Tuesday, November 27, 2007

notable books of 2007

When the New York Times announces their annual notable books list, my list of books TBR increases exponentially. Publishers place almost as much stock in this accolade as they do some awards. Being included on the notable books list can make a title more marketable to bookstores and readers when it’s released in paperback.

Of those books chosen for 2007, I have read only two: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling) and The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (Michael Chabon). What Is the What (Dave Eggers) is my book group’s January selection, and I look forward to reading it soon.

The following will go on my list, ensuring an immediate detour from the 40 for 40 plan:

Bridge of Sighs (Richard Russo) In his first novel since Empire Falls, Russo writes of a small town in New York riven by class differences and racial hatred.

The Indian Clerk (David Leavitt) Leavitt explores the intricate relationship between the Cambridge mathematician G.H. Hardy and a poor, self-taught genius from Madras, stranded in England during World War I.

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name (Vendela Vida) A young woman searches for the truth about her parentage amid the snow and ice of Lapland in this bleakly comic yet sad tale of a child’s futile struggle to be loved.

The Maytrees (Annie Dillard) A married couple find their way back to each other under unusual circumstances.

The Ministry of Special Cases (Nathan Englander) A Jewish family is caught up in Argentina’s “Dirty War.”

The Savage Detectives (Roberto Bolano) A craftily autobiographical novel about a band of literary guerrillas.

Then We Came to the End (Joshua Ferris) Layoff notices fly in Ferris’s acidly funny first novel, set in a white-collar office in the wake of the dot-com debacle.

Tree of Smoke (Denis Johnson) The author of Jesus’ Son offers a soulful novel about the travails of a large cast of characters during the Vietnam War.

Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff (Rosemary Mahoney) Mahoney juxtaposes her solo rowing journey with encounters with the Egyptians she met.

Edith Wharton
(Hermione Lee) The meticulous biography shows Wharton’s significance as a designer, decorator, gardener, and traveler, as well as a writer.

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Tim Weiner) A comprehensive chronicle of the American intelligence agency, from the days of the Iron Curtain to Iraq, by a reporter for the New York Times.

Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography (David Michaelis) Actual “Peanuts” cartoons movingly illustrate this portrait of the strip’s creator, presented here as a profoundly lonely and unhappy man.

Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter (Phoebe Damrosch) A memoir about waiting tables at the acclaimed Manhattan restaurant Per Se.

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