I'm a bit late with this, but I thought I'd drop on by to briefly mention a few of my favourite books of the past 12 months. It was not a prolific reading year for me, having read only a total of 38 books. Usually I hover in or around the 50 mark. But I did read some terrific stuff, for sure.
Among my favourites -- and really, it's so hard to choose, my four favourite novels were:
The Secret History -- Donna Tartt
Middlesex -- Jeffrey Eugenides
The Elegance of the Hedgehog -- Muriel Barbery
The Woman in White -- Wilkie Collins
Most of these are not current releases [especially the last one] -- but the criteria of "current release" very rarely factors in to my reading choices. To me, it matters not if a book is ten years old already, I wander my To Be Read piles, and just select one and BOOM, I am off.
Donna Tarrt is an author I would read without reservation, meaning, I am already interested in whatever her next project is! The Secret History was just so superb -- such memorable characters, and a story that effortlessly swept me along.
Funny, one evening in July I was reading it in a Starbucks, and an old man looked over at me and said, "That is a good book!" I looked up and sort of instantly knew that there is no way he had read the book. But he persisted…. "There are things going on that we do not know about…" giving me a sort of conspiratorial wink.
I said to him, "This is a novel -- a fiction." He was not getting it. He thought I was reading about the Illuminati or something. Non-fictional secret societies. I smiled and returned to the book, but he took out a slip of paper and asked me for the ISBN number. So I recited it to him. Poor guy. Afterwards, I imagined him making a trip to the library, checking it out, and then sitting down with it and thinking "What the frigging hell is this?"
Middlesex was my introduction to Jeffrey Eugenides, and made an instant fan out of me.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog was a wonderful philosophical journey. Not only a great novel, but relevant. Meaningful. Worthwhile. Elegant.
And The Woman in White was everything a great old Victorian novel ought to be. Old Wilkie Whiskerface… you gotta hand it to the guy. He may have been high on laudanum at the time, but he sure could write!
There are so many other books I loved -- it seems like a betrayal to not mention them here.
In the non-fiction department, two books stand out to me as just -- remarkable.
Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, is the story of the WWII American soldier, Louis Zamperini. To read what this [still living] man went through as a P.O.W. in Japanese camps is just amazing. I could not put the thing down, from page one onwards. Hillenbrand could not have given us anything better. Her extensive research and writing style have joined in a book that reads like the most engaging novel, ever.
Then there is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot -- again, one of the most unputdownable TRUE stories I have ever read. I cannot recommend it too highly.
There are so many other books, non-fiction ones that reached into the very fiber of my mind and heart.
Isn't it difficult to just select a few to highlight, when all of us are reading so many great books each year? For me, it is difficult.
Happy Reading to y'all, in 2013!