I love to read, but had stopped reading during the time before I really got sick. Back in the day when books were read less for pleasure but more as a survival technique to get through the Bataan Death March also known as night. I cranked through tons of books trying to sleep but tossed them aside, erroneously attributing my insomnia to the stimulation from the books.
So this year I picked up books again in earnest, making time for a spot of reading before bed nearly every night. Here is a sampling of some of the good, bad and the awesome books from 2008.
Oh, and I slept just fine this year.
The Most Awesome
- The Two Towers, JRR Tolkien: Oh, the choices. So many wonderful books! But the old classic topped the list. A spectacular read starting with the intense search for the missing hobbits and climaxing at the impressive battle of Helm's Deep. And just when you thought you could breathe again, the story picks up with Frodo and Sam's journey with Gollum with the ring to Mordor. I literally couldn't put it down, making the Two Towers the first book I could actually concentrate on while waiting for a biopsy and clinic visits.
The Almost Winner
- Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather: A gentle book of one priest's life as an unlikely appointee as the Archbishop of Sante Fe in the mid-1800s. A gripping story of faith and redemption written with grace and respect to the decisions of priests in a troubled and tempting land.
Honorable Mentions: Wicked by Gregory MacGuire, Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick (more muscle and heart than Bladerunner which was inspired by the book.)
The Best Memoir
- If You Could Hear What I See, Kathy Buckley: One day when I was on the VADs, I had the pleasure of being visited by Kathy Buckley, billed as America's first hearing impaired comedienne. I was shy and tired and hardly remember any of the visit other than we laughed a lot. She left her book and once I picked it up after the shameful delay of 18 months, I couldn't put it down. What an amazing survivor - and the hearing loss is the easy part. On top of that, she is an incredible human being. Shortly after reading the book, I was scheduled to give my heart transplant talk to some 7th grade students. Knowing she had experience with kids and speaking, out of the blue I emailed her for some advice. Within 1o minutes, we were chatting like old friends on the phone. Great lady. Great book.
Honorable Mentions: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (loved it!) and No Shortcuts to the Top by Ed Viesturs (Viesturs climbed the world's 14 highest peaks without oxygen - however, Viesturs's conservative climbing style works for survival but makes for a boring retelling even of this astounding achievement. By far, the most gripping part of the novel is the retelling of the 1996 Everest disaster.)
Best "Self Help" Book
- The Dance of Anger, Harriet Goldhor Lerner. A transformative look at the role of anger in the life of women and what we can do to learn from it and make changes. My most recommended book this year.
Honorable Mention: The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman (Quality Time, in case you were wondering)
- Bridge to Forever, Richard Bachman. I so loved Jonathan Livingtston Seagull. But this was pure dreck. I couldn't even finish the novel about the author searching for his True Love and confounded by not finding her. Um, dude, maybe it is because you are a self-obsessed, ultra-picky (but slutty) jerk? Gack.
- Mere Christianity by CS Lewis: If you ever question why Christians believe what we do and you don't want to pick up the bible, try this instead.
- Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster: A delightful fantasy for the nerd in all of us.
There you have it, the best and worst of 2008. Anything you would like to add from your own reading list last year?