Friday, December 26, 2008
This is the list of books I read in 2007, in the order that I read them. For an explanation of my rating system, see here. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (3.5/5) The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer (on the Modern Library Top 100 list; 4/5) Animal Farm by George Orwell (on the Modern Library Top 100 list; 4.5/5) Judgment Calls by Alafair Burke (3/5) The 12th Card by Jeffrey Deaver (3/5) The Fourth Hand by John Irving (2.5/5) A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul (on the Modern Library Top 100 list; 4/5) Fear of Flying by Erika Jong (4/5) For Whom the Bell Tolls by Earnest Hemingway (4/5) Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman (3/5) The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg (3/5) The Broker by John Grisham (2/5) Humbolt’s Gift by Saul Bellow (winner of the Pulitzer Prize; 4/5) Rasputin’s Daughter by Robert Alexander (2.5/5) The Assistant by Bernard Malamud (reviewed here) (4/5) The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket (3/5) The Closers by Michael Connolly (3/5) Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (on the Modern Library Top 100 list; 2/5) New England 2007 by Karen Brown (3.5/5) Living the 7 Habits by Stephen Covey (3.5/5) Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (reviewed here; 3.5/5) Fear of the Dark by Walter Mosely (2/5) Finnegans Wake by James Joyce (on the Modern Library Top 100 list; un-ratable) Love Among the Chickens by P.G. Wodehouse (4/5) Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (on the Modern Library Top 100 list; 4/5) The Second Chair by John Lescroart (3.5/5) Light in August by William Faulkner (on the Modern Library Top 100 list; 4/5) Little Green Men by Christopher Buckley (reviewed here; 3/5) The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (reviewed here; on the Modern Library Top 100 list; winner of the Pulitzer Prize; 3/5) The Winter of Frankie Machine by Don Winslow (reviewed here; 3/5) Sailing the Wine Dark Sea by Thomas Cahill (3.5/5) Therese Raquin by Emil Zola (reviewed here; 3.5/5) The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais (3/5) Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (reviewed here; on the Modern Library Top 100 list; winner of the Booker Prize; 4/5) Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert (4/5) Restless by William Boyd (reviewed here) (4/5) The Roald Dahl Omnibus by Roald Dahl (4/5) Empire Falls by Richard Russo (reviewed here; winner of the Pulitzer Prize; 4/5) A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (on the Modern Library Top 100 list; 3/5) Havoc, in Its Third Year by Ronan Bennett (reviewed here; 3.5/5) Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (3.5/5) The Fox by D.H. Lawrence (3/5) What Paul Meant by Gary Wills (3/5) The Sea by John Banville (winner of the Booker Prize; 3.5/5) The Golden Bowl by Henry James (reviewed here; on the Modern Library Top 100 list; 3/5) A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (on the Modern Library Top 100 list; 4/5) Thomas Paine by Craig Nelson (reviewed here; 3.5/5) A Damsel in Distress by P.G. Wodehouse (3/5) The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald (2.5/5) Criminal Intent by Sheldon Siegel (3/5) Alibi by Joseph Kanon (3.5/5) Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte (3/5) Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow (reviewed here; on the Modern Library Top 100 list; winner of the National Book Award; 4/5) Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher (3/5) Turning Angel by Greg Iles (3.5/5) Leap of Faith by Queen Noor (2.5/5) Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (4/5) China, Inc. by Thomas Fishmann (3/5) The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher (reviewed here) (3/5) Queen’s Ransom by Fionna Buckley (2.5/5) Blanding’s Castle by P.G. Wodehouse (3.5/5) Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson (3.5/5) Portland Confidential by Phil Stanford (3/5) Gifted by Nikita Lalwani (reviewed here; 3.5/5) Mormon America by Richard and Joan Ostling (3.5/5) A Crack in the Edge of the World by Simon Winchester (3/5) The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (4/5) A Tidewater Morning by William Styron (3.5/5) Digging to America by Anne Taylor (3/5) Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov (5/5) Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis (3/5) The Party by Sally Quinn (3/5) Prelude to Terror by Helen MacInnes (3/5) The Meaning of Everything by Simon Winchester (3.5/5) Decorating with Books by Marie Proeller Hueston (3.5/5) Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam (2/5) Feast of Love by Charles Baxter (2.5/5) The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain (3.5/5) The Centaur by John Updike (reviewed here; winner of the National Book Award; 3/5) The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford (3.5/5) Peace Kills by P.J. O’Rourke (3/5) Scout’s Honor by Patrick Boyle (3/5) Wolves Eat Dogs by Martin Cruz Smith (3.5/5) Real Cooking, by George! by George Jacobs (reviewed here) (3/5) Old School by Tobias Wolf (3/5) The Paperboy by Peter Dexter (3.5/5) The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (3/5) The Hard Way by Lee Child (3.5/5) Barrel Fever by David Sedaris (3/5) The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket (3/5) The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair-Thompson (reviewed here; 3.5/5) The Jungle Law by Victoria Vinton (3/5) Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (4/5) Miracle Cure by Sally Pipes (3/5) Cakes and Ale by Somerset Maugham (3.5/5) Suspicion of Rage by Barbara Parker (3/5) The Shortest Way to Hades by Sarah Caldwell (3/5) The Hunt Club by John Lescroart (3/5) Dinner at Antoine’s by Frances Parkinson Keyes (3.5/5) Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (winner of the Booker Prize; 3/5) Stuff on My Cat by Mario Garza (3/5) A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseni (3.5/5)
Ratings should be taken with a grain of salt, because they are a little loosey goosey. This is a subjective rating system, based on my likes and dislikes, although my subjective judgment usually correlates to objective criteria. That is, if a book is poorly written, has clunky dialog, flat characters, or plot flaws, I am probably not going to like it and will give it a low rating. On the other hand, if a book is technically good and I enjoy it, I will give it a high rating. These subjective and objective notions meet in a muddled middle in my 3/5 rating. I give a lot of books 3/5 because I was entertained and glad to have read them, but did not think they were all that well-written. But a 3/5 rating can also mean I thought the book was excellent from an objective standpoint, but I did not care for it personally (most Henry James novels come to mind). With those general ideas in mind: 5/5 means it is an all-time favorite; 4/5 means I liked it and either would recommend it generally, or at least think it worthy of general recommendation, even if no one takes me up on it; 3/5 means either that I enjoyed it for what it was or think it is a "good" book, but would probably not recommend it; 2/5 means I did not like it; and 1/5 means I really, really disliked it. Half a point added means my judgment is on the borderline, with one exception: 3.5/5 means that I liked a book and would recommend it to certain people who I think would enjoy it, either because they like that type of book or some other particular reason, but I would not make a general recommendation. No rating does not mean 0/5. It just means that I read the book too long ago to remember it enough to rate it, I am not qualified to rate it (poetry, for instance)or I simply forgot to rate it.