The one thing I do unfailingly on Twitter and Facebook is to let everyone know what I’m currentlly reading. This year, I read a lot fewer books than 2009 (truth be told–only 37 this year versus 73 last year) because I focused so much more on spending my free time writing and trying other creative pursuits, but even so, I found a handful of books that I really love and wanted to share with you to be sure you knew about them. Except for the first two, which are my number 1 and 2 choices of the year, the rest are in no particular order. There are only seven books on the list; while I could have stretched and named three more, I really wanted to keep it to books I loved and would re-read.
Please leave your thoughts on these books or recommend your own favorites that I may have missed.
Oh, one other thing–these books were not necessarily published in 2010; that’s just when I chose to read them. Happy reading!
1. ROOM by Emma Donoghue–The 5-year-old narrator, Jack, has lived his entire life in an 11×11 room with his mother. It’s a heartbreaking premise, but when Jack’s world widens significantly in a sudden and daring way, we get to see our own world through the eyes of an observer. Jack is smart and his observations about what he sees around him, as well as the way his narration slowly unfurls his story, is absolutely brilliant. It’s sweet, humorous, and loving, and may now be one of my most favorite books ever.
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett–It’s 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi, and Stockett illustrates the Civil Rights movement through the daily lives of the black maids and the white women they work for. It’s very personable and kept drawing me back in, particularly with a fictional story set against the backdrop of real events.
3. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger–A ghost story that begins when Elspeth Noblin dies and leaves her London flat to her 20-year-old twin nieces that she’s never met. The twins are eccentric to begin with, but when you put them in London in a flat adjacent to an historic cemetery and surrounded by neighbors with their own quirks, and finally add the ghost of Elspeth who is having a hard time resting in peace, the result is entertaining and gripping (and not scary).
4. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachmann–Each chapter is told as a character portrait of an employee of an English-language newspaper in Rome as the newspaper slowly dies in the age of 24-hour-news channels and websites. The characters’ stories are sweet, funny, sad, and strange in turn, and by the end you really care about the fate of the paper and its staff.
5. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley–It’s 1950 in rural England and 11-year-old aspiring chemist Flavia de Luce passes the time tinkering in the laboratory she’s inherited from her great uncle. Flavia discovers a murdered stranger in the cucumber patch one morning and decides to get to the bottom of the mystery that the local police can’t seem to solve. Flavia is smart and sarcastic and funny, and following her around the village as she tries to solve the murder kept me laughing page after page.
6. True Confections by Katherine Weber–The novel tells the story of a small candy-making family and is told from the point of view of the candy heir’s soon-to-be ex-wife. Alice, who met her husband when she applied for a job at the candy factory after her college acceptance was rescinded when she accidentally set fire to a classmate’s house, tells her story in the form of an affadavit. It’s very, very funny, and the details of the candymaking industry left me wanting chocolate every night.
7. One Day by David Nicholls–This book’s chapters take place on the same day each year over the course of the 20-year relationship between Dex and Em. Sometimes they’re lovers, sometimes they’re friends, sometimes they’re not speaking. I don’t want to give away too much except to say that the ending comes out of nowhere and is stunning. It’s currently being made into a movie with Anne Hathaway playing Em.
And that’s all. I can’t wait to hear what books meant the most to you this past year.
Happy New Year!