Ugly by Robert Hoge
I don't want to tell you all what to do but I love this book so much that if you are holding it proceed to the counter and part with your cash immediately.
When Robert was born in suburban Brisbane in the early 70's his parents were uncertain if they would take him home. He was born with a facial tumour that severely distorted his facial features and malformed legs. In and out of hospital his entire young life Robert decided against any further surgeries at the age of 13.
He knew he would always be different and he accepted he would always be judged. More important than the way he looked is his fine intellect, huge heart, wicked sense of humour and loving family.
A fine storyteller, this book deserves a wide audience.
Mr Wigg by Inga Simpson
The story begins in the Australian summer of 1971, Mr Wigg is still grieving the loss of his wife a few years earlier and tending to her rose garden while he maintains his orchard on what's left of the family farm after part of it was sold to pay his daughter the share she demanded that has caused an estrangement.
Mr Wigg follows the same routines he has for years, he preserves his own jam in an already well stocked pantry, cooks his own meals and without fail nurtures his fruit trees even though his body may be telling him its time to slow down. He resists his sons desire for him to move closer to the city as the farm keeps his soul strong when the body is continually reminding him that he is no longer a young man.
This book celebrates a simple but beautiful life and Mr Wigg and his joy in the everyday minutiae reminds us of the little things that should be cherished.
WARNING: This book will break your heart. This novel is classified as Young Adult but a good story is a good story and an author of this calibre deserves to be read by all.
Though written by Patrick Ness, the original idea for this story is by Siobhan Dawd, who died before she could write this book. I almost feel like her grief is written among the words on every page of this novel. I sobbed with pain as if the characters were people I truly knew. This is 13 year old Connor's story and that of his terminally ill mother and his recurring nightmare. At 7 minutes pass Midnight the monster calls. The monster insists he can help Connor by the sharing of three stories. This novel is harrowing and beautiful and will be with me always.
Benediction by Kent Haruf
Some of the most beautiful writing I have ever read. This is a novel about mortality, lost opportunities and family - those we are born into and those we create. This is a simple story but Kent Haruf is such a remarkable writer that you become so immersed in the characters and their respective sorrow you grieve along with them. The novel pivots around the terminally ill Dad Lewis, being cared for at home by his wife of fifty years and their middle aged daughter. A younger son has detached himself from the family years before and as death approaches his father has to deal with his regret about never really accepting his son. Set in a small community where everybody cares for each other, this novel will remind you about the fragility of life. A must read.
WARNING: Do not read this book if you have difficulties expressing emotions, there will be tears.
This memoir by Will Schwalbe is one of the stand out books of the year for me, it is truly a beautiful book for all bibliophiles. When his mother is diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer, Will accompanies her to many of her appointments and it is in hospital they commence their book club.
They are very honest and and candid when discussing the books and
through their conversations they come to rediscover things about each other. Their love of books unites them and helps to draw them closer through a very trying time. Will's mother Mary Anne was an amazing and inspirational woman and as you learn more about her you will probably begin to question elements of your own life. I look forward to many more books from this beautiful writer.
I read this book AFTER seeing the film, I don't think that has ever happened before. I felt so moved and intrigued by these characters that I wanted more details of their idiosyncrasies and relationship. Natalie is a very beautiful young French widow, deeply grieving her handsome French husband (note to self: when out running look both ways for oncoming traffic). She is so fragile (both emotionally and physically) that everyone tip toes around her with fear and concern. One ordinary day (about 3 years after her husbands death) Marcus, a colleague she has paid little to no attention to before, enters her office and interrupts her daydream. In a state of semi-consciousness she silently walks up to him and kisses him passionately. He is the physical polar opposite of her husband (to say he is pushing above his weight is an understatement) and all of the people in her life are shocked by her sudden attraction to him. The key to their relationship is that he can make her laugh and he reminds her that life is better shared with the people we love. A beautiful, twisted, humorous love story.
The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne
Another standout book for 2012 is marketed at children but I refuse to let them have all the fun, this book is stupendous and deserves to be read by a very wide audience. Barnaby is born into the very normal, very dull nondescript Brocket family. From the moment he is born it is obvious Barnaby is quite different. He defies the law of gravity, shoots out the birth canal and floats immediately to the hospital ceiling! His parents are mortified and ashamed and they attempt to keep him away from the prying eyes of the public as much as they can. One day Barnaby's mother decides the family would be better off without him and punctures a hole in his heavy backpack that allows him to float away. Barnaby has the most amazing adventure, meeting people just as unique as him on the way. Reminiscent of the great Roald Dahl this is a book to be treasured.
WONDER BY R.J. PALACIO
Truly one of the most beautiful books of the year, so good in fact I had to read it twice. August is a ten year old boy born with a facial deformity that is starting school for the first time. He has had many reconstructive surgeries but he will always stand out from the crowd because of his differences. He is a child with the sweetest of souls and once a few of the more mature children at school are able to accept him they are able to purely recognise him as a smart funny peer. This is a book for all ages about bullying, self acceptance and of pure hearts. Very special.
My theory about why vampire fiction is so popular: hot sex. After reading ADOW it is impossible not to fantasize that every tall, dark and handsome man you pass on the street is a honest to goodness vamp who will lure you back to his lair for aforementioned hot sex. But I digress, back to the book. The book is set in the world of academia and the main character Diana comes from a long line of powerful witches. She has tried to distance herself from the magical realm but when she discovers an ancient manuscript in the university library she unwittingly becomes embroiled in a battle with other witches, vampires and daemons. This book is an addictive saga and fear not you will race through the 688 pages. Part paranormal romance, part historical saga this book is a cracking good read.
My prediction: This book will be the hands down psychological thriller of the year, even if you are like me and rarely read thrillers,
YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PUT THIS BOOK DOWN. I kept hearing so much hype about this book from other booksellers that curiosity got the better of me but then I had to put my life on hold for a few days as nothing was more important than reading how this story would pan out. I was even tempted to turn to the last page when I was about a third of the way through, the suspense was killing me!
This is the story of Nick and Amy Dunne, from the outside a seemingly happy couple about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. When Amy goes missing the police immediately suspect Nick (hey, it's usually the husband) .We learn the story of their courtship and perfect life in Manhattan but when Nick is retrenched and Amy's parents lose a lot of money in bad investments they return to the small town where Nick grew up to spend more time with Nick's mum who is terminally ill. As you read the book you start to question; where they really happy, how well did Nick really know his wife, what is Nick hiding from the police, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHAT IS GOING ON?? Suffice to say, the film rights to this book have already been sold and the author is on the verge of the big time. Read it then tell everyone around you to read it too.