I am an avid reader. Every year, I keep track of all of the books I’ve read throughout that time period. I break them down into fiction and nonfiction, and I was surprised this past year to see how little nonfiction I read. I usually spend a lot of time reading other books about mediumship and various esoteric topics. Apparently, this past year, I needed an escape into a fictional universe more than I needed to learn something new!
Anyway, here is my reading list for 2009.
Isabella Moon, Laura Benedict, January. ***
The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry, January, ****
House, Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker, January, *
The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman, January, ****
Need, Carrie Jones, January-February, ***
Coraline, Neil Gaiman, February, ***1/2
The Likeness, Tana French, February, ***1/2
Atonement, Ian McEwan, February-March, ***1/2
Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders, Neil Gaiman, March, ***1/2
Stardust, Neil Gaiman, March, ***
M is for Magic, Neil Gaiman, March, ***
Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult, March, ***
Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult, March-April, ***1/2
The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, Neil Gaiman, April, ***
The Sweet In-Between, Sheri Reynolds, April, ***
Between Here and April, Deborah Copaken Kogan, April, **1/2
Serendipity, Louise Shaffer, April, **
Wake, Lisa McMann, April, **1/2
Fade, Lisa McMann, April, ***
Precious, Sandra Novack, May, ***
Romancing the Dead, Tate Hallaway, June, ***
The Sandman: The Doll’s House, Neil Gaiman, June, ***
Lady Macbeth, Susan Fraser King, June, *** (audio book)
The Sandman: Dream Country, Neil Gaiman, June, ** ½
The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell, July, *** ½
Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, August, ***
Loving Frank, Nancy Horan, August, ****
Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris, September, ***
Life of Pi, Yann Martel, September, *** ½
White is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi, September ***
Black Ships, Jo Graham, October, ***1/2
The Sandman: Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman, October, ****
The Hour I First Believed, Wally Lamb, November, ***1/2
Handle with Care, Jodi Picoult, November-December, ***
Dexter by Design, Jeff Lindsay, December, ***
Prayers for Sale, Sandra Dallas, December, ***
Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby, December, ***
The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero, William Kalush and Larry Sloman, May-June, ***
Handwriting Analysis: Putting it to Work for You, Andrea McNichol, October, ***
Glynis Has Your Number, Glynis McCants, October, ***
As you can see, I read a lot of Neil Gaiman this year and enjoyed it immensely. If you’re looking for something with magical overtones, try his The Graveyard Book, which won the Newberry Medal. It’s for young people, but I found it to be engaging, scary in parts, and utterly delightful.
Another book that had some interesting esoteric connections: The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry. The story is set in Salem, Massachusetts, and revolves around a young woman whose aunt reads fortunes for people in pieces of lace. It was a thoroughly engrossing story, with a twist ending and a lovely lyrical style. I also found out that Wiccan High Priestess Laurie Cabot was teaching lace reading courses in October in Salem, and Ms. Barry was going to be signing books at the event. I’d even planned to go, but when my husband lost his job in the late spring, it seemed it wasn’t meant to be. No matter–you’ll still love the book.
If you like faeries or supernatural fiction, you might try Need, by Carrie Jones. Another work for young adults, I was delighted by the story, the realistic characters, and the exciting pace of the book. In the same vein, I enjoyed Lisa McMann’s Wake and Fade, although her writing style took a little getting used to, especially in the first book. I look forward, though, to more work by these two talented ladies.
For a story revolving around faith and what it might mean in our lives, I recommend The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. A challenging tale about scientists and priests finding life on another planet, it took me a while to get into it, but the effort was rewarded by rich characterizations and a compelling, emotional conclusion. I’m so happy my friend Kristy recommended this book to me!
For anyone out there who likes “chick lit” or fun Wiccan characters, you must try Tate Halloway’s series of magickal romance novels. The one I read this past year, Romancing the Dead, is the third in her series of adventures with Garnet Lacey, a wonderfully delightful Witch dating a vampire and working in a New Age store. These books are so lighthearted and humorous, they’re an easy way to pass a weekend in a cloud of fantasy and fun. I dare you not to love them.
Finally, in the nonfiction sector, I did enjoy The Secret Life of Houdini, recommended to me by my (skeptical) friend, Ron. He is a big Houdini fan and always seems to find it enthralling that, as a Spiritualist, I don’t hate the famous magician. Houdini was well-known for his passion for exposing fraudulent mediums during the height of the Spiritualist movement. I certainly don’t hate him–I think Houdini wanted to believe as badly as Mulder on The X-Files. He could just never find the absolute proof of the afterlife and the ability to communicate with Spirit that his logical mind (and chosen profession) demanded. I enjoyed reading about his life and his work–he was obviously a very talented, charming, charismatic man. I did not appreciate the allusions in the book that Spiritualists killed Houdini, but that rumor had been around for a long time, and I can’t really do anything to dispel it. Nevertheless, The Secret Life of Houdini was quite fascinating.
So, what books did you read last year that really stuck with you? I’m interested in any and all titles, no matter if they’re fiction, nonfiction, esoteric…I just love to read!