89. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer, originally published in 2010. Gianna hinted that this book would make the list back when she chose How to Breathe Underwater, Orringer's great short story collection. The Invisible Bridge was my favorite novel of 2010 and a book that I'd like to reread at some point (a down side of our jobs is that rereading is rarely a possibility because we always have a pile of manuscripts to plow through for work). This is the type of big, sweeping, war epic that I love to get lost within, swirling around a Hungarian family during World War II. Great characters and unimaginable situations lead to a terrific sense of tension over the survival of this family. It's a compulsive read that is both satisfying and ideal for discussions.
90. The Yokota Officers Club by Sarah Bird, originally published in 2001. I was a younger bookseller when Yokota was published, and lunch with the author was my first experience of the sort. I'd also never read Sarah Bird's books before then, but one day the fan belt on my piece of shit car broke and I spent an entire day at a Firestone while it was being fixed. During that day I successfully blocked out the daytime TV by losing myself in The Yokota Officers Club. Based upon her own childhood as a military brat, this is the story of Bernadette, a college aged girl spending the summer back on the base in Okinawa, and the family secrets that begin to push toward the surface. Sarah Bird's humor is present (it's irrepressible), but this is also a novel of great heart and family drama. And since reading it at that car repair shop, I've never been able to here "Brown Eyed Girl" and not think that the first line is "Hey Roderigo." It's a book that wormed into my head and stuck.
|I'm glad this cover|
didn't last. Yikes. Pink.
91. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, originally published in 1981. Salman Rushdie has authored some terrific books, but I think this one is his masterpiece. It not only won the Booker Prize the year it was published, it won the "Booker's Booker" for being the best of among all of the Booker winners over the years. That's some decent awards cred. This is the story--told by a great narrative voice--of Saleem Sinai, the child born at the stroke of midnight that also signaled Indian independence. He and the country grow up on parallel paths, mirroring each other over the course of several decades, and the writing is simply breathtaking. Writers read Midnight's Children and wish they could create such a magnificent book.
92. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman, originally published in 2012. Knopf has a long history of publishing iconic cookbooks (hello, Julia Child), but from that list I chose to single out Smitten Kitchen (or "Smitchen," as I called it for the year I was selling it). I am not ever going to feel like spending time in my kitchen is time well spent, but I admire those who do enjoy working with and preparing food. This cookbook was the one a close friend started bugging me about a full two years before it was published. She was a fan of Deb Perelman's website and couldn't wait for the book. It's also the book that I've never heard complaints about. The recipes are delicious (I can vouch for that, as I'm an able sampler of others' creations), straightforward, and don't require anything crazy like artisanal barnacles or some crap like that.
I picked up Yakota Officers Club literally at a friend's apartment I was checking in on & wound up reading it and 4 others of Sarah Bird's.ReplyDelete