Monday, January 25, 2010

Retiring the Reading List

It's time. It's actually past time. I've read three books already in 2010, but have not yet recorded them on the Reading LIst sidebar, because I didn't want to lose the old list, or get things too confused. So, you'll find in this post the list of books I read in 2009. 38 books! I'm always surprised it isn't more, while at the same time impressed that I found enough time away from television, etc. to read this many. This year, I have been delighted to reacquaint myself with audio books, and can't believe I stayed away from them so long.
It's intriguing to me to see trends in my reading. I obviously reunited some of my old mystery series friends: Goldy Bear the caterer, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, as well as Park Ranger Anna Piegon. It was nice to hang out with them again. I also did a little foray back into a genre near to my former professional heart: young adult fiction. I remain convinced that some excellent writing is going on in this niche, and envy those adolescents discovering it for the first time. Obviously, this was the year of N.'s food allergy diagnosis, and I included a couple of the books I read in that vein of research on my list.

I'm going to do a little "top ten" here, pulling out the books that particularly delighted or moved me for one reason or another. They're listed in the reverse chronological order that I read them:

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl: I've already reviewed this book on this blog. You can read my thoughts here.

Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee: There are many things I loved about this book about a Korean-American family, but perhaps the most striking was the way that Lee used omniscient narration to make you empathize with every single character.

Admission by Jean Hanf Korelitz : This story of an admissions officer at Princeton was sad and hopeful at the same time. It has haunted me ever since I put it down.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: This was one of the few books I read this year that made me cry real tears. I'd love to give the gift of experiencing this book to a ninth grader: almost enough to make me return to the classroom. Almost.

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen -- A unique, illustrated story of an awesome kid who gets hired by the Smithsonian to be a cartographer, unbeknownst of the fact he is only 13 years old. It's also a road trip book, chronicling his journey across the country to Washington DC on his own.

The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett -- One of those that I couldn't believe I hadn't read it before now. I have a long standing love affair with the performance of magic, and can't wait to buy one of my children their first magic set. Meeting characters who made it their life was fascinating. Also, the portrait of small town Nebraska in winter it offers was so compelling: there's a whole scene that talks about WalMart and how it offers hope and comfort that gave me a brand new perspective.

Sing Them Home by Stephane Kallos -- If I were going to have to choose a number one for this list, I might just pick this one so that more people would read it. A story of a family from a small town with a difficult past, dealing with the fresh death of their father as well as confronting memories of their mother. Very interesting meditations on how we celebrate the passings of loved ones.

The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King -- while this isn't my favorite from the series, I am always just enthralled to be immersed in the world of Sherlock Holmes, even for a time. I think I have convinced myself thathe and Mary Russell, his partner and then wife, actually exist

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: Lots has been written about this book, probably better than I can put it right here. But I love the characters in this book so much, and if you haven't met them yet, you should.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: Can’t wait to share this sweet story with N.

The format of this post is all screwed up and I simply haven't the patience to fix it right now. I'll just apologize instead. Also, want to thank MEP, my good good friend and my favorite source of reading suggestions. So many of the finds on my top ten list, and my list in general, are ones that she's recommended either on her blog or in person. I look forward to finding out what she, and all of my readers, are reading in 2010!

And here is the complete list, in reverse chronological order:

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo
Black Out by Lisa Unger
Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Precept Upon Precept: Isaiah (Ch. 1-23)
Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Admission by Jean Hanf Korelitz
Heat by Bill Buford
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Yokota Officer's Club by Sarah Bird
The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Night Work by Laurie R. King
The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright
Sing Them Home by Stephane Kallos
The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson
The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski
Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster
Borderline by Nevada Barr
The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King
The Love Season by Elin Hilderbrand
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Shack by William P. Young
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat That Touched the World by Vicki Myron
Food Allergy Cookbook by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne
Caring for Your Child With Severe Food Allergies by Lisa Cipriano Collins
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smitth
Away by Amy Bloom
Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan


Actchy said...

Pumped to get a suggestion of an Anne Patchett. For some reason, I've only read Bel Canto...and I loved Bel Canto.

mep said...

Thanks for the shout out and for always being the person I can talk to about books. Oh how I miss our days of Joseph Beth dinners and author talks.

I will put Sing Them Home on my list.

I'm reading and loving Comfort Me with Apples right now. I just finished Maupin's Tales of the City and can't believe I've never read it before . . . so excited because there are six (?) more books in the series to follow.

CaraBee said...

As expected, there are many of the same books on my list. I share your love for YA fiction and mystery and magic. We should start a long distance book club, you, me and mep.

I'll definitely be taking some of these titles for my to-read list.

Heather said...

Mep sent me over to visit...

I live not too far from you, in Lebanon.

I LOVE the Anna Pigeon books. I saw there was a new one out last year, but haven't had the chance to read it. I just started back to school to get my BSN, so time is at a premium. I have to have a book to read, though; I think I'll make this one next on my list.