my best books of the year

I picked up quite a few books this year that I couldn’t put down, if I do say so myself [breathes warm air on knuckles, rubs knuckles against chest]. So I wanted to share. These books both delighted me and made me think. A few of them I read while literally walking down D.C. streets during rush hour [I noticed those dirty looks, you fellow pedestrians, but I couldn’t help myself!]


  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett

This soars because you can’t help but love the characters — Aibilene, Minny and Skeeter — and worry about what will happen to them during the height of racial unrest. And it transports you to the South.

  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is historical fiction about the civil war in Nigeria in the late 1960s — also known as the Biafran war — a war I knew nothing about. It’s a bit gruesome, but also surprising and so rich in detail that I got over the war scenes.

  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

I was recently told that this has become required reading for incoming freshman at Georgetown University. It’s the kind of book that makes you ponder your perceptions and instincts. I actually might read it again. It’s the perfect book club book.

Honorable mentions (because no list is complete without some honorable mentions): The Shadow in the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón and The Forever War by Dexter Filkins.

Also, in the past two weeks, I’ve been trying to clean out my New Yorkers all the way back to 2008, which is proving impossible. I say to myself: “What if someone mentions an article [at some way-down-the-road future date that will never happen] that I want to read and I’ve tossed it?”

So, my deal with myself is to read the fiction and then toss it. I’ve been *trying* [cough cough] to read one a day. This idea all started with a short story by E.L. Doctorow called “Wakefield.” Two Saturdays ago, I sat on my carpet thinking I’d read a page or two and I kept reading and reading. Even though I had to go the bathroom and my stomach was grumbling and I really wanted some coffee, I couldn’t stop until I finished it. Making me ignore my basic needs — now that’s talent Mr. Doctorow.



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