Thursday, January 26, 2012

Friends helping friends: a special post

Dear Friends, old and new,

2012 is here already and its been another good reading year. It has become a ritual of mine to send a list of books I've read in the past year to all my friends.   (I lost my original list earlier today as I was mailing it out  - it went into the cosmos!   Boy, was I mad!  I finally just re-hashed it from a partial list I'd written in my journal and library receipts I still had. )  
Some books were fantastic, some not so good, but all were worth reading for the subject matter or an alternate view on life, whether it be fiction or non-fiction.  I read books set in different countries, different eras;  to learn of adventures and ways of life I could never experience myself and some of these adventures are really fun, some deep and dark where no human being should have to go.   Reading books is a reality of its own.    ENJOY .
BLINDED  -  STEPHEN WHITE.  Another good one in his crime series of Alan Gregory the psychologist.
GOLDENGROVE  -  FRANCINE PROSE.    I love her books. This one about a young girl growing into womanhood.
*CUTTING FOR STONE -  ABRAHAM VERGHESE.    Utterly beautiful story, deep and profound  about twin brothers, set in Ethiopia during the reign of Haile Selassie.
THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL  -  PHILLIPA GREGORY.   A little long-winded, especially the trials and tribulations of getting Mary Boleyn into Henry VIII's bed!
MANNER OF DEATH  -  STEPHEN WHITE.   An earlier novel in the Alan Gregory series.
*THE HELP  - KATHRYN STOCKETT.    I read this before the film came out.  Truly amazing story about apartheid and the class system of the Deep South.
LONGITUDE  - DAVA SOBEL.    Non-fiction.  How John Harrison, a clock-maker, came to devise the current system of time changes around the world so navigators would know what time it was at any location at sea. A curious little book.
THE SIEGE  -  STEPHEN WHITE.  Another psychological crime thriller from the perspective of the police guy in the previous books, Sam Purdy.
3001 - THE FINAL ODYSSEY  -  ARCHUR C. CLARKE.    Definitely Final !
THE CHARMING QUIRKS OF OTHERS -  ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH.   This guy writes such superb lighthearted stories;  another in his Isabel Dalhousie, philosophy series, set in Edinburgh.  Easy reading.
*AWAKENING THE SLEEPING TIGER  -   LIU YU and DAWN CERF.   Liu Yu's memoir about her rugged training as a martial arts athlete as a young girl in Mao Tse Tung's China, the politics of it all, how it affected her and her family, and how devastating it was not to be able to speak one's mind.   Liu Yu now lives in San Luis Obispo, CA and runs a Yoga/Martial Arts center.
HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY  -  AUDREY NIFFENEGGER.  Fascinating unusual 'ghost' story about twins and other realities, set in London.  (Her follow-up to The Time-Traveler's Wife which was amazing).
*THE SATURDAY BIG TENT WEDDING PARTY  -  ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH.  Another superb story in his beautiful Botswana series with Mme Ramotswe the private investigator.  (You really need to read each of his book series in order to get to know the characters, but can be read on their own too).
*THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS -  (non-fiction) -  REBECCA SKLOOTS.   A profoundly moving book about how a black woman's cancer cells have been used for research since 1951, and the impact it had on her family who didn't know for a long time they were being used.
AWAY FROM HER -  ALICE MUNRO.     One of the best short story writers of our time. Sweet story.
THE ALCHEMIST'S DOOR  - LISA GOLDSTEIN  -  Historical Fiction  -  Fascinating story set in the late 16th century Prague and Spain and England,  about what happened when (if)  Dr. John Dee, astrologer/alchemist met Rabbi Judah Loew, the creator of the golem.
*SARAH'S KEY -  TATIANA DE ROSNAY.  The shocking and profound story told from the point of view of a modern-day journalist researching what became of one girl and her family in Paris who were taken by French police on July 16, 1942, the Vel d'hivre,  by order of the Nazis.   (I read this before the film came out).
*THE HORNS OF MOSES  -  DAVID BRANDIN    An exciting fast-paced story about terrorism and the minds of those who arrange suicide bombings, and the. Mainly set in Israel.   (Thank you David.  L'Chaim to you!)
*THE DISCOVERY OF CHOCOLATE  -  JAMES RUNCIE.   (historical fiction).   Read this at your peril  - with your favorite chocolates by your side!   A sumptuous, sensual ride through history on the divine nuances of chocolate making   -  Recipes included!
*ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE  -  GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ.    I wish I could write like this;  talk about stream-of-consciousness writing.....this is it.  Why have I never read this before???  Depth, power, a family history through the years.  A marvel.    (I read almost half of "Love in the Time of Cholera", but somehow got bogged down with it!)
THE TENTH SONG  -    Naomi Ragen       A tragedy in an American family leads the daughter to a commune in Israel.
IN THE STACKS -  short stories about Libraries and Librarians.  It includes "The Library of Babel" by Jorge Luis Borges.  Also Alice Munro and Ray Bradbury stories.
A MATCH TO THE HEART - GRETEL ERLICH.    (Memoir).  True story about a woman life after being struck be lightning twice.  Set mainly around Santa Barbara, CA  area.
THE VIEW FROM CASTLE ROCK  -  ALICE MUNRO.    A fictionalized history in short story form  of Munro's ancestors who left Scotland and journeyed to Canada.  Fascinating and more truth than fiction, I feel.
*THE ELEPHANT KEEPER  - CHRISTOPHER NICHOLSON.    Such a sweet, gentle story set in late 18th century England.  A lovable Elephant is the heroine, and her master who can 'talk' with her and understand her.  (I got this at Nan's Pre-owned books across the road from where we live, and took it on my NM trip).
THE DOCTOR AND THE DIVA  -  ADRIENNE McDONNELL.   Interesting subject matter -about a doctor who helps couples with fertility issues at the turn of the 20th century, and falls in love with a woman opera singer.
*RUNAWAY  -  stories.  -  ALICE MUNRO.    These stories are more like mini-novels.  Profound, with twists of fate.   She subtly lets you into the lives of her characters so that you feel you've known them all your life. 
I also read poems now and then, especially from The Writer's Almanac, spoken by Garrison Keillor,  which one can get on-line through American Public Media. And also the occasional story in The New Yorker magazine.
Here's a teaser for 2012......currently reading:  "AFTER DARK" by HARUKI MURAKAMI.  a dark off-kilter tale about two sisters.    I've been meaning to read some of his work all year. A special powerful writer.

No comments:

Post a Comment