These are the 10 books I most enjoyed this year, in no particular order. An excellent year!
Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr was a first novel published in 1978, yet it won the National Book Award. This doesn't happen often for first novels. It is easy to see why it won, for it is a marvel, one of those novels that delights on every level: sentence by sentence, character by character. I especially enjoyed it because it is set in Ibarra, a small town in central Mexico, in a landscape not unlike the region we live in during the winter. It's a novel I look forward to passing on to friends. Ten stars!
Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I very much enjoyed this novel. Lovely sentences. Curiously, I read it on my iTouch, tiny screen by tiny screen, and that seemed right for this reflective novel.
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. In a word: incredible.
The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam. An epic story of a Chinese man, the headmaster of an English school in Vietnam during the Vietnam war. A fascinating and horrifying snapshot of the life of a civilian in those years of war and turmoil, a man who is himself an immigrant in a country occupied by Americans. A complex love story, a heart-rending family saga ... all told in spare, perfect prose.
Web of Angels by Lilian Nattel. Set in Christie Pits area of Toronto—where the author lives—and about a woman who is "multiple" as a result of child abuse. It's a brave novel about the child porn industry—which is huge—its victims and the DID (dissociative identity disorder) that results. A difficult and important book dealing with a horrific subject, but full of hope and love. Enlightening.
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. (No, this is not the Shades of Gray you're thinking.) An amazing novel for both young and old adults, the shocking story of Lithuanians deported to Siberia under Stalin.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I loved this! It made me want to hike, and I'm hardly even much of a walker.
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. Laugh-out-loud funny and wise. I want every woman I know to read this!