Thursday, December 1, 2011

Best of 2011 Countdown: #24

Anybody placing bets on what our #1 books of the year will be?  I know what Gianna's going to pick.  If you have betting pools, keep in mind that I am not above accepting bribes.  First, though, let's keep the countdown rolling with #24.


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Ransom Riggs
Quirk Books

Sixteen-year-old Jacob adores his grandfather, although he knows the over the top, rather bizarre stories the old man has told him his entire life are just that, stories (no matter what the old guy says).  Stories of a faraway land, magical children (one invisible and one who could hold fire in her hands), and even monsters? No, that can’t be true. But then Jacob’s grandfather dies, but not before uttering very cryptic last words that propel Jacob to search out that faraway place. BOO!

Complete with some creepy vintage photographs, this novel (the author’s first) is probably the most unique book on my year end list. Certainly a teen crossover book, I think fans of The Night Circus and even the cult hit House of Leaves will find this book fascinating.

Look for this to become a series. It’s packed with rich content and great characters … not to mention a cliffhanger. 


Please Look After Mom
Kyung-Sook Shin

This novel was a HUGE bestseller in South Korea, but name another South Korean book.  I know I can't.  I don't know much about South Korean culture.  What I liked about Please Look After Mom, though, is that humans and families are, to some extent, all the same, and beautiful writing transcends language and culture.  Some of my colleagues said this book brought them to tears.  As we all know, I mostly choose stoic resistance to emotional releases, but I mocked them less for their tender feelings for this book.  (The wienies.)

Please Look After Mom is a stirring novel about a Korean family of aging parents and three grown children.  One day, the mother misses the subway that her husband boards, and then she's gone.  Vanished into the city.  The story is told variously from the perspectives of son, daughter, husband, and mother herself, and what is revealed is the inner life of a woman who spent most of her life caring for others....and how little her loved ones actually knew her.

Remember how Cutting for Stone became THE book group pick a couple of years ago?  Please Look After Mom, in a just world, would be the next book to explode.  This is a book that will linger in your mind long after you turn the last page.

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