During 2009, I read 72 books, and I have 3 in progress. Of the 72, I reviewed 25 that I opined would be of interest to my general readers. Books that are different, something new, something borrowed, something blue. DISCLAIMER: Please remember that these are my opinions; your results may vary.
THE BEST BOOK OF 2009
Innovative writing (Death is the narrator), a story that takes place inside Hitler's Germany, and unforgettable characters like Liesel Meminger and her best friend Rudy Steiner made this book unforgettable. As I wrote in my review, "Despite foreshadowing by Death, I was a wreck by book's end."
The quote I used also bears repeating. Death tells us, shortly after the Allies have bombed a place named Köln where five hundred were killed:
Five hundred souls.This book haunts me still.
I carried them in my fingers, like suitcases. Or I'd throw them over my shoulder. It was only the children I carried in my arms.
THE WORST BOOK OF 2009
I cannot for the life of me understand the popularity of this book, other than the supposed tear-jerker anti-climax. Bruno, the nine-year-old "protaga-nist," is a self-absorbed brat and just about as dumb as they come.
In a praise blurb, New York magazine says, “A book that tells a very bad story, gently.” Wrong, New York magazine. There is no way to tell a story as horrific as the Holocaust gently, especially when Bruno uses numbskull puns throughout the book: "The Fury" for the Fuhrer and "Out-With" for Auschwitz.
As I said in my review, "I do not take negative reviews lightly, and they are never a snap decision. I gave this book a lot of thought over several days, a lot of time writing and rewriting and, in the final analysis, I recommend it to no one . . . it is a disgrace to the Holocaust."
OTHER GOOD BOOKS THIS YEAR (In no particular order.)
Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri. Her second book of long short stories, I thought it was better than her first collection, Interpreter of Maladies, which won a Pulitzer.
Collected Stories; Sanctuary; Absalom! Absalom!, William Faulkner. I like the guy—what can I say?
The Complete Stories of Truman Capote.
“Yesterday afternoon the six o’clock bus ran over Miss Bobbit.”So begins the story “Children on Their Birthdays,” and I dare any reader to put it down after an opening sentence like this one. Unfortunately, Capote only published twenty stories during his early career, but every one is a gem.
A couple of fun ones:
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins. Another Young Adult book, it is a sci-fi thriller with a strong female lead. The story and action does not stop, making it almost impossible to put down. Wandering Coyote has read the second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire, and she assures me that the pace is even faster and the story superb.
The Lovers, John Connolly. The eighth installment in the Charlie Parker series, his books are getting darker and playing up the supernatural angle. And John, in person, is such a funny, likeable guy. I guess you can't tell a book by its author, a statement which makes absolutely no sense at all.
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You can read the full reviews of these books by clicking on or around the wormy apple on the sidebar. Coming up next is a review of Cormac McCarthy's The Road—one of those books I have to think about before I review it.