The year in books |

The year in books

Stephen BedfordVail CO, Colorado
AE Bookworm1 SM 12-19-07

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado Gosh, another year in the books. Get it, the books?And with that deliciously lame pun, The Bookworm of Edwards is proud to bring you its top reads of 2007 in five major categories: fiction, paperback fiction, nonfiction, young adult, and childrens picture books.The formula and criteria for selecting our favorite books of the year was actually remarkably simple. Each member of the bookselling staff was able to nominate one selection in each category, except for Sandy Ferguson Fuller. Shes our resident picture book guru, so she got free reign over that classification, and deservedly so.To round out the Top 10s, we used a consensus of personal favorites and customer feedback to award a few hallowed spots. This was done mainly in part because four employees named Markus Zusaks The Book Thief as their best paperback fiction title, therefore, making this method of selection known as the Zusak corollary. But without further ado, behold … The Bookworms best books of the year.

Listed alphabeticallyAway by Amy BloomThis is the epic story of Lillian Leyb, a Russian immigrant living in New York City who decides to return to her native country via Alaskas telegraph trail through Siberia upon hearing that her long lost daughter may still be alive. Random House, $23.95.The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot DiazDiazs fresh, moving first novel traces the life of Oscar Wao, a New Jersey teenager struggling with his family roots in the Dominican Republic. This powerful narrative showcases the immigrant experience as well as the tumultuous past of a boy and his family. Riverhead, $24.95.Gentlemen of the Road and The Yiddish Policemens Union both by Michael ChabonThe Pulitzer Prize winner asserts himself as Americas preeminent storyteller with two drastically different offerings. Gentlemen of the Road is a novella of two sword-wielding friends who cant seem to stay out of trouble in Mesopatamia. The Yiddish Policemens Union looks like an abomination on paper detectives, drugs, chess, Hasidic Jews, Alaska, doomsday plots but soars courtesy of Chabons witty, grandiose prose. Gentlemen of the Road: Del Rey Books, $21.95; Yiddish Policemens Union: HarperCollins, $26.95.The God of Animals by Aryn KyleGrand Junction-based author Aryn Kyles debut tells the story of pre-teen Alice whose slender shoulders carry the weight of the world. Alices sister has eloped, her depressed mother wont get out of bed, dad is despondent, a classmate has drowned, and the family ranch is on the brink of bankruptcy. Scribner, $25.HeartSick by Chelsea CainThis pulse-pounding thriller of a detective and the serial killer who haunts him grabs you by the throat from page one, and doesnt let go until the final paragraph. Cains taut offering has drawn comparisons to Silence of the Lambs. St. Martins Minotaur, $23.95.Loving Frank by Nancy HoranLegendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright was a bright, brilliant mind for design who harbored a darker side. Fact and fiction are seamlessly blended to create this account of the famous architects philandering with a clients wife. Ballantine, $23.95.A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe much-anticipated follow up from the author of The Kite Runner doesnt disappoint. Hosseini offers a portrait of two women married to the same oppressive man in the rugged social landscape of Afghanistan. Riverhead, $25.95.Tree of Smoke by Denis JohnsonJohnson claimed the 2007 National Book of the Year award with his Vietnam War epic. An arrogant but decorated CIA agent pulls some strings to put his idiot nephew under his guise only to have a plot to trap a double agent unravel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27.World Without End by Ken FolletIt took Follet nearly 20 years to pen the companion piece to his classic Pillars of the Earth, but it was certainly worth the wait. Follet returns to the small, medieval European town of Kinsgbridge nearly 200 years after the construction of the towns Gothic cathedral and the events that unfolded in Pillars. Dutton Books, $35.

The Book Thief by Markus ZusakZusaks groundbreaking novel has been a local favorite since its release. Zusak channels the voice of Death as the eerie narrator of this stunning story of a young girl struggling to survive in World War II era Germany. Alfred A. Knopf, $11.95.The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin BrockmeierBrockmeier offers an inventive new perspective of the afterlife, and its relation to the living world. The souls of the deceased inhabit The City, where they live provided those alive preserve their memory. However, the souls begin disappearing at an alarming rate. Vintage Books USA, $13.95.The Childrens Hospital by Chris AdrianA hospital, its doctors, and patients are all that remain after the world is flooded in the not-too-distant future. As the hospitals inhabitants reminisce about the world they once knew, medical student Jemma Claflin discovers secret powers within herself that ultimately lead to a startling destiny. Grove Press, $14.95.The Echo Maker by Richard PowersThis 2006 National Book of the Year winner tells the story of a Nebraska man whose memories and emotions vanish after a car wreck. His sister and a prominent neuroscientist try to piece him back together. Picador, $15.The Road by Cormac McCarthyThis years winner of the Pulitzer Prize features a man and his son wandering the ash-strewn landscape following the apocalypse. The father is willing to do whatever it takes to keep his son safe and healthy while the son tries to restore a sense of faith in humanity in his jaded father. Vintage Books, $14.95.Sacred Games by Vikram ChandraA sprawling epic of the Bombay underworld as told by Inspector Sanjay Singh, who forfeits his personal life in pursuit of syndicate mastermind Ganesh Gaitonde. Chandra offers a masterpiece of cat-and-mouse, cops-and-robbers. This literary gangster saga is on par with a Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino flick. Harper Perennial, $16.95.Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha PesslA fresh, wholly original writing style highlights this Laguna Beach meets classic noir mash up. Precocious Blue Van Meer is invited into the uber-cool clique at her posh private school, but cant figure out why the cool kids, and their Svengali teacher, want anything to do with her. Penguin Books, $15.Water for Elephants by Sara GruenThis bestselling smash hit is told by a former circus veterinarian as he wastes away in an assisted-living facility. Classic literary themes converge in this novel to make it one of the run-away phenomenon of the past few years. Algonquin Books, $13.95.What is the What by Dave EggersEggers tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of Sudans Lost Boys. Deng wanders the Sudan countryside after the idyllic life he led in his village is pillaged during the countrys civil war. Deng dreams of freedom as he dodges attacks, fights disease, and holds his friends as they die in his arms. Upon his arrival in America, Deng faces a whole new set of obstacles. Vintage Books USA, $14.95.The Zero by Jess WalterCop Brian Remy awakes from an apparent suicide attempt with a spotty memory and troubled vision following the events of Sept. 11. As his peers bask in the fame of the nations new case of hero worship, Remy becomes a pawn in a frightening plot that may have had more to do with the attacks than anyone could ever fathom. Harper Perenial, $14.95.

The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World by Alan GreenspanThe former Federal Reserve chairman recounts his nearly 60-year career in politics, serving under each president since Richard Nixon. Along with his anecdotes of administrations, Greenspan navigates the economic landscape of the past four decades while making predictions for the future. Penguin Press, $35.Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas by Chuck KlostermanAmericas keenest pop-culture critic returns with another batch of essays and interviews with the likes of Val Kilmer, Steve Nash, the White Stripes, and Robert Plant. Klosterman also hits the open seas with Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, and their biggest fans. Scribner, $15.Empire of Blue Water by Stephen TaltyAhoy! Talty takes readers on a pirate tour along the Spanish Main and throughout the Caribbean in this biography of plundering, pillaging extraordinaire Capt. Henry Morgan. Revered as a hero in England, Morgan was the scourge of the high seas that shaped history and European politics. Crown Publishers, $24.95.Game of Shadows by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance WilliamsWho knew these San Francisco Chronicle reporters would write the sports version of All the Presidents Men? The reporting duo relentlessly wades through the paper trail to expose dozens of athletes, their steroid abuse, and the laboratory that made it all possible. And here we thought the Germans were a scandalous doping machine. Gotham Books, $15.The Prisoner of Tehran by Marina NematNemats heartbreaking story begins with her imprisonment and death sentence as a 16-year-old student protester in Iran. Spared at the 11th hour by one of her interrogators, she is given the choice of converting to Islam and marrying her captor, or face execution. Free Press, $26.Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert FrankFilled with a variety of character profiles and economic insight, Franks tour of the nouveau affluence of Americans is a behind the scenes look at the glitz, glamour, and gadgets of the rich, as well as its repercussions for the rest of society. Crown Publishers, $24.95.A Long Way Gone: Memories of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael BeahThe shocking autobiography of a pawn in Sierra Leones eternal civil war strife. Beah recounts his impressment into duty, wielding an AK-47 before he was a teenager as well as his narrow escape and new lease on life. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, $22. Thunderstruck by Erik LarsonFollowing the success of The Devil in the White City, Larson offers another macabre historical yarn. This time Larson traces the steps of a murderous doctor whose escape plan aboard a cruise ship is foiled by the advent of wireless communication. Three Rivers Press, $14.95.The World Without Us by Alan WeismanWeisman takes readers on a penetrating, and somewhat terrifying, journey through a world devoid of human progress and waste. The theories and findings are eye-opening, and alarming. Thomas Dunne Books, $24.95.The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. JacobsAs worldwide religious tensions threaten to boil over, Jacobs takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the origins of Christianity by living his life strictly by the Bible. Hilarious and entertaining throughout, Jacobs finds a middle ground between the religious and secular, while offering Cliff Notes version of the holy book. Simon and Schuster, $25.

Compiled by Sandy Ferguson FullerGrandmas Feather Bed by John Denver; illustrated by Christopher CanyonThe fourth book in this popular series, which features the lyrics and music of John Denver is accompanied by award-winning Canyons lively full-color artwork. Dawn Publications, $19.95 hardcover with CD.The Snow Leopard written and illustrated by Jackie MorrisA visual feast gorgeously rendered in watercolor with a memorable story about an elusive snow leopard, an innocent child, and lifes inevitable passages. Frances Lincoln Books/UK $16.95 hardcover.First snow in the woods by Carl R. Sams II & Jean StoickFor all ages who enjoy the picture book classics, Stranger in the Woods, and Lost in the Woods, this new photographic fantasy celebrates the onset of winter in the woods. Poetic prose coupled with evocative photos brings familiar forest creatures to life. The best offering yet from this talented team. CRS II Photography, Inc. $19.95 hardcover.Dog by Matthew Van Fleet, Photographs by Brian StantonNot precisely a picture book instead an interactive multiconcept book, packed full of pettable, pull-tab pooches. Doggone fun for everyone, especially the toddler crowd. Simon and Schuster, $14.99.Bear Feels Sick, by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman.Autumn has come, and Bear feels achy with a stuffed-up nose. Any kid who has suffered from sniffles and sneezes will relate to the big bruin as his friends try to help him. Is laughter the best medicine? Certainly everyone will chuckle at the outcome of this colorful story! McElderry Books, $16.99 hardcover.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieLoosely based on Alexies life, this National Book of the Year winner centers on a teen who tries to breakaway form the reservation and form his identity, hopelessly searching for common ground between two cultures. Little, Brown Young Readers, $16.99.Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally CarterThis sequel packs even more punchy prose and the day-to-day life of an adolescent teenage girl who just happens to be a secret agent. Cammie McGovern is looking for a little romance in her life to balance out the rogue agents, counterintelligence, and global safety. You know, typical girl stuff. Hyperion, $16.99.Eclipse by Stephenie MeyerThe other (read: not named Harry Potter) thrilling series capper of the year finds Bella Swan caught between a string of mysterious killings and her affections for her forbidden vampire lover. Little, Brown Young Readers, $18.99.I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry DoyleFormer Simpsons scribe Doyle turns on the charm, and laughs, in this raucous coming-of-age high school story about a nerdy valedictorian who accidentally professes his love for the foxiest girl in school during his commencement speech. There is truly no age limit on this tale. Ecco, $19.95.The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian SelznickAn audacious, inventive debut that mixes sharp storytelling and even sharper pencil illustrations. Hugo Cabret makes his living anyway he can in the train stations of Paris. Soon enough, Hugos world collides with a bookish young girl and a crotchety old toy maker in this truly original story. Scholastic, $22.99.Stephen Bedford is the general manager of The Bookworm of Edwards. Please visit the stores new site at In addition to working at the Bookworm, Sandy Ferguson Fuller is a childrens literature agent, editor, and consultant.

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