It was a pretty good year for book-reading at The Aerie, too. This year I was able to get in 30 books (as opposed to last years’ 22)* – suggesting that it’s been a more leisurely year this year than last (and I think that’s true).
It’s interesting, when I think of which books I liked and which ones I disliked, this year it was hard to come up with many that I really was disappointed in – though one was easy – “The Memory Keepers Daughter” which I thought required too much suspension of disbelief and was overly sentimental.
Old Filth. Jane Gardam’s quietly wonderful book follows the remarkable-but-seemingly-unremarkable story of “Old Filth” a retired barrister of local legend. Filth stands for Failed In London Try Hong-kong. The story tracks his unlikely rise to “success” and as it closes causes the reader to question what is success and when one reaches the end of their life – what will they think of it when they look back. With a little bit of games-of-manners thrown in. Fantastic book.
Speaker For The Dead. Sometimes I get a little worried when I read sequels to books that I really liked. Last year, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card was one of my favorite books that I had read. This second book about Ender Wiggen really outshines the first, taking Ender from manipulated child to active protagonist in this story of “first contact”. Thoughtful and riveting, Speaker For The Dead is the great sort of book that acts as a mirror that causes you to look at the meaning of family, culture and religion in your own world.
To Kill A Mockingbird. I’m sure many are saying – how can that book be a favorite for 2008? Didn’t you read it in school? The answer is no – I’d never read it, and was always one of those books I’d been meaning to read. Last year I finally did and now I understand why it’s on so many school curricula. Atticus Finch may be the best “hero” I’ve seen in fiction in a long time. As a time stamp of racial relations in America in the first half of the 20th century, I’m sure it shines, but its true power is to use that setting as a substitute for fear, ignorance, pre-conceptions and bigotry in our own day.
* I’ve liked using vox’s utility of making collections, so that I can keep track of what books I’ve read in a year. It also makes it easier to think back and review.