December 31, 2012 § 21 Comments
The post-year wrap-up is all over blogworld and a great topic ‘specially for those of us (prob’ly just me) who hem and haw ad hilarium on what to write.
And so I turn to books, more specifically, my top reads from 2012 as topic. Note: This list could vary, (as any bookreader will understand), depending on the day it’s assembled.
1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
So now we have a new classic literature romantic couple: it’s Celia and Marco. Sure, sure, sure, there’s also Isobel and Tsuchichi (or something close to that) and Poppet and Lainie and a cast of dozens and Bailey, the “real” boy and the twins and illusion, illusion, illusion. I’m not gonna say “magic” per se: this book is not just abracadabra. It’s about creating and maintaining illusion, and two “battling” illusionists (oh, darn and now you’re thinking of those movies from a few years ago including THE ILLUSIONIST and THE PRESTIGE but this book bears little resemblance to those stories.
Further, do not mistake my enthusiasm for this book as a dictum to run out and get it; it’s not gonna be a hit with everyone. It just happened to be the right book at the right time for me. And the storytelling is fluent – no bumps, no flaws, not missteps, no over or under telling. It’s about a competition between two illusionists set in a competition from a very early age and the circus that becomes their platform as well as a number of characters who run in and out, populating the pages in some unforgettable scenarios. Placed in the late 1800s western Europe and east coast USA, the book hits so many right notes, you gotta love it. Well, you don’t “gotta” love it, but it’s worth a look, a try, a page…
2. Firefly Summer by Maeve Binchy
Long, long long storyabout an American with Irish roots who returns to build a huge honking hotel in a quiet village of his parents birth and the uproar it causes among young and old. This is a perfect book to read on the road; it goes and goes and goes and you keep reading it because Binchy can do that with her characters. Lotsa fluff, lotsa humanity and charming overall tho’ this one has a few hard edges. Still we cheer for the little family who owns the pub by the bridge. And some of us read anything by the Binchy, whose work we will miss going forward.
3. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
The book got better and better as I went along. This is the first one in the Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes series. Yup, a Holmes afficionado can love this “take” on Holmes’s life after Doyle stops writing. If you love a British-y book, and Holmes and some mystery with a strong female character mixed in (and no, she’s nothing like Irani Adler), then ya gotta try this one.
4. The Little Stranger by Sarah Water. I kinda have a love/hate relationship with this book. It’s not scary, but it is. And uncomfortable sometimes. And curious. And because it’s a book, it’s fiction, you think yeah, well, maybe everything will work out. Ha.
5. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. Just sit down and read it. The writing is great, balanced. Not too this nor too that. The story borders on myth but not like fantasy or anything. The story never lets up. Something on every page will make the reader sigh. Yeah, this doesn’t tell you anything. Just read it.
6. Crossing to Safety– Wallace Stegner. Don’t know what took me so long to get to this book. I love it. I might not read it again, but I might. Everything about it was right, from the setting, the culture, the people and the story (ok, ’til the end, but honestly, what did I think was going to happen?), from the language and familiarity with some of the settings, to its themes, it was a great book. It will always be a great book. I still muddle over the title and the story and the many meanings in the former relating to the latter.
7. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I danced around this one for ages. Then an author I met at a reading mentioned See as one of her favorite writers. And Lisa D also spoke highly of the See books. Then Snarl gave it to me for my birthday. I always take his gifts so seriously, honor them knowing he thought about choosing them and then searched it out. So the book was a surprise, a pleasant one (tho’the story is full of things that are tough to take not being familiar with Chinese culture at the time it covers, nor even now, come to think of it.) Anyway, if you love reading stories for character and a glimmer of cultural insight, this one is a must.
8. The Flight of Gemma Hardy – Jane Eyre meets Cinderella. But I read it and it wasn’t half bad. And I”m putting it on this list so you’ll know that I try to read currently current stuff, too!
9. Bond Girl – forgot author’s name but she’ll be back. She wrote a good book and I liked it. Bright, chirpy and set in NYC finance world, it’s hip and entertaining.
10. The Book Thief – Yeah, I was late to the party on reading this one, but after all, even when I thought I didn’t like it cuz I just didn’t like the narrator, it was a fabulous book, for its ending as well as every one of its pages prior to the ending.
11. The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani – I LOVED it. Long, descriptive, plenty of good characters, turn-of-the-century time period, set in Italy and NYC. The plotsweave in and out, rather idealistically, to dish up a really good story which was right up my alley tho’ likely not for everyone.
12. I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron. I don’t remember when I became a Nora follower/admirer/respector. Maybe it was after “when Harry met….” or maybe it was after I read her “Crazy Salad Days” or maybe it was after I saw a film clip of her praising Meryl Streep. I dunno. I miss her, that’s all. And this book was her goodbye. I didn’t realize ’til I was finishing it. It is a great little book, with humor and insight and stuff about writing and writers and NYC…I’m so glad to have it on my shelf rather than a library lend. Highly recommended.
I read 34 books this year – doesn’t it make you wonder about the other 22 not listed here? The complete list ranges from lite lit to writers-to-learn from and stuff in between.
Here’s to books and here’s to a fine if not fabulous New Year!