a complete waste of my time. And I don't think that's too shabby for a year's worth of reading.

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