A Year in Reading: Laurie’s Best Books

January 10, 2006 | 15 books mentioned 3 min read

I want to leave 2005 behind, but I keep getting great stuff to post, so I hope you don’t mind. I got this great e-mail from Laurie who wanted to share her favorite books from amongst her considerable reading last year. I’ll be following this up with another e-mail Laurie sent me about what makes a book really good for her:

I just read your Jan. 5th entry about “year’s best” choices by various people. I thought about sending you my list, but then figured you only wanted to post the lists of people you knew [Max: Not true! I welcome e-mails from anyone and everyone!]. I don’t blog, but kept a reading journal this past year and totaled 60 books (some of them children’s books). It was fun looking at it at year’s end and figuring out what I enjoyed the most. I began reading your blog about midyear, I think, and your posts probably influenced some of those book choices.

For what it’s worth, the three top titles on my list were Cold Skin by Albert S. Pinol (Catalan 2002, English 2005), War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1898), and Knee Deep in Blazing Snow by James Hayford (2005). Of those, my enjoyment of the last surprised me the most, because it’s a poetry collection. It’s also the only book of all 60 read this year that I’d recommend to just about anyone, kids and poetry-hating adults alike. The poems are short, unpretentious, mostly rhyme and are illustrated. Washington Post accurately called it “quietly lovely”. It precisely captures the minutiae of the seasons and farm life that even a sheltered city-dweller can recognize with a smile. Also in my top ten were Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala (chilling), Travels With Mr. Brown by Mark Twain (Letters to the Alta California 1866-1867), and Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin. The latter is a fun kids’ book.

29 of the 60 were first published in 2005.

For some idea of what those “top choices” were chosen over, the 29 first published in 2005 are:

Funniest were:

  • Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin
  • Travels With My Donkey by Tim Moore (Bill Bryson meets Monty Python)

Grimmest were:

  • Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Hardest to put down were:

  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Cold Skin by A.S. Pinol

There. More than you wanted or needed to know.

Thanks, Laurie!

is a publicity assistant for a large Southern university.

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