As promised, here is my list of favorite fiction from this “year.” I know that it seems like I am liking every book I read, but I promise…I don’t. There are plenty that get tossed aside after giving it a go (or even reading the whole thing and then not thinking it worthy to pass along). Many of them live on my book shelves, or in piles around my house (mainly by my bed), as do my books on my to-read list, which I promise to share later. And, by the way, my To-Read list is not the same as my Amazon Wish List. My To-Read list are the books that I own but haven’t read, and my Wish List are the books that I do not own yet, but wish I did. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was addicted to books. In order to control some of the outrageous amounts of money that I spent on books, I made a new rule for myself; unless I plan on starting the book in the next few days, I have to write the name of the book down to buy it later. This probably sounds logical to most of you, but for me it was a terrific form of self-restraint. There are so many books I want that I don’t actually trust myself to remember them. Hence the writing them down, which helps, but I am still working on trusting myself to go back and look at the list I’ve written. Ah, life's all about learning to trust yourself, isn't it (from the big things, like remembering books we like to the small things, like figuring out who we are...)?
Ok, back to my favorites. I once read an article by a middle-aged woman reader. She said her grandmother always taught her that to give a book a fair chance, you need to subtract your age from 100 and read at least that amount of pages in the book. Her grandmother was 99, and, apparently, only needed to read one page of a book. She said it had to do with your life experience and knowing your tastes better as you got older. She also said that she was 99 and didn’t have enough time to waste more than one page on books she didn’t enjoy! Fair enough, I say. So, this year (and by year I mean actual normal person year), I will usually try to give a book 71 pages before I toss it aside.
That being said, here are my favorites from this year…
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows: This story is about so much more than a book club. The book club sets the scene for how our characters are connected, but most of the story happens outside of the book club. I haven’t read a story that is quite like this one. Although there is romance in it, the book does not focus on that. It is about friendships and quirky people. It’s about a small town on a small island that you, as a reader, end up very much wanting to be part of. I happened to read this book on my Kindle (which I will talk about more another time) so wasn’t paying much attention to how far I had gotten…the end completely snuck up on me and I was horrified (although the ending was very satisfying) that I had to say goodbye to my new friends. What makes this book even more touching is that it was written by an aunt and her niece and the aunt has since passed away (this winter I believe). The book was just published Fall of '08. Be sure to watch the video on Amazon…you’ll fall in love.
The American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield: This book is a fictional account of Laura Bush and her relationship with George (though names are changed). Although we know that much was fabricated, plenty was true—I was socked to find out what was actual. Anyone who has read Sittenfield knows that she writes in candid, real prose. She does not skirt around issues or descriptions. I love it (possibly because that’s the way I talk), and the more uninhibited a story is, the more I connect with the characters. Although there is a slow part in the middle (which is why this didn’t get five coconuts from me), that is understood in a book that is so long. It did not hinder me from finishing this book quickly, however, because even while reading the slower part, you know the speed will resume, and you're eager to know how it will turn out.
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett: I will not lie, this book took me a year (a real calendar year and almost exactly to the day) to finish. Not because it was uninteresting, because it was riveting, but rather I read so many books in between. Also, because there were times that I was going through in my real life where I couldn’t handle some of what was going on in the book. I did bring this book to Europe with me last summer, though, and I was so engrossed in it that I hardly noticed our train car fill up with Moroccan merchants who were as shady as they were smelly. My friend, who I was traveling with, was intensely worried and sticking her head out the window to breath while I was like, “yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m reading, shhhhh.” (She’s probably laughing and nodding right now). The only time I came up for air was when one of the merchants left his backpack unaccompanied in a conspicuous way (it took something like that to make me take my eyes off of the book and pay attention). I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. It has sex, romance, violence, adventure, death, birth, journeys, and more. It is epic and I adored it. It is possibly my very favorite book ever. Possibly.
Very Valentine: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani: When I first heard the title of this book I thought I would find it in the cheesy Romance section of Barnes and Noble. I did not. It does have romance in it, but romance is more of a character than a plot. The story is about reinvention and dreams. I was going through a place in my life this year where I was trying to figure out more closely what my dreams are, and this book hit the spot and inspired me. It was one of those books that maybe you aren’t racing to find out what happens, but you don’t want to put it down because it’s so comfortable to be reading it. Kind of like when you aren’t particularly cold or tired, but your blanket is so cozy and you are so comfortable on the couch that you just can’t get up and do anything else.
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin: This is the first book in a two part series. I adored this book. I devoured it. I think it is so well written; the quality side of chick lit. Quality writing while in a genre that relates to women so well. Although the plot of the story might sound off-putting, I could not believe how much I ended up relating to/ liking the main character. It takes a great writer to make that happen. I highly recommend! If you only have time for two books this summer, read these two…they’re great summer reading. The only problem is you won’t want to leave your house until you’re finished. Just remember that books are transportable and you can take it with you wherever you go!
Something Blue by Emily Giffin: This is the sequel to Something Borrowed. You will be so glad it exists, yet you will wonder how you can read it after connecting so well with the main character in the first book. And, as contradictory as it sounds after just saying how much I related to the main character in the last book, I fully related to the main character in this book too! (You will realize how interesting that is after reading these). This is actually my favorite of the two. I was obsessed and almost read it in one sitting. I loved it. I had so much fun, wanted to BE there, and willed the book not to end. But it did. Bummer. Read it, love it, and don’t tell me if you don’t. (Just kidding, you can tell me, but I’ll think you’re stupid. Does sarcasm translate through blogs??? J).
So, there you have it. My favorite fiction (so far) from this "year". What's yours?
Happy Weekend, enjoy a good book!
The Coconut Librarian
P.S. I updated my Amazon Wishlist. I will try to remember to make note when I do so you can see which new books I'm looking at.