Friday, February 29, 2008

A Novel Idea: Books

Since the inception of my brand-new website, I've been getting a lot of fantastic emails from readers, emails that literally bring bursts of sunshine into my day. It never stops being amazing, unreal, to know that something you have written spoke to someone out there.
When readers write to me regarding A NOVEL IDEA, it's often to express how much they, like the main character, Norah, love to read, and then to ask me which of the authors and books mentioned in the book (how meta!) are real. Only two authors in the book (Irene O'Dell and Philippa Askance, both of whom play BIG roles in the story) are fictional, but everything else is an existing book or writer (in a truly meta, wink-wink twist, I even mention my OWN book SOUTH BEACH in the story...I wonder if many people pick up on that!).
It was a wonderful challenge, writing a book about books, one that I was thrilled and a little hesitant to take on when I sat down to write Norah's story. Because I, like most "book people", LOVE books, love reading, with a passion that is sometimes hard to articulate. When people inevitably ask me the question "What is your favorite book?" I'm left tongue-tied and stressed! So many books over the years have gripped me, captivated me, healed me, inspired me, haunted me, tickled's impossible to narrow it down.
But on this impossible Leap Day, I'm willing to take on the challenge, at least in a modified form. And I present this challenge to my fellow bloggers, and readers, and lovers of books: What are your Top 5 Favorite Books...that you've read in the past couple of years? It doesn't have to be books that were PUBLISHED in the last couple of years, just that you happened to read in that time. I find that narrowing the field down in this way is somehow comforting. So here's my list (and, because I am an editor, I have purposefully left out any books I have edited, since I love all the books I edit, so that would be totally biased):
1) THE DOGS OF BABEL by Carolyn Parkhurst. A lyrical, spooky, utterly captivating novel that is a mystery, a love story, and an ode to pet ownership all in one (and I'm not even a pet person...but I couldn't put it down).
2) THE LADY AND THE UNICORN by Tracy Chevalier. I loved this even more than GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING, Chevalier's best-known book. It is a beautifully-written, juicy, and richly textured ode to what amazing historical fiction can be, and the author does a jaw-dropping job of deftly switching perspectives.
3) NICOLA AND THE VISCOUNT by Meg Cabot. Needless to say, Cabot is a master at contemporary teen fiction, but this little jewel of a historical romance is pitch-perfect as well. It was a quick bedtime read that made me dream of empire-waist gowns and handsome noblemen. Ahhh...(truly a book that Norah would approve of!)
4) THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie. Raw and honest and heartfelt and hilarious, this 100% deserved its National Book Award. I've been a fan of Alexie since college, but it's almost like he found his truest voice in YA. Go YA! :)
5) THE PRIVATE SERIES by Kate Brian. O...M..G. These books have made me miss my subway stop and walk down the street reading (thereby infuriating pedestrians and nearly slamming into street signs). Fast-paced, delicious, and dark, these boarding school mysteries are absolutely unputdown-able. I just finished Book 5, and am already pining for #6.
So...what's your Top 5?


Jennifer Echols said...

I TOTALLY missed the mention of South Beach. How did that happen? Now I'm curious...

Part-Time Indian is behind me on the shelf, so I'll have to slip that into the NEXT position.

Okay, my top 5.

The Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies, of course!

Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess

Nick & Norah by David & Rachel

Tell Me Lies by Jennifer Crusie--I was seriously late to that game!

Aimee Friedman said...

:) It's slipped in there very subtly!

YES, of course--it goes w/out saying that all the Rom Coms are in my Top 5. :)

Now I want to read TELL ME LIES!

Jennifer Echols said...

TML is the absolute favorite book of many people I know, and many other people (including Sarah of the Smart B***hs Who Love Trashy Books) hate it with equal passion. They think the heroine is Too Stupid To Live. Which...yeah, but the rest of the book overrode that problem for me. It was THAT GOOD.