The end of the year is often a time for taking stock and, in that spirit, I give you the best books I read last year. My list is entirely subjective, based on nothing more than my own enjoyment. I think, though, you might enjoy reading these as well.
My Top Three :
Carol Rifka Brunt
I read my top pick early in the year--last January--and nothing surpassed this wonderful emotional read. I fell in love with fifteen year old June, who is just trying to figure out the world and deal with the loss of her beloved uncle to AIDS. The bitter sweet ending had me in tears.
The Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd
I've been a big fan of Sue Monk Kidd's books since I read The Secret Life of Bees some years ago, so it's no wonder I loved this one. Set in pre-civil war Charleston, the book follows the lives of Sarah Grimke and Handful, the slave she is given for her eleventh birthday. The book is an unflinching account of slavery and women's rights in the 19th century. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes a good historical
Like Haruf's other books, Benediction is filled with spare prose that echoes the spare high plains he wrote about. It's a simple story--a man with terminal cancer goes home to die-- and yet within these pages are characters that got under my skin and lingered there long after I'd read the last words.
Kent Haruf passed away at the end of November. His books will be long remembered..
Ten More I'd Recommend--
The Lost Garden
A novella set in Devon during World War II, this is a book to linger over. The prose is delicate and wonderful.
What Alice Forgot
Part laughter, part heartbreak, the story of Alice, who loses ten years of her life when she hits her head in spinning class, will warm your heart on a cold day.
Everyone is Beautiful
The chaos of having young children is wonderfully portrayed in this funny and heartwarming read.
I loved the gentle humor in this book. The almost love affair between Pasquale and Dee is written with such tenderness that I had to include this book on my best list.
The Cinderella Deal
This is vintage Cruise. Not a deep read or a surprising plot, but just good old fashioned funny light romance.
The Alchemist's Daughter
While it isn't a page-turner, this book is both thoughtful and provocative. It reminded me of the Gothic novels written by the Bronte sisters.
Tiny Acts of Love
A bit of a disclaimer here-- Lucy Lawrie is a writer I've 'known' online for a while and I read an early draft of this book. It is a wonderful story and well worth the read for the way in which new motherhood is so honestly (and humorously) portrayed.
If you liked Gone Girl, you should read this one as well. Flynn has a knack for creating dysfunctional characters. A riveting read.
I met Nancy, who lives near me, at a local book event over the summer. Her book, a mix of mystery, romance, heartbreak and humor, is well worth the read.
Secrets Lies and Homicide
The second Claire Marshall mysteries captures the soul of New Orleans. If you love a good mystery with a strong sense of place, this one's for you.