Thursday, January 03, 2008


I usually give an end of the year post where I share my favorites over the past twelve months. 2007 is a blurr to me. I don't remember seeing many movies, listening to any spectacular music, or participating in things that lend themselves easily to a list. I did, however, read quite a bit last year. With reading I seem to go months without wanting to lay my eyes on anything, followed by a time when all I want to do is read. This year was the latter...

My favorite books of 2007
(Not necessarily published in 2007.)

5. Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See, by Robert Kurson.

Mike May lived an exceptional life. He was a decorated speed skiing champion, had a beautiful family, and was a tenacious business man. His being blind since early childhood was, for him, a relatively peripheral aspect of his personality. After early attempts by the world's best ophtamologists, May seeing again was a lost cause. This was until a chance meeting with his wife's eye doctor introduced him to a new (non embryonic) stem-cell procedure that could potentially restore his sight. The options are not as clear as you think. This book was an inspirational story of identity, passion, and (for me,) the complexity and beauty God has placed in the human brain.

4. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, by A.J. Jacobs.

I briefly mentioned this book in THIS POST. Jacobs, a Brit, became interested in the large amount of people who profess to have a literal belief in Scripture. He followed his curiosity by visiting the Amish, Creation Scientists, and Orthodox Jews. Jacobs' wrote about those he encountered with a kindness and generosity not often found by skeptics of faith (or us "emergents.")

3. Little Chapel on the River, by Wendy Bounds.

It's the true story of a Wall Street Journal Reporter who was forced out of her apartment after the 9/11 attacks. She found temporary housing in Garrison, a small town about fifty miles north of New York, just across the Hudson River from West Point. Bounds discovers, almost by accident, an Irish Bar tacked onto an old general store and chronicles the struggles and joy of the family that owns the place and the lives that frequent it. It's one of the most moving portraits I've ever seen of what makes true community exist-- struggle, commitment, loyalty, memory, and an understanding that place matters. The title of the book comes from a guy who drives over sixty miles once a week to the bar, and considers it his church-- The Little Chapel on the River.

I wrote Bounds to tell her how much I appreciated her book. She was kind enough to reply with this...

Craig -- thank you so much for taking time to send this thoughtful note.Obviously you've got a great many books at your fingertips to read, so I'mreally glad that Little Chapel made it into your hands. I like what youwrote about the cynics and small towns. When I went out to do publicityfor this book, I was taken aback by how cynical much of NYC media wasabout the lure of small towns. Suppose I should have known, given that I'min the media, but there you go. Still, once folks read it, I think theydeep down wished for a community like that themselves. I'm glad you wrote.Keep in touch. Wendy

I received a recent unfortunate update from Wendy that the Little Chapel is closing down at the end of this month. (If any rich benefactor would like to fund my trip to Garrison, I'll be greatly obliged. :)) She has started a blog about Guinans HERE.

1. (Tie) Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry.

I wrote about this book HERE.

1. (Tie) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

McCarthy is a master at using a small amount of words to convey a large amount of subjects. This was one of those few books that I stayed up late to keep reading until the end. The story is about the fallout from a catastrophic disaster, but ultimately it probes the depths of the love between two people, and how far that love will go. It's about the power of good. I can't say enough...


So, that's that.


Carn-Dog said...

didn't suspect I'd see Jayber Crow this high on the list, but totally understand why.

also, the only surprise for me after reading this was how little never I heard you talk about about the Road.

Craig said...

It's a hard book to talk about. The depths of emotions it evokes is hard to conjure up in conversation, or even writing.