Jan 22 2008

Taking Stock of 2007: Books

I read about as much in 2007 as I did in 2006, but I wrote far fewer reviews. One of the perils of full-time employment. It also looks like a year of consolidation, rather than a year of discovery. Having polished off the lucky thirteenth in Lemony Snicket’s set in December 2006, I reached the end of 20 books with Aubrey/Maturin in January 2007. While in the course of the year I only re-read four books, I went back to the well with a lot of authors I knew I liked. Even the Stalin biography was by the same author. And just one book in German the whole year. Schade.

Among what was new to me in fiction, Cory Doctorow and Paul Park made the biggest impression. Doctorow needs little introduction in the blog-world, but his fiction is strange and interesting, addictive and just a little unsettling. Park is fooling around with the tenets of fantasy in a way that I like, and as soon as part part three makes it into paperback, I’ll gobble up parts two and three. (If your budget runs to fantasy in hardback, don’t tell me how it ends!) The fun factor was highest in Naomi Novik’s four novels. Napoleonics with dragons, what’s not to like? A few things, but it’s a series with promise.

Many more new voices and one-offs in non-fiction. Tom Reiss, Fritz Stern (ok not completely new), David Hackett Fischer (though I do wish he’d written the promised additional volumes). The Race Beat is terrific on the civil rights struggle in the US and the crucial role of the media, which was understood clearly by both sides. Ivan’s War deserves a full-scale review, though the private Soviet soldier’s perspective is summed up in three brutal sentences: “They called us. They trained us. They killed us.” The River of Doubt captures not only Teddy Roosevelt but much about early 20th century America, exploration and Brazil.

Complete list (in order read) is below the fold. Links are to previous writing about the book or author on AFOE.

The Long Tail – Chris Anderson
The Hundred Days – Patrick O’Brian
Blue at the Mizzen – Patrick O’Brian
The Orientalist – Tom Reiss
Fevre Dream – George R.R. Martin
A Storm of Swords – George R.R. Martin
A Feast for Crows – George R.R. Martin
Five Germanys I Have Known – Fritz Stern
Albion’s Seed – David Hackett Fischer
Iron Council – China Miéville
The White Castle – Orhan Pamuk
The Swords of Lankhmar – Fritz Leiber
Glasshouse – Charles Stross
Green Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson
Good Omens – Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Blue Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson
The Atrocity Archives – Charles Stross
The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett
The Race Beat – Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff
Spin – Robert Charles Wilson
Salonica: City of Ghosts – Mark Mazower
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town – Cory Doctorow
The Armageddon Rag – George R.R. Martin
His Majesty’s Dragon – Naomi Novik
Overclocked – Cory Doctorow
Ivan’s War – Catherine Merridale
Toast – Charles Stross
A Princess of Roumania – Paul Park
Little, Big – John Crowley
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
Innocents Aboard – Gene Wolfe
The Big Over Easy – Jasper Fforde
Castle of Days – Gene Wolfe
The New Life – Orhan Pamuk
33 Augenblicke des Glücks – Ingo Schulze
The Ghost Brigades – John Scalzi
The Fourth Bear – Jasper Fforde
The River of Doubt – Candice Millard
The Hidden Family – Charles Stross
Nature Girl – Carl Hiaasen
Europe East & West – Norman Davies
The Snow Leopard – Peter Matthiessen
The Ladies of Grace Adieu – Susanna Clarke
The Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
Throne of Jade – Naomi Novik
On the Field of Glory – Henryk Sienkiewicz
Black Powder War – Naomi Novik
Empire of Ivory – Naomi Novik
First Among Sequels – Jasper Fforde
The Dogs of Babel – Carolyn Parkhurst
Other Colours – Orhan Pamuk
Special Assignments – Boris Akunin
Young Stalin – Simon Sebag Montefiore
Black Cherry Blues – James Lee Burke
Dixie City Jam – James Lee Burke
Spook Country – William Gibson

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