For the last three years, I’ve put together my top 10 albums, songs and concerts of the year. But I was so wrapped up in writing my book that I didn’t pay as much attention as I usually do to the music world, and instead relied on old favorites like Guster and Pete Yorn to provide my writing soundtrack.

But I did read a lot of books this year, more so since I started this blog. So here’s my best for 2007. But before I begin: I obviously did not read every book published in 2007. I’m guessing I got to about 40 to 50 in 2007, so here’s what rung my bell.

If you’d like a fabulous top-music list for 2007, check out WXPN’s top 100 albums of 2007. I’m shocked that Wilco got the top spot, but, hey, to each their own. I am glad Stars made the list, even if it was at 100, and that Dr. Dog (which would have been on my top 10 concerts list if I’d made one) placed so high.

Alright, on with the show:

Best Non-Fiction: Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Susan Warren. When people ask me what I like to read, I tell them non-fiction books that can make a sliver life fascinating. Such is the case with Backyard Giants. Who ever knew that growing gigantic pumpkins — think 1,500 pounds — could be so interesting? Warren, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, follows a father and son who strive to break a world pumpkin growing record, and the cast of characters that surround them in this tiny world. By the end, when the growers went to the final weigh off, I covered the upcoming text like I would with a good mystery novel so that I wouldn’t spoil the ending. Well done. On an interesting side note: I reviewed this book for the Philadelphia City Paper. Soon after, I saw that Backyard Giants was featured in the Collingswood Library as a recommended read. I mentioned to the librarian that I loved the book, and he said, “Oh, yes, it got an excellent review.” I’m not one to conjecture, but the Philadelphia City Paper is distributed right outside the library. It was neat seeing a review (possibly) in action.

Non-Fiction Runner Up: A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder–How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and On-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman. If you’re slightly messy (guilty as charged), this will make you feel better about it. After all, penicillin was found by accident because of a messy desk. I use this book constantly to remind myself that it’s okay nothing’s ever 100 percent filed in my office.

Best Fiction: Barefoot: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand. I don’t read a lot of fiction. I’m not sure why, probably because I don’t write it, and I like reading non-fiction because I hope that by reading more of it, I’ll be able to write more of it. But I was excited when I heard that Hilderbrand had a new book coming out this spring. I’ve read all her work, and interviewed her when Love Season(which isn’t nearly as cheesy as the title indicates) was first published. She was a delight, and I love that she still writes in long hand. Her first books were a little bit fluffy and thriller-ish, which gave her a “beach book author” brand, but with The Love Season and especially Barefoot, she’s shed that mold. Barefoot centers on three women who escape to Nantucket for the summer, all for different reasons. Vicki has been diagnosed with lung cancer and wants to go back to where she had so many fond summer memories while dealing with chemo. Melanie, her best friend, has not only found out that her husband has been cheating on her, but that she’s pregnant. Vicki’s sister Brenda has just been fired from her teaching job because she had an affair with a student — a student about her age, but a student none-the-less. Barefoot is the story of their summer, and I could not put the book down even when I should have been writing my own. There aren’t many fiction writers I put on my “to watch,” but Hilderbrand is one of those few.

Fiction Runner Up: Mr. Dixon Disappears: A Mobile Library Mystery (Mobile Library) by Ian Sansom. I’m not a big mystery fan, but the Mobile Library Mystery series is so ridiculous and so witty that I can’t help myself. This is the second book in the series. The first is The Case of the Missing Books: A Mobile Library Mystery (Mobile Library Mysteries), but you don’t need to read the first one to completely get what’s going on. These books literally make me giggle — and that’s a good thing.

And with that, I’m off to prepare my house for a holiday party. I have one more review assignment to do before the year’s out. I’m sure I’ll be posting here before the near year, but if not, thanks for reading along this year.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.


  1. Allison Winn Scotch on December 23, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Jen-Thanks for doing this! I’ve been meaning to read Hilderbrand’s book since it came out: thanks for the reminder! Allison

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