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Five Favorite Novels 2010

December 1, 2010

Those of you who know me, know that I am an avid reader. I keep track of what I have read on Squidoo – My Book List 2010. As it is almost the end of the year, I’ve been reflecting on the best and most inspiring books I’ve read this year. Today, I will talk about novels. On Friday, the books that had the biggest impact.

Actually, I don’t read a lot of novels, but when I read a good one, it just lights me up. And speaking of novels, you will not find one Stieg Larsson book here. Not because I have anything against them, they just haven’t come up on my radar as a must read. So, should they?

Here are my favorite novels of the year.

1. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova

I recently finished this book and loved it! Written through the lens of a psychiatrist, Andrew Marlow, this is a mystery in disguise. Dr. Marlow’s patient, Robert Oliver, is a painter and a man obsessed with a woman who lived two hundred years before. But he will not talk.

Marlow, in his attempt to get to the bottom of Oliver’s mental illness, becomes obsessed himself. The characters are all fascinating, and I did not know the meaning of the title until I was 90% into this 550+ page book.

Kostova’s first book was the best seller, The Historian.

2. The Bishop’s Man by Linden MacIntyre

I always get excellent Canadian book recommendations from my friend Norah, another fellow reader who lives in Toronto. The author, Linden MacIntyre, is a distinguished broadcast journalist in Canada.

The story, which takes place in Nova Scotia, is from a priest’s perspective, while the sex abuse scandal was just coming to light. This priest was known as the exorcist because it was his job to deal with priests who had committed abuse. It turns out he had his own demons to deal with.

Very well written, relevant, but a little depressing. I am glad that I have experienced priests who love their job, and seem quite well-balanced.

3. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Lars0n

First of all, this is not a novel, but I am including it here because it reads like one.

The fascinating story of the creation of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and a murder mystery going on at the same time. Daniel H. Burnham was the architect behind the fair and H.H. Holmes was a serial killer who used the fair to find his victims. You will learn about careers that were made or broken by this fair and how it put the United States on the map, so to speak. Interesting tidbits about electricity, ferris wheels, and more.

I have talked to others that found it hard to get into this book and, to tell you the truth, I was amazed at this because I found it spell-binding from beginning to end. Now, that could be because I have an interest in Chicago having lived near it for the past 22 years. Or, because I had read the book “Galway Bay” the previous year, which dealt with the Irish potato famine and Irish immigrants to Chicago in the mid-1800’s. That book ended when the Chicago World’s Fair started.

4. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

I picked up this book at a Canadian bookstore because of the interesting picture on the cover, the title, and the sticker that said “Heather’s Pick,” Heather being a staff member of the bookstore. Written by an Irishman about New York City in the 1970’s, it won a National Book Award, but what really sold me was the quote inside which said,

“All the lives we could live, all the people we will never know, never will be, they are everywhere. That is what the world is.” ~ Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project.

The story is about ten different people in New York City and how their lives intersect on a morning in 1974 when a tightrope walker stuns people by walking between the twin towers. Real people and real stories. I found myself looking at people I pass every day differently after reading this book.

5. Woops! When I looked at my list of books, I couldn’t come up with a 5th to recommend. So, I’m asking you to fill in the blank.

What was your favorite novel this year?

Related Reading: Book Lovers Accessories

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