Monday, December 3, 2007

Best Books of 2007 - Dewey picks Part 1

Over the month of December, we'll be posting a number of top 10 lists of the best books of 2007, chosen by the Deweys, librarians, library students and library wholesalers. Today, we start with picks by the Deweys from Random House of Canada and McClelland & Stewart.

Maylin's Top 10 of 2007

Reps read in a strange time warp, so my picks of books published this year were mostly read in manuscript form in 2006. Likewise, if I had to pick my favourite reads this calendar year, a good chunk of 2008 books would top the list (oh, 2008 is going to be such a great literary year!). What stands out for me in 2007 is some excellent non-fiction; #11 would definately have been Chris Turner's The Geography of Hope. There was also some good humour; Douglas Coupland's The Gum Thief and Marie Phillips' Gods Behaving Badly made me laugh uncontrollably. I also want to acknowledge three books not published by my company that were wonderful reads: The Girls Who Saw Everything, by Sean Dixon; Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Gathering by Anne Enright. But for my top 10, it's all about the full package - a terrific read coupled with beautiful and thoughtful writing and above all, originality.

1. Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital
This novel has it all - tremendously exciting plot, wonderful characters, a blush-inducing love story, historical sweep and a cutting and horrific commentary on current events. This contemporary re-telling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story encompasses all the various ways in which the longlasting effects of war and conflicts reverberate through decades and generations. A terrific read.
2. Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee
This is my favourite non-fiction book of the year. Hermione Lee is a spectacular biographer and is perfectly matched with the fascinating life and times of Edith Wharton. Lee is so good at incorporating the life with the work; one can easily take a whole year to read this because you'll have to stop every so often to read Wharton's work as well. Entertaining, scholarly, and beautifully written.
3. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
4. Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje
5. A Curious Earth by Gerard Woodward
6. 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolen
7. The 100 Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon
8. The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
9. Wash this Blood Clean From My Hand by Fred Vargas
10. The Letters of Noel Coward edited by Barry Day

Lahring's Top 10 of 2007
Once more, that familiar and pathetic cry, “How can I pick just ten out of all the great books from 2007?” Being a person of questionable moral rectitude (three decades in publishing will do that to you), I feel compelled to list my “Honourable Mentions” first - books that I very much enjoyed reading and talking about, but which just missed the Top Ten. For respectable light reading, Literacy and Longing in L.A., The Next Thing on My List, and The Long Walk Home; for more serious fare, Conceit and Gifted. My overall favourite? Probably Sebastian Faulks’ Engleby, a brilliant, savagely funny, disturbing portrait of a man whose sense of reality deviates slightly from the norm. Maybe more than slightly….

Children’s and YA Books

17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Any More by Jenny Offill

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford

Abela: The Girl Who Saw Lions by Berlie Doherty
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Adult Fiction
Engleby by Sebastian Faulks

Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann
The End of the Alphabet
by C.S. Richardson

All Will Be Revealed by Robert Anthony Siegel

Adult Nonfiction
Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Literary Marriages by Katie Roiphe

Anne's Top Ten of 2007

The Solitude of Emperors by David Davidar

Suffocating in the small-town world of his parents, Vijay is desperate to escape to the raw energy of Bombay in the early 1990s. As a result of an article he writes, Vijay gets a job in a small Bombay publication. A year after his arrival in Bombay, Vijay is caught up in violent riots that rip though the city, a reflection of the upsurge of fundamentalism everywhere in the country. A stunningly perceptive novel about modern India, and about what drives fundamentalist beliefs. I felt very informed when I finished this book. It is one of the smartest novels I have ever read.

The Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald

The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan
One Night at the Call Center by Chetan Bhagat
Friend of the Devil by Peter Robinson


The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys
The stories in this book are based on fact but read like good fiction. They take place in London, England, on the River Thames every time it froze between 1142 and 1895. Whether it is the story of a man who takes pity on an underfed hare that is being raced against cosseted greyhounds or young lovers who are supposed to meet by the big fires on the river at the end of the plague, the stories are engaging and wonderful. What a storyteller!


A Star for Christmas by Trisha Romance
A gentle old carpenter who has spent his whole life in the service of others has finally begun to build his own home in a quiet meadow, with nothing but a small reindeer to keep him company. Finishing by winter seems like an impossible task, but the carpenter reaps the years of kindness he has sown, and his neighbors return his love by helping complete his new home by Christmas. I loved the warmth of this book. I also want his living room with the bookshelf, fireplace, big chair, cat and Christmas tree.
The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico, Illustrated by Angela Barrett
Porcupine by Meg Tilly
Safe As Houses by Eric Walters


Linda said...

Hi Maylin,

I was happy to see Tom Perratta's newest book on your list. Did you know his book is supposed to come out as a movie in 2008? Hope the movie is as good as his "Little Children" was both on screen and in print. Many times movies are disappointing after you've read the book.

As the mother of a high schooler, I'd also like to recommend another fiction book I just finished reading with sex ed in the public schools as one of its main themes -- The Sex Ed Chronicles by Stuart Nachbar. I really enjoyed it and hope you do, too.


Maylin said...

Thanks so much for the recommendation of the Nachbar book. We love getting them. I'll look it up.

CLA Montreal Chapter executive said...

Maylin, there is a great review of Gods Behaving Badly on a Publisher's Weekly blog today - see