Literature: 2007 Best Reads

2007 Best ReadsThe “Best of 2007” lists are cropping up everywhere.  It’s that time of the year.  Being a list person, myself, I can’t help but make my own.  Here we go.  I’m going to limit my list to the books that I’ve read and then written about on “Down and Out” in 2007 (see the “Down and Out” BOOKLIST for a full list of those), but I’m not going to limit my list to books published in 2007.  Now, with this list’s philosophical underpinnings out there, I’ll get on with it.  There are four books I’d like to list. The best book I read in 2007 was Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974).  The next three would have to be Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire (1968), Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist (1993), and Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man (2002).  Dillard and Abbey write about nature in a way that transports readers into the place.  Whether that place is on the banks of a creek or in the middle of the Utah desert, these writers take us there.  Their language is smooth, simple, and sensual.  I fell in love with Coelho’s The Alchemist when I read it a few weeks ago—this story is simple (and short), but it contains these kernels of wisdom and truth.  I have talked about this book with many people since reading it, and I realize that The Alchemist has the ability to touch a wide variety of people and to speak to them wherever they may find themselves on their life-journeys.  I believe that this book will come to be regarded as a literary classic.  Finally, Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Last American Man, which tells the story of Eustace Conway, is the best biography that I read this year (and I love biography).  She mixes history and adventure into her story in a way that keeps the narrative from getting bogged down in detail (as biographies often seem to do).   Gilbert’s more recent Eat, Pray, Love (2006) has continued to garner praise, but I think that The Last American Man is a better—and more important—book.  I would LOVE to know what you folks out there think.  Please leave a comment and let us know about the best books YOU read in 2007. 


2 responses to “Literature: 2007 Best Reads

  1. T.C. Boyle, Water Music – read this past September while in Ghana. Fantastic book; timeless, hilarious, bawdy, entertaining, suspenseful, evocative. I love the fact that it’s history taken with a grain of salt. And the time period was just mind boggling, when you think of explorers and adventurers and the cultures of that point in history.

    A few other really solid reads were: You Shall Know Our Velocity by David Eggers, Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron, and The Reindeer People; Living with Animals and Spirits in Siberia, by Piers Vitebsky.

    I’ve been periodically visiting your site and have been meaning to tell you for quite some time how great both your literary selections and adventures are! Hope you enjoy ringing in the new year and enjoying a few new books.

  2. hello!
    I’m a big Paulo Coelho’s fan and I don’t know if you heard about his blog
    I’ve started as a fan and now I’m collaborating with him and thought that you would like to enter his universe.
    Check the blog.
    if you want, or subscribe to his newsletter
    You’ll see a community of warriors of light sharing ideas, dreams and most importantly following their personal legend.


    A Warrior of Light needs both patience and speed. ( Manual of the Warrior of Light)

    Merry Christmas!


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