People know that I read, and so people ask me what I’m reading, or they’ll ask me that question: “What’s the best book you’ve read this year?”
That used to cause me to tremble — the best book, the very best one? I don’t know. Do you like love stories? Suspense? Memoir? Literary fiction? It all depends. My best isn’t your best, and if I tell you a book that I loved, what if you hate it? Will you think less of me?
But the more I read (and over the last year, I’ve read a lot), the more that the cream rises to the top. I’ve gotten to the point where I can easily put aside a book that’s just not doing it for me. If it’s okay or good, I’ll usually finish it and review it, especially if I think it’s the kind of book that others will like. The great books are easy to spot, and I usually slap them with the 5 Star Read distinction.
What’s difficult is separating good books from the very good and exceptional. Oftentimes I’ll finish a book, and know that I loved it, but just because I loved it, does it make it excellent? A 5 Star Read? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. But what I’m seeing more and more is that if a book continues to impact me, if I keep thinking of the premise or the characters or the teachings, that I have to reevaluate.
On second thought, it wasn’t just a good book — it is a great book. The whole team sort of revisited the books we read in 2009 to see which ones stood out in our Year in Review(s).
But even as recently as the first quarter of this year, there are some books that have fallen in that category for me:
- House of Tomorrow — I was reminded about how delightful I found this book when I recently wrote about it again for a new local site where I’m covering some literary/library news.)
- Unfinished Desires — This novel’s characters have definitely stuck with me. I always enjoy a character-driven generational saga, and this one fits right in.
- The Water Giver was beautifully written and has often crept into my mind to remind me how thankful I am for the health of my children and that I shouldn’t squander the opportunities I have with them.
- The Only Genius in the Family — I recently read The Threadbare Heart (review and fun contest to come), and reading it made me remember how much I absolutely loved Jennie Nash’s first novel.
- Nineteen Minutes — I am now listening to the non-fiction look at the Columbine shootings, and doing so makes me realize how beautiful, true, and suspenseful Jodi Picoult’s novel looking at school shootings was.
What are some books that you knew you enjoyed when you read them, but you didn’t realize you really loved until they stood the test of time. What is a book that you’ve given a second thought?