Friday, November 18, 2011

book review part II

I love reading.

I wanted to pick my top 5 favorite books read in the past year, and thanks to, it was easy for me to look at my comprehensive list to narrow down.  Striking books of this list to come to the "Top 5" was like cutting my arm off.  Not that I have cut my arm off, but nonetheless it was painful.  I felt like the cast off books were really sad to be deleted and not even mentioned.

The Book Thief :: Markus Zusak

I love books based on the Holocaust, but sometimes they blend together.  The way this is written, from the perspective of Death, is fascinating and captivating, standing out from any other World War II book I've read.  Death, while you would expect "him" to be gloomy, is actually personified as compassionate and, at times, oddly humorous.
"There was once a strange, small man. He decided three important details about his life:
1. He would part his hair from the opposite side to everyone else.
2. He would make himself a small, strange mustache.
3. He would one day rule the world.
...Yes, the Fuhrer decided that he would rule the world with words."

The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio :: Terry Ryan

Likeable account of a woman in the 1950's trying to provide for her family by winning prizes and money through contests.  Unintentionally, this is the only book in this list that isn't a little dark. I found it very entertaining and actually a little inspiring. I mostly appreciated the story shows that you don't have to be wealthy or have a perfect life to be happy.  This book makes me want to be persistent.

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea :: Barbara Demick

Other than some education from 30 Rock, I knew very little about North Korea.  Because the media is so restricted in gathering information about the conditions there, the author interviewed several North Koreans who had defected to South Korea or China.  During the first few chapters, I kept having to remind myself of the time period.  I caught myself picturing the setting in the 1940s because of the technology and culture, but seeing a date and realizing it was actually in the 1990s.  It is fascinating and heartbreaking to read about this country and culture.

The Cellist of Sarajevo :: Steven Galloway

Another book proving my cultural ignorance.  What Bosnian siege? While the novel is based on actual events, these characters are made up/loosely based on real people.  I loved that the chapters were from 4 different character's perspectives, bringing a greater understanding to what was going on while Sarajevo civilians were under attack by snipers, or "men in the hills".

Cutting for Stone  :: Abraham Verghese

Possibly the most beautifully written novels I have ever read.  I don't think I could put into words an accurate "review", other than the second I finished the last page I wanted to start it all over again.

Okay, I guess I will mention the runner's up that I don't want to feel neglected:
Bossypants :: Tina Fey
The Nazi Officer's Wife :: Edith H. Beer
Half Broke Horses :: Jeannette Walls

Isn't reading the best? I love as a way to keep track of what I've read and to get ideas from other people on what I might want to read.  Does anyone have any books they can suggest for me to read next?


  1. The Book Thief is the only of the 5 I've read, so thanks for some good recommendations here! If you love WWII books and haven't read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, that's another really interesting perspective.

  2. i have not read ANY of the books on your list-- so thanks for some new reads! and a great website too, i've never heard of and i am such a bookworm!
    sugesstions for you... going along with your history/learning new things theme, try "New York: The Novel" by Edward Rutherford. A great history of the state, told by fictional characters from the early 1600s to 2001. Oh, and that author has other great historial fiction books on London, Dublin, and other cities/countries.
    Going along with your darkish theme, try "Room: A Novel" by Emma Donoghue. Basic plot: a 5 year old boy and his mother have lived in a 12x16 room for 7+ years. The boy has never known anything else but that room. Told from the pint of view of the boy. SO GOOD.
    Enjoy...and thanks for the recommendations!

  3. To echo your friend's recommendation, Room was an EXCELLENT read. Also I love love love that you blogged about books. I'm going to leave this comment and go look up the rest of the titles at the library. Look up Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Fantastic novel. Or his wife Nicole Krauss; Great House, or The History of Love. Two of my favorite most recent reads.

  4. I can't believe that A Prayer for Owen Meany isn't on this list...weren't you OBSESSED with that book??

  5. Oh durrr...just saw that you said "in the past year"- whoops.

  6. yes! love me some owen meany. that is more of on the "favorite books ever" list, as well as A Separate Peace (which I know you hated).