Best Book Club Books — New York Public Libraries’ Top Picks from 2007

lion-by-luisvilla.jpg 
Photo by luisvilla

Today’s Best Book Club Books come from the New York Public Library system! I’m sorry this post is a little later than usual — I’m catching up a bit from our recent travels… and I realize 25 titles that you may or may not be familiar with is a bit overwhelming — for me as well!  So I have linked each title to Amazon — feel free to scan the editorial reviews, as well as the reader reviews, to get more information. I have included the VERY brief plot summary that the NYPL added to each title, but really interesting books tend to have much to offer beyond plot.  Regarding the list, I have read one entirely, one fell victim to the 50 page rule, and am currently one-third of the way through another — so I will add my two cents, then let you peruse the list.

First, I read and LOVED Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson — the plot summary does not do this gentle, beautifully written novel justice. In fact, when I read the blurb below, I thought, “Oh yes, I guess that is what it was about…” — I strongly recommend this one.

Second, I attempted Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson but stopped early on — but NOT because it wasn’t well-written — it definitely was. I stopped because the initial images were so haunting and disturbing, but very moving. I may even attempt it again in the future. Personally, I thought this was going to win the Pulitzer winner this year…

But the actual Pulitzer winner — The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao — is also very good so far, but very different from the past Pulitzers I’ve read. I am a third of the way through and will write more this Sunday when I’ve finished it :)

Here’s the full list —

Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal Agent Zigzag: A True Story of Nazi Espionage, Love, and Betrayal
Macintyre, Ben | Harmony Books, © 2007 | 940.5486 M
In a tale more compelling than a Hollywood production, Macintyre delivers the unlikely story of Eddie Chapman, a double agent during World War II.
Be Near Me Be Near Me
O’Hagan, Andrew | Harcourt, © 2007 | FIC O
An uneasy relationship between a Catholic priest and two teenagers ignites the suspicions of a tightly knit Scottish community. 
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Díaz, Junot | Riverhead Books, © 2007 | FIC D
In the gritty streets of both New Jersey and the Dominican Republic, a sci-fi fan seeks love and acceptance while trying to escape what he believes is a family curse.
by George: A Novel by George: A Novel
Stace, Wesley | ; Little, Brown and Co., © 2007 | FIC S
Despite his eccentric family’s intractable silence about the past, young George Fisher finds his voice in a warmly imagined coming-of-age tale.
Cheating at Canasta: Stories Cheating at Canasta
Trevor, William | Viking, © 2007 | FIC T
Throughout a dozen stories of triumph and tragedy, Trevor masterfully reveals the extraordinary within the everyday.
Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis
Harcourt, © 2007 | B Merian T
This arresting portrayal of an early German naturalist traces her life’s work discovering and documenting the hitherto-unknown wonders of insect metamorphosis.
The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History
Ashenburg, Katherine | North Point Press, © 2007 | 391.64 A
Ashenburg provides a fascinating study of the history of personal cleanliness in the Western world, abounding in enlightening anecdotes and charming illustrations.
The Door The Door: Poems
Atwood, Margaret | Houghton Mifflin, © 2007 | 811 Atwood
Themes ranging from the weather to mortality are examined in this impressive collection of lucid poems.
Edith Wharton Edith Wharton
Lee, Hermione | Knopf, © 2007 | B Wharton L
Through meticulous research, Lee paints a brilliant and uncompromising portrait of the secretive author.
Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Reign Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws’ Bloody Reign
Talty, Stephan | Crown, © 2007 | 972.904 T
This story of a buccaneer’s attacks on Spanish colonies in the New World is an adventure that reveals the dangerous realities of the golden age of piracy.
Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain
Morano, Michele | University of Iowa Press, © 2007 | 946 M
Inspired by her time spent living and teaching in Spain, Morano’s intimately personal essays explore the ways in which language shapes experience.
Heyday: A Novel Heyday: A Novel
Andersen, Kurt | Random House, © 2007 | FIC A
Brimming with period details and satisfying coinci-dences, this picaresque novel follows an unlikely group of friends on a journey from New York City to San Francisco in 1848.
Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel Hotel de Dream: A New York Novel
White, Edmund | Ecco, © 2007 | FIC W
In this illusory meditation on love and art, a dying Stephen Crane dictates a tragic, scandalous novel about a young male prostitute.
The Indian Clerk: A Novel The Indian Clerk: A Novel
Leavitt, David | Bloomsbury USA, © 2007 | FIC L
A renowned English mathematician reconsiders ideas about himself and his country when he meets a civil servant from India who is a genius of equal stature.
Last Night at the Lobster Man Gone DownLast Night at the Lobster
O’Nan, Stewart | Viking, © 2007 | FIC O
With a blizzard raging outside, Manny DeLeon and his staff endure the bittersweet last day of a Red Lobster restaurant fallen on hard times.
Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name
Vida, Vendela | Ecco, © 2007 | FIC V
In succinct and beautiful prose, Vida tells the story of a woman who searches for the truth about her past and discovers more than she expects.
The Man Suit Man Gone DownThe Man Suit
Schomburg, Zachary | Black Ocean | 811 Schomburg
Schomburg launches his first full-length collection of poetry, combining levity and gravity for darkly comic effect.
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
Washington, Harriet A. | Doubleday, © 2007 | 174.28 W
Myriad examples of shocking abuses committed in the name of science are adeptly examined by journalist and bioethicist Washington.
Oscar Micheaux: the Great and Only: The Life of America's First Black Filmmaker Man Gone DownOscar Micheaux: the Great and Only: The Life of America’s First Black Filmmaker
McGilligan, Patrick | HarperCollins, © 2007 | B Micheaux M
This illuminating biography depicts the little-known history of the early 20th-century homesteader, author, and maverick.
Out Stealing Horses Out Stealing Horses
Petterson, Per | Graywolf Press, © 2007 | FIC P
With poignant parallels between past and present, an elderly man recalls the formative summer of his childhood.
The Pesthouse The Pesthouse
Crace, Jim | Nan A. Talese, © 2007 | FIC C
Thrown together by chance, a pair of travelers come to rely on one another as they make their way across a ruined future America in hopes of a better life overseas.
Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography
Michaelis, David | HarperCollins, © 2007 | B Schulz
Michaelis’s biography offers an insightful interpretation of the life of Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts, the iconic American comic strip.
A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Including Their Own Narratives of Emancipation
Blight, David W. | Harcourt, © 2007 | 973.7115 B
These powerfully moving writings open a unique window into slave society and the complex struggles of life after escape.
Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005 Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005
Hass, Robert | Ecco, © 2007 | 811 Hass
In this new collection, America’s former Poet Laureate contemplates the uncertainties of contemporary life while taking solace in the unchanging truths of nature.
Tree of Smoke: A Novel Tree of Smoke
Johnson, Denis | Farrar, Straus and Giroux, © 2007 | FIC J
The early days of the Vietnam War are experienced by American CIA agents in a novel in which thoughts are rendered with the same visceral intensity as actions.

Interested in past lists?  Here is a link to books that various book clubs have found successful for discussion, as well as Time magazine’s 2007 picks for fiction and nonfiction

Tattered Cover’s recommendations, pt. 1, pt. 2, pt. 3, pt. 4, pt. 5, and pt. 6

Top 8 Books for Discussion according to Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust.

Top 11 Books for Discussion from 2007 from Reading Group Choices.

As well as a link to those books that haven’t worked out so well…

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3 Responses to Best Book Club Books — New York Public Libraries’ Top Picks from 2007

  1. dew says:

    Oh my goodness, so many lists and so many books! The list you made with images has so many enticing books on it that I’ll have to bookmark it and come back when I have time to add some to my wishlist! Great post! I appreciate it.

  2. Kristen says:

    Yes — a bit overwhelming, really… I was actually just at your blog, checking out your new “herding cats” list! Looks like fun!

  3. Just released on Amazon.com, Fifteen Love Stories Under The Florida Sun, By Katie Marie Bille. Orange Tree Publications brings you 15 different love stories for only $12.95. This enjoyable travel, romance series, takes place in Florida’s amazing cities, a country club setting, islands, keys, and on beautiful sandy beaches.

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