Multcolib My Librarian Diana: A dozen years, a dozen favorites
Annotation:2002. Eugenides' vivid writing captures the essence of Cal, a hermaphrodite, who sets out to discover himself by tracing the story of his family back to his Greek grandparents.
Annotation:2003. Sure, the members of this 1970's commune that resettles in a remote corner of Alaska say they're all about peace and love, but you find that there are other agendas beneath the surface.
Annotation:2004. This book is astonishing. It's written from the point of view of a minister who lives in a small town in the Midwest. He's dying and is writing for his young son to read after he's gone. I am not interested at all in small town life or Christianity, but Robinson's writing is lyrical and full of such soul. This book makes me cherish my own life more, feel more alive than I would have if I'd never read it.
Annotation:2006. Eggers' narrator, a fictionalized version of a real person, is a Sudanese Lost Boy. Forced to flee his village by government militias, he survives marathon walks, starvation, disease, soldiers, bandits, land mines, lions, and refugee camps before winning the right to immigrate to the U.S. There's so much darkness in this book, but it's not depressing-- it's inspiring.
Annotation:2007. Ultimately a celebration of triumph over adversity, Somali Hirsi Ali's story tells how a bright little girl evolved out of dutiful obedience to become an outspoken, pioneering freedom fighter.
Annotation:2008.This is officially a kids' book but it's the best thing I read that year. After a terrible crime, a baby toddles into a historic English graveyard, where the residents, ghosts and other creatures, raise him and keep him safe.
Annotation:2009. This book is good, and lots of fun, too, with creepy twins, a historic London graveyard, and the most interesting and fully imagined ghosts I've ever encountered in a book.
Annotation:2010. Smith is an amazing writer, and this account of her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe brings New York City, the passion of youth, and necessity of creating art to brilliant life.
Annotation:2011. This book, written in Ann Patchett's fantastic prose, tells the story of an almost mythical journey (think Orpheus). It's also full of wonderful characters and enticing details about the Amazon.
Annotation:2012. A childless couple working a homestead in 1920s Alaska discover a little girl living in the wilderness and begin to love the strange, almost-supernatural child as their own. I loved the magical realism of this, as well as practical details about homesteading.
Annotation:2013. What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? I loved the dreamy but precise writing in this book, which sometimes reminded me of Virginia Woolf.
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Looking back over the last twelve years, I chose my very favorite books, one for each year. It was hard to just choose one per year! Choosing just one book for 2004 felt like Sophie's Choice to me.