Saturday, December 31, 2005

Diane's best books of 2005

Inspired by DebR, I thought I’d list the best books I’ve read this year. I read incessantly, and in fact am downright uncomfortable when I’m between books. When I was in elementary school, my sister (also book-obsessed) and I started a system where we logged our books by noting the title, author, date finished, and rating on a scale of 1 to 10. Sounds silly now, I guess, but I’ve kept it up my whole life. I like to look back at those notebooks from time to time as a walk through my personal literary history. Remembering a particular book will remind me of the time in my life when I read it and where I was.

So, from my notebook from 2005, here are my favorites (these got a rating of 9 or 10):

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
It took me a while to get around to reading this novel, as I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a novel told from the perspective of a murdered child. But I did, and I loved it. It’s haunting and beautiful and funny at times.

The Married Man by Catherine Alliott
I have a thing for British novels, and this light romp about single mum offered the opportunity to live in her dream house by the sea was fun and entertaining and charming. Perfect escapist fiction.

The Incumbent by Brian McGrory
This engrossing political thriller was written by a former White House correspondent, and it combines a clever and suspenseful plot with good writing. The story follows a White House reporter who is drawn into a mystery involving the president’s pardon of a felon... drama and excitement ensue, of course. Lots of twists and turns.

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst
This unusual novel tells the story of a recently widowed linguistics professor who becomes obsessed with teaching his dog – the only witness to his wife’s death – to talk and reveal what happened to her. Odd, quirky, but compelling.

Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult
I have loved everything I’ve read by this author. In this story, a woman discovers a past she didn’t know she had. She is forced to re-examine everything about her life and her relationships with her family. Lovely, lovely story.

The Wilder Sisters by Joann Mapson
Another light but enjoyable story of two sisters whose lives come together after they’ve been estranged. It’s about family, men, horses, ranch life... a satisfying read.

gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
This phenomenal novel sucked me in from the first paragraph. It’s funny and warm and deep and mysterious, all at the same time. Go read this book.

Sudden Death by David Rosenfelt
I can’t resist a good legal thriller, and I’m picky about the legal technicalities. I can’t stand a book where the legal stuff is wrong. Rosenfelt manages to write good thrillers while keeping his hero likable and believable AND the law and trial details are credible. In this story, the criminal defense lawyer goes to LA to defend a sports superstar accused of murder. It’s entertaining...and the lawyer’s golden retriever has a huge supporting role. What’s not to love?!

Three Junes by Julia Glass
This novel follows three people: a father, his gay son, and a young woman whose life is connected up with theirs, ultimately. I love how this explores love and relationships and family and expectations and finding true family around us. I was reluctant to let these characters go when I finished this novel.


  1. I loved gods in Alabama. Thank you for recommending it several months ago. I'll put your other recommendations on my list.

  2. I've resisted reading "The Lovely Bones" for the same reason you mention, but several people have told me that it's wonderful and that I need to read it, so I think I need to put it on my list of books to seek out in 2006.

    Several of the others on your list sound good too!

  3. I listened to The Lovely Bones on cd and was enthralled. Best book I listened to all year.
    Now my question, when do you find time to read??

  4. Thanks for the wonderful book reviews. I will certainly add your recommendations to my list for 2006.

  5. I guess I should try Lovely Bones again. I was too weirded out early on and quit reading it. I loved Three Junes too. Need to try gods in alabama. It's been recommended by several people.fwocc