My favorite thing in the world to do (besides work and hang out with my family) is to read. I aim to finish 1 book per week and last year (2010), I did pretty good. I finished 50 books. I could finish more if I didn’t have so many magazine subscriptions but I do love the pretty pictures and immediacy of magazines for staying up on trends and news.My favorite books of 2010: Room
This book is a deeply moving, sweetly expressed book about a little boy, growing up in a room. His mom was kidnapped by a depraved man seven years beforehand and he is the product of his nighttime abuse. The storyline is incredibly difficult but the writing (from the 5 year old Jack’s point of view) is precious. The author deals with the practical issues: How do you keep yourself fit in a space the size of a shed; to the more esoteric: How would you view your surroundings if you didn’t know there was more outside? This was my favorite book of 2010.
This book is comprised of thirteen short stories about residents of Maine. The stories are all connected with one or two small threads or characters and end up masterfully connecting in the end to bring the entire book together. I fell in love with some of the characters and the quirky personality of the town Crosby, Maine. This book won a Pulitzer Prize so you have the added bonus of feeling like you’re in the ‘in’ crowd when reading it.
This book is so powerfully written that it reads like fiction though, sadly, it is not. It follows the story of a Syrian born contractor in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He stays to help the citiziens of New Orleans, rowing everywhere, and rescuing many. Yet, one day, he disappears. Both a scathing indictment of Bush’s lack of emergency preparedness planning and a gem of a redeeming story, this book grabbed me and didn’t let go until the very end.
Though a slow starter, this is an epic book for the ages. Fiction is interwoven with real events that took place in Ethopia, a plot device that both helps to develop characters as well as become its own character in the novel. The book follows an entire family for the bulk of their lives, contrasting the story of the poor who are rich in family connections with the rich in America who are poor in meaningful connection.
This book is huge and daunting to look at but it is a worthwhile read. There’s a reason it took Franzen 10 years in between books; this book would have taken that long to craft. It is put together like a masterful puzzle, following a family from each person’s point of view, to tell the story of a 30 year span. The story has no major crescendo to build up to but rather, is a slow weaving of a story that gets more complex and dense as the book moves forward. Even at its lengthy 576 pages, I finished this book almost in 2 days because I found it hard to eat, drink, or want to move while reading it.
Did you ever wonder what happens to the cells that are taken from your body during a routine Pap smear or when you check a mole to see if its cancerous? Yeah, neither did I. Until I read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” This non-fiction book delves into the science behind gene therapy, the race to cure cancer and how we made so many leaps and bounds in medical science studying live human tissue. It turns out that human tissue came from a person, a poor black woman who had the perfect cells to experiment on because they never died. Yet, her family for decades to come lived poor, in obscurity, without health insurance while others profited off of selling their mother’s cells. This book goes into the ethics behind the business of selling cells as well as follows the lives of Ms. Lacks family.
If you’ve ever wondered how a tidal wave is formed or tried your hand at surfing, you’ll be fascinated by this book. Part science book, part biography of Laird Hamilton (the father of big wave surfing), this non-fiction book reads like a novel and is paced perfectly to hold your interest and educate you at the same time. As a sidenote, after reading this book, I am officially a Laird Hamilton devotee.
Though this book is not rocket science (and let’s face it, good advice rarely is), it is just the book you need to start 2011 off right. If you haven’t read a back to the basics business book for a while, this is the one for you. Written by the publisher of Success magazine, this book makes success and its friends (fame and fortune) seem like a few simple habits away (but oh how hard those simple habits are). Indie Beauty is doing an online book club with this book to start 2011 off right. Click here to read about the format for their club and find out how you can participate.
All the live links to books in this post go to Amazon.com and are affiliate links.
If you have any other books that you think I’d love, please post and let me know. I’m always on the hunt for new good material!