Book Recommendations Oddities

Fifty States of Literature, Starting With Alabama

Fifty States of Literature, Starting With Alabama | Columbia Spectator

The Spectator here supplies you, free of charge, the first of a list of 50 books that we think capture the essence of each state, all while telling a great story along the way.

The Spectator, the campus publication of Columbia University in New York City, begins a literary tour of the U. S.

Their selection for Alabama is one of my all-time favorites, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Book Recommendations

NPR : A New Batch of Under-the-Radar Books

NPR : A New Batch of Under-the-Radar Books

Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl returns with another set of what she calls “under-the-radar” books — titles you really, really should be reading but haven’t (yet). The latest batch features the story of three royal cousins, tales of wild animal adventures and a pun-filled picture book for younger readers.

Book Recommendations Fiction Nonfiction Best of 2007: Books Best of 2007: Books

Sorry to be so late with this, but here’s one of those year-end lists that I missed.  In fact, there are several lists here, broken down by subject matter. There are readers’ favorites as well as editors’ picks included, so you can get a feel for what books other ordinary readers (not just editors or critics) liked best from last year.

Book Recommendations Booking through Thursday

Booking through Thursday: Anticipation

Recently I did a little search to see what else was out there in the biblioblogosphere. I found more challenges (“read X number of books about such-and-such topic in the next Y number of months”) than I could believe. As a full-time student, I don’t have the time for that.

But I did find something that interests me and seems manageable for me right now: Booking through Thursday. This blog poses a book-related question each week, then lets people post their answers or links to their answers. So this is something I’ll be doing from time to time.

This week’s question is:


Last week we talked about the books you liked best from 2007. So this week, what with it being a new year, and all, we’re looking forward….

What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’re planning to read in 2008 that you’re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you’re waiting to appear in paperback?

Except for textbooks, the only reading I do now is audiobooks that I listen to while driving, exercising, and doing household chores. Here’s what’s queued on the iPod right now:

  • “T” Is for Trespass, Sue Grafton’s new Kinsey Millhone thriller. It’s always a comfort to get reacquainted with Kinsey again, although I’m jealous that she’s aging much slower than the rest of us. (In Kinsey time, it’s still late 1987). I’m nearly done with this book now, and it’s one of the best in the series.
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I read this one a long, long time ago. It’s definitely due for a reread.
  • World without End by Ken Follett. I recently listened to this novel’s precursor, The Pillars of the Earth, and loved it. I’m looking forward to the continuation of the saga.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is another one requiring a reread. I recently listened to Nancy Milford’s book Zelda, a biography of Fitzgerald’s wife. After Gatsby I hope to listen to Tender Is the Night, whose female character is heavily based on Zelda.
Book Recommendations Year's Best

Best Books I Read in 2007

My favorite end-of-the-year activity is compiling my annual list of the best books I read during the year. Making this list is both pleasurable and painful: pleasurable because it allows me to revisit and remember each book; painful because I have to cut some books I really enjoyed to get the list down to the 10 I liked best.

Before 2005—the year when I returned to school full time—compiling the list was often a formidable task. Some years I even cheated and added five more titles categorized as “honorable mention” because I just couldn’t whittle the list of all the books I had read down to a mere 10 titles. But in the years since 2005, coming up with the list has been a lot easier because I no longer have the time for pleasure reading that I used to have.

Note that the year’s date refers to the year I read the books, not the year they were published.

Of the 43 books I read during 2007 (exclusive of textbooks), here’s the 10 best, listed alphabetically by author:

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice
Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights
Butler, Octavia E. Kindred
Didion, Joan. The Year of Magical Thinking
Follett, Ken. The Pillars of the Earth
Gilbert, Elizabeth. Eat, Pray, Love
Hood, Ann. The Knitting Circle
Kallos, Stephanie. Broken for You
Lippman, Laura. What the Dead Know
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

(The links are to reviews on my other Web site.)

What’s on your list? If you haven’t made a list, give it a try. It’s not as easy as you think. Sometimes deleting a title feels like giving away one of your children. But this task makes you think more consciously about exactly what makes a book a “good book” to you.

Happy New Year to all, and thanks for reading.

Book Recommendations

Critics’ Picks: Favorite Books of 2007 – New York Times

Critics’ Picks: Favorite Books of 2007 – New York Times

New York Times’s reviewers Janet Maslin, Michiko Kakutani, and William Grimes each offer their list of the 10 favorite books they reviewed during 2007. These are not 10-best lists, the article points out. Rather, each reviewer “picked the 10 books we covered most avidly.”

The lists contain both fiction and nonfiction, from mystery to history.

Book Recommendations

One Critic’s List of Best Books Read in 2007

An instant classic about a little-known NW place tops book list

John Marshall, book critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, lists the 10 best books he read in 2007.

Some folks love these lists, some folks loathe them. This critic believes that compiling such lists requires valuable side-by-side assessment and brings added attention to fine books deserving a second look.

His list has a definite Pacific Northwest bent.

Book Recommendations Nonfiction

Books of 2007: Science


This is the season for year-end lists of books in which the mainstream review media steer literate culture away from deep questions about how our world works and who we are and toward celebrations of narcissism, celebrity gossip, and literary cliques.

John Brockman, editor and publisher at Edge, laments “that there are no science books (and hardly any books on ideas) on the New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year list; no science category in the Economist Books of the Year 2007; only Oliver Sacks in the New Yorker’s list of Books From Our Pages .” He presents a list of books published in 2007 by science writers who help us understand how science contributes to dealing with some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Book Recommendations

NPR : The Ones That Got Away: Books Not to Miss

NPR : The Ones That Got Away: Books Not to Miss

NPR’s Lynn Neary talks with book writers — Laura Miller of, and blogger Mark Sarvas of The Elegant Variation — about worthy books that got overlooked by the mainstream book-review sections in 2007. Here’s a rundown of their recommendations.