While I read many excellent books this year these five stand out as the most interesting and memorable.
5. Night Film
by Marisha Pessl
Night Film is a must read second book from the author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics
. This non-stop story of a journalist who becomes obsessed with the death of the daughter of a reclusive filmmaker will have you on the edge of your seat. It felt like reading a Hitchcock story with a bit of Stephen King mixed in.
4. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
by Jennifer Cody Epstein
Set in Tokyo during World War Two, you will be rooting throughout this epic novel for its 15 year old protagonist, Yoshi Kobayashi. Yoshi and five different characters experience a harsh journey through the time surrounding the firebombing of Japan in 1945. The beautifully developed characters and the far reaching impact their decisions have on each other’s lives will stay with you long after you have set this book aside.
3. Tenth of December : Stories
by George Saunders
George Saunders’ collection of short stories has a real-life quality to its story telling. Each one pulls you in and gives a small glimpse of a seemingly ordinary moment, which, after further reflection, reveals itself to hold much greater importance. I am normally not a fan of the short story format but this collection was an exceptional example of the genre.
2. Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa
by Benjamin Constable
When Ben Constable receives a letter from his best friend, Tomomi “Butterfly” Ishikawa, telling him that by the time he reads it she will be dead, it is just the beginning of a string of clues to an intricate scavenger hunt from Paris to New York. As Ben works his way through the many puzzles, he begins to question how well he actually knew his friend and what type of illicit activities she might have been involved in. This is a completely unique story that you will want to go back and start again as soon as you finish reading the last page.
1. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
by Anthony Marra
This story of two doctors trying to save a little girl takes place in a small Chechnyan village over the course of five days. It is hard to believe that this is Anthony Marra’s first novel. It is a heart-wrenching and poignant story written with exquisite prose. I was constantly stopping to mark phrases that beautifully conveyed the emotion of the moment so I could read them aloud to my husband. It is the story I loved more than any other this year with characters that are bound to stay with me for a long time to come. Be sure to pick it up in the New Year if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet.