Friday, January 04, 2008

Favorite Reads of the Second Half of 2007

(This is supposed to be a Francis Friday -- photo and commentary from Francis first Friday of every month. However, I am having difficulties with the camera battery -- seems I probably ought to go buy a re-chargable battery -- so that will have to wait. Meanwhile, I give you this poor substitute instead.)

So, here are my six favorite reads for the second half of 2007.

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffennegger
Every so often, I pick up a contemporary novel and am able to lose myself in it without criticizing every gimmick the author seems to think it’s necessary to embrace in order to be published these days (half the time, the author is right about that, so I can’t really blame the author. I need to blame the publishing industry, I’m sure). This one falls into that category. Those of you who know me already know how charmed I was by this love story, as it seems for a while there, I was mentioning it practically on a daily basis either on my own blog or in comments on others’. Just a flat-out fantastic read from beginning to end. If you haven’t read it yet, I wish I were you and had it to read for the first time all over again.

The Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
If you only know the movie version, and if you happen to love that, read this. Ten times more ironic and insightful than the movie. Oh yes, and ten times better than Harry Potter (I promise). And all kinds of interesting things that never made it to the movie version. I loved it and plan to read more Oz books in ’08.

Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
I can’t believe it took me this long in life finally to get around to reading such a fabulous book. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I liked it so much is that I wasn’t really expecting I would. I saw the movie in college, wasn’t all that impressed, and thought both Scarlett and Rhett were pretty ridiculous. I didn’t think I was going to be able to conjure up an ounce of sympathy for either one of them and thought I’d have to find other things to appreciate about the book. Oh how very wrong I was! Margaret Mitchell did a brilliant job on both a micro and macro level of portraying complete loss and the struggle to rebuild something new.

Babycakes – Armistead Maupin
This was actually my favorite of the Maupins I read this year. So funny, but so devastating. Maupin certainly develops as he goes along with these Tales of the City books. The ones written in the 1980s are quite different (and better, I think) from those written in the 1970s.

The Man Who Was Thursday – G. K. Chesterton
You may have recently read my take on this one. What a wonderful gem of a book. Thank you to the Outmoded Authors challenge, which is just what I needed to get me to read it.

Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
I got past the fact I couldn’t finish Stern Men. I got past the hideous title of this book. I listened to all those of you out there who’ve been reading it and raving about it. Conclusion? You were all right! Although I had my quibbles, I enjoyed it immensely. But how come I don’t remember any of you saying it’s fall-out-of-your-chair-laughing funny? I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on that before I started reading it. If you've missed it, you can read some more detailed thoughts inspired by this book here.


Anonymous said...

Great reviews, Emily! It seems as though mentions of Maupin are suddenly everywhere, I'm going to have to look into some of his works. There are definitely pieces to quibble with in Eat,Pray, Love and it took me a while to get into the book, but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed it. I doubt in my review I mentioned the humor, but I certainly remembered it!

Rebecca H. said...

It sounds like a great half year! What you wrote about the Oz books reminds me of Mary Poppins -- the books were so much darker and weirder and stranger than the movie. They always have to lighten up the children's books, don't they?

Emily Barton said...

Court, oh yes, do take a look at Maupin. He's probably all over the place these days, because his first book that's another in the Tales of the City series to be written in years came out in '07. I'm looking forward to reading that one, too.

Dorr, it was a great half-year. And you've just reminded me that I want to read Mary Poppins, too. I wonder if movie-makers think that kids can't handle the darker aspects on film. I've actually always found them easier to handle on film, and I bet kids do, too.

litlove said...

ooh so many more books to add to my teetering TBR piles! My son was actually seriously worried today that the whole bookcase was going to topple over as I added some Christmas books to it! I'm afraid that still won't stop me looking out for the Maupin and the G. K. Chesterton (some of the others I have already...)

Emily Barton said...

Litlove, always glad to be of assistance when it comes to helping people break their bookshelves :-)!