December 31, 2006

Top Ten of 2006

Orchard Window by Daniel Garber

I had a very good year of reading. I finished 73 books and gave up on an additional 17. Since I've already written fairly lengthy reviews for each book, I won't add any additional comments in this post. Click on the book title to be re-directed to the specific review within my blog.

Except for #1, these are in no particular order:

1. The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak (A+)

2. The Exact Same Moon: Fifty Acres and A Family by Jeanne Marie Laskas (A+)

3. Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz (A+)

4. Oh My Stars by Lorna Landvik (A+)

5. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (A+)

6. Isabel's Daughter by Judith Ryan Hendricks (A)

7. These Granite Islands by Sarah Stonich (A)

8. Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts (A)

9. Birds in Fall by Brad Kessler (A)

10. The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons (A)

Honorable Mentions (all A or A- ratings):

An Ocean Apart by Robin Pilcher
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler
Digging to America by Anne Tyler
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Marley & Me by John Grogan
A Still Life by Louise Penny
Don't Look Now by Daphne du Maurier
Night Watch by Sarah Waters

Favorite Thrillers/Mysteries:

Promise Me by Harlan Coben
Rules of Prey by John Sandford
Shadow Prey by John Sandford
Mind Prey by John Sandford
Secret Prey by John Sandford
Certain Prey by John Sanford
Snow Blind by P.J. Tracy
Shrink Rap by Robert Parker
Blue Screen by Robert Parker
Melancholy Baby by Robert Parker
Shadow Man by Cody Mcfadyen

Favorite Detectives - Lucas Davenport (John Sandford's "Prey" series) and Sunny Randall (Robert Parker's "Sunny Randall" series)

Favorite Characters - Odd Thomas (Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas) and Liesel Meminger (Markus Zusak's The Book Thief)

Best Classic - The Good Earth

Best Young Adult Fiction - The Book Thief

Best Memoir - The Exact Same Moon

Best Re-Read - Odd Thomas

Most Humorous - The Exact Same Moon, Shrink Rap, and Summer in Tuscany

Biggest Tear-Jerker - Marley & Me and The Book Thief

Quickest Read - The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry (awaiting review)

Most Evil Villain - Bekker (John Sandford's Eyes of Prey)

Scariest Read - The House Next Door

Most Disappointing - Forever Odd, Julie and Romeo, Swallows of Kabul, We Are Welcome Here, and The Thirteenth Tale

New (to me) Authors to Watch - Markus Zusak, Louise Penny, Tim O'Brien, Sarah Waters, Cody Mcfadyen


  1. Impressive list! I read Isabel's Daughter a couple of years ago and liked it a lot. When The Baker's Apprentice was published, I jumped on it; same thing when Bread Alone came out. Will be looking for her next novel.

  2. Really great list, Les, I'm impressed your grand total was 73 books, yeay, way to go! I have "The Book Thief", "Digging to America" and "The Good Earth" on my reading list for this year, infact, I will be starting "The Good Earth" anytime now!

    We are in the wee hours of 2007, just wanted to wish you an excellent year ahead. It's been lovely knowing you,Les and I look forward to another great year of reading and camaraderie.

  3. Congratulations on a great reading year! I enjoyed reading your lists. I'm looking forward to reading BIRDS IN FALL.

  4. Great list! I'm still sorry that you didn't like Thirteenth Tale as much as some of us did. It seems to be one of those divided line books of the year.

    I can't wait to read The Book Thief (wish my wife would hurry up with it!)

    I like the various best-ofs that you did with your books, great idea.

    Happy New Year to you and yours!!!

  5. First of all, I love the picture. Where did you find it?

    I like all the categories you made, and your "quickest read" made me think of the old saying that good things come in small packages. How I loved this book! There is one other book which is among my favorites that is also very short, a very quick read, and yet terrific, called Inside The Halo and Beyond The Anatomy of a Recovery by Maxine Kumin.

    I read only one of your top tens, the Laskas book, and you already know I wasn't so wild about it as you. :<)

    I do so like Robin Pilcher's book. I think he is a wonderful writer. And I liked Still Life a lot. I look forward to her next mystery. I love the Quebec setting.

    Thanks for putting so much time into your end of year list.

  6. Anonymous11:20 AM

    Ack! How could you not like 13th Tale. Loved it.

    I picked Book Thief as my Most Important Book of the year, so we are on the same page there.


  7. Great list!! Great round up! Happy New Year!

  8. I'm taking up The House Next Door and The Book Thief, thanks to your recommendations. Your list is quite inspiring, and quite an accomplishment! I'm most impressed with you, les, and the picture at the top is beautiful. It could be (is?) a portrait of you.

  9. Wonderful list, Les. I have Shoot the Moon on my TBR Challenge list. I think when I picked it off the shelf I had in the back of my mind that you had given it a favorable review in spite of some earlier negative comments by others. As I go down through your list, I'm saying, "Yep, want to read that one, and that one...."

    Wishing you a Happy New Year and looking forward to "visiting" with you over the coming year!

  10. Anonymous6:17 PM

    I almost made 'Birds in Fall' one of my favorites of the year but opted for 'In Cold Blood' instead. And 'The Book Thief' is now sitting on my nightstand, waiting to be read!

  11. Happy New Year, Les! I like your list and the breakdowns. Re: the excellent brainstorm to combine the book and nature blogs...Gotta love that Emerson guy for giving you the inspiration!

  12. Anonymous12:04 PM

    Happy New Year! Okay and now I want to check out the John Sandford series. Always looking for a great new detective :)

  13. Jenclair - I have Bread Alone on my nightstand and actually started to read it the other day, but decided I wanted to re-read The Baker's Apprentice first (I enjoyed that book but it's been a while since I read it!). But both will have to wait since I really wanted to start in on my first chunkster (The Way the Crow Flies). Hope I get to Hendricks' books sometime this month!

    Lotus - Thanks! I was actually surprised with my grand total. I thought my reading was down this year. I can't wait to read your reviews on the three you have on your TBR list for 2007. Happy New Year to you, too. It's been a great joy getting to know you through our blogs.

    Joy - I'm glad you enjoyed the lists. I hope you like Birds in Fall. I still think about it (characters & setting) and will probably give it a re-read sometime in the future.

    Carl - Yah, I'm disappointed that I was disappointed. ;) I hope The Book Thief doesn't fall flat for you. You've been looking forward to it for quite some time now. I had fun with the "best of" list. Happy New Year to you, too. Think Snow!

    Nan - Glad you like the picture. I found it on a site that sells posters of artwork. I hate to tell you this, but my quickest read was a bit disappointing. I'm working on my review and don't want to say too much here (not even sure if you - or anyone for that matter - come back to read my comments on your comment!). I agree with you on Louise Penny. I can't wait for her next mystery and a chance to go back to Quebec.

    Heather - Thanks! It was fun to look back through my journals and see what all I read last year.

    Bellezza - Hope you enjoy those two books. Neither are terribly happy reads, but I still enjoyed them very much. Nope. Not me. I'm not nearly that blonde! I should go back and give credit to the site I found it, as well as the name of the painter and the work. Stay tuned.

    Lesley - I read Birds in Fall after reading your review, as I recall. In Cold Blood was a close runner-up. Sure hope you aren't disappointed with The Book Thief. It seems to be one folks either love or just can't get into.

    Bybee - Happy New Year to you, too! Glad you enjoyed the list.

    Iliana - Back at you! The Sandford series is a lot of fun. I've enjoyed watching the subtle changes in Lucas Davenport's character throughout the series. I would suggest you read the books in order, but that's just me. I'm kind of anal about series. I think I've reviewed all of them on my blog. Let me know if you need help finding them.

  14. Monica - I really wanted to like The Thirteenth Tale! My husband thought it was great. Does that count? ;)

    Marcia - I'm surprised more people haven't read Shoot the Moon. Or enjoyed it for that matter. I think Letts is a great storyteller. I want to find time to read The Honk and Holler Opening Soon sometime this year. I loved that book, as did my husband. Happy New Year to you, too. Here's to a great year of blogging!

  15. I wish I would have liked Book Thief as much as some others did.. but I found myself about as disappointed with it as I was with 13th Tale.
    Guess I read too much hype!

  16. Here are mine, we have one title that overlaps - "The Book Thief", a book that I read on your recommendation. Thank you very much for that! I have passed that on by handselling at least a dozen copies over the last few months. My most fun read was probably "The Ruins", a horror novel that was every bit as good as vintage Stephen King. On the other hand - "Shoot the Moon" was one of my more disappointing reads. I loved Billie Lett's first two books, but did not enjoy this one at all. I would heartily recommend Joshilyn Jackson for some wonderful books in the this same type of genre. I really enjoyed "Between, Georgia" and "Gods In Alabama".

    10. Orbit by John Nance
    9. Prisoner of Trebekistan by Bob Harris
    8. City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin
    7. Riding Rockets by Mike Mullane
    6. Shadow Man by Cody McFadyen
    5. A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
    4. Heat by Bill Bluford
    3. The Ruins by Scott Smith
    2. Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
    1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

  17. Angela - I'm sorry you didn't enjoy The Book Thief as much as some of us. It's tough when there's so much hype around a book. I try to stay clear of professional reviews, but it's hard not to read all the favorable blog entries.

    Lee - I'm so glad you enjoyed The Book Thief. I just found out Zusak is going to be in Dallas on April 22nd! Are you going? I'll have to look for The Ruins (I think I actually saw it today at the library and the title sounded familiar, but of course I'd already forgotten that you'd just mentioned it here!). Good to know you recommend Joshilyn Jackson's books. I've heard great things about gods in Alabama and one of my online friends sent me her copy. Now to find the time...

    You'll be happy to know I finished Shadow Man a week or so ago and loved it (the review is coming)! Didn't make my Top Ten (I never seem to include thrillers in my Top Ten - weird, eh?) but it is in the list above for Favorite Thrillers/Mysteries. I'd never heard of the book (or author) and just stumbled upon it at the library one day. Rod liked it, too.

    Speaking of Rod, I'm going to get a copy of Thirteen Moons at the library for him. You can probably guess I won't be reading it myself!


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