When I started blogging in 2008, I noticed that I did not read nearly as much as I used to. And 2009? Well. I seem to have half fallen off the bloggy bandwagon. I have a dozen posts that I have started. I have lots of post ideas. But. Making them come to fruition. It has not been my strong point.
So fewer blog posts equals more time to read. I read more than 100 books in '09. Some good. Some stinkers. Some real disappointments. And then there were these. The best books that I read last year:
1. The Road by Cormac McCarthy- On the surface, this story is post-apocalyptic. Some sort of undefined disaster has struck. The landscape has burned. Its colors are bleak. It's cold. The unnamed characters are hungry. And hiding from other survivors. Because those other survivors are not to be trusted. But. That is all surface. At it's heart. It's a story of love. That indefinable love between a parent and a child. When you do whatever it takes to protect them. In the most harrowing of circumstances. It's lyrical. Poetic. And beautiful. Yep. Post apocalyptic. Gut wrenching. And beautiful. (And the movie? I have not seen it. Not really interested. I am not sure who would read this book and say "hey...this would make a great movie...")
2. The Help - A first novel by Kathryn Stockett...and what an effort it is. Set in 1962 in Mississippi, the novel revolves around several Junior league members and their black maids. But the story gets is umph when one of the women begins applying for editing jobs in New York. She gets some great advice in one of her rejection letters...not that traditional "write what you know" but "write about what makes you uncomfortable." She takes this advice to heart and interviews the maids that clean the houses, cook the meals, raise the children...but women that would never be invited to the table.
3. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I have this certain affinity for young adult novels. But sometimes, they can be hugely disappointing. I read so many this year that had this overarching potential...yet they failed miserably. But this one. This one was different. It had a lot of similarities to others of this genre. Romance. Barriers between the two. Magic. But again. This one was different. It is so well voiced. The characters are so well developed. There is nothing two dimensional about it. And it's original. With it being told in first person. From the hero's point of view.
4. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley. I know it may be shocking...but I read A LOT of romances. And if you like romances...this one is incredibly well done. With a tortured hero who truly is "mad." A hero that was in an asylum in his youth. But the noises in his head are stilled - at least momentarily - when he finds the love of his life.
5. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I love this series. It is full of action and adventures. Steeped with Greek mythology. But with thoroughly modern twists. Like...the Olympian gods follow the heart of civilization...so the modern Mount Olympus is at the top of the Empire State building. The entrance to the underworld? Naturally...it's Las Vegas.
6. Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr is a difficult book to describe. It tells the story of a boy who has known since he was in utero when the world would end. If you knew...would you live your life differently? Would anything matter? The book also delves into those little things that matter...and change everything. What I really liked about the book was that...really...for all of us...we are here on this earth for a short time. We don't know exactly when our end will come. But life can be full of unexplicable joy and beauty...where everything does matter.
7. The Space Between Us by Thrity Urmigar. I read this as one of my book club selections. And it is one of the things that I love most about being in that group...they encourage me to read books that I would not normally pick up (like the one I am reading now "On Human Bondage" which is actually quite compelling...so far). And this short novel was one of my favorites of the year. It is about two women. One wealthy. Educated. Priviledged. The other her maid. She is poor. Illiterate. One would think that the divide between these women would be huge. Divided by money. By class. By opportunity. But. They share many of the same experiences. Some they don't even realize that they share. The tale is a haunting and compeling tale of our shared humanity.
8. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly. This is not an action book. It is not fast paced. Yet there is adventure. But it is quiet adventure. Observational. And full of changes. Calpurnia is a girl on the cusp. On the verge of womanhood...but not wanting to play the prescribed role. On the verge of a new century with the promise of self-discovery.
9. The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. The series is fueled by the notion that someone in Japan invented a synthetic blood. For medical use. But...because of the invention, it allowed vampires to come out of the closet. So to speak. And. Well. If there are vampires. Why wouldn't there be shapeshifters? Werewolves? Fairies? Witches? Maenads? Why indeed. And all of these fantastical creatures become part of the world of Sookie Stackhouse. Bar maid from Bon Temp, Louisiana. An ordinary girl...who just happens to hear the thoughts of everyone around her. So. Is she part of that fantastical world...or not?
10. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. After reading "The Hunger Games" last year, I really could not fathom where Collins would take her next story. She took the story in a direction I did not expect. And then left me hanging at the end. Ugh! How much longer till book three?
So...what about you? What is the best book you have read this year? What is in your to-be-read pile?