Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Five -- My Favorite Books of 2011

I hesitate to say the "Best" books of 2011, because the word is so subjective.  When thinking of "best" I encounter a difficulty choosing between a story I adore, a concept that is truly unique and simply stellar writing.  Plus I know I've read too few books really to be able to suggest that I know which books of 2011 were the "best".

Caveat over.  On to the books!  In no particular order.

1.  Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.  I blogged about this book back in June over on the YA Muses.  And I can't stop thinking about it.  It covers a segment of history about which I knew nothing, follows the story of a strong and compelling protagonist and tells a story of such poignance and power that it lingers many months in the mind.

2.  Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.  If you haven't read Anna and the French Kiss or its companion/follow-up, Lola, walk away now and go find a copy.  Feel-good romance and detailed characters you feel you know.  I was so glad to see Anna and St. Clair in Lola, but equally glad that it really told Lola's tale.  She's a character you need to meet.

3.  Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach.  I wasn't sure I would like this book at first, but it ended up being another one that seized me and wouldn't let go.  An somewhat unreliable narrator who knows he is unreliable but who the reader can look past and see the truth before the character himself can.  So cleverly done, I need to read it again to see how Herbach did it.

4.  Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace.  I love boarding school books.  And this one is set in the 80's (my favorite decade?  No, I guess the 90's were better) and in Zimbabwe.  I felt attachment to this novel before I even read it, and since reading it, I feel I know Zimbabwe better.  History -- only 30 years old -- that few people know or understand brought to life in a novel that could be contemporary.

5.  What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen.  I love Dessen's novels, and this one did not disappoint.  Beautifully rendered, with fully-developed characters each with quirks and faults and truth.

There are many more books out there that deserve to be on this list.  And I'm always on the lookout for recommendations from others!  Let me know what you've read this year, what's surprising, what made you cry, what changed you.  And, of course, what you're looking forward to next year!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best. Present. Ever.

I have a very dear friend -- we've known each other since we were fifteen -- who is always a breath of light and happiness when I see her.  We tend to fall into the same kind of chat and banter that we always have, even though we only see each other a couple of times a year.  We catch up -- "How's your dad?" "What are your kids up to?"and then we just are.

Wilathi is an artist, a gardener, a healer and a philosopher.  She is one of those people you love to know.  And she is also one of those people who treasures her friends and family.  I'm glad to be one of them.

Yesterday, Wil gave me a holiday gift.  When she handed me the square-framed, lensless glasses, I didn't get it at first.  She had decorated the temples and the rims, but the original rosy color shone through.  I put them on, asked, "Do these make me look more intelligent?"

And then I got it.

In our twenties, Wil delightedly accepted the fact that she sees the world through rose-colored glasses.  She wants to be the optimist.  The Pollyana.  The one who sees the good in the world.  "There's already so much negativity," she says. "So much darkness.  Why shouldn't we put these on to help us remember that there is also positivity, goodness and light?"

So I have my rose-colored glasses.  When things seem to be too much for me, when the fact of my father's illness or the snarky reviews or the weight of my responsibilities get to me, I can put them on, and remember the good, the positive and the light.  And Wil.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

And happy Boxing Day, everyone.  Here's wishing that you are having a fabulous holiday!