Today’s subject is “The Best Book You Read Last Year.”
I had quite a bit of difficulty choosing my best read of 2010 as there isn’t a single book that really stood out above the rest (2011 will be much easier as I haven’t yet found anything to surpase The Passage).
I could take the easy route out and say, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Many of my friends and family members are already aware that this is my all-time favorite book (a close second being The Grapes Of Wrath). Last year also happened to have been the 50th anniversary of the novel’s publication so it was in the news quite a bit. And, on a related note, it was back in the limelight just a couple of months ago when the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating Gregory Peck as a “Legend of Hollywood” — the stamp portrayed the actor in his most famous role as Atticus Finch in the movie version of To Kill A Mockingbird. However, I’ve decided to disqualify the book in this category as it was a re-read (one of the few books I’ve ever read more than once).
Last year was also enriched with my “discovery” of the Harry Potter books. I managed to read all seven in the series prior to the theatrical release of “The Deathly Hallows (Part 1)”. While quite enjoyable, I’d be hard pressed to choose just one title above the others. I also began reading the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series which I feel falls way below J. K. Rowling’s books but still a lot of fun.
Indeed, the majority of the books I most enjoyed in 2010 were firmly in the Young Adult category (those “adult” novels I completed paled in comparsion with the exception of Craig Robertson’s debut, Random). The main reason for this apparent “return to childhood” was that the school in Thailand where I worked became involved with the Scholastic Book Clubs. As a reading teacher I assisted in every aspect of the ordering and distribution process and did a considerable amount of research on the books so I knew which ones to recommend to which students (across five or six grade levels). I ended up ordering a number of books myself including many Roald Dahls and the “essential” picture books that I’d missed out on during my own childhood.
Out of these brings me to my choice for “the best book I read last year”: The Graveyard Book. I enjoyed every aspect of the plot, setting, and characters. I’m already planning a re-read for later in the year (perhaps around Halloween) — a rarity for me as I’ve mentioned. The book thankfully introduced me to the wonderful storytelling of Neil Gaiman — I’d previously known him only as a friend of Tori Amos’ (herself someone I’d befriended while she was in New Mexico recording her second album). Within a month I’d read another of his spooky “kids” books — Coraline — as well as a number of his short stories. I’m about ready to tackle one of his adult novels.