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.
Hands down one of the best debut books I have ever read. By the end of this book you will be emotionally wrecked and desperate for the authors next book. Write faster Romy! Two young brothers, Tom and Jordy, live with their grandparents, abandoned on the doorstep one day by their mother Loretta. Their father is rarely mentioned but often the elder brother will taunt the younger by saying "how do you know we even have the same father? " thus giving an insight into a tumultuous family life. One day Loretta returns unannounced to collect them as they are walking home from school and they spend the next few days still in their school uniforms, sleeping in the car as they exist on junk food from service stations. I found myself still thinking about these characters days after finishing the book and they were so vivid in my imagination my fear for their futures felt palpable. A talented writer we be hearing a lot more from.
This book is unlike anything I have read before. Told from the viewpoint of a child's imaginary friend, it is truly remarkable. Budo is the imaginary friend to Max, an eight year old with developmental issues, his mother wants him to be formally diagnosed but his father is adamant there is nothing wrong with their son. Max has no friends but is happiest alone, playing with his star wars figures and video games. If he is put in a position where he is frightened or anxious he becomes 'stuck' and Budo always stays by his side. Budo meets other imaginary friends at school but he is the oldest he knows at five years of age, Budo has to stand by as he watches his friends fade as their human friends grow up and stop needing them. Max is kidnapped by one of the teachers from school and Budo is the only one that can help save him. The reader will nervously cheer on Budo as Max tries to escape with the help of other imaginary friends,a great story of friendship and loyalty.
I love this book. I bought it on the recommendation of some America booksellers I follow on Twitter who have never steered me wrong. Tom Violet is a married, frustrated thirty something trying desperately not to live in his fathers shadow, a world renown writer who has just been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Tom has written a book but the only person he discusses it with is his young daughter. He and his wife are trying for another baby but there is a problem with his not easily discussed erectile dysfunction. Meanwhile he is lusting after his much younger colleague, despising his corporate job and caring for his dog with anxiety issues. This book is funny and smart, two rare combinations. I would love for this to be optioned for a movie. Great!