The Book Club Cheerleader’s Top 10(ish) Book Club Books of 2010
Ok, my procrastination is over, so here’s where I start cheating…
Even after my two lists of caveats, I just couldn’t whittle the list down to a measly 10…and so I present to you my Top 12—call them my ‘Darling Dozen’, if you will…
Coming of Age:
Book Clubs—and The Book Club Cheerleader—love tales involving young people at that critical point in their lives…
1) The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, by Heidi Durrow. Rachel—half-Danish, half-African American—and the only survivor of a family accident—moves in with her black grandmother. Told from several points of view, including Rachel’s, she struggles to find her identity while coming to terms with her loss. You can read my entire review, “The Book That Fell to the Top of My Pile” on BCC.com—(it’s the seventh piece in the Book Buzz column.) (Paperback release: Jan. 11, 2011)
2) The Kitchen House, by Kathleen Grissom. Irish orphan, Lavinia, becomes an indentured servant on a tobacco plantation. Living with the slaves in the kitchen house, she is raised between the two race lines. Eventually, she must make some difficult choices, questioning her loyalties. It’s been described as “Gone with the Wind from Mammy’s perspective.” (Paperback release: Feb. 2, 2010)
3) The Outside Boy, by Jeanine Cummins. Christy is a motherless gypsy boy growing up in 1950’s Ireland. While his family temporarily eschews the traveling life for a season, Christy accidently learns a family secret which changes his life forever. You can read my full review, “The Outside Boy Simmers with Inner Conflict” on BCC.com—(it’s the eighth piece in the Book Buzz column.) (Paperback release: Jun. 1, 2010)
4) Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, by Beth Hoffman. After the death of 12-year old Cecilia’s beauty queen (but crazy) mother, her great grandmother Tootie whisks her off to Savannah—into a magical land which seems to be run entirely by woman. Populated with wonderfully quirky characters, dealing with themes of belonging and race, and dripping with Southern charm, book clubs everywhere are falling in love with this book. (Paperback release: Oct. 26, 2010)
Don’t these kinds of books make us all feel better about our own families? Even Uncle George?
5) The Cook Book Collector, by Allegra Goodman. A delightful tale of two sisters, two cities, two companies and the innocence that existed in the pre-dot-bomb and pre-9/11 world. Full of contrasts and ironies, Ms. Goodman spins a wonderful yarn, and has been compared to Jane Austen for her deft dealing with the human heart and psyche. You can read my entire review, “A Fine Vintage” on BCC.com—(it’s the fourth piece in the Book Buzz column.) (Paperback release: Jul. 12, 2011)
6) Room, by Emma Donoghue. Told in the unique and innocent voice of 5-year old Jack, we experience the only world he’s ever known, an 11 by 11 room where he and his mother had been held captive since before he was born. Jack and his mom have a plan to break out—but what would life be outside of Room? (Paperback release: Jun. 1, 2011)
7) Solomon’s Oak, by Jo-Ann Mapson. The story of three broken lives brought together by fate: Glory, a young widow; Juniper, abandoned by her parents; and Joseph, wounded both physically and psychologically. Can they heal each other? You can read my entire review, “The Power of Love” on BCC.com—(it’s the second piece in the Book Buzz column.) (Hardcover release: Oct.12, 2010; no word on the paperback release)
Takes You Places:
The following three books take us on adventures to other lands—without having to pop for the airfare. Or struggle through TSA groping…
8 ) Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. Twin brothers, half-Indian and half-English, come of age in Yemen. Both grow up to follow in their father’s footsteps becoming doctors—one moves to America, and one stays in Africa to follow his own dreams. Don’t be dismayed by the almost 600 pages—the author’s breathtaking beautiful language carries you through every page. (Paperback release: Jan. 26, 2010)
9) Heart of Lies, by M.L. Malcolm. An exotic tale, part adventure, part love-story, following Leo Hoffman, a Hungarian peasant as he tries to make a place for himself in the world. Jet-setting from Budapest to Shanghai and New York, the story of these wonderful characters is skillfully woven into critical historical events. You can read my full review, “A Summer Adventure for Your Book Club” on BCC.com—(it’s the fifth piece in the Book Buzz column.) Also, the author wrote a great guest blog in the Author’s Angle column on BCC.com—it’s the third piece.) (Paperback release: Jun. 8, 2010)
10) Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson. A traditional English Major, now both retired and widowed, finds a new lease on life when he discovers a mutual love of books—among other things—with a local Pakistani shopkeeper, Jasmina Ali. Simonson’s dry British humor keeps this charming story from ever becoming too saccharine, and the inclusion of their family issues—Pettigrew’s yuppie son and Jasmina’s gruff nephew—gives the plot its necessary drama. Completely delightful, I could not put it down. (Paperback release: Nov. 30, 2010)
You Can’t Make This Stuff Up:
Both of these books deal with difficult topics including disease, betrayal, death and war—and then you can’t console yourself with the fact that it is all Fiction! However, both authors write with such skill, that not only are difficult topics handled professionally and balanced, but they both read like Fiction. Brava!
11) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. If anyone had told me I would be enthralled reading about cell culture—I would’ve reminded them that I used to fall asleep in my Bacteriology class back at Chico—which could be why I never became a nurse… But the skilled writer tells two stories in this book: one is the human interest story of Henrietta Lacks and her family struggling in mid-century Baltimore; the other is the scientific story of how doctors and researchers experimented with her cancer cells—unbeknownst to either Henrietta or her family. While both plot lines are meticulously researched, no trace of dryness remains—it’s a page turner. When I first read about the book’s premise, I thought “so what?”, but after the umpteenth review I read praising Ms. Skloot’s first book, I had to pick it up myself. I was not sorry, and you won’t be either—read it! (Paperback release: Mar. 11, 2011)
12) Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand. USC track star and Olympic runner Louie Zamperini was a star. But then WWII broke out, and being a patriotic American, he enlisted. Again, he became a star—this time an Army Air Corp bombardier. That is, until his plane went down in the Pacific. The author tells the rest of this almost unbelievable story of a young Italian American—who helps his cohorts earn the title, ‘The Greatest Generation’. You can read my entire review, “Pride and Persistence in the Pacific” on BCC.com (it’s the first piece in the Book Buzz column.) (Hardcover release: Nov.16, 2010; no word on the paperback release)
So, now you know The Book Club Cheerleader’s Top 10 Book Club Books of 2010—OK, my Darling Dozen… But, I showed you mine—now show me yours! Drop me a line and join the conversation!
Have a Fabulous Friday and remember, the weekend is a great opportunity to read a good book!