BTT: Highlights of 2007

This week's question from Booking Through Thursday:

What were your favorite books this year?

Apart from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, there was one other book I read this year that might make it to my all time favorites list -- The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. There were a few other books that I really liked, but nothing that I would call really outstanding. Here's a list of ten books I liked best this year. Last week's meme was about books that were published in 2007, so I'm assuming this one's not restricted to 2007 books. (Other than HP7, none of these books were published last year.)

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling

  2. The Rule of Four, by Ian Caldwell, Dustin Thomason

  3. Chasing Cezanne, by Peter Mayle

  4. Icon, by Frederick Forsyth

  5. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, by Stephen King

  6. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton

  7. Three Act Tragedy, by Agatha Christie

  8. The Other Side of Me, by Sidney Sheldon

  9. N or M?, by Agatha Christie

  10. The Guardian, by Nicholas Sparks

So what were your favorite books this year? And did any of these books make it to your list? Please do leave a comment.

Best of 2007: The Nominees

Last Thursday, Booking Through Thursday asked for nominations for the best fiction and non-fiction books published in 2007. I've been going through the nominations in the blogs that have replied. Most people (including me) don't usually read books the year they were published so many good books might be missing from these nominations. Anyway I've put together a list of books that were nominated more than once in the fiction category. There weren't many nominations in non-fiction, and there wasn't even a single book that got more than one nomination. Here are the lists:


Forty one people have made 125 nominations in the fiction category with ninety six different books. Of these books, only fifteen books were nominated more than once and only three got nominated more than twice. The most nominated book was... Did I hear you shout Harry Potter? No points for guessing that one. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was nominated by ten people. (Where's my prize for being the first one to nominate Harry?) [grins] Six people nominated A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and four nominations went to Eclipse by Stephanie Meyers. To list all the books that were nominated will take too much time, so I'm putting up the list of the books that got two or more nominations:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling (10 nominations)

  2. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (6 nominations)

  3. Eclipse by Stephanie Meyers (4 nominations)

  4. Each of these books were nominated twice:

  5. Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs

  6. The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

  7. Dangerous Games by Lora Leigh

  8. Dead of the Day by Karen E Olson

  9. Extras by Scott Westerfeld

  10. Ice Blue by Anne Stuart

  11. Ice Storm by Anne Stuart

  12. Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

  13. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade by Diana Gabaldon

  14. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

  15. Season of the Witch by Natasha Mostert

  16. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

Non Fiction

Only twenty one people gave nominations in the non-fiction category. Twenty five nominations were made and all of them were for different books. Here's the list of the books:

  1. Chrysalis by Kim Todd

  2. The Complete Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

  3. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

  4. Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart

  5. The Gift by Lewis Hyde

  6. Have You Found Her: A Memoir by Janice Erlbaum

  7. I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

  8. Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

  9. Louder Than Words, A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism

  10. Mosaic by Amy Grant

  11. Mountains So Sublime by Terry Abraham

  12. Other Colours by Orhan Pamuk

  13. Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cookin' by Paula Deen and Sherry Suib Cohen

  14. Persian Girls by Nahid Rachlin

  15. Pies and Prejudice by Stuart Maconie

  16. The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

  17. Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar by Thomas Catchart and Daniel Klein

  18. Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer

  19. Rainbow's End: A Memoir of Childhood, War, and an African Farm by Lauren St. John

  20. The Reagan Diaries by Ronald Reagan

  21. Taking Things Seriously by Joshua Glen, Carol Hayes

  22. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Relin

  23. The Verneys by Adrian Tinniswood

  24. The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery

  25. Wildwood by Roger Deakin

How many books published in 2007 have you read? And how many of them do you think will make it to your all time favorites list? Do you see any really interesting books missing from the lists? Do leave a comment here, or a link to your reply if you've already answered the meme in your blog.

BTT: Best of 2007

I don't know why I'm doing this week's BTT. I've read only one fiction book published in 2007 so far and non-fiction isn't something I usually read.

  1. What fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?

  2. What non-fiction book (or books) would you nominate to be the best new book published in 2007?

  3. And, do "best of" lists influence your reading?

Best fiction book is easy enough for me. Being an incurable Potter fan(atic), I would have suggested Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows anyway. And with that book being the only one published in 2007 that I read, there aren't any other nominees. I'll skip the best non-fiction book nominations, because I haven't read any.

Do "best of" lists influence me? I think they do. I usually pick books at random from the library, but if I find a book for which I've seen a lot of good reviews, there's a better chance that I'll pick it up.

Review: The Other Side of Me (Sidney Sheldon)

I have never read an autobiography before. In a way I'm entering a new genre of books with The Other Side of Me. But now, having read Sidney Sheldon's autobiography, I'm not completely sure if that is an accurate description of this book. Yes, it's all about Sheldon, but the style is so much like that of his other works that I'm almost tempted to label this as a thriller. A look at the opening sentence ought to tell you why...

At the age of seventeen, working as a delivery boy at Afremov's drugstore in Chicago was the perfect job, because it made it possible for me to steal enough sleeping pills to commit suicide.

Sheldon starts with a description of his childhood during the 1930s. It was the time when the Great Depression had left a great many people poor and unemployed, and Sheldon's parents too weren't spared. Then he moves on to the early days of his career when he didn't achieve any success even as he struggled with manic depression (that nearly led him to commit suicide at the age of 17) and then finally to his successful career in Broadway, and in television and Hollywood.

The style of the book, as I mentioned before, is that of a novel. Every sentence is designed to make sure that you read the next. It's nearly as un-put-down-able as any of his novels, but the final third of the book slows down the narrative a little bit. Once he becomes successful in Hollywood, there are so many anecdotes about celebrities that it starts getting a bit irritating.

Sheldon uses a very interesting metaphor to describe his life -- that of an elevator that's always going up or down. He started off at the bottom floor, had bumpy ride upwards and finally settles somewhere near the top floor in the 1970s when he switched over to writing novels. My biggest disappointment with the book is that Sheldon's career as a novelist is hardly mentioned. The book is good for anyone who wants to read about his television and Hollywood careers. I didn't know a thing about that part of Sheldon's life, and I think a lot of fans of his books are going to agree with me on that. And looking back at the book now, I must admit that leaving out his writing career wasn't such a bad idea after all. Being the brilliant storyteller that he is, Sheldon knows better than anyone that people like reading about an elevator that's on a bumpy ride more than about one that's comfortably perched on the top floor.

Rating: 7/10

BTT: Catalog

This week's question from Booking Through Thursday:

Do you use any of the online book-cataloguing sites, like Library Thing or Shelfari? Why or why not? (Or do you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking to? [grin])

If not an online catalog, do you use any other method to catalog your book collection? Excel spreadsheets, index cards, a notebook, anything?

Having only around 20 books in my "collection", cataloguing my books isn't something I have to worry about. Whenever I buy books, they get "borrowed" and never manage to find a way back to my hands. Even if they do, they are often so badly mutilated that I sometimes feel that having them back in such condition is worse than not having them at all. So I'm left with a collection that cannot be called a collection at all. And I really don't see the need to catalogue such a small collection.

I wanted to post about a related topic, that is cataloguing books that you read instead of those that you own. For this, I've tried almost all the methods mentioned in the question. I started off with the trusted pen and paper option. I used to write the names of all the books I read on sheets of paper. Later when I got my computer I started using Excel to list the books. I switched to using a simple text file soon afterwards.

Recently I joined Shelfari (my profile's here), which looks great, but I wish the website were a little bit faster. I hate having to wait for two minutes to add one book to my list. So I started adding books to Google Books' MyLibrary and importing the list to Shelfari, but never got very far. (I've only added 40 odd books to my shelf so far.) LibraryThing also did interest me, but there's a limit of 200 books that you can catalog if you're using a free account.

Right now I'm using a little Python script to catalog books on the computer. It is command line and a bit of a chore to work with, but it's been working fine for me so far. But at the same time, I've gone back to using the good old pen and paper method just in case the computer decides to go on a holiday (which it did recently).

PS. That's four BTTs in a row now, but not even a single book review in over a month. Maybe I should spend less time blogging and more time reading.

BTT: Out Of Print

This week's question on Booking Through Thursday suggested by Island Editions.

Do you have a favourite book, now out of print, that you would like to see become available again?

I can't really think of such a book. Most out of print books would still be available as ebooks on websites like Project Gutenberg. But there are a couple of J K Rowling books -- Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Magical Beasts... -- that aren't really out of print, but are very difficult to find anywhere. The names of Kennilworthy Whisp and Newt Scamander that appeared on the covers of the books probably lead the books to be almost unknown to many people even though they were actually written by Rowling. And while I'm on the topic, I should say that I really hope that Tales of Beedle the Bard somehow doesn't remain out of print for too long. (Keeping a Rowling book out of print ought to be made a criminal offence.) ;-)

BTT: Rolling

Late again. I'm nearly in time for this week's question. Anyway here's last Thursday's question from Booking Through Thursday:

Do you get on a roll when you read, so that one book leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on and so on?

I don’t so much mean something like reading a series from beginning to end, but, say, a string of books that all take place in Paris. Or that have anthropologists as the main character. Or were written in the same year. Something like that... Something that strings them together in your head, and yet, otherwise could be different genres, different authors...

Not really. Unless I'm looking for books belonging to the same series, the books I read are usually unrelated to the previous ones. Even if I were to read "a string of books that all take place in Paris" there's no guarantee that I'm going to like all of them. I might love one book about Paris and hate the next one, so there's not much point in searching for books related that way.

Coincidentally, though, I actually am on a roll right now. I've just finished reading two Agatha Christie mysteries and picked up a third one -- all three books involving Hercule Poirot. The only other time when I go on a roll is when I'm re-reading the Harry Potter series, reading the entire series in order. But otherwise, I hardly ever think of two books belonging to different genres, by different authors as related to each other.