On December 30 with one day to spare I met my goal of finishing Susanna Clark's novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell before the end of 2011. It is a huge tome of a novel so I was pushing to finish it so I could start 2012 with a fresh new book...yet to be determined.
But with 2011 bidding us a fond farewell I thought I would do a quick review of some of my favorite books of the year.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell : What happens when you blend a Jane Austen or Charles Dickens novel with Harry Potter? The alternative history novel follows two very distinct magicians as they attempt to reintroduce magic into a Victorian England setting. There were moments when the book gets a little slow but just when it starts to drag the book suddenly jumps to some of the best storytelling I've read in a while. Whether using their magic to battle Napoleon Bonaparte or magical fairies Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell will leave you hoping for a sequel.
On China: Henry Kissinger gives us his perspective on over 40 years of his first hand experience with the Middle Kingdom. Kissinger's narrative has a nice flow and he gives great insights on how and why the Chinese see the world the way they do. As someone who has himself had personal dealings in China for over 20 years I would heartily recommend this book to anyone with an interest in China.
Under the Dome: Probably the best Stephen King book since The Stand. (Not that I've read every book since The Stand :) A mysterious dome appears over a small town and nothing can get in...or out! Bad people become worse and the good...well, they are tested. I always find King having a real strong insight into the human condition and this novel examines how people react when normal social inhibitors are removed.
Stories I Only Tell My Friends: Rob Lowe's memoir was a lot of fun to read. He has had an incredible film career and seems to have a Forrest Gumpesque ability to have been at some of the most interesting moments in recent history or having met with some of the most interesting people. Read my complete review here:
A Prisoner of Birth: Jefferey Archer is a master storyteller. In fact I think he went to jail at one point...for telling stories. But this novel, which is a modern update of The Count of Monte Cristo, was a good fast paced read. Not Archer's best book (for that you need to read Kane & Abel) but worth the time and effort.
Bossypants: Tina Fey rocks! This book was laugh out loud funny and was way to short. I was literally on a long bus ride in Greece and, being a little bored, used my Kindle to download Bossypants right from my seat. I was embarrassing myself and causing heads to turn bursting out in laughter as I read it all somewhere between Athens and Corinth.
Anyhow, Have a Happy 2012 and find a good book to read!