Saturday, November 29, 2008

Books for Christmas

I haven’t commented on this latest topic about the effect of the economic downturn on independent book stores and the publishing industry as a whole.  I don’t know what to say.  I have no idea where things are going, or what we’re doing in this handbasket.  All I can tell you is that books are the overriding passion of my life.  They have given me hope and comfort in the midst of some very dark times, and in the midst of good times, they have lifted me to heights I didn’t know I was capable of.  I cannot do without them.  There cannot be any better gift to feed the soul than a book.

Trying to recommend five 2008 books by people I don’t know is tough - not because I haven’t read 5 2008 books, because I certainly have.  But how can I pick the best ones?  They’re all worth their weight in gold.

How about Water For Elephants, by Sara Gruon?  When things get tough, the tough run off and join the circus.  What a tale.

Run, by Ann Patchett.  OMG.

I’m an absolute sucker for historical fiction.  I’d read Steven Pressfield’s grocery list.  No one else I’ve ever read can make a soldier’s life seem like a such a combination of absurdity and  spiritual journey.  This year, he released Killing Rommel. Don’t miss any of his Greek historicals, either.  (He’s the man who wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance. If you only saw the movie, you have no idea how wonderful the book is.)

Okay, speaking of historicals, Steven Saylor issued another “Gordianus the Finder” book this year - The Triumph of  Caesar.  His  epic Roma was no slouch, either.

Julia Spencer-Fleming’s I Shall Not Want and Laurie King’s Touchstone are a bit of a cheat, since I have met and like these women, but neither would probably recognize me across a crowded room, so I’m stretching it a bit.

The last couple of books I want to recommend aren’t 2008 books, but they are good for what ails you, so I’ll mention Sue Monk Kidd’s The Mermaid Chair, Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and if there is anyone out there who hasn’t read Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, treat yourself, then give it to somebody for Christmas.

I read and enjoyed many non-fiction books, too, but I don’t want you to take issue with what a pinko/airy-fairy I am, so I’ve listed mostly fiction books here.

I’d love to hear what you Dear Readers would recommend.


6 comments:

Rosemary Harris said...

Thanks for the tips - I always love to see what other people are reading. I don't pay much attention to the pub. dates but this year I've read and loved Promise Not To Tell by Jennifer MacMahon, Away by Amy Bloom, Philosophy Made Simple by Robert Hellenga, I Shall Not Want by Julia Spencer-Fleming and a wonderful book that I got an ARC of, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. It's a Jan. 09 book about an older man remembering when he was a young boy in Seattle during WWII. It's the author's first book and I loved it.

Woodstock said...

I enthusiastically second your recommendation of Ann Patchett's RUN -

SIGHT HOUND by Pam Houston

LUSH LIFE by Richard Price

PRINCE OF FROGTOWN by Rick Bragg

STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE by David Wrobleski

and one I'm reading now - WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS? by Kate Atkinson

OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson

I know that's seven -

I guess Atkinson would be classed as suspense, and probably Price as well. Bragg's book is a memoir. The others are all "literary" fiction, and I really don't like that distinction, because they are all "literary" in the best sense of the word.

And Rosemary's comment about Amy Bloom's book - it's another excellent choice

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

Hooray, more recommendations for my towering TBR pile. I loved When Will There be Good News--it made my top five, also.

Donis Casey said...

I'm going to have to have an addition built onto my house for all the books I must read. Edgar Sawtelle and When Will There Be Good News are already on my TBR list. I'm really interested in the Jamie Ford book & will watch for it.

Donis Casey said...

I forgot to mention Sara Paretsky's Writing in an Age of Silence. I was rather shaken after I read it.

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