Wrapping Up a Year in Reading

December 26, 2007 | 33

With the year drawing to a close, so too is our Year in Reading series. We at The Millions would like to thank all of those who contributed to the series as well as those who helped us put together such a great group of people to participate.

We’d also like to thank all of our readers for a great year at The Millions – the best ever in terms of visitors, but also in more qualitative respects. We touched on many great books and many great topics and our readers were always there to offer their insights. We hope to make The Millions even more of a “must read” destination in 2008, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, we’re going to take a break around here for a couple of days, but, in the spirit of the Year in Reading, we invite all of you to finish this sentence in the comments: “The best book I read all year was…”

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. …Nicola Barker's Darkmans. It wasn't released in the US until late November; will everyone finally catch on in 2008?

  2. …Ian McEwan, The Child in Time. It is one of the last McEwans I had remaining, and for some reason I wasn't expecting much. Instead I got an adventurous experimental novel. The McEwan dissenters have a point with Amsterdam and Saturday — surely not here.

  3. Well it's hard to choose. The best two books I read this year, definitely Snow and My Name is Red (idolatry of Pamuk can be found on my blog starting here) — those are probably the best two books I've read in a couple of years.

  4. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin and
    The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux. Although it wasn't noted on the list of books I've read, I also really enjoyed Garth Hallberg's A Field Guide to the North American Family. All three had great descriptions of spaces that helped me position myself within each book.

    Max, good work on the blog this year!

  5. The Rest is Noise by Alex Ross. A shadow history of the 20th century through music, it is a completely absorbing read and makes one want to listen to every piece of music he describes.

  6. An Equal Music, by Vikram Seth, Sarah Waters's Night Watch, and In the Eye of the Sun by Ahdaf Souief. All smart, original, and absorbing.

  7. At the suggestion of Ms. Millions a long time ago, I finally read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, it took two seasons but was worth the journey. It is now considered one of my favorites! Thanks Ms. Millions!

  8. MAN GONE DOWN by Michael Thomas, a little like James Baldwin's "Another Country" meets "Good Will Hunting," that rare African American novel of identity which is extremely well-written but not preachy and doesn't browbeat the reader. What I mean is that unlike Baldwin's novel about an interracial relationship in which a bisexual black jazz musician mentally and physically abuses his lover – a white Southern woman who goes insane after which he leaps to his death off the George Washington Bridge – Thomas is not trying to PROVE anything (Baldwin's character were meant to portend America's fate if it continued to prevent people from connecting irrespective of differences). This novel is philosophically more in tune with Ralph Ellison, I would say.

    I'll also second Fredericktoo's nomination of TREE OF SMOKE by Denis Johnson, which gets really interesting around the time Skip translates the Antonin Artaud passage with its echoes of semiotics.

  9. The worst book I read all year was I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson. Wow.

    I'm bad at "bests," though, so here are several I enjoyed.

    VALDEZ IS COMING, Elmore Leonard
    ROCK SPRINGS, Richard Ford
    ANGELS, Denis Johnson
    THE ROAD, Cormac McCarthy
    THE DEAD FISH MUSEUM, Charles D'Ambrosio
    FAT CITY, Leonard Gardner
    THE COAST OF CHICAGO, Stuart Dybek
    DROWN, Junot Diaz

  10. a tie! Both very different, both very excellent: "Then We Came to the End" by Joshua Ferris was the wonderful surprise/debut of the year, and "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy is simply a force of language that cannot be ignored.

  11. Reading THE USED WORLD by Haven Kimmel was the most engrossing and divine experience I've had with a book in a long, long time.

  12. Max:

    Thank you for a terrific series and for your hard work with The Millions. I enjoy the blog immensely.

    My favorites for the year were The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Stunning work. And The Perfect Man by Naeem Murr — another riveting novel that sadly seems to have sunk into obscurity.

    Hope you and your team have a terrific '08!

  13. Away, by Amy Bloom. It is a female extreme adventure story and the writing is exquisite.

    I have enjoyed The Millions all year. Thanks to the "ask a book question" guy for your recommendations on books set in Paris.

  14. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1881). I read several new (2007) novels but this one beat them all (and was also new for me).

    Of 2007 works, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz is impressive, but given the mix of Spanish and sf/fantasy references (Gary Gygax and Porfirio Rubirosa share pages with cuco and la ciguapa, Shelob, Dr. Zaius, Chakobsa and Dr. Gull), no wonder that, even with Pulitzer talk, very few people are attempting to read it (only 27,000 copies sold, according to a post-Christmas AP wire report at http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hAU6173HEXh_YzLoDnjQRY2yf4TwD8TQNCCO0)
    I kept wishing for a genre glossary/Dominican slang dictionary stuck in the back, but a good one would probably double the size of the book and cripple the reading experience for those of us going back and forth.

    A word for graphic novels in 2007:

    The Courageous Princess by Rod Espinoza (http://www.amazon.com/Courageous-Princess-Rod-Espinosa/dp/159307719X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198984971&sr=8-1) is one of the better kid-friendly graphic novels to come out in 2007 and in glorious full color,too, unlike The Invention of Hugo Cabret (http://www.amazon.com/Invention-Hugo-Cabret-Brian-Selznick/dp/0439813786/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198985585&sr=1-1)
    whose black and white images suit the silent film theme but never seem to rise above the overwhelming melancholy of the story.

    The Arrival by Shaun Tan (http://www.amazon.com/Arrival-Shaun-Tan/dp/0439895294/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1198985415&sr=1-1)is is also black and white but more open-hearted in its depiction of humanity, and the artist/writer sweeps you up in a terrific wordless depiction of the immigrant experience (it is also G-rated but adult in sensibility and visual sophistication).

    Lastly, thanks for an amazing year of The Millions, Max, and all the work you put into it; your year-end contributor's lists of "Best Reads" also just keep getting better. Happy 2008!

  15. Can't pick just one. Actually, I can't even remember them all but a few favorites were, After This by Alice McDermott, The Echo Maker by Richard Powers,and I love/hated The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

  16. Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale was fascinating and multi-layered; I look forward to re-reading many times. Also John Crowley's books. Thanks to The Millions for the references to both of these authors! And although not a "best", I'd recommend Nicholas Christopher's A Trip to the Stars and The Bestiary. Finally, I'd include Verlyn Klinkenborg's Timothy, or Notes of an Abject Reptile. It's a beautifully written, quiet book unlike any other I've seen.

    Thanks for promoting the concept of Trusted Fellow Readers!

  17. Two from this year are tied for best: Montano's Malady, by Enrique Vila-Matas; and Extinction, by Thomas Bernhard.

  18. Funny no one has mentioned Against the Day — what did you all think of it? I was very happy with it — it would be my favorite book of 2007 if I had not found out about Pamuk. Or were you all speedy readers and finished it in 2006?

  19. I really enjoyed Divisidero by Michael Ondaatje. His diction and sense of atmosphere is beautiful…

  20. I read so many great books this year! One of my favorite was Eat- Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. A funny, poignant, and honest story about how a woman had to go around the world to find out who she really was.

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