Wow. It's 2010!! I can't believe how fast time flies. 2009 was a bit of a roller coaster year for me, and I never could have imagined last January all of the things that would happen this year. My reading has been somewhat wild and crazy too. I've discovered lots of new authors, met lots of interesting characters, and read stories I never would have thought that I would ever read. This year, I decided to rank the top 5 reads of the past year. Here they are:
Honorable Mention- Dracula: I have to give some notice to Bram Stoker's classic simply because it exceeded my expectations. If you had told me two years ago that I would one day read Dracula and LIKE it, I would have died laughing at you. But it happened! That just goes to show you that you should never judge a book before you read it (except Twilight...I'm not reading that!).
Fifth Place- Peace Like a River: I was having a tough time deciding between this and To Kill a Mockingbird, mainly because their writing is so similar. I decided to go with Leif Enger's 2001 novel for one reason: the next to last chapter. It was like a blow to the gut and it took my breath away. Plus, when a writer's picture of heaven can rival C. S. Lewis', their novel deserves to be on the list. Here is hope for modern literature.
Fourth Place- Villette: Oh, Charlotte Bronte, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways! I've always loved her for writing my absolute most favorite novel of all time, and now I respect her for the great novelist that she was. Her tale of passion, horror, despair, overcoming, and madness cement her as one of THE premier Victorian novelists. This is a story that deserves to be read, debated, and cherished for years to come.
Third Place- Rebecca: It was love at first read between me and Daphne Du Maurier's classic novel. The shy narrator, the threataning housekeeper, the dashing Maxim, the ghostly first wife, the haunted estate...what's not to love? I've actually read this story a number of times this year, plus watching Hitchcock's masterful adaptation of it. One of this year's best discoveries.
Second Place- Captain Blood: A big thank you to B. J. Harrison at The Classic Tales Podcast for introducing me to this one. Of all of the books that I read this year this one was the most fun. Peter Blood is now one of my all-time favorite characters, ranking right up there with Alan Breck Stewart. There were so many wonderful moments that made this story so exciting. I have recommended this book to just about everyone I know.
First Place- I, Claudius: L-O-V-E-D it!! The spying, the murders, the political wrangling...never a dull moment in Imperial Rome. I was captivated by this story, pretty much from the beginning. Grave's questioning of how to balance the freedom of the Republic with the stability of the Empire is wonderful, and Claudius is the underdog of the century. Not a book for everyone perhaps, but still a wonderful read in my opinion.
Yes, 2009 was a great year in reading, and I'm looking forward to a 2010 that is just as enriching, exciting, and thrilling. Here is a glimpse of the books that I'll be reading as the new year opens:
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. I had planned to read this before the end of 2009, but it didn't happen. So it will be opening 2010 instead. This is they story of Antoinette Cosway, soon to be Bertha Mason who marries Mr. Rochester of Jane Eyre fame. Though she does use Charlotte Bronte's classic as a starting point, Rhys' story of colonialism and life in the Caribbean is said to have made it a classic in its own right.
The 39 Steps by John Buchan. Richard Hannay has just returned to London after years in South Africa. He is thoroughly bored and planning on returning to South Africa when a murder is committed in his flat. It isn't long before Richard finds himself caught up in a whirlwind that could have international consequences. I already really like the famous Hitchcock adaptation, and with the new adaptation getting ready to premier on Masterpiece, I felt that now would be a great time to read it.
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Dicken's often referred to this autobiographical novel as his "favourite child". It is the story of young David Copperfield and it follows him from his early life with his young mother, to his school days, to the days when he is employed in London. This is the next book in my quest to read all of Dickens' works.
The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel. Olivia Dunne is a studious minister's daughter with big dreams for herself. Her goal is to graduate from college and travel the world as an archeologist. But when an indescretion leads to an arranged marriage with a farmer in rural Colorado, Livy feels that her dreams and her life have turned to dust. The Hallmark Channel adaptation of this novel is a big favorite with me and my sisters, and I'm looking forward to a light read.
The Story of the Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit. After their father's business fails, the Bastable children set out on a quest to restore the fortunes of their house. Unfortunately, their schemes, though well meant, often land them in a bit of trouble. Edith Nesbit's classic children's story is one that I've wanted to read for awhile, and I'm looking forward to hooking up with this mischevious family.
I hope that 2010 is a wonderful year in your reading life. With great books to read and exciting Classics to watch, I know that this new year will be off to an amazing start. Happy New Year!