Books of the Year: Part One

Tuesday December 11, 2007 in books | reviews

The time has come again to trawl through the best books of the last twelve months. I’ve divided my choices into several categories. The first two cover new fiction.

Brand New

I’ve bought an alarming number of hardbacks this year. Reading books hot off the shelves is increasingly addictive. Right at the beginning of the year I enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. This is a novel I expected to receive more coverage. It’s very well written with some fine gothic undertones. Also recommended highly are two nominees for the 2007 Booker. Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach and Darkmans by Nicola Barker. We all know about the first, although the second is another book sitting in unfair obscurity. Worth picking up if you have the strength and stamina for its 800 plus pages. Incidentally, I found the eventual Booker winner, The Gathering by Anne Enright, tedious and unoriginal. What were the judges thinking of?

The best book of the year to grace my presence was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It’s uncomfortable, harrowing, profound, frightening. It’s a masterpiece. Most importantly, it’s a book people will still be talking about in ten, twenty years time.

Lastly in this section, if you do have any Christmas money left over, I’d suggest Engleby by Sebastian Faulks. Quite different to anything else he’s written and very, very good.

Nearly New

My pile of newly released paperbacks of 2007 has reached toppling height, although there are only a few I would recommend highly. Again, some of them are criminally obscure. The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson is an unsettling yet gripping book about a man who may or may not have met The Devil. Fantastic.

Less obscure is The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney, a novel that’s received divided responses, at least going by the comments I received for my review. But I found it an absorbing and original read. However, my favourite paperback of the year by far was Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things. This is a collection of supernatural stories that is well written, wry, highly original and, most importantly, scary.

Sadly, it was the books that received too much attention that disappointed the most. Don de Lillo’s Falling Man, Jed Rubenfeld’s The Interpretation of Murder and, I’m sorry to say, the final Harry Potter took up too much reading time that that would have been better spent on something more worthwhile. Here’s to 2008.

I’ll have to get to The Road, and sooner rather than later. And Darkmans intrigues too.

Dorothy W.    Tuesday December 11, 2007   

The Road will probably be making my list too. I have got to get to Engleby sooner than later.

verbivore    Wednesday December 12, 2007   

Dorothy and Verbivore: As ever, I’ll look forward to your thoughts!

The Book Tower    Wednesday December 12, 2007   

Am I alone in finding the beginning of Darkmans almost impenetrable? I expect I’ll try again but I just couldn’t get interested. Shall look out for The Thirteenth Tale.

GeraniumCat    Friday December 14, 2007   

If you thought the beginning was inpenetrable then you should try the ending! Although there is a lot of good writing in the book, so worth wrestling with it.

The Book Tower    Friday December 14, 2007   

I’ve just picked up a copy of Engleby and am really looking forward to it after your recommendation.

I agree with your comment on the final Harry Potter, although it would also have been painful to be the only person left on the planet to not have read it!

jess    Sunday December 16, 2007   

Yes, it couldn’t be avoided – especially after ploughing through the rest of the series over the years.

I hope you enjoy Engleby!

The Book Tower    Sunday December 16, 2007   

What do you say?

Use preview and then submit.