Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Best of 2012: Day 3

Hey there, we're more than halfway there!  Remember, we aren't ranking these titles, just picking our favorites all willy-nilly.


Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards by Jan Reid
Author Jan Reid
Well this little book is just selling and selling. To be honest, I completely underestimated this title when we were talking about our marketing plan. I thought that it would sell in Texas, but outside our state no one would really know or remember her. Wrong!

I’ve written about this book at least two other times on the blog so all I will say is that this is a full biography of the coolest ass person to ever work in politics.

For fans of politics, history, and Texas.

Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro
If you consider yourself a book lover, or even the slightest of serious readers, yet you haven’t read Alice Munro, you’re kidding yourself. Munro is probably definitely the best living short story writer on the planet.  She is the master of pulling you along an intentionally plain story, giving you little indication that in just a few pages she will take your breath awayDear Life is special in that the final four pieces come under a sub-section entitled “Finale,” and Munro has noted that these four stories may be the closest she has ever come to writing about her own life. Munro is in her early 80’s and perhaps this is a sign of retirement. I hope not.

For fans of Ian McEwan, Louise Erdrich,  Richard Russo, and even Barbara Kingsolver. 

Alice Munro, literary genius


The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
Dear Leader Kim Jong Il:
nut job
Way back in January I declared The Orphan Master's Son the best book of the year, and so I'd be (more of) a liar if I didn't include it in our best of the year list.  Even after the death of Kim Jong Il, North Korea remains the most interesting and disturbing and delusional nation in the world.  Did you know they found a unicorn lair there recently?  It's a country that The Onion couldn't make up.  So it's pretty much a guarantee that a novel set in the mysterious realm would be a wild ride.

Here's the story of a man, Jun Do, who begins life as the son of an orphan master (hence, you know, the title), and then variously is a soldier, a kidnapper, a prisoner, a general, and the husband of a movie star.  North Korea is a country where the emperor has no clothes and the masses rave about his wardrobe, where the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il's perceptions are the mass delusion that serves as law.  It's crazy, it's strange, it's the joke that could lead to another global war.  I love this novel.  It was my first "Holy Crap!" book of the year (and I mean that in a good way).

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
When Will Schwalbe's mother was diagnosed with cancer, Will found himself accompanying his mother to endless doctors' visits, chemo treatments, and hospital stays.  They knew what they were facing--her prognosis was originally six months, though she lived two years.  Taking the time they had left together, Will and Mary Anne Schwalbe spent that time reading books together.  They were lifelong readers, and this was the natural way for them to face life's moments.

Will Schwalbe
I wrote about this book a couple of months ago, and it is a book that is special for me.  I am a sucker for books about books and reading anyway, so there's that.  I also love memoirs, even if they don't involve crazy people and/or prisons (my usual weaknesses).  Mary Anne and Will, though, are human in the best sense; they are people who believe in making the world a better place and believe in kindness, compassion, knowledge, and love.  These are the type of people you want to be around in the hope that their humanity rubs off.  I think this book should be required reading for every book group, every cancer patient, every child facing the loss of a parent.  It's a book full of dignity and, of course, other books.

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