For the past two years, I’ve posted my reading list for the year as well as ratings and brief reviews for each book. This year, I’m going to do it a little different. If you review my old lists (2005, 2006 part 1 part 2), you’ll notice that it gets hard to describe unremarkable books from eleven months prior. So instead I will share with you my thoughts about my three favorite books from 2007.

Book of the Year - World War Z by Max Brooks I won’t be surprised if you’ve already been bored to tears with praise for this book. Neither would I be shocked if you thought that a book about a fictional war with zombies wasn’t going to be any more than a re-tread of decades-old plot elements. But this book is something different than that. Starting with the cover itself, Brooks creates a universe where the war actually happened. The review quotes on the back and the biography on the flaps treat it as a documentary with historical implications. It’s written as a series of interviews with survivors: The doctor who met Patient Zero, soldiers who fought phalanxes of rampaging mobs in Yonkers, an isolate teenagers who had to escape from an apartment building in Japan by climbing down the outside of the building. Each story is just a handful of pages long, but the interweaving storylines and Brooks' ability to give every character a unique personality make the book feel as true as he had intended.

Surprise of the Year - The Blind Side by Michael Lewis The Blind Side is a true story about a poor black boy from Memphis thrust into a wealthy white religious High School. He’s built like a linebacker, but he moves like a basketball player (and, in fact, plays for the basketball team for a while). But when shifting football tactics make people built like him a precious commodity, his adopted family convinces him to play. It’s a great story, full of inspiration, and it showed me a glimpse into the world of football strategy other than “get the ball down the field”. (Incidentally, I wish I remembered where I heard about this book. It was on my list for more than a year before I stumbled on it in Logan Airport.)

Classic of the Year - I Am Legend by Richard Matheson Inspired by the look and feel of the Will Smith movie, I decided to pick this up and read it. It blew me away. Matheson spends a long time showing you what years of loneliness and constant invasion can do to a person. The setting and direction of the novel, as well as its moral, are very different from the movie, but the same intense feeling of a hero fighting an impossible struggle is obvious. (Note that it’s not a long story, maybe 150 pages, and the book I got had a number of Matheson’s short stories along with it. They were good, also, but none of them stuck out in my mind so much as the title story.)

Full list of books I read in 2007:

  • Space Race by Deborah Cadbury
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
  • Zodiac by Neal Stephenson
  • The Old New Thing by Raymond Chen
  • Beyond Fear by Bruce Schneier
  • Manhunt by James L. Swanson
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
  • World War Z by Max Brooks
  • The Poincare Conjecture by Donal O'Shea
  • The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
  • The Blind Side by Michael Lewis
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich
  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson