The new year is upon us!
Along with making 52 crafts, I also resolved to read 52 books in 2012. I underestimated how much I enjoy reading, though, and ended the year having read 113 books. (Obviously, reading is a big part of my life!) That said, here are my top five (with Amazon.com book descriptions in italics):
1. Devil in the White City – Erik Larson – Erik Larson—author of #1 bestseller In the Garden of Beasts—intertwines the true tales of the 1893 World’s Fair and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a non-fiction narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.
2. The Last of Her Kind – Sigrid Nunez – Nunez’s ruthlessly observed portrait of countercultural America in the sixties and seventies opens in 1968, when two girls meet as roommates at Barnard College. Ann is rich and white and wants to be neither, confiding, “I wish I had been born poor”; Georgette has no illusions about poverty, having just escaped her depressed home town, where “whole families drank themselves to disgrace.” Georgette finds Ann at once despicable and mesmerizing, and she’s stunned—if not entirely surprised—when, years after the end of their friendship, Ann is arrested for killing a cop. In previous works, Nunez has proved herself a master of psychological acuity. Here her ambitions are grander, and the result is a remarkable and disconcerting vision of a troubled time in American history, and of its repercussions for national and individual identity.
3. The Feminine Mystique – Betty Friedan – Landmark, groundbreaking, classic—these adjectives barely describe the earthshaking and long-lasting effects of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. This is the book that defined “the problem that has no name,” that launched the Second Wave of the feminist movement, and has been awakening women and men with its insights into social relations, which still remain fresh, ever since. A national bestseller, with over 1 million copies sold.
4. The Other Boleyn Girl – Phillipa Gregory – When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king, and take her fate into her own hands. A rich and compelling tale of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her own heart.
5. Atonement – Ian McEwan – Ian McEwan s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose. On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives together with her precocious literary gifts brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.
If you’re in the market for a good book, I highly recommend all 5 of the above books (as well as many more!)