Wednesday, December 13, 2006

End of 2006 Wrap Up

Everyone is cleaning house this month, making their Best of 2006 lists. Some are lamenting their failure to reach their reading goals of 75 books or 52 books or whatever. Mark Sarvas is nicely testy about the problems with “Best of Lists” over at the millions (rightly insisting on the insane arrogance of “best,” preferring “favorite”) but so far my favorite contrarian response to the mood is Mrs. Bookworld’s. Without snark, she lists the dozen books she wishes she had not finished last year.

Overwhelmed as I am by the trifecta of end-of-term, daughter’s upcoming birthday, and Christmas, I thought I would take stock. On the down side: it looks like I only read about 25 books last year (and that includes The Da Vinci Code). The plus side: I wrote one. (Well, published.)

I particularly loved Laila Lalami’s Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits, Gina Ochsner’s People I Wanted to Be, and Natasha Radojcic’s You Don’t Have to Live Here: all three of these books are gorgeously written, humane, aware of (and realistic about) injustice but striving for something better. They’re great books by strong women. Ha Jin’s Waiting was another favorite from the year. I just finished it a few weeks ago and haven’t even had to time to write up my reaction. But I found it so deeply moving. Roudning out my list of favorites would be Seven Loves, of course, Michael Frayn’s Spies, Michelle Herman’s The Middle of Everything, and William Dean Howells’ A Hazard of New Fortunes.

I’m shocked at how many memoirs I read. Proportionately, they should show up more often on the list above. Still, they brought me great pleasure so I expect to continue to read them.

It’ll be interesting to see how 2007 goes. With no book to write, no pregnancy or newborn, I predict some differences. What will they be?


brd said...

Glad to see Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits at the top of your list, because it is first on my list to read in 2007. I did get to meet Laila and she is charming and interesting.

Anonymous said...

"Nicely testy" might just be the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me ...

Unknown said...

So very, very pleased to have been found apt, tev!

And yes, Laila L's book is really terrific--I will be interested to hear what you think when you read it, brd.