Once again 2007 likely will be a record year for new titles published. 2006 saw 290,000 new titles in the US alone, and if I was a gambling man I’d bet that 2007 will top the 300,000 mark. So many books, yet so little shelf space in the stores!

This was the year that for the most part I stayed away from the New York Times bestseller list, I actively sought out the lesser known authors, and I have been impressed. By the time the year rolls to close I will have broken the 100 books read in a 12 month period. With the notable exception of one book, I have enjoyed them all.

And that one book, the only book that I hated, would be Blogosphere, by Michael Keren (it was so bad it does not get a link!). This guy has the smarts of a lobster, but somehow has weaseled his way into the University Of Calgary, where he apparently is a professor, in my opinion he would be over taxed cleaning toilets, he is living proof that the saying ‘Publish or perish’ is alive and well in the academic world. After two abortive attempts to interview this idiot, he told me that he was unavailable because he was taking a trip to Isreal! Stupid book, stupid author, and maybe the worst book of 2007, but of course it doesn’t matter to this idiot, the students have to purchase this over priced piece of crap because it’s a requirement for his class! Way to go Michael!

OK, enough of the bad stuff, lets talk about the other 99 books. They were all excellent. Not only did I get to enjoy them. I also had the opportunity to chat with over 70 of the authors, and with one noticeable exception I have enjoyed that aspect a great deal.

I would like to mention every book that I have read, but my keyboarding skills, plus the size of this article would exceed the average length of a book. So if authors are reading this, and I don’t mention you, it is not that I did not like your book.

In the humor section there was an outstanding book. Last January I got my hands on Dating Disasters: God Is A Woman by Ian Coburn. Ian claims that this is a self help book, designed to help the ‘single guy’ find his soul mate, I found it just a riot from page one. Since the review Ian and I have kept in touch, he almost has his next work ready for prime time, I can’t wait.

Over the summer I read two books, one pseudo fictional and one factual, they shared the common theme of what happened in the pre and post era of apartheid in South Africa and what was then Rhodesia. What I found interesting was the angles from which the authors wrote, ‘One mans terrorist is another mans Freedom Fighter’, and vice versa. History is often a very one sided affair, I found it very illuminating to read both sides. Gerrie Hugo’s Africa Will Always Break Your Heart, and Peter Davies’s A Scatterling Of Africa, are well worth seeking out.

Interestingly enough, it turned out that Damien Lewis is a friend of Peter Davies, and Damien wrote to me asking if I would like to review his new book Cobra Gold. I said yes. I then Googled Damien, and almost fell off my chair when I discovered that while he is relatively unknown in North America, he is a London Times Best Seller List star author, a war corespondent, and award winning documentary maker that has been featured on The BBC, and Discovery Channel. Cobra Gold is a cracking read, this is the the book that Tom Clancy would write, if Tom Clancy had any real ability!

Damien also sent me a copy of Desert Claw, this is a book with a story behind it. The author was invited to take part in a competition, to produce a novella that would appeal to people that are not readers. Some people don’t read because they don’t want to, most though, don’t read because they have literacy problems. Books are too hard, they have too many words, and many of the words are not in the readers vocabulary. Desert Claw is printed in a large easy to read font, it uses simple English, and the plot moves at the speed of light!

Landmark Status by Florida attorney Alan Rolnick is a very funny look at shady real estate dealings in Florida. I am not sure what it is about attorneys, but they all seem to be closet authors! Over the past year I have read a lot of books by attorneys, and few have had the legal profession as the main theme. All have been superb, and all have been very entertaining. Landmark Status is a wild ride from page one. Alan is another one of those over-achievers! Not content with lawyering and authoring, he is also into the Film business! Canvas is slated for a late January 08 release, and I have a copy, it is very good indeed, and I will be publishing a review soon.

In the fall I discovered a small but influential publishing house History Publishing, these guys rock! To quote from an interview with owner Don Bracken, “we are a niche market, within a niche market’. No rehashing other peoples works, it’s original source only for this company. Obviously much of their production concerns the last 60 years, but some books go further back. A great example is Words Of War, a book that explores the Civil War, the original sources are verbatim newspaper articles. More up to date is Hunting The American Terrorist, a tour-de-force by Terry Turchie and Kathleen Puckett that explores the FBI hunt for the Unibomber Ted Kaczynski and the hunt for Eric Rudolph. This is an insider look, Terry was in charge of the hunt! It doesn’t get any closer than that!

They are about to release a new book, Homeland Insecurity, and I can’t wait to get my hands on that one!

Launching in a few days is Legerdemain by James Heaphey is going to mean that every Cold War history book is going to need to be revised! My review of this great book will be up and running tomorrow. So if you are a college prof teaching a Cold War class, you need to read this book!

There are so many other books that deserve mention, I have touched on the tip of the tip, of the iceberg. Forget the NYT best seller list, forget your local book store who only stock a few thousand titles, go exploring. There are great books, if you go looking, and I suggest you do that.

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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