The best book I’ve read in 2013 has been “A Hologram for the King” by Dave Eggers. The setting is somewhere in the Mideast, with images similar to Dubai. It is written in a deceptively simple style and even though there are few characters, it is impossible to put the book down until it is finished. Somehow, the author is able to convey a deep sense of mystery and foreboding as well as keeping a sense of constant tension and empathy for the main character. A splendid read!
Mary Sue Skelton
I have read many really good books this year, but the one that has really stuck with me is “The Orphan Master’s Son,” by Adam Johnson. It had all the key ingredients for me: character, plot, education about a different culture and part of the world — North Korea — and good writing. Although it was difficult to read because of the horrors of North Korea, I loved it!
I bought a pile of books from the Rockford Road Library and absolutely loved “Crow Lake” by Mary Lawson. She vividly portrayed to me the love of two brothers for their sisters in the face of a family tragedy, how each person views life dreams differently, how circumstances lead each in the family to live the life they really wanted to live all along, and how the misconceptions of the other’s dreams distanced them as they grew older but ultimately, through the eyes of an outsider, brought them back together. So many facets to the story I am still thinking about it. A very good read.
“Me Before You,” by Jojo Moyes. An attractive, active and successful man is suddenly living his life as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair with constant care. What would you do? This book not only brings out a lot of real emotions, but the story stays with you. (Our book club is pretty tough on books but “Me Before You” got all 5’s, which is the highest. It’s a wonderful discussion book.)
I read “The Round House” by Louise Erdrich for the first time this summer. The book hit a nerve deep in my reader’s heart and I connected with those characters as real people. The author gave them such hearts and soul and the story was as real as anything happening in the papers today. It was not at all a story of crime committed in a reservation town — it was a story of a crime committed in a small community that had deep roots and political and moral impact on the lives of these human beings, and the world at large. Her writing is like music for me. Open the page and fall in … come out way later smarter and better for the hours spent.
Cold Spring, Minn.
Extremely difficult to choose one book of the numerous excellent ones I’ve read this past year.
Pared it down to three, but since you want one only, it must be Alan Paton’s classic, “Cry the Beloved Country.” This 1948 gem is quintessential for life lessons through the decades (had read it in high school — rereading 40 years later — even more profound)!
I have found the current crop of best sellers to be, overall, somewhat disappointing. But when I took “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving off my shelf, it was, once again, a delight. The copyright is 1989, but, for me the themes resonate in 2013.
St. James, Minn.
“East of Eden,” by John Steinbeck. Why? Multiple plot levels/themes/subplots that overlay and are interwoven; and incredible development of characters, each of which is essential to the story told. So many good choices, but limited to one choice, this has to be it.
I just loved “Vacationland,” by Sarah Stonich — what great characters woven warmly together in such amazingly deep yet simple stories of life.
A very close second was “Ordinary Grace,” by William Kent Krueger, another story with great characterizations in a small Minnesota town. I highly recommend them both.
My favorite book this year is “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend,” by Matthew Dicks. It’s a story about an eight-year-old boy named Max, who has autism, and his imaginary friend, Budo. The book, which is told from Budo’s perspective, is a story about life, love, and friendship. As I read it, I found myself cheering (literally) for Max and Budo.
My favorite book of the year was “Vacationland,” by Sarah Stonich, a local author. We read it for book club (five couples) and it was a unanimous thumbs up (something rare). The book captures Minnesota in terms of its people, its setting, its culture. Though it is fiction, we have all encountered parts of people and aspects of events that Stonich portrays. It weaves beautifully and is so much more than just a story.
I really enjoyed “The View From Penthouse B” by Elinor Lipman. I’ve read other Lipman novels that I have enjoyed but I don’t remember any of them for taking on social issues. Her lighthearted and sometimes self-depreciating approach made it very pleasant for me.