Laurel Gushes About Her Favorite Books Of The Year
Sheila asked me to share some thoughts today, in her absence, and when she extended the invitation and suggested a couple of topics, I thought back to my first encounter with Sheila in her online persona. Not only do I enjoy her blog, but I soon learned that she was always ready to extend a helping hand with all the technological stuff I had yet to learn.
It was in the early summer of 2009, and I was still very new to the idea (or the gravitational pull) of the blogging community. An author friend suggested the Book Blogs.ning site, along with a few others, as a way to connect with like-minded individuals, and Sheila was one of the first to comment on a post I wrote. She suggested doing an author profile on me.
Always happy to talk about books, including those I’ve written, I agreed. That was only the beginning, though, because Sheila’s interview opened up a whole network of bloggers in this great community. As I started exploring other blogs, beginning with Sheila’s own, I realized how much fun blogging could be, and that a viral kind of energy emanated from each blog. Blogging was contagious and I was soon addicted.
Some of you may know that I have a lot of blogs. They’ve ranged from two when I first met Sheila, and at one point, I had twenty. Now I have ten: two on Blogger and eight on Word Press. An Interior Journey and Curl up and Read are my two most popular WP book blogs, while Rainy Days and Mondays is my Blogger site with the most followers. Creative Moments is my “author” site, for my works and for writing challenges.
I’ve always loved reading, but my love of books has grown since I began blogging, and I have reviewed everything I’ve read since I started. Even before I was blogging much, I reviewed my books on Amazon. I have nearly 600 reviews on that site at this time. I have tracked the books I’ve read on Curl up and Read for the past two years, for which I’m grateful. As a result, I can look back over what I’ve read and recommend some favorites.
This year has been full of great books that I’ve enjoyed, and having to choose one favorite is challenging. A handful of favorites include books like Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, TheWeird Sisters, These Things Hidden, Northwest Corner, Violets of March, and Never Knowing. But two recent reads stand out for me: The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta and The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.
These books are very different from one another, and what sets each of them apart is the uniqueness of the characters and plots and the writer’s ability to connect with the reader.
Since I most recently read The Language of Flowers, I will talk about what grabbed my attention about this book. My review can be found here.
As a retired social worker, the story of Victoria Jones resonated with me. Shunted from foster home to foster home, never expecting anything good to happen to her as each experience chipped away at her self-esteem, she was not prepared for the love and warmth she would find in the foster home of Elizabeth. Just ten years old, she was more than ready for some kind of permanency, but nothing in her life up until then had given her a reason to believe in such a dream. For whatever reason, Elizabeth seemed to offer the promise of family and hope. She also helped Victoria learn how to communicate through the meanings of the flowers she grew, and the two of them connected over these lessons. But both Elizabeth and Victoria had suffered damages in life, and something would rip apart these connections by year’s end.
Curious about what happens to Victoria next, and wondering what would ultimately unfold for her, kept me turning those pages. I loved how the story showed us Victoria on the verge of adulthood, while still sharing snippets from that pivotal tenth year.
While I think of myself as an eclectic reader, I would have to say I’m most drawn to books that show ordinary people struggling with issues of loss, trauma, and family dysfunction. Probably the appeal for me has a lot to do with the kind of work I did for more than three decades. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for the drama of these stories.
Whatever the reason, I do pick up these kinds of books over and over. And I think the appeal of The Language of Flowers has captivated many other readers as well.
What books are your favorites? What are you hoping to find for your shelves next year?
* Note from Sheila: Laurel and I did start blogging the same year, I think I have a 2 or 3 months under my belt more than her but it was in that same season. Laurel has been a long time commenter and if she does not pop in each day… I wonder where she is! She is a blogger extraordinaire and a blast to chat with! The two books she pictures here are two I have yet to read but want to!!!