Best Book: This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, by Daniel Levitin. Amazon tells me that some people really, really didn’t like it — but I really, really did. It’s smart and interesting and I finally understand overtones (which someone tried to explain to me once before, to no avail). As someone with a fairly strong musical background, as well as a moderate neurological one (thank you, AP Psych) I found that his ideas were presented clearly, with a lot of basic information given without being condescending. Lots of ornamental knowledge, which my Canadian Fiction prof disapproves of, but which I find just plain interesting. Ramble ramble, this is a good book.
There. I have capitulated to your demands.
Other good things:
The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813 and Flames Across the Border: 1813-1814, by Pierre Berton. Give it up for non-fiction! We did very little on the War of 1812 in school (yet somehow managed to spend an entire year on Confederation, blech) but now I know lots of things. Berton also gets props for presenting history from the personal, rather than overwhelmingly political, angle.
Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention, by Charlotte Gray. This lady is just incredible. I also have Canada: A Portrait in Letters, 1800-2000 although it doesn’t really belong on the 2007 list since I first read it a number of years ago. Oh, and I think I got Reluctant Genius for Christmas 2006 — but I didn’t read it until after the new year.
The Poyson Garden by Karen Harper. This book is so bad it had to make the “best” list. The most laughable prose I’ve read in . . . I don’t know, a long time. For serious: I couldn’t even finish it. A favourite sentence: She realised and understood his devastated poise (p. 39). A ha ha ha what?
Light in August, by William Faulkner. This is the first Faulkner I’ve ever read. Now I need to find more.
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, by Helen Fielding. The interview with Colin Firth had me laughing out loud on the subway.
Just a Geek, by Wil Wheaton. It is geeky. I like that.
Stitch ‘N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker, by Debbie Stoller. Hooks out, ready, set, GO!
Who Has Seen the Wind, by W. O. Mitchell. I adore this book. It’s beautiful.
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, by Azar Nafisi. Woah.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the books I read last year, or even of the books which I read and greatly enjoyed last year. But it’s a start. I’ve always been a big novel reader; in 2007 I discovered how much non-fiction also rocks.
Oh, and finally, LibraryThing. This is not a book. But it is the best cataloguing tool I’ve ever found, and certainly the most fun.