Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ten More Great Reads from 2007

This is my second Best Books I Read in 2007 list. (The first one is here.) This one consists of those books that were not first published in 2007. These should not in any way be taken as lesser selections — in fact the best book I read all year is on this list — I just wanted to keep them separate.

So, here they are, alphabetically by author, along with their year of publication. Any links go to the more detailed reviews I wrote when I first read them. Others you can research yourself (and then tell your friends that you discovered them).
  1. Max Brand, Beyond the Outposts (1925) — The best book I read all year is a great story and a great audiobook. Kristoffer Tabori brings this Western about a different kind of father-son relationship to life!
  2. Gil Brewer, The Vengeful Virgin (1958) — This book is the true pulp crime experience: it feels like it was written in a flash of inspiration, and Brewer's characters are boldly sexy, violently cruel, lustfully greedy, and utterly remorseless.
  3. Clifford Irving, Fake! (1969) — Part biography, part crime story, part world travelogue, and probably part fiction, this biography of art forger Elmyr de Hory (by the man behind The Hoax) remains wholly engaging and eminently readable.
  4. Drew Karpyshyn, Darth Bane: Path of Destruction (2006) — Yes, it's a Star Wars novel, but anyone who wants to know everything about the growth and development of a Sith Lord needs to read this book, which is set 1,000 years before the movies.
  5. Stanislaw Lem, One Human Minute (1986) — The title piece is alone worth the cover price (but don't skip the other two), as Lem takes us on a tour of what happens all over the world every minute (it's set in the future yet feels timely). It doesn't sound like much, but it's surprisingly entertaining and thought-provoking.
  6. Ira Levin, Son of Rosemary (1997) — A terrific thriller and a fitting end to a career filled with high points. Anyone who dismissed it because of the ending, thinking that it negated the legacy of Rosemary's Baby, simply needs to go back and read it again. You missed some important details.
  7. Charles Portis, True Grit (1968) — Another great Western novel/audiobook, and one of the few to elicit genuine affection from me toward the characters. Anyone who thinks he can skip it because he's seen the movie is fooling himself — the film is a weak imitation. I enjoyed the library copy so much, I bought my own.
  8. Damon Runyon, Guys and Dolls (1934) — Runyon is little-known today, but that should change. He is still probably the best short-story writer ever, and with a style that simply cannot be imitated (not least of which because of its difficulty in doing correctly). Crime fans especially should flock to his work, because it shows criminals from a different time on their off time. This collection was pure pleasure, and as a bonus it made me a regular listener to the old-time radio program Damon Runyon Theater.
  9. Duane Swierczynski, The Blonde (2006) — I found this to be an almost perfect book. It's short and fast, has great characters, and adds pieces of sci-fi and horror to its old-time crime noir plot. I think it would appeal to practically anybody reading this weblog.
  10. F. Paul Wilson, Harbingers (2006) — The tenth Repairman Jack novel is also one of the best, as Jack is even further swept along on a path of "coincidences" out of his control (something he is not used to and cannot stand) toward his predestined fate. What a ride Wilson has taken us on.
(And I only received one of these as a review copy. The rest I got from the library, received as gifts, or — gasp! — paid actual money for.)

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