Both Medieval Woman and Belle tagged me for the meme in which one lists five of the best books that one read in 2007. Luckily, 2007 was a year in which I reread several favorite novels, and I'm happy to promote them. So (in no particular order), here goes.
1. The Day on Fire, by James Ramsey Ullman. I know that I've mentioned this book at least once on this blog, but it's truly great, and I reread it with pleasure last winter. A fictionalized biography of Arthur Rimbaud, Ullman's novel is an engrossing account of the poet's wanderings (mostly on foot) through France, Italy, and North Africa; his time in Java; and his relationship with Verlaine. Of course, it's fiction, and Ullman fills in the blanks in creative ways, but it's really well written and just an absorbing book. Out of print, unfortunately, but readily available online.
2. Ada, or Ardor, by Nabokov. I reread this when I was in Europe last spring. I originally read it in about 1997, when I was a fresh young thing just finishing college, and I loved it--but I don't honestly think that I understood it all. Didn't think that I understood it, in fact. I confess that I picked it up again with a hint of trepidation: I barely remembered the novel, and I was afraid that it was going to be a lot of Nabokovian smoke and mirrors (although I've yet to meet the VN novel I didn't at least like). But no, it was terrific, and I loved it, and I highly recommend it. All kinds of weird musings on time and space, and it takes a really long time to figure out what world the novel is even set in, if that makes sense. And it's just incredibly satisfying to grasp it all, in the end.
3. Pride and Prejudice. I read this over the last week or two because I'm going to be teaching it next semester, and you know, I just think that Jane Austen is fun. I didn't used to like her much, but as I grow older I find myself appreciating her more and more.
4. The Time-Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. Two people gave me this book within the space of a couple of months. For a time-travel book, it's surprisingly satisfying. One thing that I particularly liked about it was the way in which the horror of time travel is evoked. Time travel always seems like such a neat idea--but I suspect that if spontaneous chronological displacement actually happened, it would be the way it's portrayed in this novel: suddenly finding yourself naked and afraid in an unknown place. Not too good.
5. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. I first read McCarthy about 11 years ago, and I steered clear thereafter: Child of God freaked me out but good. Then, this fall, the student group of which I'm a sponsor decided to read the novel as a sort of book-club thing, so I read it, and it's pretty damn gripping. What I found most interesting about it was the way it made me think about the importance of human community and how, in the total absence of community, life itself would seem pretty close to meaningless. Definitely drives home the whole social-animal part of our makeup. Plus he's just a fantastic writer. I don't want to go see that new movie, though.
I'm not going to tag anyone in particular because I don't know whom to tag. But I'm interested in reading recommendations from everyone out there who reads this blog, so consider this a Blanket Tagging.
(By the way, the phone interview went fine. I think. As far as I could tell. Definitely better than the Interview of Doom, and I have a pretty good feeling about it. Of course, I've had pretty good feelings about interviews in the past, so I'm not putting too much stake in my subjective experience of the affair--but hey, at least I don't think I bombed.)