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Best Book Of 2007?


Jen
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Like you KS, there are a few highlights in my reading year. I adored getting reacquainted with Graham Greene and The Quiet American, and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon will certainly stay with me for a long time.

 

Back in January, however, I read The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber and I wallowed in the London world he created. This has got to be the best book I have read this year.

 

Since then I have read The Fahrenheit Twins and loved his short stories too.

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74. We Have Always Lived In The Castle, Shirley Jackson *****

72. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson *****

62. Atonement, Ian McEwan *****

48. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (RLBG) *****

46. The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James *****

36. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy (RR uni)*****

33. In The Miso Soup, Ryu Murakami *****

32. The Missing, Andrew O'Hagan *****

25. Bad Luck And Trouble, Lee Child *****

17. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (RR uni) *****

11. The Last King of Scotland, Giles Foden *****

 

These were my top rated reads for the year and if I had to pick one of them as the best - it would be impossible. But maybe I could squeeze out a 3-way-tie between We Have Always lived In The Castle, Atonement, The Last King of Scotland. And Miso Soup. ;)

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My five star reads this year were:

 

Wish Her Safe At Home - Stephen Benatar*****

Animal's People - Indra Sinha *****

On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan *****

Bleak House - Charles Dickens *****

A Change Of Regime - J.N. Stroyar *****

The Road - Cormac McCarthy *****

One Good Turn - Kate Atkinson *****

The Children's War - J.N. Stroyar *****

 

Of these, I'd put Wish Her Safe At Home and Animal's People at the top, but I'm slightly concerned that WHSaH is only there because it's so fresh in my mind. Time will tell which book survives the test of time/memory.

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I don't seem to have had a great year as far as reading goes. Only 30 books (and unlikely to increase before the New Year), and of those only two really stand out.

 

This Thing Of Darkness by Harry Thompson, which is definitely my Book Of The Year.

And A Change Of Regime, by JN Stroyar, but only if it is read as a sequel to A Children's War

 

Fairly closely followed by Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson, and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

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Definitely This Thing Of Darkness - Harry Thompson

 

I also thought A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth a terrific read. I read it in a week on my Greek island holiday; I'm not sure I'd have been able to keep all the threads going if I had stretched it out over months at home.

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(I think) my favourite was Kafka on the Shore.

 

"Kafka on the Shore" gets the nod from me, too, Murakami at his playful best.

 

Highly commended rosettes would go to Shalom Auslander's collection "Beware of G-d", a book that made me laugh out loud, as does Charlie Brooker's "Screenwipe". Some of Raymond Carver's short stories in "Where I'm Calling From" are just breathtaking, and Michel Faber's "Under the Skin" creeped me out. Philip Roth's raging against the dying of the light in "Everyman" was most impressive too.

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This is really difficult, mostly thanks to you lot! You've helped open up a world of titles for me to try.

 

Honourable mentions:

Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut, Eleanor Rigby - Douglas Coupland, The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks, Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny, The Children's War - J.N. Stroyar, The End of Mr. Y - Scarlett Thomas, To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee.

 

But the best book I've read this year has to be This Thing of Darkness - Harry Thompson

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Looking back over my list, it was a fairly good year of reading. A fair number of good books and only a few bad ones. These are my greats for this year:

 

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

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I'm increasingly frightened by This Thing of Darkness. So many people whose opinions I respect really enjoy it but it just looks so loooooooong. Perhaps it will be one of my reads of 2008.

 

2007 is the year that I added Nicola Barker to my very short list of authors-to-watch, finally read enough Yates to understand why he's always been seen as a second-stringer of American fiction (he's very good, but being more thematically-limited, he's not a Faulkner or a Hemmingway) made my way through most of Ishiguro's backlist, and felt like the little boy who could see that the emperor had no clothes about Mister Pip (though I'm still convinced that on re-reading it, people must see how terrible it is). I really enjoyed Sarah Dunant's In the Company of the Courtesan though I don't read much historical fiction - I've decided to give it more of a go. Stef Penney's The Tenderness of Wolves appealed in a similar way - the setting is so vividly portrayed that to read it is almost a transporting experience. I reread a few old favourites and 'discovered' Brian Moore, whom I shall read more of in 2008.

 

If I have to limit myself to one book, then, as I was astonished once again by the by the intricacy and brilliance of his writing, it has to be Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach

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I'm increasingly frightened by This Thing of Darkness. So many people whose opinions I respect really enjoy it but it just looks so loooooooong. Perhaps it will be one of my reads of 2008.

This from someone who fearlessly tackled, and survived, Darkmans? C'mon!

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My top 10:

 

1. The Lizard Cage - Karen Connelly

2. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne - Brian Moore

3. The Dark Room of Damocles - H F Hermans

4. Measuring the World - Daniel Kehlmann

5. The Secret Agent - Joseph Conrad

6. Justin Thyme - Panama Oxbridge

7. Stasiland - Anna Funder

8. The Redbreast - Jo Nesbo

9. Joseph Knight - James Robertson

10. Lanark - Alasdair Gray

 

The top 5 positions are fixed. 6-10 are interchangeable.

More on how I came up with this list here.

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