Thursday, December 31, 2009
Books and Cooks Best Reads of 2009
How does a book wind up on my Best of the Year list? Here's what I wrote last year, and it still stands:
...a book that lands on my Best Reads list has that extra something that I find hard to define. These books have touched me, and have stayed with me, some for nearly a year now. They have surprised and impressed me. They are not necessarily what the critics would call the best books, but they are the books that have affected me most deeply.
The above stack is in no particular order with one exception.
Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life was my favorite book of 2009. I knew while I was reading it that it would be. The writing is sublime, and Molly has opened her heart for all of us to peer inside. I could go on and on about her lemon cake which I've made at least four times already and is my daughter's favorite cake.
Vicki Forman kept me spellbound with This Lovely Life, a memoir chronicling her life as the mother of a severely premature baby and then child. She broke my heart and gave me cause to cheer all at once. Simply stunning.
The Midwife by Jennifer Worth was an instant love affair for me, full of nearly unbelievable tales of her years as a midwife in the East End of London. For those who enjoy a graphic medical book, this one is gripping.
Ah, Too Many Cooks. I was nuts about Emily Franklin's memoir of how she feeds her family. Similar in format to A Homemade Life, this had a twist of its own, that of young children. A great read and brilliant recipes, too.
The World in Half is a book I wish I would see around more. Cristina Henriquez tells a quietly beautiful tale of a girl simultaneously losing her mother and searching for her father; instead she finds the most touching friendship I've ever read about.
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan packs a punch. The story of a young black man returning home after serving his country is shocking and unputdownable. I'll be suggesting this to my bookclub for 2011.
Ellen Baker's Keeping the House was one of the first books I read this year and it's still with me. Loved this family saga set in Midwest, full of twists and secrets. It was a love affair for me from beginning to end. Would love to see more from this author.
How could you forget The Help by Kathryn Stockett? A totally satisfying read set in the South in the 1960s, I cannot wait to reread this one for bookclub next November.
Ruth Rendell's 1977 masterpiece A Judgement in Stone retains it's creepiness and sense of place 30 years after the fact. A divine story of suspense.
The Dream was my first book of Harry Bernstein's but his second - my mistake. A simply told memoir of a life and a family and a love that now seems extraordinary - to Mr Bernstein, it was just life.
Here's to 2010 and all the great books that are to come! Happy New Year!