As you all may know, reading is my hobby, avocation, thing. I am routinely asked for book recommendations so I thought I’d offer my favorites of 2009. I wanted to keep it to a Top Ten list but, as always with me and books, I couldn’t choose just ten. You’ll notice a few themes in my favorites this year- immigrant stories from Russia, China, India and Iran and India based books. It was very hard to choose my number one as I had such an amazing year of reading and found some fabulous reads.
If you know some prolific (crazy, read way too much) readers like me, please send me their email addresses as a friend and I may launch a book blog for readers like us. I am always in the endless pursuit of a good book and like to go way beyond mainstream booklists. My goal for this year was 100 books but I’ve only made it to 85 thus far. I’m aiming for 100 in 2010 but we’ll see.
Here goes… my number one pick for 2009 is…
1. Man in the White Sharkskin Suit- by Lucette Lagnado – an amazing TRUE story (but reads like a novel) of a Jewish family in post WW II Egypt who has a great lifestyle who then has to leave Egypt. The character development in this book rocks- you want so badly to be in Egypt at that time. The author is an acclaimed Wall Street Journal writer. The story is about her father. You don’t have to be Jewish to love this book.
The rest are in no particular order as it’s just too hard to rank my favorites:
2. Marriage Bureau for Rich People- Farahad Zama– Set in India, a man sets up a marriage bureau and helps make matches amongst the differing castes in India. It is a light read and such a good book.
3. Golden Willow- Harry Bernstein– This is his 3rd book. All 3 are the stories of his life. He didn’t publish his first book until he was in his 80’s. He wrote this one at age 92. All three are great. Love Harry!
4. The Help- Kathryn Stockett- What a book- was a contender for my number 1 slot. It is the story of a bunch of housekeepers in Mississippi (1960 ish) who finally get sick of their white employers. The character development in this book is SO good- can’t wait for the movie.
5. The Late Lamented Molly Marx- Sally Koslow– a recommendation from my friend Stephanie, the other person who reads as much as me. Molly watches her former life from a heaven type place. While that sounds morbid, the book isn’t at all. It is actually a light, quick read.
6. Sari Shop Widow- Shobhan Bantwal– I would call this Indian chick lit but a fun read. Main character’s family owns a Sari Shop in the U.S. that is failing. They get help from a business consultant and a sweet story emerges.
8. Shanghai Girls- Lisa See- Can’t say enough about this book. A page turner until the very end and then I wanted more. Two sisters in Shanghai in mid 1930’s come to the U.S. I’m hoping she writes a sequel to this one. This was a contender for my number one slot too.
9. Mistress Shakespeare- Karen Harper– I would term this book upper chick lit (my own newly coined phrase.) It is literally a story of Shakespeare’s alleged mistress. It is very light but was a good read.
10. Septembers of Shiraz- Dalia Sofer– I’d read about this book for a few years but finally got around to reading it. A family is forced to leave Iran in the early 1980’s. Great character development. While the family in the story is Jewish, this isn’t a religion based book at all. A great insight into Iran at that time.
11. Russian Concubine followed by number 12. Girl From Junchow by Kate Furnivall- I love it when a book is long and good and THEN you find out there is a sequel waiting for you. The story of a Russian family in China, these two books follow the life of one woman. These are above chick lit but below real literature- good character development and they are LONG so you can lose yourself in them for a good period of time.
Next up on my reading list are:
Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
The Chosen One by Carol Williams
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Too Much Money by Dominick Dunne
One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
Please send me email addresses of your reader friends and, as always, forward good book ideas.
What are you reading and where are you going?