This year I seriously read a lot of books. It’s actually kind of ridiculous looking back at my book journal… I’m not sure how I managed to work fulltime, move my entire life twice, and survive the (apparently) hardest semester of grad school with decent grades, and read the mounds and mounds of books that I did. The majority of them were really good, but as a year end wrap up I am going to give you my top five books of the year (and later in the week I’ll cover movies and music)! There’s a little bit of everything, so if you don’t like a single one of these books then there’s something wrong with you…
So, I already blogged about this book when I first read it over the summer, but I am going to plug it again. It’s that good. I’m not going to waste space fan-girling over it because I already embarrassed myself sufficiently the first time, so just go read my post on it again. And then go read the book!
When I was younger I read The Hobbit and was really not impressed with it, so when I decided to finally tackle reading the LotR trilogy last winter I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed them. Enjoyed so much that I ignored my goal of reading one a year (at Christmas time), and read The Two Towers during February and finished The Return of the King in the summer. Of all three movies I had always liked The Two Towers the least, but it was actually much better as a book than the third volume (which I had liked better as a film). Not enough actually happens in the final book, and one final battle takes forever to get over with. The Two Towers tells so many storylines, since all of the characters are separated on different journeys, so there’s too much going on for the reader to get bored. Plus we get to meet Treebeard! I love Treebeard and the other magical trees!
You’ve all read Maurice Sendak’s classic picture book Where the Wild Things Are, and seen the Spike Jonze movie of the same title, right? You haven’t? Goddamnit, do I have a lot of work to do with you lot… First of all, go read/watch those, then go pick up The Wild Things, because it’s the keystone volume in the trilogy of masterpieces that brings the other two together perfectly. The novel gets right into Max’s head, and we discover exactly why he’s such a wild thing, and what he really feels about his role as the king of the wild things. It’s exciting, illuminating, and at times frightening as the reader sees straight into the mind of a very troubled child who isn’t sure how to connect with the rest of the world, but who desperately wants to. By the way, I scooped a hardcover copy (which is the ideal edition) from Chapters for $7.99 in the clearance section. Totally worth every penny!
Obviously I had to include one of Neil’s books because he’s Neil, and he deserves it. I debated, and debated, and debated, and debated, but finally decided to have Odd and the Frost Giants as my pick, because it’s magical in both written and audiobook format. Seriously it was a hard decision, since I read about 10 of Neil’s books this year. Too much awesomeness to be contained. Okay, off track for a second there, but must get back on track. Odd is a crippled viking boy, who goes on a magical journey to Asgard with some of the Norse pantheon (conveniently in animal form) in an attempt to defeat the frost giant who has captured Asgard, and who is making winter last forever. I’m not going to tell you if Odd and his companions are victorious or not, but Odd’s life won’t be the same when he returns home. If you are in the mood for an audiobook, this one is extra-delightful because Neil narrates it, and he does an amazing job. When I was listening to it I thought to myself “OMG this is how Neil’s children must have experienced story time – what a delightful accent – pay attention brain, words, not delightful accent sounds.”
My top 5 list wouldn’t be complete without a book from my favourite author of all time, Charles de Lint. The Halifax library has a ridiculous amount of his books (many of which are no longer in print, were limited editions, and don’t show up at second hand stores very often), so I’ve been devouring his books as well. But not so fast that I will overdose on awesome. Book burnout is an ugly experience. But anyways, Medicine Road is a great read. It tells the story of two animal people, who have been given access to their human forms, but must find love to keep them. The reader is taken on a magic-tinged journey through the deserts of North America that de Lint is so fond of, and is immersed in the mythology of the desert surroundings, and of the animal people who populate it. Did I mention that it’s illustrated by Charles Vess? Putting the two Charles’ together creates the perfect balance between written word and visual aid to create a beautiful book.
BTW I did all the links to the author sites where available instead of Amazon/Chapters. You should be able to figure out how to navigate those sites yourself... Though the cover images are all from Amazon.