Best horse book: Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand. I shouldn't even classify Seabiscuit under this category because some of you will skim right down to the next award and miss it. This book isn't just about a horse. It's also about a trainer, a jockey, an owner, and, I believe, the author, too. (You see, Laura Hillenbrand had CFS- Chronic fatigue syndrome- when she wrote this thoroughly researched and heartfelt tale.) In summary? Courage and determination.
Book read with the best memory attached: Great Expectations, Charles Dickens. I spent hours sitting on the patio of a rented townhouse in sunny southern California this March engrossed in Pip's travails. With Dickens entertaining, who needs the beach?
Best re-read: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. I read this sometime in high school, but didn't remember much. To say that I loved this book when I read it this year would be an understatement. Characters, plot, setting, writing style=Perfection.
Favorite book(s) read in ARC (advanced reader's copy) form: 1) Miss Spitfire, Sarah Miller. Miss Miller takes you along for the ride as Annie Sullivan fights to give Helen something we all need, not just to survive, but to truly live: Words. Tough love and its resulting rewards, at its best. Some sort of award sticker is going to shine on this book cover, I just know it.
2) Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale. A retold fairy tale (of an obscure Grimm Tale, Maid Maleen.) Shannon writes in a style many describe as lyrical prose; which keeps maturing. Book of a Thousand Days is my favorite Hale book thus far: comfortable, beautiful, and fun. This may get a shiny sticker, too.
Best mystery: Cat Among the Pigeons, Agatha Christie. My first Agatha Christie book, if you can believe it. Did I find the best one to read first? It sure was fun. The plot isn't terribly complicated, but that didn't make it any easier for me to figure out "who dunnit."
Best THICK book: The Brothers Karamzov, Fyodor Dostoevsky. Translated by Pevear and Volohonsky. This was my first Russian novel. Tell me this: How does anyone write an 800 pg page-turner? Did I start with the best book in this genre, too?
Book that I read for the 1st time this year that I wish I'd read as a kid: The Diddakoi, Rumer Godden. A girl, a horse, a bunch of school kids - a story showcasing our fallen nature, along with the beauty of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Best book handed to me by a friend: Snow in the River, Carol Ryrie Brink. Brink wrote the Newbery award-winning book, Caddie Woodlawn. This adult book is what many say is her most autobiographical novel. She grew up in the town in which I currently reside, so it was lots of fun reading about about the life and times of its beginnings, along with hers.
Best book handed to me by my daughter (that wasn't an ARC): Make Lemonade, Virginia Euwer Wolff. Writing in a lyrical blank verse and giving the narrator a voice that is honest and plain-speaking, the author paints a picture that you'd stand in front of and look at for a long time if it was hanging on a wall.
Best historical fiction: Penhally, Caroline Gordan. We follow the estate of Penhally through generations before and after the Civil War. I was surprised with the ending, even though, when I looked back on the story, it was inevitable. Sign of a good book, yes?
Two new (to me) authors that I'll make a point to read more of in the new year: Anthony Trollope (I read The Warden, Barchester Towers- image below,) and Graham Greene, (I read The End of the Affair, The Power and the Glory- image below.)
Here are a few more highlights of my fun year of reading. It was a blast! May your new year be filled with lots of wonderful books. Thanks for stopping by.