Monday, January 07, 2008

The PBB 2007 Reading List

The original plan, if you remember, was to read the books on my to-be-read shelf from left to right, with only additions--no skips. That lasted about 5 books long. But I did have a good mix of titles this year, even if they're fewer than I'd like.

These are books I completed in 2007, listed by date of completion, title, author, and length. Please keep in mind that I usually have a few books going at the same time, so don't interpret the gaps between each title as the time it took me to read it. FYI. At the end of the list, I'll do a little analysis and recommending for the geeky among you. Us. Whatever.

And for the record, I was totally schooled in the reading department by Manders, so I tip my hat to her monster list.


Jan. 2--Infinite Crisis, by Geoff Johns and Phil Jimenez (261)
Jan. 10--All Families are Psychotic, by Douglas Coupland (281)
Jan. 23--The Children of Men, by P.D. James (241)
Feb. 7--Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (288)
Feb. 22--Beatitude, by Matthew Paul Turner (213)
Mar. 3--The Unguide to Dating, by Camerin Courtney and Todd Hertz (204)
Mar. 7--Ms. Wyoming, by Douglas Coupland (311)
Mar. 17--For Men Only, by Jeff and Shanti Feldham (196)
Mar. 20--Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by J. S. Foer (326)
May 4--Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susannah Clarke (1006)
May 11--Already Dead, by Charlie Huston (268)
May 25--The Difference Maker, by John Maxwell (178)
June 13--Carter Beats the Devil, by Glen David Gould (483)
June 28--Real Sex, by Lauren Winner (175)
July 23--Lisey's Story, by Stephen King (664)
July 28--Marvel Civil War, by Mark Millar (208)
July 28--Marvel Civil War: Captain America, by ____ (___)
July 31--Batman: The Long Halloween, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale (375)
July 31--Notes from a Small Island, by Bill Bryson (350)
Aug. 3--Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by JK Rowling (341)
Aug. 5--HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by JK Rowling (435)
Aug. 13--HP and the Goblet of Fire, by JK Rowling (734)
Aug. 21--HP and the Order of the Phoenix (870)
Aug. 24--HP and the Half-Blood Prince, by JK Rowling (652)
Aug. 27--HP and the Deathly Hallows, by JK Rowling (759)
Oct. 10--Love Me, by Garrison Keillor (270)
Oct. 13--Urinetown, by Mark Hollman and Greg Kotis (135)
Oct. 17--Death and Return of Superman, by Mike Corlin, ed. (780)
Oct. 31--Leaving Home, by Garrison Keillor (258)
Nov. 3--Food and Love, by Gary Smalley (233)
Nov. 15--Next, by Michael Crichton (431)
Nov. 18--The Truth War, by John MacArthur (223)
Nov. 30--The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell (272)
Dec. 3--Love is a Mixtape, by Rob Sheffield (224)
Dec. 5--Office Superman, by Alan Axelrod (239)
Dec. 28--Desiring God, by John Piper (369)

Total Books Finished: 36--Ten fewer than last year, actually.

Total Pages of completed books (not accounting for carry-overs on either end): 13,253. Almost 2,000 fewer than last year.
Pages per Day: 36.31 (I blame not having an hour on the train each night.)

Average Pages per Book: 368.1
Average Pages per Book, Not Counting Harry Potters: 315.4. Those 700-pagers sure boost the average.

Most Read Author: JK Rowling (6), then a tie between Garrison Keillor, Douglas Coupland, and John Maxwell (2 each)

Percentage of Comics/Graphic Novels: 11.1%
Percentage of Nonfiction: 25%
Percentage of Harry Potter novels: 17%

Most Disappointing Read: The Difference Maker. That was the first book I've read by "inspirational" author Maxwell, and I guess I expected more content from a spiritual perspective. It was pretty much standard self-help stuff, and it didn't make any real difference to me. And as short as it was, it still took me forever and a day to slog my way through it. The temptation to quit halfway was strong, believe me.

Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Read: The Tipping Point. I started reading it because I had heard so much about the book and author, and I wanted to find out what all the buzz was about. What I found was that the slim white tome was actually a fascinating book about social trends and reasons why some things become hugely popular while others fizzle out. The topics Gladwell covers are very wide-ranging and intriguing, and provide anecdotes I've already starting passing along to others. Good stuff, and worth your time.

Top Five Recommendations from the 2007 PBB List:

I was worried there'd be slim pickin's for the top five list. Turns out, it was another bumper year for good books.

Honorable Mentions: The Tipping Point; Batman: The Long Halloween; Children of Men.

5) "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," Jonathon Safran Foer. Foer's first novel, "Everything is Illuminated," was a stunning and lyrical debut from someone so young. His sophomore effort is equally impressive. This novel, mostly told from the perspective of a gifted and intelligent child making sense of the loss of a parent, touches on the pain and confusion of people recovering from a sudden loss. It captures the soul and motion of New York City after the towers fell, and in the end, left me "wearing heavy boots" indeed. Great read, but pack a hankie, because you may get a little choked up.

4) "Carter Beats the Devil," Glen David Gould. This is a fantastic period piece about the entertainment world in the early part of the 20th century. Carter is a grand stage magician in the tradition of Houdini, and this novel tells the story of his rise to prominence (including his brush with the grand master himself), and a shocking crime that could possibly bring his entire life and career crashing down. The prose is crisp and entrancing, and the characters are fascinating. I enjoyed this book immensely and wish I could read it again for the first time. You'll have to do that for me.

3) "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," JK Rowling. If I were giving the nod to the entire series, it may well be number one. Believe the hype, folks. If you haven't read these books yet, believe me when I say they are just as good as your friends and neighbors have been telling you. If you're still concerned about moral issues in the books, and the use of magic as described in the books, email me and I can give you my take on it. (Wait--didn't I say at one point I'd do a post on that? Probably could still do so.) But this final volume is easily the best. The book made me laugh outloud and outright cry on four separate occasions. No, seriously. It's the fiction book that touched my heart the most this year, and for a fantasy novel, that's quite a feat.

2) "Love is a Mixtape," Rob Sheffield. This Rolling Stone writer tells his personal story of life, love, and loss through the lens of mixtapes he made and received throughout his short life thusfar. I was shocked to see a picture of Sheffield recently--he's so young-looking. It only makes his story that much more compelling and beautifully sad. This book made me laugh out loud in public and try to hide my tears on airplanes. Find it and read it immediately.

1) "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," Susannah Clarke. I can't be more thankful to those of you who suggested this book. Holy cow, what a great read. It's a Victorian fantasy drama, in which dueling egos pit two magicians against each other. The prose is as sharp as Jane Austen's, and the enchanting plot is clever enough to turn Rowling green with envy. It's a very long book, but for good reason--there's a whole lot of story to tell. Read every word, including every hilariously-detailed footnote. I know recommending this book is like recommending three or four books, due to the length, but believe me--it will be the best three or four books you'll have read in a good long time.

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