Best Books 2006

Better late than never, here are the best books I read last year:


The Ten Best Books (in the order I read them):

1. East of Eden, John Steinbeck – This book was a revelation, pure and simple. It just blew me away. The scope, the sweep, Cal, Sam Hamilton, Lee, evil Kathy, naïve Aron. This was the kind of book that I fell in love with – I swallowed it up and fell in love with it in a way that I read and loved books when I was young. Needless to say, East of Eden also takes the prize of was also the best book club book of the year, as well.

2. Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?, Mark Zwonitzer with Charles Hirshberg - I picked this up to satisfy my curiosity about Johnny Cash, and ended up learning about the fascinating story of the Carter family and their influence on American music. Well written and informative, detailed but not dry, this was a great book.

3.The Patron Saint of Liars, Anne Patchett – This is the kind of book I wish I could write. A real, human story about real people with real human emotions. This book turned me on to Patchett, and even now I find myself wondering where Rose went after she left St. Elizabeth's, and how Sissy carried on without her mother.

4. The Curate’s Wife, E.H. Young – It was hard for me to chose between this and the other books I read by E.H. Young (Jenny Wren and William), but in the end this was the one that stayed with me the longest. Unlike some of the other Virago Classics, which have only historical interest, her work strikes me as a true lost classic. Her people are real, and their struggles real too. She writes of the difficult of marriage in way that speaks to modern readers, despite the changes in society since the time she wrote.

5. Was, Geoffrey Ryman - This book caught me off guard. I bought it on a total whim and fell in love with it - so much that I keep pressing it on everyone that I can - Ryman ought to give me a cut of the action! It was just moving and clever and sad, and uses the concept of Oz to talk about home and love and life. You should read it.

6. Fifth Business, Robertson Davies - This was a tough call, but I had to chose my first Davies as the my favorite. I loved The Manticore and World of Wonder, but Fifth Business was the one that drew me in and captured my heart. And even if I think that Robertson Davies the person is someone who I might not love, I adore him as a writer. The way he captures a life and lays it out is just so exhilarating, and of the ones I read this year, Dunston Ramsey is the one that caught my heart. Historian, World War One veteran, Fifth Business in Boy Staunton’s life, it all makes for a hell of a story. Also wins the Commuting Book of the year!

7. Becoming Justice Blackmun, Linda Greenhouse – I think I learned more about Blackmun here than I did in all of law school. It was so interesting to see how his opinions changed over time, and how he became the champion of Roe.

8. All The King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren – Another classic that snuck up on me and ended up being awesome. I picked it up begrudgingly, and loved it so, so much. Jack Burden is my newest literary boyfriend, struggling with right versus and wrong and who he wants to be, and how to be a man. This just might be the great American novel.

9. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards – Another book I wish I could write – just a lovely heartfelt real story of ordinary people who have to deal with one man’s extraordinary choice. Not a great classic of literature (in fact, a NYT bestseller!), but the kind of book I like best.

10. The Known World, Edward P. Jones - Jones’ prose just knocked my socks off, and he really made clear how the terrible institution of slavery poisoned every single person who came into contact with it, in a way I hadn’t before. An excellent, excellent read

And here  is the list of ALL the books I read this year!

Revenge, Stephen Fry

A Crack in the Edge of the World, Simon Winchester

Roller Skates, Ruth Sawyer

Chasing Vermeer, Blue Balliett

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright, Jean Nathan

A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett

Return to Gone-Away, Elizabeth Enright

The Areas of My Expertise, John Hodgeman

Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

 The Unexpurgated Beaton, Cecil Beaton

 Runaway, Alice Munro

 The Odd Women, George Gissing

 The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett

The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, V.1, L.M. Montgomery

 Noisy Outlaws... ed. Ted Thompson

 Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? The Carter Family & Their Legacy in American Music, Mark Zwonitzer with Charles Hirshberg

 The Constant Gardener, John Le Carre

 The Unofficial Rose, Iris Murdoch

 Thud, Terry Pratchett

 Small Gods, Terry Pratchett

 Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett

 Men at Arms, Terry Pratchett

 The Curse of the Blue Figurine, John Bellairs

 The Spell of the Sorceror’s Skull, John Bellairs

 Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, David Sedaris

 The Lamp from the Warlock’s Tomb, John Bellairs

 Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Agatha Christie

 Theater Shoes, Noel Streatfield

 Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich

 The Four-Story Mistake, Elizabeth Enright

 Betsy-Tacy and Tib, Maud Lovelace

 The Golden Ball and Other Stories, Agatha Christie

 My Son’s Story, Nadine Gordimer

 Jenny Wren, E.H. Young

 The Vinter’s Luck, Elizabeth Knox

 Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, L Frank Baum 

 East of Eden, John Steinbeck

 The Canning Season, Polly Hovath

 A Dirty Job, Christopher Moore

 Winner of the National Book Award, Jincy Willett

 The Curate’s Wife, E.H. Young

 The Patron Saint of Liars, Ann Patchett

 Triangle: The Fire That Changed America, David Von Drehle

 Coraline, Neil Gaiman

 The Color of Magic, Terry Pratchett

 The Little Company, Eleanor Dark

 The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler

 Was, Geoff Ryman

 The Winter Queen, Boris Akunin

 The Accidental, Ali Smith

 The Happy Foreigner, Enid Bagnold

 Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Patrick Suskind

 Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator, Jennifer Allen

 13 Steps Down, Ruth Rendell

 Fifth Business, Robinson Davies

 March, Geraldine Brooks

 Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett

 Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III, Flora Fraser

 An Episode of Sparrows, Rumer Godden

 The Golden Arrow, Mary Webb

 In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, Alexander McCall Smith

 Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

 The Magician's Assistant, Ann Patchett

 The Jane Austen Book Club, Karen Joy Fowler

 The Mating Season, P. G. Wodehouse

 Blue Shoes and Happiness, Alexander McCall Smith

 The Drowning Tree, Carol Goodman

 February House, Sherill Tippen

 The Phoenix and the Carpet, E. Nesbit

 The Magnificent Ambersons, Booth Tarkington

 The Gentlewomen, Laura Talbot

 Becoming Justice Blackmun, Linda Greenhouse

 Stamboul Train, Graham Greene

 No Signpost in the Sea, Vita Sackville-West

 The Story of The Treasure Seekers, E. Nesbit

 Unless, Carol Sheilds

 The Manticore, Robertson Davies

 Emily of Deep Valley, Maud Hart Lovelace

 Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family, Sidney Taylor

 Borrowed Finery, Paula Fox

 Jingo, Terry Pratchett

 Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Betty MacDonald

 The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

 A Girl Called Al, Constance C. Greene

 The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

 World of Wonders, Robertson Davies

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women who Created Her, Melanie Rehak

 Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, Mario Vargas Llosa

 Liberators: Latin America's Struggle for Independence, Robert Harvey

The Moviegoer, Walker Percy

 All The King's Men, Robert Penn Warren

 The Road to Wellville, T. Coraghessan Boyle

 Veronica, Mary Gaitskill

 Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

 The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Kim Edwards

 The Known World, Edward P. Jones

 I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, Roger Ebert

 The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery

 Trooper to the Southern Cross, Angela Thirkell

 The Tender Bar, J.R. Moehringer

 Emotionally Weird, Kate Atkinson

 The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls

What’s Bred in the Bone, Robertson Davies

 Mary Lavelle, Kate O’Brien

 The Beatrice Letters,Lemony Snicket

The End, Lemony Snicket

 On Beauty, Zadie Smith

 The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim

 Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

 Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett

The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 The Enthusiasms of Robertston Davies, Robertson Davies

The Years, Virginia Woolf

 Myra Breckinridge, Gore Vidal

 The Prestige, Christopher Priest

 A Gathering of Ghost Stories, Robertson Davies

 See You Around, Sam!, Lois Lowry

 Feet of Clay, Terry Pratchett

 The Boy Detective Fails, Joe Meno

 The Sound and The Fury, William Faulkner

 As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

 Full House, M.J. Farrell/Molly Keane*

 Myron, Gore Vidal

 Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood

 William, E.H. Young

 The Girl With the Silver Eyes, Willo Davis Roberts

 The Roosevelts: An American Saga, Peter Collier with David Horowitz

 Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, Roddy Doyle

The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins

Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis

 Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe

Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett

 Dr. No, Ian Fleming

 The Wouldbegoods, E. Nesbit

 Spook, Mary Roach

 The Archivist, Martha Cooley

 Ursula, Under, Ingrid Hill

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017