Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Some Thoughts About 2007: My Year In Books

This 2007 has been, I might say, my first year as an adult person. I’ve had a full-time job as a bookseller for 15 months now. I’ve paid the rent and everything with my own money, I’ve experienced the hardship of having 40 hours a week of my life used up, and the delights of the long-waited two days off (sometimes in a row, even!). And what have I done to welcome my grown-up life? I’ve gone back to childhood. of course! This year I’ve become addicted to children’s books and I’m actually pretty happy I did. Before I started working in bookselling I had done a Master in Publishing, and when questioned about our interests, about what we would have liked to publish, I said “children’s books” without even thinking. I guess I’ve never left my childhood, and reading children’s literature is a way of keeping contact with it. I’ve always read a lot, but I abandoned children’s books at around the age of 15, when I decided I was ready for adult fiction. I never went back, with few exceptions (i.e. Harry Potter). Then at 27, I felt adult enough to be a child again ☺

This year in June, I’ve also started this blog. And since then I’ve experienced so many new things and met some really cool people. I’ve joined my first challenges. I only completed one, therefore realising I’m not a challenge person. I feel the pressure of having to read those particular books instead of being free to decide right after I finish one. However, if I hadn’t join this challenges I wouldn’t have read some of the best books of this year.
So, these are my picks for the best reads, not in order cause charts are cruel. For some I’ve written a review, for others you just have to trust me.

- The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
I’ve read the first two before January 2007 so I won’t count them, but together as a trilogy are among the best books I’ve ever read. So much that I’m re-reading Northern Lights now. And I’m not a person who re-reads much.

- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
I cried and laughed all the way through this. I absolutely love everything about it.

- Stargirl + Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (read why here and here)

- Lorelei’s Secret by Carolyn Parkhurst (very well written, original and at times shocking adult fiction)

- Blart by Dominic Parker
The most hilarious fantasy parody for children I’ve ever read. Not that I’ve read
many to be honest.

- Tim the Tiny Horse by Henry Hill
This book is so, so funny. And Tim the tiny horse is so cute you could die.

- Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge (read why)

- The Tygrine Cat by Inbali Iserles (read why)

- The Last Elf by Silvana De Mari (read why)

- Setalux by Simona B. Lenic (read why)

- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
For me, a very satisfying ending. She finished with style.

- Weetzie Bat + Witch Baby by Francesca Lia Block (read why here and here)

- The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 and ¾ by Sue Towsend
I must read the rest of the diaries soon.

- The Giver by Lois Lowry (read why)

- Skellig by David Almond (read why)

- My Dad’s a Birdman by David Almond (read why)

- A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly (read why)

I’ve also enjoyed The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Di Camillo, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, I’m not scared by Niccolò Ammaniti, Boy by Roald Dahl, Hazel Wood Girl by Judy May, Lucky Star by Cathy Cassidy, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.
But for different reasons I won’t add them to the list. They just deserve to be mentioned.

I’d also like to talk about picture books. I’ve never reviewed them here, maybe because I find hard to do it. I’m used to discuss chapter books, I’ve done it for so many years. While picture books are closer to figurative art, and maybe I don’t feel like an art reviewer. However, I will mention those that captured my attention, sometimes so much that I had to buy them. I like to look at them from time to time. They’re heart-warming, funny, clever, creative, or maybe just cute. Here they are:

Augustus and his Smile by Catherine Rayner

Stunning watercolour illustrations for a story that cherishes the simple pleasures in life.

Witches and Fairies by Eva Montanari

Beautifully illustrated, a fun story about fitting in for very young children.

Mabel’s Magical Garden by Paula Metcalf

Delicate and simple, it will never fail to warm my heart.

Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett

Apparently simple, but extremely clever and inventive, great fun! I love the watercolour, sketch-like illustrations.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

This guy is a genius. I dare anyone to read this and not find it a true work of art.

The Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na

I was completely stunned by the art here, every page could be a beautiful painting of its own. I must find out more about this artist.

Click Clack Moo – cows that type by by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

Hilarious! Such a great idea. Buy it, or read it, even if you don’t have kids, it’s worth it.

I’m almost at the end of this long post, but the New Year can’t be salute without resolutions.
My blogging and reading resolutions for the next year are the following:
- Read more with less stress. It doesn’t matter if I don’t go through all my TBR pile. Reading is for pleasure, not a marathon to win.
- Try and write a review right after I finish the book, and if possible take notes while reading. It helps the reviews a lot.
- Don’t buy books for me, I have enough and I can always borrow them.
- I haven’t forgotten about my writing resolutions (--->read). But I haven’t really followed them lately, too many stressful things going on. This year I want to write for pleasure, not because I have to. I want to have fun with it. Because that is what’s all about.
That’s it. I hope this year is going to be a good one, we all need it☺


Nymeth said...

It sounds like for you 2007 was both a challenging and a rewarding year. I love many of the books you listed as your favourites, and I really want to read the ones I don't know.

And all those picture books sound wonderful! I do like picture books, but I end up not reading all that many because I feel bad about buying them and paying as much for something that can be read in in half an hour as I do for a "normal" book. There there's always the library...

valentina said...

Hi Nymeth, I hope you'll find the time to read some of my favourites, I'd really like to know what you think of them.
about picture books, as I said, I don't feel like I wasted my money because I often look at them in admiration, wishing I could be so good at painting or drawing. I'm really in owe of all this talented illustrators. So I feel like I buy a piece of art sometimes. Also I've told myself I've started a collection, so there's my excuse!

Darla D said...

Hi, Valentina - I really enjoyed your 2007 recap post. I've been meaning to look through my books read and do something similar - we'll see if I manage! I especially enjoyed reading about the picture books you mentioned. I'll definitely be looking for those when I go into work tomorrow.

I found myself collecting picture books for years - some are just irresistible. And now I'm actually reading them with my kids. I mean, I always hoped I'd have kids someday, but either way, I needed to have the books! I'm glad I bought them, and that we're enjoying them together. Especially since some of them are out of print, so if I hadn't picked them up at the time, they might never have seen them!