Monday, December 28, 2009

Year in Books

I am not going to do a full-blown top ten or twelve year-end book review but I can't let the year end without at least a little bit of commentary on some of the books I read this year.

My favorite fiction read of the year had to be The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This new 40-year-old Alabama author struck a cord with readers, especially Southerners, with her poignant account of life in Mississippi in the early sixties and the relationships of white women and their African American domestic workers.

A close second was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which left me feeling warm all over. Upon the recommendation of blog friends Quid and Steve, I read Cormac McCarthy's The Road, the chilling post-apocolyptic account which literally kept me up at night after I finished it. Did I enjoy it? That's hard to say -- don't know if I would use the word "enjoy" associated with this book. Did it keep me spell bound? Without a doubt. Now I'm trying to decide if I would dare go see the movie.

Also near the top of the list of fiction was Sarah's Key which centers around the little known (at least to me) part of the Holocaust which took place in France.

My hands-down non-fiction favorite was Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years in which this unconventional Christian author of Blue Like Jazz had me dying laughing then crying, as he related his journey of learning how his life is a story. Also loved Witsec, which tells the fascinating history of the U.S. Government's Federal Witness Protection Program; Letters from a Skeptic, a collection of letters back and forth between a seminary professor and his agnostic father; and Late Edition, a Love Story, by Bob Greene, in which he laments the shrinking of the American newspaper at the hands of the Internet by telling his own story of working as a high school student at a local newspaper in Columbus, Ohio.

Also on the non-fiction side, really enjoyed Three Cups of Tea, about Gregg Mortensen's amazing success at buiilding schools in Pakistan.

My nod to classical literature this year was J.D. Sallinger's Catcher in the Rye which somehow I misssed as a high school and college student. Really enjoyed it and I am open to suggestions for more classics in 2010.

I am ending the year with The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, originally written in French but translated into extremely readable English. I am about two-thirds through this one, which tells parallel stories of a middle-aged widowed concierge in a French apartment building and a 12-year-old girl who lives in the same building. I started it Christmas night and it has been a real page turner.

As usual, I would welcome your reading recommendations for 2o10. Good reading to all.


Kelly said...

I'm pleased to say that I've read both of your top picks! (you're a good influence on me, Bob)

The Road is sitting in my TBR pile and will probably be one of my first books of the new year.

I'll try to post my own "top reading" list for the year sometime during the next week.

quid said...

Fantastic list.... wonderful showing by Auburn today. Sorry if you got wet!


Bob said...

HA -- we got a little wet during the first half but endured. Got cold -- of all things -- during second half but what a finish! I love that area and my family really enjoyed it. Hope to catch you there on a future trip.

Steve H. said...

Bob, I just read Frankenstein as well as Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. I had never read them when I was young and then was put off them by the "monster" movies they spawned. They are not at all. They are wonderful insights into the human condition and are classics for a reason

quid said...

Did you get seafood?

Bob said...

Yes. We stayed at a Crown Plaza near some big shopping area not far from
Raymond James. We arrived mid-day NY Eve and ate at a place nearby, I think it was Mitchell's Fish Market? Very good but I look forward to coming back and trying one of your favorites.

The game was amazing, as was the weather -- we got wet the first half, then froze the second!

NY Eve downtown at Channelside, way too wild and crazy for this 50-something, but fun for the younger ones. We left about 10 p.m. and brought in the new year from our hotel room.