Friday, November 30, 2007

Mutt Ploughman’s Best Books of 2007

A listing of my favorite books read this year with brief comment, listed in order of merit.

10. The Unknown Terrorist, Richard Flanagan. Brilliantly-executed, morbid thriller about a stripper mistaken for a terrorist makes a very powerful statement about where our leaders are taking us.

9. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, Meg Meeker, M.D. I feel forever indebted to Dr. Meg Meeker for this wonderful advice manual for raising girls – the most useful nonfiction book I have ever read.

8. Hopscotch, Julio Cortazar. Any novel in which the publisher’s description includes the phrase ‘intellectual acrobatics’ will resist any synopsis that I can provide, but this absurdist classic is a memorable, challenging, and mind-expanding experience.

7. The Bridge on the Drina, Ivo Andric. This is the ultimate novel of Bosnia/Herzegovina/Yugoslavia, centered on the symbolic largesse of a centuries-old stone bridge over the Drina River.

6. White Teeth, Zadie Smith. First novel from wunderkind Zadie Smith, a prodigious talent, this is a remarkable Dickensian novel built around two very different London families and written with wit, intelligence, and huge ambition.

5. Freddy’s Book, John Gardner. Fascinating novel by the wonderful, sorely missed novelist Gardner contains a book-within-a-book set in Medieval Sweden and telling the unsettling tale of a battle between a knight and the Devil.

4. Forty Stories, Anton Chekhov. The undisputed master of the modern short story offers the reader compassionate, intelligent tales about common folk with emotional resonance and unmistakeable artistic genuis.

3. Like You’d Understand, Anyway, Jim Shepard. Simply the best contemporary short story collection I’ve read in years; if you read one story collection this coming year, this should be it.

2. What is the Point of Being a Christian?, Timothy Radcliffe, O.P. This book stunned me – a wonderful, lucid, but highly readable attempt to answer this question, from a priest with compassion, intelligence, and a breadth of experience from travels he made around the world.

1. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert. A near-perfect work of literature, hands down the best book I read this year, satisfies on all fronts.

1 comment:

Duke Altum said...

Another year, another fantastic list from Mutt... looking over these titles, it would be hard to think of ten books that maintain such a high level of quality writing and important information/subject matter as these do... classic novels, older and more contemporary short stories, non-fiction works: this is nothing if not well-rounded. It is encouraging, though (at least for folks at this blog!) to see Madame Bovary top the list. The Great Books are truly Great for a reason... their wisdom never goes stale, and speaks to generations anew. I will try to post my list soon... it may come close to the quality of books measured here, but I can't imagine it will surpass the ridiculously high standard set by Mutt!!