Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's List Time

Every year at this time, readers look forward to book reviewers’ lists to see which books deserve to be called the best books of the year. I’ve made my list, too. But it’s not of the best books published this year, but my five favorite books out of the 26 that I’ve read in 2010.

The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett, first published in England in 1908, tells the story of sisters Constance and Sophia, the choices they make, and how their different experiences and environments shape their lives. I loved this book when I first read it just after graduating from college and decided to see if it had the same impact fifty years later. The sisters, as well as the other characters, are well drawn and provide a fascinating read.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett is a charming novella published in 2007. It supposes that Queen Elizabeth encounters a bookmobile outside Buckingham Palace and discovers the world of books. It’s delightful and entertaining and speaks to the possibility of change regardless of age or circumstance.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields, published in 1993, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The book tells the poignant story of  Daisy Goodwill from the moment of her birth in Manitoba in 1905. She lives an unremarkable life, carved by the circumstances and emotions encountered as a motherless child, in a loveless marriage, and in the ordinary daily life of wife and mother. My sister recommended this book to me years ago, but I put it aside, thinking that I wouldn’t like it. How wrong I was.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was published in 1960 and is a classic of American literature. I had read it when it first came out but now, fifty years later, I found it again a simply elegant, heart-wrenching, and beautiful story.

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larrson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2008), The Girl Who Played with Fire (2009), and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2010) are literary thrillers and publishing sensations throughout the world. Using his background as an investigative reporter, Larrson has plotted three fascinating books that are tied together by his main character Lisabeth Salander, a computer hacker whose personality and style keep the tension flowing.

What are the best books you've read recently?


  1. My five favourite books for the year include two of your choices: How to Kill a Mockingbird and The Millennium Trilogy. I also selected Room by Emma Donoghue, The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea.

    Merry Christmas to Barbara and all her Footnotes followers!"

  2. I haven't read as much as usual this year but my favourite last year was definitely 'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini but was a little disappointed in 'A Thousand Splendid Suns'.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!