Best Read of 2005?
It doesn't have to be anything current...just your best-loved book of the year.
My overall best read this year was The Red Tent - :up to Dinahann for recommending it in this forum. And running a very close second was the Jasper Fforde Thursday Next series, also thanks to the excellent recommendations on this forum. :)
I read two books this year that stick out in my mind. They were both books that I read for my bookclub, books that did not interest me at first but decided to read them. I read Devil in the White City and Kite Runner. Both excellent stories and very different, I would recommend them to anyone!:up
I also forgot earlier this year that I read Lovely Bones, another excellent book!
According to my book journal (anyone else keep one? It's a great way to keep track of everything you've read and what you thought of it), I've read 67 novels so far this year. Some of them have been amazing, others have been good and a few have - sadly - proven to be bona fide stinkers. Here's a list of the ones I really, really liked:
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. This was the first book I read this year, and what a great way to start off a new year! Sad, moving and eerily beautiful. Apparently, it's about to be turned into a movie by Peter Jackson. Can't wait to see what he will do with it; I'm thinking more Heavenly Creatures than Lord of the Rings, feel-wise.
The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates. I don't think the fact that I absolutely, utterly adore Joyce Carol Oates is news to anyone who frequents the Books thread. However, as rabid a fan as I am, I'd be the first to admit that she's almost too prolific for her own good. For every Blonde or Wonderland, there's an I'll Take You There or Foxfire - good books, but mediocre by Oatesian standards. So I'm happy to report that The Falls is a return to the good old epic, marvellous Oates of Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart or Bellefleur. This is the engrossing story of one woman's life through several tumultous decades in 20th century America. The language is just unbelievable, and Ariah is one of Oates' most memorable characters for years. (That says quite a lot, coming from an author who's known for publishing at least two or three volumes of fiction a year.)
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. A brilliantly quirky novel from another geek the girl fave. It's about a private investigator, but it's not a crime story. It's a great story, period, filled with excentric characters and beautiful language.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Another treat for anyone who's into beautiful language. I remember reading passages of this novel over and over again because of their sheer beauty. Also, it's a poignant and moving story about cultural heritage, family and having one foot in two very different cultures.
The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. One of the best crime novels I've read this year, and a very erudite one at that. It deals with Dante's Inferno but don't worry, you don't have to have read it to enjoy this one. However, it doesn't hurt if you have at least a slight knowledge about Dante's vision of Hell. This book will certainly make you want to find out more. To me, The Dante Club was this year's The American Boy (author: Andrew Taylor)- another literary crime novel set in the 19th century.
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb - at 900 pages, it was an overwhelming read, but I loved every page. I even cried a few times! It was an Oprah's Book Club choice back in the late 90's.
The Tin Drum by Günter Grass - I wrote about this one a few pages back and don't think I have anything to add right now. Rest assured, though: it's a TERRIFIC read, like nothing you've ever read before.
Beloved by Toni Morrison - Actually, this is one of the best novels I've read for a couple of years.
Hubby wants the computer now, so I won't be able to write any reviews on the following books. They all come highly recommended, though:
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
A Darkness More Than Night by Michael Connelly
The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
Bellefleur by Joyce Carol Oates
The Famished Road by Ben Okri
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Looks like I read quite a few good books this year :)
My favorites were The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, Atonement by Ian McEwan and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Also don't want to forget The Bark of the Dogwood by Jackson Tippett McCrae, Life of Pi by Yann Martel and My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.
Far and away, my favorite read of 2005 was Neil Gaiman's follow-up to American Gods, called Anansi Boys. While not as epic in scope as American Gods, I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Gaiman's world and thought the novel was well-written, hilarious and poignant. What more can you ask for in a book?
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