Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert - I couldn't put this book down during the first half and then just abandoned it entirely mid-way through India. I probably will never go back to try to finish it.
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs - fluffy fluff but enjoyable. Accomplished its task of making me want to knit more!
Away by Amy Bloom - I've been recommending this book to everyone. Beautiful and haunting.
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates - amazing character study. Despite the fact that it was published in 1961, most of the themes still ring true today. Beautifully written.
Sarah's Key by Tatia de Rosnay - Inspired by a little known and tragic piece of French history, this novel centers on the story of a young Jewish girl in Paris in 1942 as she was rounded up with thousands of other Jewish families and forcibly kept in the Velodrome d'Hiver before being transported to their deaths at Auschwitz.
The first half of the novel is written in a side-by-side narrative between Sarah, in 1942 Paris, and Julia Jarmond, a present-day journalist. I found the book far more intriguing and well-written from the persepctive of Sarah, and when narrative ends, I didn't feel as invested in Julia's personal concerns. Some of the issues she deals with seem trite and inconsequential when stacked up against the pain endured by the other narrator. I would recommend the book to others, especially as a way to learn a bit more about this piece of French history, but I wasn't as pleased overall with the ending as I had hoped to be.
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones - I haven't wrapped my head around this yet, but I loved it. Haunting and moving and unforgettable. The characters were rich with emotion and flaw. The novel was set in war-ravaged Papua New Guinea, but the school teacher managed to take the children away from that nightmare by reading to them Dickens' Great Expectations.
Any Place I Hang My Hat by Susan Isaacs - a lot less fluff than I assumed it would be. A sort of chick lit for the 30 year old. Enjoyable and quick read.
The Reader by Bernard Schlink. I've been begging people to read the book before they bother seeing the movie.
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (and admitting to it!)
Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk - I am not quite sure what the point of the book is. It's really raw and graphic ...and I don't know if that's the point (I don't think so). He seemed to have muddled his message with the overshock of the setting! I'm all for artists pushing the envelope, but the ending seemed to be thrown together and I finished the book feeling disappointed.
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks - This novel is based on actual events of a plague-ravished rural town in 1660s England that made the difficult choice to seal itself off to avoid spreading the plague to other villages. In addition to disease control, the villagers also attempted to give themselves up to God's mercy. With such limited understanding of the plague, how it spread and how to treat it, their faith is tested time and again. The author examines what survival can mean to different people and how fear and ignorance shape a community. Highly recommended.
I think I'm beginning to forget some books in here....
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta - a bit of a let-down. The ending was disappointing and the characters annoying.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - I couldn't put this book down. I fell in love with the main character, and would love to grab a beer and some book and boy talk with her if I could.
Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo - The story spans the lifetime of a man tied to the loves of his life - his small town, his parents, his wife, best friend and his cherished memories of all of them. Lovely read, I'd recommend it.
The Music Lesson by Katharine Weber - It started a bit slow and it kept putting me to sleep every time I read it. Once I hit the middle (it's a short book), I was hooked though and really enjoyed it. More about what happens to a person in refuge than the IRA heist plot that was secondary.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz - fierce, funny, tragic and beautiful. Read it. Don't be alarmed by all the Spanish phrases thrown in. You either can understand them or you don't, but more important to note is how they represent the fluidity of the language and culture throughout the characters' lives. I've studied the terror of the reign of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic from an academic and sociological perspective, but this novel brought that history of a culture to a whole new level.
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl (audiobook) - she writes about food beautifully - the colors, scents, textures and tastes come bounding off her plate and into your imagination!
The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry: Love, Laughter and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn (audiobook) - After a corporate lay-off, Flinn decides to follow her dream and empty her bank account and go to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. With little to no fluency in French and no plans for what to do afterwards, she cooks her way towards a culinary degree. Funny and charming, the story is a behind-the-scenes look at what it would be like to attend such a famous cooking school, how magical Paris can be, and how far a little encouragement can take you. The book includes a recipe at the end of each chapter. Funny and engaging and delicious.
Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (audiobook)
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini