It’s that time of year again. The time when we look back at all the wonderful and not-so-wonderful books we’ve read over the past 12 months and decide which we liked best. I have an account with LibraryThing, which very conveniently and efficiently organizes my books for me so I don’t forget what I’ve read over time. Because who can remember what books they read last January? Even when books are spectacularly mind-blowing, it can be hard for me to recall them months later. So, I suggest you take some time out from your busy holiday schedule and think about the books you’ve read that have changed your life a little this past year – maybe you learned something new or gained a new perspective. Here is a list of a few of mine:
“Elizabeth I” by Margaret George – I have to admit that I’m giving this book as a Christmas gift to a few people on my list because it’s that good. I’m usually wary of historical fiction because I find that I’m either bored with the lack of conversation among characters or skeptical because the author has taken too many liberties. Well, George has struck the perfect balance with her novel about one of the most impressive and influential queens in England’s history. I devoured it. Plus, the cover is absolutely stunning!
“A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness – I don’t know why, but give me a book set in Oxford, with its lovely ancient buildings and academics who have dedicated their lives to some esoteric branch of knowledge that most people don’t even know about, and I’m a happy girl. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always harbored a secret wish to cloister myself away in some ivory tower, doing research about the Bronte sisters or 18th century Romantic poetry. The setting of this book was fabulous, and the fact the author also manges to throw in a bunch of witches, a vampire, and some demons – well, what more could you ask for? And you don’t have to be a Twilight fan to appreciate this book. It’s coming out in paperback right after Christmas, but of course, we also have a copy!
“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. I will admit that I had my heart set on this book and immediately snatched it off the book cart and read it in a matter of days. I was absolutely fascinated by the life of a man who has changed so many other lives but could be such a misanthrope. He was often rude and belligerent and mistreated those around him in the most stunning ways. His drive and exacting vision and commitment to perfection are also what led to some of the coolest, most elegant products we’ve seen. I know a lot has been said about him, and I won’t add to it. Suffice it to say that I think you’ll enjoy this book. It’s well-written and chock full of wonderful details.
“Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand. This story broke my heart every other page. It was work to get through, and not the work that other books require (i.e. I have to read this for my neighbor’s book club, so I’m forcing myself to read 50 pages a day), but work because the story’s brutal events were just so draining. I found I had to take breaks from it, which was hard because you really just want to inhale the book, especially because you’re rooting so strongly for the book’s subject, Louie Zamperini. He was an Olympic runner who became a POW in Japan after his plane was shot down during WWII. I don’t want to give anything away – the beauty of this story is in the unfolding of it, so take my word for it and check this one out. I plan to have our book club read it as soon as it comes out in paperback.