Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

2007 in Books


100: the number of books I fondly imagined I would read this year

81: the number of books I actually read

60: books of fiction

32: books by US writers

22: books by British writers

22: books that were new in 2007

21: books of non-fiction

8: memoirs

6: books by African writers or about Africa

6: books by Canadian writers

5: business books

3: sets of short stories

3: books by Indian writers

2: classic novels (one French, one Russian)

2: books by Afghani writers

1: book by a Libyan writer

1: book by Turkish writer

0: books by German writers

Books That Made Me Cry:

28 Stories of AIDS by Stephanie Nolen, Babylon’s Ark by Lawrence Anthony, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, A Special Relationship by Douglas Kennedy, Two Lives by Vikram Seth.

Books That Made Me Laugh:

Eating for England: The Delights and Eccentricities of the English at Table by Nigel Slater, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Mother’s Milk by Edward St Aubyn, Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips, Darkmans by Nicola Barker, A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka, everything by Janet Evanovich

Books That Scared Me:

The Road by Cormac McCarthy, In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar, A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walsh, When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin, The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer, The Ice Storm by Rick Moody

Books That Left Me Gasping in Admiration and Thinking That’s There No Point Even Trying to Be a Writer:

Darkmans by Nicola Barker, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Empire Falls by Richard Russo, The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers, Runaway by Alice Munro

These five also constitute my favourites for the year. You might notice that I haven’t reviewed them either, because they all left me stunned, too stunned to feel I could say anything of meaning or add to the body of words already committed to their superlativeness. I loved and admired their vast sweep, their intimate characterisations, their humour, their compassion, their politics and the way each and every one reflected the truth of the human condition.

Reading Goals for 2008:

* Even out the imbalance between classics and contemporary

* Even out the imbalance between Anglo-American writers and everybody else

* Attempt to read a couple of books in German

* Focus less on the prize-winners, and more on books recommended by bloggers and friends whose opinions I respect

* Read more Alice Munro

* Read with a pencil

* Aim for 100!

I wish you all a happy reading 2008. I have my nose in Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie right now, and I know already it’s going to be on my favourites list for next year.


Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

22 thoughts on “2007 in Books

  1. “Mr Pip” is the book by someone who lives in my home town I have the best intentions of reading in 2008. It’s pretty terrible I haven’t managed it yet and it’s in English- so relatively speaking I wouldn’t feel too bad about not getting round to any German authors in 2007!

  2. “I have my nose in Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie right now”

    oooh, i’m about 50 pages into this right now!

  3. Wow, that IS a great list!

    I can’t presume to have read even close to that many, but there was one business/self-development book by Bob Burg and John David Mann, called The Go-Giver, that really stood out for me.

    I also love humor, so I’m going to check out the ones you listed in Books That Made Me Laugh…thanks! 🙂

  4. Given that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I hope you won’t mind if I copy you and put my own 2007 in Books on my own end of year blog!
    It is a great list, and a wonderful way to round up a year of reading.
    Warmest best wishes for a healthy and happy 2008.

  5. It sounds like a great year! Your mention of Richard Powers intrigues me; he’s someone I’d like to check out.

  6. What a great end of year list! And so many books for me to find now….

    Happy 2008!

  7. You get an “A” for effort. You came so close to your 100 goal! Sometimes I consider sending my kids to school so I can have some time to read without interruptions.

    I’m off to get “Mother’s Milk”. I hinted that I wanted it for Christmas. In fact I stated that I wanted it. I got “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” instead, which I wanted too…so it’s all good.

    Have a wonderful New Year and don’t stop writing, whatever you do.

  8. Great list! We had different reactions to Empire Falls, actually. I’m just now reading Straight Man by Russo and so far am enjoying it more. I hope to read more classics in 2008 as well!

  9. Thanks for sharing your list with your comments. I’m inspired to pick up the several titles you read that I have sitting in my bed table unread. That’s the problem: so much to read, so little time. But you energize me to keep reading!

  10. Wow! Fabulous lists, Charlotte. There are so many there that I want to start reading Right Now! I think reading 80 or so books in a year is hugely impressive – I don’t think I got anywhere near that figure! And a very happy New Year to you and your family as well!

  11. Oh, I just love your “Books that left me gasping…” category! Eighty books with three kids and work. How on earth do you do it?!

  12. It was that one, devastating, oh-my-god-did-i-really-just-read-that? passage that made Mister Pip so scary for me.

    That sounds like a wonderful year in reading. So many books. So many wonderful books.

    And I’m with you on reading with a pencil in hand — I don’t know how many times I’ve read something, made a mental note and never been able to find the passage again.

  13. What a wonderful summing up of a year of reading! Happy New Year to you dear Charlotte. xoxo

  14. I am inspired by your reading list Charlotte. I don’t think mine has been as eclectic or thought provoking since I was in my twenties. I seem to spend all my time just living these days. Not a terrible thing but I miss losing myself in other worlds occasionally. I feel very drawn to rereading old favourites lately. At times I think this is such a waste of my reading time as there are so many new books out there waiting to be read. But then I remember how much I loved a particular book or writer and am convinced I need to re read it. Janet Evanovich is also a favourite of mine as she never fails to make me laugh. The road was terrifying, I agree. I think I am planning a trip to our local second hand book warehouse tomorrow, in between getting my car MOT’d and lisenced, buying new school shoes, cooking, baking, taking Christmas junk to the recycling centre and starting back to work. If you can do it all, I can at least try. Happy New Year! Here’s to an excellent 2008

  15. Suggestions for balancing classics and non-Anglo-American at the same time:
    – Maupassant (my favorite. Mostly short stories, but the novel ‘Une Vie’ is a must-read)
    – Balzac (La Peau de Chagrin, Le Père Goriot)
    – Zola (Germinal, L’Assomoir, La Bête Humaine)
    – Madame de Sévigné (blogging from the XVIIth century)
    And for bedtime stories:
    – Jules Verne (to make up for all the bad things I wrote about him)

  16. Isn’t Munro wonderful? I predict Half of a Yellow Sun is going to leave you gasping in admiration, too.

  17. Love your list — and admire the sheer number of 81.
    So many books I would like to dive into right away.

    Guess what one of my New Year’s resolutions is 😉 .

    Concerning your reading goals and German books: there is a great monthly book review in German TV “Druckfrisch” (ARD, unfortunately Sunday late night) that might give some inspiration. In addition to reviewing recent bestsellers, the host also digs out and recommends neglected jewels or forgotten classics. Concerning the bestseller list his comments are refreshingly biting at times.

    I do not know when the show restarts in 2008, their website is:
    (The website also summarizes the contents of older shows).

    All the best for 2008.

  18. Pingback: Noble Savage » Blog Archive » Taking it in so I can give something back

  19. I’ll echo everyone else and say what a terrific list!

  20. 81/ 100 is not bad at all! Better than I did.

    I’ve only read Empire Falls from your list, and I agree that it’s fantastic. I really admire Richard Russo.

  21. You rock! I only got to as measly 24 for the year! I hadn’t thought of breaking them down by author nationality but now I think I might… I read Peter Godwon’s previous book, Mukiwa, this year and that both scared me and made me cry. Not sure if I can handle Crorodile just yet. And isn’t Half of a Yellow sun beautifully written? Can’t wait to see where your reading takes you in 2008!

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