My New Year's resolution is to faithfully write down all the movies and books I experience through the year, to share a "best of" list. My husband does this, and since I didn't write my own official list for 2005, I'll share his. Plus, I'll throw in my own comments because that's what wives do. Enjoy.
Kern says: Here is the list you have all been anxiously awaiting, my top ten books of 2005 (Potter Springs, of course is a shoe-in on any list.)
Britta says: See why I love him?
10. Gil's All Fright Diner, A. Lee Martinez:
Very funny book by local author and friend of Britta's. It's the story of a washed up vampire and zombie that save a west Texas diner from demon possession. Not usually my choice, but I laughed all the way.
Britta says: Alex is a total hoot. I don't care if you normally read this type of story - you'll love it. He's hysterical and has those sentences where you grab a friend and say, "Listen to this!"
9. The Life of Pi, Yann Martel:
Story of a young boy adrift in the Pacific with a tiger. White knuckle ride after the first 100 pages which I recommend you skip altogether. I was thirsty the entire read.
Britta says: Do NOT skip the first 100 pages. Read them, soak them in, and know that after page 100 you're in for the roller coaster. I still think about that book, and Richard Parker may be one of the best characters I've ever read. And he's the tiger.
8. The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, Joshua Braff:
Great story about two Jewish brothers growing up in the New Jersey suburbs in the 60's with crazy parents.
Britta says: Funny book, a startling peek into the male point of view. May share more than you'd ever want to know.
7. The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson:
Travel essay written in the 80's. The author borrows his grandmother's Escort and hits 44 of the lower 48 states. Bryson is a hysterical writer with great insight to people. Any of his books are a hit.
Britta says: Haven't read it. For funny and true, try Augusten Burrough's memoir Running With Scissors. It's raw and might turn your stomach at times, but you won't forget it. Plus, they're making the movie and you should ALWAYS read the book first.
6. All The Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy:
Great adventure of a young man from Texas who travel to Mexico on a horse in the 50's. Great story.
Britta says: I love Cormac McCarthy. His writing is so spare and full of tension. I'd also recommend No Country for Old Men. The villain is terrifying.
5. A Million Little Pieces, James Frey:
True Story about the author's experience in drug rehab. Harrowing story that will spark conversation with anyone else that read it.
Britta says: I started this one night at 5 p.m. and finished it at 2 a.m. An all-consuming read...next on my list is his My Friend Leonard.
4. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini:
Story of a boy in Afghanistan, and his early adulthood. The narrator is detested in the beginning, but finds redemption in the end. Wonderful story, with a clear picture of life in Afghanistan from the Soviets through the Taliban.
Britta says: I'm reading this right now, and I'm struggling with the unlikable lead character. My husband promises there's character growth, so I'm sticking with it. The writing is gorgeous and the immersion into a completely different worldview and setting is worth the trip.
3. An Unfinished Life, Mark Spragg:
Set in rural Wyoming, it is the story of a young girl, Griff who finds herself along with her mother, living with her crusty grandfather and an old disabled war buddy he cares for. The story is the love that develops between the grandfather and Griff. Loved every page.
Britta says: This may be in one of my top 10 of all time. I picked up the book last January because it had a blurb from my hero Kent Haruf who wrote the exquisite Plainsong. I wept when I finished and am nearly evangelical about getting other people to read it. Haven't seen the movie yet because the book is still so close to my heart.
2. The Captain's Wife, Doug Kelley:
True Story of Mary Patten, 19, who navigated a ship with a mutinous crew from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn in 1854. Her husband was the captain, who fell ill shortly after departure. I woke up one night certain I needed to check the jib sail. You will feel as though you are on board. I loved this book from start to finish, and had the pleasure of meeting the author in Oklahoma City last April. It is hard to find, but worth the look.
Britta says: Haven't read it, but did meet the author and he's a lovely person. For a paranormal twist on the kick-butt female standpoint, check out Candace Haven's hilarious Charmed & Dangerous. Made me want to wear stilettos and fly my own plane, sporting fabulous hair and clothes while saving the world.
1. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving:
Perhaps the best book ever. I will never forget the characters and events of this book. I read it in August, and I still think about it, quote it, etc. Owen seems like someone I knew, or grew up with. It was that vivid. It is the only book of his that I've read, and A Widow For One Year is on my list for 2006. It is long, but don't be daunted. I loved every word, and often found myself going back to read certain parts. Owen is a tiny little boy with a sickly demeanor and funny voice, but has a razor sharp sense of humor. The story follows Owen and his buddy Johnny, the narrator, from childhood in a small New Hampshire town through the Vietnam War. Undoubtedly the best book of the year. IT STILL GIVES ME THE SHIVERS!
Britta says: Oh, little Owen. One of the best characters in literature, ever. This book is so powerful, funny, clever and wise. Heartbreaking and profound. I'd also add A Widow For One Year as a must-read. It's a multi-generational twisted love story with all the humor and darkness that is John Irving. Brilliant.
For all the great reads I forgot to write down and recommend, I apologize. I hereby resolve to do better next year.
Happy Reading and Happy New Year!
Britta Coleman (author of Kern's favorite book ever, Potter Springs)