[DWJ] Books of the year 2007

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at eon-uk.com
Wed Jan 2 11:28:38 EST 2008


I've just got back from the Christmas break to find 180 list e-mails
waiting for me.  I ought to transfer my subscription to my home e-mail
account, now that I've got one, but it wouldn't have made a difference,
since I didn't log on at all between the Saturday before Christmas and
last night...

Working back through the e-mails that need replies, I start with the
year's books.

Best books.  Not many stand out this year.  "The Sparrow" and "Children
of God" by Mary Doria Russell together make something quite special.
The first book was incomplete on its own, and the second too
setting-driven, but together they are really good.

I've been reading more German books.  Potilla und der Mutzendieb
(Potilla and the Cap Thief would be the translation) by Cornelia Funke
has to be one of the reads of the year, because the characters were so
perfect.  The awful twins, the disapproving aunt and uncle, Potilla the
know-it-all.  I wonder if it'll get translated any time soon?  Now the
Inkheart books are out of the way (I hope)...

Also by Funke, the Little Werewolf (kleiner Werwolf) wasn't bad, if a
little thin.  A good take on being a werewolf, although a Freudian
analyst would probably say it was really about puberty.  I don't foresee
a translation in the near future, unfortunately.

My worst book of the year was another German one.  "The Terror of the
Oceans" ("Der Schrecke der Ozeane") by Leuw von Katzenstein just didn't
work for me.  The absurdity level was just too high, and some unresolved
plot lines didn't help.  It took me six months (off and on, mainly off)
to finish it, too.

A well-known series that I tried for the first time, and didn't think
much of, was A Series of Unfortunate Events.  A Series of Unfortunate
Stylistic Devices would be nearer the mark!  Not that it's badly
written, but some of the deliberate stylistic games Snicket plays are
just too silly.  I read two of them (they were on two for the price of
one at my local bookshop) and gave up.

A new author, often recommended by this list, was Garth Nix.  I tried
"Mister Monday" and am now hooked.  I am trying not to buy too many
books at the moment (working through some unread ones I've had for ages)
so it may be a while before I let myself buy Grim Tuesday...

At the moment I'm struggling with a book by Wolfgang Hohlbein.  I fear
he is not a good enough writer to be a really suitable source text for
learning German :-)  He seems to be hugely popular over there, but I'm
beginning to see why no-one (AFAIK) has bothered producing any English
translations.

For 2008 I am determined to read The Stone and the Flute by Hans Bemmann
in the original German.  (No, I haven't read it in English.)

Philip.
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