These are the books that received my highest ratings (listed here in order, with best ratings at the top). I left out any glowing reference to Diana Gabaldon, and if you are a reader of this blog, you know why. Otherwise, search her name.
It is always humbling to rate someone else's work, whether it is a grade or a proposal or a book. Why should anyone listen to me?
Perhaps because I have read books since I was five years old. Perhaps because I am also a writer, so I understand the nuances of characterization and imagery. Or, perhaps it is simply because I have read more than 600 books in my lifetime, so I have an idea of what appeals to other readers.
So, sit down with a cup of cocoa and peppermint schnaaps, and make your reading list for next year:
THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE ~ David Wroblewski (4.75) - I hate when Oprah is correct.
THE SKY ALWAYS HEARS ME AND THE HILLS DON'T MIND ~ Kirstin Cronn-Mills (4.75) - a powerful new voice in YA writing.
WOLF HALL ~ Hilary Mantel (4.75) - I laughed, I snickered, I loved the bitchy dialogue.
BEND WITH THE KNEES AND OTHER LOVE ADVICE FROM MY FATHER ~ Benjamin Drevlow (4.5) - short stories with long reverberations.
THE GARGOYLE ~ Andrew Davidson (4.5) - still hits me as I think of it, and not many books can resonate for months or years.
OUTLIERS: THE STORY OF SUCCESS ~ Malcolm Gladwell (4.5) - I still think about the messages in this book.
THE HELP ~ Kathryn Stockett (4.3) - recent read, but it is still weighing on my mind.
WELL DESERVED ~ Michael Loyd Gray (4.3) - unexpected beauty in writing about darkness.
DROOD ~ Dan Simmons (4.25) - it's Dan Simmons? And Charles Dickens! Need I write more?
IN THE WAKE OF THE BOATMAN ~ Jonathon Scott Fuqua (4.25) - prose that made me realize I will never be a "literary" writer.
THE CHILDREN'S BOOK ~ A.S. Byatt (4.25) - epic storytelling without the fairy tale ending.
THE LIGHTNING THIEF ~ Rick Riordan (4.25) - "say it's sick writing."
THE WEIGHT OF HEAVEN ~ Thrity Umrigar (4.25) - the weight of reality; if this does not make you grateful, I do not know what will.
THE DEAD FISH MUSEUM ~ Charles D'Ambrosio (4.0) - the new king of one line intros and conclusions, and I am ill with jealousy.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO ~ Stieg Larsson (4.0) - twisty-turny mystery for a quick read.
JOSEF JAEGAR ~ Jere' M. Fishback (4.0) - thank you to publishers who are finally letting these types of YA stories out into the world.
THE MEMOIRS OF CLEOPATRA ~ Margaret George (4.0) - a luxurious read, especially in a freezing environment.
SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU ~ Peter Cameron (4.0) - a copy will go to teens I want to encourage.
What will the goal be for 2010? You shall find out within the week. I promise.