Because I've only really been keeping track for the last four years. In no particular order...
1. Wonder When You'll Miss Me by Amanda Davis - I love a good circus story, and the damaged narrator of this story was pitch perfect.
2. No Matter How Loud I Shout by Edward Humes - A view of the LA juvenile court system from just about every possible angle. It's an awesome piece of work that is occasionally heart-wrenching and frustrating but absolutely worth the read. Along similar lines is True Notebooks by Mark Salzman, another great book.
3. The Road Back by Erich Maria Remarque - The relatively unknown cousin to All Quiet On the Western Front that follows the former soldiers after their return from the war.
4. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis - I'm of the crowd that sees the very strong Christian parallel in The Chronicles of Narnia. That being the case, the final scenes of this one brought me to tears.
5. Spilling Clarence by Anne Ursu - A novel about what happens to people when their memories are set free of their normal restraints.
6. Skylight Confessions by Alice Hoffman - A semi-mystical book about a family actually living in a glass house. It turns out, however, the family is far more fragile than the house.
7. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy - This is the best book I've ever read that nobody seems to have heard of. It's a very beautiful and haunting World War II/Holocaust story molded into the Hansel and Gretel story. I can't recommend it highly enough.
8. Black & White by Dani Shapiro - A story of a an artist and her daughter and what happens when the line between her art and her love for her daughter becomes blurred.
9. Small Island by Andrea Levy - It's so hard for an author to write from several different characters' points of view and make them distinct from each other. Levy nails it. Her four characters are perfectly drawn, and their intertwined stories are subtly written and all the more powerful for it.
10. Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett - If I could write anywhere near as great as Ann Patchett, I could die happy. This memoir of her friendship with Lucy Grealy author of Autobiography of a Face is beautiful and recounts a true friendship at its best and worst.
11. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - This story of a mysterious world below London was so good that I took my best friend to Borders and made her buy it. Imaginative, suspenseful, not to mention a very quick read.
12. The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich - I love a book capable of making you feel like you got to know a whole community by the end. Instead of feeling overburdened by getting to know so many characters so deeply, you just want to spend more time with them.
13. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - Have I mentioned my weakness for circus stories? This one is great. It's got characters you won't forget - especially the animals! And maybe one of the less recognized elements of the story that sucked me right in was Jacob's narration when he is old and confined to a nursing home. Having spent some time working in a nursing home, I couldn't get over how spot on this character was.
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