So I read quite a few good books this year, 42 so far and 11 of which I rated 5 stars. Of these, I’ve selected 10 and put together the list below. So it was quite easy to do. They are listed in an order reflecting only on the order I read them in, the last read mentioned first. These are all great books, if you haven’t read them, you should go do so now! As always, the Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
- Elie Wiesel: Night. Wiesel’s short book about his experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, is almost beyond description. It’s a must read for anyone, simply put.
- Victor Hugo: Les Misérables. I haven’t gotten around to writing a review of this book yet but it still seems that I have been talking about it all over the place. Hugo can write about anything and he frequently steers off on a tangent to do just so. Still, this story about Jean Valjean and Colette is a wonderful book, it’s a classic and it’s worth the many pages and the huge amount of time, it takes to take.
- Mark Helprin: Winter’s Tale. I really like magical realism. This story of Beverly Penn and Peter Lake and Athansor set in a mythic and fictionalized New York City is written in the most beautiful and lyrical way and I just loved it. So much in fact, that I don’t dare to read another novel by Helprin because I’m afraid that it will not live up to this one.
- Koushun Takami: Battle Royale. In some ways, this is the Japanese version of The Hunger Games. A class of kids with weapons are set free on an island to shoot each other down until only one remains. This is much more violent than The Hunger Games and it’s such an exciting book. Pure entertainment.
- Jonathan Safran Foer: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. How does a boy handle loosing his father? How does he handle loosing him in the 9-11 attack? This is a wonderful story of a young boy dealing with this loss and at the same time, it’s an experimental novel using pictures and more to tell this story. Foer is an amazing writer and he writes so well and not only uses pictures to emphasize his story, but also paints pictures with his words. And in this way, he is telling Oscar Schell’s story as well as the story of his grandfather who survived the fire bombing of Dresden during World War II.
- Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White. So if everyone knew just how thrilling the classics can be, everyone would be reading them. And to get them doing so, everyone should be handed this one and told to go read it. When I read it, I just sat down and read and read and read, ignored everything around me to finish this novel to figure out what happened to Walter Hartright, Laura Fairlie, Marian Halcombe and the woman in white.
- Dan Simmons: Drood. On June 9, 1865, Dickens was in a train disaster that influenced him for the rest of his life. This is Simmons’ account of what happened. And it’s amazing and exhilarating and exciting and even when you’re done, you’re really not sure what happened. It was so good!
- Lionel Shriver: We Need To Talk About Kevin. I read this in the beginning of the year and … well, after what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, it just became an even more important book. Everyone should read this. It tells the story of a mother whose son guns down several of his school mates. Is it nature or nurture who caused this to happen? If it’s nature, can you do something to prevent it from happening? I don’t want to get political here but really, everyone should read this!
- Donna Tartt: The Secret History. Richard Papen starts attenting college and taking Classics studies. The group of kids studying Classics studies consists of 5 other students and are taught by the charismatic Julian. But right from the beginning, you know that this group of friends kill one of their own and you’re eagerly reading on to find out why and how this happened. This is Donna Tartt’s first novel and it’s amazing! Much better than other books with a similar theme like Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics.
- Yiyun Li: The Vagrants. This is one of those novels that hurts you when you read it but which is worth the pain. It’s set in China in 1979 and it’s about the execution of a 28 years old woman and the consequences of this death. I’m fascinated by China and what happened in China after Mao came to power, after the Cultural Revolution and more. This is a debut novel and you should definitely read it now so you can say you were in almost from the beginning!
I love Night and Woman in White. Great picks. Thanks for sharing.
Here’s my top 10
Taking it One Page at a Time
On your recommendation, I just purchased The Woman in White, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Night, and The Secret History. Looking forward to a deliciously busy christmas and new year 🙂 Thank you!
Some of your Top 10s are on my ‘Favourite books EVER’ list (Kevin, Extremely Loud. I also love Secret History and Les Mis (and looking forward to the movie in about 10 days!)
We Need to Talk about Kevin was amazing, totally agree. I would even say my favourite discussion book.
I agree about the Shriver book, soooooooo good. I read it a few years ago and it’s definitely stuck with me. Tough subject lately, but an important one.
This is quite a heavy list! This is also the second list I’ve seen with We Need to Talk About Kevin…and as you say the Sandy Hook tragedy makes this novel even more pertinent. It also, for some reason, makes me even more terrified to read it. I’m a big fan of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but was really disappointed by The Secret History.
Here’s my list:
Fantastic list! I read Night when I was in high school and I loved The Woman in White and Drood. I have a few of these titles on my want-to-read pile, I hope to get around to them in the coming year 🙂
Here’s my top 10 (actually, 20) books of 2012 xP
Night is on my to read list for next year, it sounds amazing great to see it’s made someones list of best reads this year
Loved The Secret History, I’m curious if her new book will finally come out in 2013, I’m trying not to get my hopes up. I can’t wait to read Drood, I loved The Terror and I’ve heard great things about Hyperion.
I noticed your comment that you’re fascinated by China and the cultural revolution. Have you read Balzac and the Little Chinese seamstress (my review is here if you’re intrested in a snapshot http://allthingsbooker.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/balzac-and-the-little-chinese-seamstress/
How about Wild Swans (three generations of women – non fiction) or from a different perspective Falling Leaves