Here’s a list of the books I read in 2007, in chronological order. Thinking about the circumstances around the reading of a particular book can help you relive that point in time. It’s one of several different ways to reconstruct the past year of my life.
Disneywar, James B. Stewart – I started the year off with this, shortly after finishing a new bio of Walt Disney at the end of 2006 and the end of my long period of unemployment. I didn’t want to leave Disneydom behind, so I picked up the story 18 years after Walt’s death, when Michael Eisner took over. I’m not usually a fan of behind-the-scenes business books, but I really got into all the intrigue here between Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and others.
Personal Finance for Dummies, Eric Tyson – a free financial session at my new job led me to this book. Really helpful in getting your finances in order.
The Children of Men, P.D. James – I read this shortly after seeing the devastating movie. Many differences from the movie, but still a haunting read.
Snow, Orhan Pamuk – I stopped after 100 pages. I couldn’t get into it. Too slow for me.
The Coming of the Third Reich, Richard Evans – I’m intrigued by the story of how Hitler came to power. Scary. I was reading this while on a business trip to D.C. in March.
Then in the spring I got on a little Nixon kick:
Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power, Robert Dallek
The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon, Stanley Kutler – I’d always wanted to read the whole story of how Watergate unfolded.
Then as spring turned to summer I got on a big Colonial American History kick. I couldn’t get enough:
Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War, Nathaniel Philbrick – I started reading this, oddly enough, on the airplane on the way to London, crossing the Atlantic in the opposite direction from the Mayflower.
The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789, Robert Middlekauff – Only read about 100 pages. It was going a bit too slowly for me.
The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin, Gordon Wood – I read this during a business trip to Vancouver, accompanied by several delicious solitary meals.
The American Revolution: A History, Gordon Wood – Much swifter than the Middlekauff book.
The Forging of the Union: 1781-1789, Richard B. Morris – Picked this up at the Strand. I wanted to read about the Articles of Confederation period, before the Constitution was ratified. I read most of it (I keep meaning to finish the last two chapters at some point). Toward the end of it I decided I needed to get away from American history for a bit.
Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace – A book of essays. Anything by David Foster Wallace is a treat.
The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, George Packer – With the approach of Labor Day I returned to serious fare.
The Big Con: The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by Crackpot Economics, Jonathan Chait – A great read about the stupidity of infinite tax cuts and how a feckless media enabled the modern Republican party to screw us over.
The Conscience of a Liberal, Paul Krugman – I read about half of this; it’s a good book, but at a certain point I decided, okay, I get it, what’s next?
Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy,
Charlie Savage – I recently finished this, probably the most depressing and angering book I’ve read this year. It’s about Dick Cheney’s very conscious decision to advance executive power, and how he did so with the help of people like David Addington and the delusional John Yoo. Charlie Savage, who won a Pulitzer this year for his newspaper reporting, is young and cute in a geeky way.
The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, Jeffrey Toobin – Just started this recently, an inside look at the past 15 years of the Supreme Court. These kinds of books are always fun.
So there it is, my year in books. Here’s to more good reading.