Books

Notable Books

I am a part of the Notable Books Challenge. There is no book limit, and this post serves more as a reference for myself of books to check out if I am out of and in pursuit of more reading material (unlikely but still possible) in 2008. It includes books from the New York Times Most Noteable Books 2007 and the Publisher’s Weekly Best Books 2007.

The Gathering and Shortcomings are definitely going to be read because they are for my other challenges.

NYTimes Notable Books – Possible Reads

Fiction/Poetry

THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER. By Tom Perrotta. (St. Martin?s, $24.95.) In this new novel by the author of ?Little Children,? a sex-ed teacher faces off against a church bent on ridding her town of ?moral decay.?

EXIT GHOST. By Philip Roth. (Houghton Mifflin, $26.) In his latest novel Roth brings back Nathan Zuckerman, a protagonist whom we have known since his potent youth and who now must face his inevitable decline.

THE GATHERING. By Anne Enright. (Black Cat/Grove/Atlantic, paper, $14.) An Irishwoman searches for clues to what set her brother on the path to suicide.

LET THE NORTHERN LIGHTS ERASE YOUR NAME. By Vendela Vida. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $23.95.) A young woman searches for the truth about her parentage amid the snow and ice of Lapland in this bleakly comic yet sad tale of a child?s futile struggle to be loved.

LIKE YOU?D UNDERSTAND, ANYWAY: Stories. By Jim Shepard. (Knopf, $23.) Shepard?s surprising tales feature such diverse characters as a Parisian executioner, a woman in space and two Nazi scientists searching for the yeti.

OUT STEALING HORSES. By Per Petterson. Translated by Anne Born. (Graywolf Press, $22.) In this short yet spacious Norwegian novel, an Oslo professional hopes to cure his loneliness with a plunge into solitude.

THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES
By Roberto Bolaño. Translated by Natasha Wimmer. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27. A craftily autobiographical novel about a band of literary guerrillas.

SELECTED POEMS. By Derek Walcott. Edited by Edward Baugh. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25.) The Nobel Prize winner Walcott, who was born on St. Lucia, is a long-serving poet of exile, caught between two races and two worlds.

SHORTCOMINGS. By Adrian Tomine. (Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95.) The Asian-American characters in this meticulously observed comic-book novella explicitly address the way in which they handle being in a minority.

THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN?S UNION. By Michael Chabon. (HarperCollins, $26.95.) Cops, thugs, schemers, rabbis, chess fanatics and obsessives of every stripe populate this screwball, hard-boiled murder mystery set in an imagined Jewish settlement in Alaska.

Nonfiction:

AGENT ZIGZAG: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal. By Ben Macintyre. (Harmony, $25.95.) The exploits of Eddie Chapman, a British criminal who became a double agent in World War II.

EDITH WHARTON. By Hermione Lee. (Knopf, $35.) This meticulous biography shows Wharton?s significance as a designer, decorator, gardener and traveler, as well as a writer.

HOW TO TALK ABOUT BOOKS YOU HAVEN?T READ. By Pierre Bayard. Translated by Jeffrey Mehlman. (Bloomsbury, $19.95.) A French literature professor wants to assuage our guilt over the ways we actually read and discuss books.

LONG WAY GONE: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. By Ishmael Beah. (Sarah Crichton/-Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22.) A former child warrior gives literary voice to the violence and killings he both witnessed and perpetrated during the Sierra Leone civil war.

SCHULZ AND PEANUTS: A Biography. By David Michaelis. (Harper/ Harper-Collins, $34.95.) Actual ?Peanuts? cartoons movingly illustrate this portrait of the strip?s creator, presented here as a profoundly lonely and unhappy man.

SERVICE INCLUDED: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter. By Phoebe Damrosch. (Morrow, $24.95.) A memoir about waiting tables at the acclaimed Manhattan restaurant Per Se.

PUBLISHER WEEKLY’s Best Books of the Year 2007

The Perfect Bride
Brenda Joyce (HQN)
Joyce’s seventh de Warenne novel is a first-rate Regency with deliciously damaged leads; fluff-free, Joyce’s tight plot and vivid cast make for a romance that’s just about perfect.

Shortcomings
Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly)
A lacerating, falling-out-of-love story that profiles Ben Tanaka, a crabby know-it-all with an eye for white girls; his Asian-American activist girlfriend Miko; and the dissolution of their relationship.
?also in NY Notable )

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Ishmael Beah (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
This absorbing account by a young man who, as a boy of 12, gets swept up in Sierra Leone’s civil war surpasses the best journalistic efforts in revealing the life and mind of a child abducted into the horrors of warfare.
(also in NY Notable)

The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts
Milan Kundera (HarperCollins)
The great novelist offers a remarkably concise history of the novel, arguing that we must tear away ?the curtain of preinterpretation? to experience a work’s truth.

Edith Wharton
Hermione Lee (Knopf)
Lee illuminates the dark corners of Wharton’s life while examining this complex woman’s contradictory values and impulses.
(alo in NY Notable)

How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table
Russ Parsons (Houghton Mifflin)
Equal parts cookbook, agricultural history, chemistry lesson and produce-buying guide, this densely packed book is a food-lover’s delight.

Pork and Sons
Stéphane Reynaud (Phaidon)
This delightful, affectionate homage to the pig is a blend of cookbook and travel guide, celebrating the porcine and the bounty pigs provide.

The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio
Lloyd Alexander (Holt)
This posthumously published fantasy/adventure telescopes the themes of Alexander’s landmark Prydain Chronicles into a single potent volume.

Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party
Ying Chang Compestine (Holt)
Set during China’s Cultural Revolution, this autobiographical novel about the daughter of educated parents makes a lasting impact through its tightly focused narrative and finely nuanced characters.

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