It's mid-December, the natural time to look back at some of the year's best books. That's what the book editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did recently, asking the paper's reviewers to nominate some of their 2007 favorites.
We were pleased to see a few of our favorites in the Post-Dispatch as well. For example, we blogged earlier this year about Arnold Rampersad's Ralph Ellison, the biography of the Oklahoma native who became famous for his one great novel, Invisible Man.
The paper also liked another biography, Robert Morgan's Boone. Morgan, a North Carolina native who teaches at Cornell, is better known as a poet and novelist than as a historical biographer. But the Post-Dispatch likes Morgan's take on the famous woodsman.
Another book singled out by the critics was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver and her family's account growing their own food and eating "off the industrial food grid," as the paper put it. Kingsolver and her family conducted this experiment on their farm in southwestern Virginia. The paper described the narrative as "equal parts folk wisdom and political activism."
Finally, we'd like to plug a book we would like to read based on the reputation of the author. The book, a novel, is Tree of Smoke, and the author is Denis Johnson. The book is a Vietnam era story that has impressed a lot of critics, including those who awarded it the National Book Award.
On these long December nights, we plan to spend some time with one or more of these good books.