It’s a bit lame to construct a "best of" list two+ months into the new year, but hey, I am feeling motivated. I keep a pretty detailed reading journal (yes, I am a librarian) and after looking through my entries over the last year, here are my top five favorite books of 2005.
Why do I love Harry so much? I can’t really explain the power of Harry but I do know that these
books celebrate and articulate the power of love, human friendship,
wisdom – all in a richly created world that measures up to our own.
A simple story – in 1950s, small-town Iowa, an elderly preacher writes
a long letter to his young son. The Reverend John Ames knows he is
going to die soon, and wants to tell his son what he knows about God
and what he knows about life. I cannot stress how beautiful Gilead is
– how simple and precise the prose and story, but how powerful it is,
how much it resonates with me. Life is heartbreakingly beautiful and
our God is powerful, grace-giving, and mysterious. Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.
My only non-fiction favorite, this book is just a bunch of random, encyclopedia-ized entries of Rosenthal’s
ordinary life – but add up to something so sweet and meaningful, I
can’t even tell you. Anna Ganske loved this too.
Zadie Smith loves, respects, admires her
characters and *life* spills out onto the page. Written in mind of
Forster’s Howard’s End, On Beauty follow the Belsey
family in all of their glory: Howard is British and a professor of art
at a fictitious Ivy League college in the East; His wife, Kiki, is an
earthy, black woman from Florida; their high school and college-age
children, Jerome, Zora, and Levi. The novel is big and messy and full of life and
joy and beauty and betrayal.
This barely counts, as I finished it on New Year’s Eve…Three Junes is just that: A
novel told in three parts, each set in the month of June. The first
part follows Paul MacLeod on a guided trip through Greece. Perfect
section – recently widowed and open to love with a young American
artist. The second June is in 1995 and centers on Fenno MacLeod, a gay
man living in New York but home (Scotland) for his father’s funeral.
The third section follows Fern, the American Artist, now herself
recently widowed and pregnant. Fern and Fenno, each afraid of love and
living full lives, connect and make sense of their lives in a poignant
yet understated way.