Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #3 - 13 of This Year's Great Reads

I was just going to post my top 13 favorite reads from this year, but those would have included ones that I'd already talked up in my first T13 (Small Island, Black & White, Water for Elephants, and Truth and Beauty). In light of this, I've decided to include 9 of my absolute favorites for the year and 4 runners up, so those 4 can get their moment in the sun, too. The rest aren't really in any order, but the last four are the runners up.

Thirteen of My Favorite Reads From This Year

1. The Other Side of You by Salley Vickers - I could kick myself for not having reviewed this one right after I finished it. It was a slow read, not because it was boring, but because I wanted to absorb the prose and contemplate the themes in this story of a therapist who discovers a breakthrough of his own after hearing the heart-rending story of one of his patients.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - Because who can say enough about Harry Potter? Actually, I've never been the person that runs right out and buys the new Harry Potter, but I'd certainly grown to love this series and since I was working at a bookstore when it came out decided I'd better get right to it so nobody would spoil its end. Glad I did. Loved it.

3. The Reluctant God by Pamela Service - I read this book when I was in middle school and then came upon another copy through BookCrossing and decided I had to read it again. I'm quite certain I loved it just as much the second time. An ancient Egyptian travels through time to the present where he and his discoverer, an archaeologist's daughter, must seek out something that has been stolen from them. History! Action! Time travel! Awesome!

4. Away by Jane Urquhart - I love to read about the Irish experience in history. I also don't like to be depressed all the time. Luckily, here's a book that allows one to read about the Irish immigrating to Canada without being depressing the entire time. It's a mystical story of a woman who falls in love with a drowned man whose legacy follows her ancestors down through history even after they leave Ireland for Canada. The mystical part of the story, a few slightly kooky characters, and Urquhart's beautiful writing made this a fantastic read.

5. There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene - An incredible story of a woman who opened her heart and her door to Ethiopia's orphans. A book that manages to touch your heart and also be a powerful expose of the AIDS problem in Africa.

6. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - A coming of age story that understands that growing up entails feeling "infinite" but also feeling like crap. Loved the honesty.

7. Shout Down the Moon by Lisa Tucker - Single mother and singer, Patty Taylor, tours with a jazz band that is hostile to her presence while facing trouble from her recently-paroled and very explosive ex-husband. I loved the look into touring with a small-time band, the emotionally charged encounters with her ex-husband, and most of all, watching her learn to stand up for herself and what she wants in her life instead of letting all the forces in her life bowl her over.

8. Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger - One of the first I reviewed here. I loved that she came at this love story from the straight guy's point of view. You don't see that much. You see it done well even less.

9. Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson - Guterson's descriptions of even the most ordinary things make it feel like you are there seeing, smelling, feeling it. Guterson delves into love, prejudice, the effects of war on its veterans, and even gets a little bit of legal thriller in there, too. Wow.

10. The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty - The narrator of this story is so unlikeable that it is difficult to continue reading about her or it might have made the top thirteen. This story is an all too realistic look at a family in crisis, what they learn about each other as a result, and also what they learn about themselves.

11. The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day - I think I may have mentioned my "thing" for circus stories. This is a novel in short stories about a circus wintering in a small town in Indiana which takes place while the circus is still touring in season and also well after the show has been disbanded. The themes of the stories are woven together perfectly, and Day creates a few characters and scenes that are simply unforgettable.

12. No Great Mischief by Alistair McLeod - McLeod made a slightly bumpy transition from short stories to a full-length novel, but this "blood is thicker than water" tale of Scots in Canada certainly proves its theme that "all of us are better when we're loved."

13. The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings - Matt King, husband and father, seeks out his wife's lover after she falls into an irreversible coma. In the process, he tries to repair his damaged relationship with his daughters, sell off his land-holdings, and come to terms with his own feelings about his wife's imminent death. This novel also suffers from characters that aren't immediately likeable, but I grew to accept them and root for them to work through their problems. All in all, it's a great debut novel from Hemmings.


  1. Have you read any Alice HOffman? She's one of my absolute favorites. Happy Thursday!

  2. Holy smoke! I've only read one of those (Snow Falling on Cedars). We might have to get together and swap some books, woman!

    Happy TT! Glad to see you stop by. And yes, it's totally acceptable to gather the candy thrown near little kids. It teaches them to be on their toes. *grin*

  3. Wow! I wish I could read and write at the same time (smile). Too many deadlines, not enough free time. But I don't dare complain . . .

  4. The only one I have read is H Potter but several of the others seem intriguing.

  5. I enjoy the HP books, but I really only hurried and got them all so fast and read them right away for the reason you mention: to prevent being susceptible to spoilers.