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Favourite Books of 2007 from OUP-UK


By Kirsty OUP-UK

While Rebecca has been quizzing the publishing world of New York, I have been hounding people a little closer to home: the staff of OUP here in Oxford. Here is what we’ve been reading on this side of the Pond in 2007…

Kate Farquhar-Thomson, Head of Publicity
Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Richard Deakin. As an outdoors girl this journey through the woods and forests of both this country and abroad evokes a sense of being at one with nature in all its grandeur. I loved the book and could read it over and over each time discovering something new.

Phil Henderson, Senior Marketing Manager, Trade Books
Anne Tyler: A Patchwork Planet. A ray of hope in the general messiness of life – and it puts the ‘fun’ back into ‘dysfunctional’.

Judith Luna, Commissioning Editor, Oxford World’s Classics
I have been reading some of Elizabeth Gaskell’s short stories this year. I’ve always loved Cranford, but Gaskell’s short stories are a revelation; tremendously powerful vignettes of everyday life, often quite bleak and tragic, but superbly crafted and affecting – they are both intimate and grand, dealing with everything from a rejected lover to the effects of the changes in society reflected in the coming of the railways, the penny post, the spread of education in the course of the nineteenth century. Cousin Phillis is a wonderful love story, and My Lady Ludlow a study of a bygone age and values, some admirable, some less so, and full of a palpable nostalgia and quiet humour.

I also read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera for the first time: it is every bit as good as everyone says!

Sarah Brett, Commissioning Assistant, Higher Education
My favourite book this year was Making Money by Terry Pratchett. Following on from the hilarious Going Postal it covers Moist von Lipwig’s attempts to get the Ankh Morpork Royal Mint running efficiently again. The story is highly entertaining and contains Mr Pratchett’s usual brilliant wit: the section with the golem, the pug dog, and the ‘adult’ toy had me in stitches. After hearing the recent sad news of Terry’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s I cherish this book all the more and am only glad that he has had such a productive and successful career.

Bethan Taylor, Assistant Marketing Manager, Reference Books
When thinking about the books I’ve read this year, the one stands out was Diaries 1969 – 1979: The Python Years by Michael Palin. These diaries chart Palin’s personal and professional life over the decade; from the birth of his children, his work writing and acting in the Monty Python tv series and films, to his personal projects such as Three Men in a Boat and his frequent trips to the US to, amongst other things, present Saturday Night Live with the likes of Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd. Palin’s diaries are written with warmth and humour and were lovely to read. It’s a thick paperback but I was still sad to get to the end of 1979, and I hope his subsequent diaries will follow.

A word of warning though, Eric Idle and John Cleese did keep appearing in my dreams…

Coleen Hatrick, Publicity Manager, Trade and Academic Books
The unfinished book that has completely stolen my heart is The Collected Letters of Ted Hughes. An extraordinary display of immense talent and humanity. Everyone should just dip in and read a sample, you will be trapped for much longer than you might expect!

And finally me… Kirsty McHugh, Press Officer and UK Blogger
Old Men in Love by Alasdair Gray is my book of 2007. I have been a card-carrying Gray-o-phile for a long time, but his newest book has cemented my adoration all the more. This is a bizarre, Arabian Nights-type book purporting to be the posthumous papers of Glasgow school teacher John Tunnock. There are stories within stories and time jumps back and forth, from the Greece of Socrates to Renaissance Italy, Victorian England, and modern-day Glasgow in the throes of anti-Iraq War protests. The book itself is stunning too – Gray was an artist before he was an author, and he illustrates all his own books. A personal highlight was a line drawing of the Hillhead district of Glasgow, where I lived for some years. His drawing was so detailed that I could pinpoint my old bedroom window. It’s a gorgeous, wonderful book.

Recent Comments

  1. Lindsey Davis, Assistant Editor, Police and Criminology

    One of the best books I have read this year was What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn. It is the author’s first novel and something she has every right to be proud of. Both poignant and laugh out loud funny, its narrative switches between characters and times effortlessly. It tells the interweaving stories of a little girl who goes missing, a disaffected twenty-something record-shop worker, and an insomniac security guard, and how their Midlands community has changed over twenty years. Set for the most part in a shopping centre, there is a sense of sadness regarding the increasingly consumerist society the characters inhabit, but the author never polemicises about this at the expense of the story: the portrayal of the characters is never submerged by the theme the author is dealing with.

    I read the book in one sitting and was both eager to read on and uncover the mystery at the centre of the plot – what happened to the little girl and her stuffed monkey? – but desperate to linger over the characters; I was very sad to leave them behind when I’d finished! As someone from the Midlands I felt O’Flynn really captured the spirit of the people and the place, particularly the pessimistic brand of humour synonymous with the area! O’Flynn is also very clearly a music fan, and any book which refers to Morrissey lyrics can’t go far wrong for me! My abiding memory of the book is the way in which O’Flynn successfully evokes a sense of childhood as well as that of being twenty-something and trying to work out what you want to do with your life. Whilst reading the book I got the impression that it had been as enjoyable to write as it had been to read, and would recommend it as a pacey Christmas read this holiday.

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