redzils (redzils) wrote in stackofbooks,

plantgirl suggested that this would be an appropriate place to cross-post this list....

Taking inspiration from joyce, I have decided to keep track of the books I read in 2007. I will be listing them in chronological order, so:

1. Dragon Rescue by Dan Callander (finished 1/5/07; 225 pgs). This is the second book in the series which features Tom the Librarian, who was mysteriously transported from his boring life in Washington DC to an elfish kingdom named Carolna. I stumbled upon these while staying at a friend's place over break. I liked the first one a bit better, but both were fun and light. If the third one finds me, I will definitely enjoy it.

2. The New Glucose Revolution: Low GI Eating Made Easy by Jenne Brand-Miller, Kaye Foster-Powell, and Phillipa Sandall (started & finished 1/6/07; 104 pages). This book provides a coherent, simple summary of low GI eating. I only read the first two sections (which is where the page count comes from), and am setting the list of 100 best foods aside. Interestingly, I already tend to eat in a way that matches this plan, since it is what makes me feel most functional. Reading about it may inspire me to eat more fruits & veggies and fewer "treats," since my diet is already congruent with the principles and the science makes sense to me.

3. Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton (finished 1/7/06, 596 pages). I started this while whiling away time at crimmycat's house, and went on to read the whole thing. Both crimmy and lycantras have warned me that her later work is sheer smut, but this one was fine, if a little gory. However, I dont resonate enough with the character to bother going back and reading of her earlier adventures and have little to no interest in her smutty future. It's an adequate book, but not a fabulous one.

4. Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich (started & finished 1/10/07 on the airplane, 228 pages). This is sheer fluff, selected for light airplane reading. I try to choose light books with compelling story lines for that sort of distracted reading, and Evanovich tends to fit the bill. This re-release of a much earlier stand-alone romance novel (first published in 1988) was not that interesting though... The character were cute, but there was no story arc. I am one of those people who has a hard time reading about bad things happening to people, but there was no conflict in this story. With no conflict, there is no plot, so it was a disappointment.

5. Aeromancer by Don Callander (started & finished 1/10/07 on the airplane, 289 pages). This is the fourth book in a series, but the first one I have read. It was okay, but definitely read like a series book: he expected you to know the characters and their backstories, so there was a lot I missed.

6. Learning to Float: The Journey of a Woman, a Dog, and Just Enough Men, by Lili Wright (finished 1/12/06, 363 pages). At the beginning of the book, Lili (pronounced Lee-Lee) is having a relationship quandary. Rather than choose between the two men in her life she borrows one of their dogs and drives south, tracing the Atlantic Coast from Maine to Florida. She returns the dog a few states in, but continues to grapple with the big questions of who she is and what she wants all the way south. I like that there is no tidy take-home message or neat happily-ever-after ending. Instead Lili shares a journey, then ends the book at Key West without inviting us to follow her north and weather her renegotiation with the men in her life. From the "Acknowledgments," we know what she chooses, but I appreciate her willingness to admit she doesn't have all the answers, that maybe the answers don't exist, etc.

7. The Looniness of the Long Distance Runner: An Unfit Londoner's Attempt to Run the New York City Marathon From Scratch, by Russel Taylor (finished 1/14/06, 224 pages). This is a book about running by someone who obviously loves the sport. The most important bit for me was his assertion that the worst part of running occurs between minute 5 and minute 25 - he is right, and this means my usual run-for-half-an-hour strategy maximizes the pain without ever getting to the endorphin payout. I am working back up to running (i.e. thinking hard about it, from the comfort of my lush bed), so this is a helpful reminder that perhaps I should just Go Do It, for an hour or so each day.

- I am also realizing that I dont like having this all in a seperate, huge post. I want to talk about books, so think I am going to start posting each book paragraph to my LJ as I finish it. That way anyone who has also read the book or has any comment can share their perspective. More like an online book club, since last year's resolution to find an in-person book club failed miserably. (No, I didn't find one. Perhaps because I didn't look. Yes).

I read 7 books in the first 14 days of 2007, then didn't finish anything for almost three weeks. This is a reflection of my life and mental health - I have been working on finishing the thesis document, so most of my brain space has been elsewhere. I started several books, but none of them had enough shine to keep my attention, with the thesis looming over my head. When this happens I get into the habit of retreating to my bookcase, and re-reading passages from a handful of comfort books. These are books I can pick up, flip open at any point, read for ten minutes with delight, then walk away satisfied.

I finally read a couple real books though, so here is the latest report.

8.* Full Bloom by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes (finished 2/2/07, 344 pages, re-read). This is an unlikely, semi-romance novel about a woman who has turned her great-grandmother's Victorian brothel into a B&B, and then finds her husband - who she thought left her for another woman - buried in the backyard. Oh the shenanigans, etcetera. It's silly and fluffy, and I read it in the bathtub Friday night. It is very genre-ific, if you like those books you will like this one.

9. Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett (finished 2/3/07, 257 pages). Truth and Beauty chronicles Ann's friendship with Lucy - a friend with a complicated and ongoing medical history, a brilliant mind, and a self-destructive longing. Ann (of Bel Canto fame) wrote the book after Lucy's death, and it seems like a memorial to her as well as an exploration of what exactly happened over the decades of their friendship. Lucy being dead seemed convenient - I can't imagine speaking to someone who put all my naked faults on paper then published them for the world to read - but Ann mostly avoided the trap of writing herself as perfect. I like books about long friendships, since I think those relationships help us explore who we are, and this one was fine. I would have liked to see Ann use the medium more to reflect on her own trajectory, since she wasn't inside Lucy's head and thus can only give us an observer's perspective.

10.* Sunshine by Robin McKinley (finished for the eleventeenth time, in late January, 405 pages). This is probably my favorite book of 2005 or whatever year I discovered it, and in my all-time top ten. I don't read a lot of vampire fiction or fanasy, but I love Robin McKinley's work (order: this, The Blue Sword / The Hero and the Crown, then Sherwood Forest, then all the other re-told fairy tales) and am praying for a sequel. Sunshine, the main character, has a life nothing like mine but we share a sensibility and sense of humor, which makes her very fun to read about. I also love the world Robin set it in - it is very like ours, with a few massive exceptions. The overall world presented is enough like ours to easily relate to, but also shocking and strange.

11. Holding the Line by Barbara Kingsolver (finished 2/18/07, 196 pages, acquired via Bookmooch). This is Kingsolver's first book, pre-dating her novels. She was a journalist covering the "Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983" and wrote this book to shed light on the women who "held the line" throughout this strike. In a way, the book reads like one of her novels, because it is so character driven. At the same time, I never got the characters or the towns straight, since she was chronicling the stories of many women in disparate locations. Despite that, I really enjoyed her writing because it anchored these women's action and growth in the larger historical and sociological context, without zooming so far out that the individual stories were lost.

12.* Protector of the Small: Squire by Tamora Pierce (409 pages, February). I love Tamora Pierce's young adult novels, which follow strong girl characters through a faux-medieval society where magic exists. Her heroines push the boundaries of their society to be knights and warriors, without being ridiculously perfect characters. This story follows Keladry of Mindelan from becoming a squire (for Raoul of Goldenlake and Mallory's Peak, Commander of the King's Own) through her transition to knighthood. I like Kel, the way which Pierce normalizes reality (she glosses over the details but her characters menstruate, have pre-marital sex, and talk about slatterns in taverns), and the story arc. It's a YA, so a fast read, but a good one. All Pierce's stuff counts as "comfort reading" for me.

13. Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton (finished the first week of February, sometime, 266 pages, arrived via Bookmooch). This is the first book in the Anita Blake series (which I first encountered in book #3 on this list), and I enjoyed it. It was a slick, fast read which kept my attention. Anita is the only character in the story with any depth at all, so far, but - assuming I agree to suspend my disbelief of the rest - it works.

14. Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia by Emily Toth (arrived via Bookmooch, 207 pages, read in February). I haven't read every word of this yet, but am dipping into it for the odd ten minutes of amusement here and there. Ms. Mentor has a column in The Chronicle of Higher Education which I read online, and I enjoy her sarcasm, realistic perspective, and reminders that academia is a skewed world. The book reads like a compilation of Toth's columns, with a few defying belief (a drunken academic throwing the olives from his martini down the front of a pre-tenure women colleague's blouse, then another tenured drunken lout pawing her to retrieve them, springs to mind) while others reflect more typical troubles.

15. The Seven Towers by Patricia Wrede (264 pages, read 2/18/07, arrived via Bookmooch). I put Patricia Wrede in roughly the same category as Tamora Pierce (see entry #12), though that is mostly based on her series about Princess Cimorene (a very un-silly princess who runs away to bake Cherries Jubilee and sort treasure for dragons, rather than be married off to boring Prince Therandil). This book was a stand-alone about another group of royal advisors, relatives, and hangers-on, set in another mythical region. I picked it up for the first time the day after it arrived and couldn't get invested in it, but today it hit the spot. I had to read a little further than I would have expected to start caring about the characters, but she manages the unlikely feat of setting one character up to be pitied and disliked, then making him emerge as the noblest of the assembled nobles. I likely wont reread it, but it was a fun romp and you can see her feeling her way into personalities you see in her later books (i.e. Amberglas evolves into Morwen, Crystalorn into Cimorene, etc.). I dont want this last piece to sound condescending, but I am not sure how to avoid it: Wrede is an excellent young adult writer, and her work has deepened and strengthened over time. The Seven Towers reads like an early effort, because it is - it was published in 1984, at least a decade before the Cimorene books. (That doesn't make it bad, just less polished).
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