Thank goodness for Goodreads - I'd never remember what I read. But 2010 was a lean year, in terms of really really good books I'd recommend -- or like Jenny, books that just stopped me cold that I couldn't put down. So here goes, Shana's list 4, plus two series....
• Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Beautiful story of love and idiots. While you always know how the story will turn out, it was a lovely journey getting to the end, and a joy to urge on the righteous while watching the idiots fall.
• The Cello Suites by Eric Siblin
An engaging history of the Bach Cello Suites, which are a cellists rite of passage. I actually learned to play one of them – but am much better at listening to Pablo Casalas or Mistlav Rostopovich play them. Siblin’s book follows three paths: the career of Pablo Casalas, the history of the Cello Suites, and Siblin’s attempt to learn to play cello (he is a reporter for Rolling Stone….) I find it totally amazing that no one really knows the source of the Suites, and that they were virtually unknown before Casalas found an old, old copy of them in a music store in Spain. How can that be? What other incredible music has been lost to history?
• Betsy Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace
What can I say? I haven’t read these since I was a kid, so totally enjoyed reading them again from an adult perspective.
• Miracle Life of Edgar Mint by Brady Udall
OK, I thought Udall was Indian until, duh, I realized he was of the political Udall family, and actually a Mormon. Still, this was an amazing book. Painful, uncomfortable, difficult, violent, cruel. Yet completely compelling. I couldn’t put it down.
• Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
I’ve heard about this book for years, and finally picked it up. The story is sad- a young Hmong girl has epilepsy, and the miscommunication between the medical establishment and the family is heartbreaking. It was frustrating to read the book and try to understand WHY the American medical establishment was so incredibly myopic in how they treated the family. I certainly hope things have improved. Fadiman’s concept of Western medicine as a culture is compelling.
• Mary Russell series by Laurie King
I’m telling myself that one reason I don’t seem to have many books on my list this year is because I reread the first 4 books in the Mary Russell series. I love these books more every time I read them…. You’d think after reading them 4 or 5 times I’d tire of them, but each time I read them I find more and more to love. Perhaps the fact that I’ve read more of the “Canon” – the real Holmes stories, or the fact that King, like J.K. Rowling, has planted things in early books that become clear in later ones. How do they do that? Oh well- I’ll just enjoy it.