Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Best Books of the Year (Probably)

I realize it's been ages since I've written a blog post. I have occasionally had ideas floating around in my head to blog, but I'll be honest that more often than not they have been fragments that never build to anything because I have a million other non-related fragments also swimming around in there. Perhaps I should just start posting smaller bits. Perhaps not as my current fragment is "Why is Snoop Dogg/Lion hanging out with Justin Beiber so much these days? Does he see himself as some sort of parental figure to him? I wonder if he even sees himself as a parental figure to his actual children as he seems sort of like a giant kid himself?"

Anyway, before another fragment rears its ugly head, let me get to the point of this post, which is to share the best books I read in December. I think they were my favorite books in all of 2013, but I honestly don't remember a rather large portion of 2013, so I could be wrong. Still these two were very, very good. Go read them now. They're good enough I feel secure in telling you that you wouldn't even regret buying them in hardback.

Life After Life-You may have heard some of the hype around this one, but I assure you that it's such an unique and creative concept that it lives up to the hype. It's super weird (it follows the varied lives and deaths of one character over and over again), but if you bear with it, you will find yourself sucked into the many lives of Ursula Todd, vividly experiencing WWII in a variety of ways, and regretting when you turn the last page. It's complex, and I think I don't entirely understand the conclusion (I'm not sure I could even tell you if there's a happy ending or not), but this novel was outstanding and I found myself thinking of Ursula weeks later as if she were a friend temporarily away on vacation.

 Tell the Wolves I'm Home-This will especially strike a chord with anyone who remembers the nationwide saga of Ryan White from the '80's. This book is a really wonderful deep, slightly dark young adult novel exploring love and grief. It's quirky but lovely, and includes a number of images with such a haunting painterly quality that even months later they stand out starkly in my sleep-addled, sieve-like memory. I really loved June, the main character; loved her dry sense of humor, her observations, and her humanity. Also, I thought Brunt really nailed the ending. Sometimes a story just builds and builds, getting better and better and the author just can't pull off a satisfying ending and the story just takes a big old bellyflop. Not here though, I found the conclusion to be fulfilling.