Everyone who knows me well knows I read all of the time. Last year, as a lark, I sent out an email to my friends of my top ten books (ok twelve books) of 2009. Then, I would run into people that I didn’t know well at all and they had gotten the email- it had gone viral! Thus, GreatThoughts.com was born. Right now, the website has only book reviews. You can find all books reviewed under “My Bookshelf.” Shortly, travel reviews will be posted under “Bon Voyage.”
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Now I offer my Top Twelve (I couldn’t choose just Ten again) Books of 2010:
1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman– Oh what a book! This book reminded me of The Help. It is the story of a young girl in the South whose mother dies. Her father is basically useless so her fabulous aunt (reminiscent of Auntie Mame) moves her to her home. The interplay of the characters is fabulous and the writing is simply divine. This is a first novel for Ms. Hoffman. Let’s hope she writes another quickly!
Some of my favorite quotes in the book are:
“Life is full of change, honey. That’s how we learn and grow. When we’re born, the Good Lord gives us each a Life Book. Chapter by chapter, we live and learn.”
“I’d never heard of a place called the Kama Sutra and figured it was probably some boring old volcano.”
“Are you that anxious to go out and find your next ex-husband?”
“See how she walks? Looks like she’s squeezin’ her life savings between her cheeks.”
“My momma used to say if she had a drop of water for every dream I had, we’d be livin’ on a houseboat in the middle of a clear blue lake.”
2. The Red Thread by Ann Hood– “In China, there is a belief that people who are destined to be together are connected by an invisible red thread.”
Run, don’t walk to buy this book!! It is the story of an American adoption agency called The Red Thread. The book draws out emotions of happy and uplifting to sad and depressing. The book intersperses the stories of numerous American couples waiting to adopt from China and the life of the owner of the adoption agency.
The book is beautifully written. The character development is divine- you literally feel what the characters are feeling. I don’t want to spoil it by telling more.
3. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok– I have no idea why it took me so long to find this book. I simply loved it and am so glad I read it. It is the sometimes sad, sometimes gut wrenching, sometimes happy story of a very poor Chinese mother and daughter who emigrate to the United States and basically become indentured servants to their relatives here. Overcoming all odds, the daughter works in a factory, gets a scholarship to a very elite private school and goes on to finish Harvard Medical School. And there is a nice juicy turn at the ending that I didn’t see coming!
One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “If they knew that Ma made even my underwear for me, that we slept under pieces of fabric we found in the trash, they would surely throw me out. I was a fraud, pretending to be one of the rich kids.” Run to read this book!
4. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. I read this book in 24 hours and it instantly went to the top of my list for Best of 2010, so far. It is set in both India and the U.S. and is the story of an Indian girl who is adopted by a couple in America. The author does a fabulous job of character development and in explaining Indian culture. I LOVED it! I have a minor (kind of major) obsession with Indian fiction.
5. Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky– I was surprised at how good this book is. Delinsky’s books tend to be “fluffy” family stories. This book is SO SO good and a must read if you have a daughter of any age, or even if you do not. I LOVED it!
It is about a group of teen girls who take a pregnancy pact. Their mothers are good friends and one of the mothers is the principal of the high school. It sounds implausible but, once you read it, it is clear how easy it could happen. A two day read and oh so good!
6. Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin- – I even skipped reading Sunday newspapers to curl up with my Kindle and finish this book. SO GOOD!!! The story of a suburban family, working doctor hubby and stay at home wife where the hubby is tempted by a patient’s mother. This is a good 1-2 day read. I would deem it upper beach read but a really good upper beach read (especially if you are on a great beach ).
7. Fall of Giants by Ken Follett- Fall of Giants by Ken Follett– If you love long books like I do, this is for you. The history major in me loved the World War I references. The fiction reader in me LOVED the intertwined British, American, German and Russian characters. Ken Follett is simply a master of great fiction and great writing.
Two of my favorite quotes in this book are:
“The queen did not know what to say about a man whose virtue was that he did not beat his wife.”
“A baby was like a revolution, Grigori thought: you could start one, but you could not control how it would turn out.”
8. Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon- Astonishly, this is a first novel. It is so well written and grips you from the very beginning. It is the story of a 33 year old man who returns to the United States, knows he hasn’t spoken to his parents in years but can’t remember his childhood. Typically, I would not be drawn to a psychological thriller like this but it is SO good! I am hoping it is a movie soon as the author also writes screen plays. I see Matthew McConaughey in the lead role.
9. With Friends Like These by Sally Koslow- Sally Koslow has now made my Top Ten list two years in a row. Last year, she wrote one of my favs, The Late Lamented Molly Marks. This year, it is With Friends Like These. She does a fabulous job of demonstrating what can be the complicated relationship between women. It has LOTS of girl drama. The premise is that four women have been good friends for a long time and are now working on their careers, kids and relationships. Without really intending to, two at a time, they are competing and/or sabataging each other. Yet, she writes it in such a way that it is totally believable. One of my daughters has a shirt that says “Rise Above the Drama”. The characters in the book need this shirt!
The theme is competition- for real estate, jobs, private schools, etc. Friendship does prevail but it is an honest look at the competitive world we live in and what it can even drive good friends to do. I highly recommend this book- it is a quick read and will catch your attention from the very start.
10. Sima’s Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger Ross– This book looked so good that I actually ordered the book as it wasn’t available for Kindle! Such great character development. Sima runs a lingerie shop out of her house in Brooklyn when a young Israeli girl comes to work with her. Sima’s past unfolds through her relationship with the young girl. A must read!
11. Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore– This is a true story of a high end art dealer and his wife who befriend a homeless man named Denver Moore. Their story takes place in Fort Worth, Texas. The chapters are written alternately by Ron Hall, the art dealer, or Denver Moore, the then homeless man.
Some of my favorite quotes in the book:
Denver “So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just gon’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend.” And, “If you want to know the truth about it, nothing ever reallyends but something new don’t begin.” “ When something ends in our sight, it begins somewhere else where we can’t hear it or see it or feel it.”
12. Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler by Wade Rouse- This is a TRUE story written by the marketing director of a very posh upscale private school, likely set in the Northeast. His job basically is to appease the wealthy mommies that run the PTA. It is hilarious. If you like satire, you will love his writing. I loved this-
“TTFN- It’s an acronym meaning “Ta-Ta for Now.”
This book will make you laugh out loud and sometimes we all need to laugh out loud!
What are you reading and where are you going?