In the first month of the year, I was surprised to find two favorites in books with themes unlikely to appeal to me, The Revenant and Concussion. My reaction only proves that good writing and a great character can be found anywhere.
This year, these twelve books made a huge impression on me:
1. The Revenant: The true story of Hugh Glass’s quest for survival after being savagely attacked by a bear on the frontier in the late 1800’s and then left for dead was utterly amazing. I was spellbound by Glass’s will, determination, and survival skills in this well written account of his journey to redemption and revenge. (P.S. The book was much better than the movie!)
2. Concussion: The NFL’s reaction to Dr. Bennet Omalu’s discovery of a medical condition caused by concussions on the football field was shocking and shameful. If you are someone who loves heroes who stand up for others and who act with integrity, Dr. Omalu’s story will certainly be for you. (An interest in football is not a requirement to like this book!)
3. Behind Closed Doors: Frightening, but fascinating, this was truly a heart pounding psychological thriller that made me keep reading to see how the heroine would escape from her deranged husband. The ending was something Hitchcock would be proud of.
4. The One Man: An intense and in depth exploration of humanity during World War II that revolved around one man breaking into Auschwitz to save the life of another.
5. The Trap: The unreliable narrator who was intent on capturing her sister’s murderer made this a psychological thriller that was thoroughly enjoyable!
6. Be Frank With Me: A cute, clever glimpse into a reclusive writer’s life in Hollywood, told through her son Frank, a spunky, young narrator with a passion for classic Hollywood.
7. The Vanishing Year: It was clear that something was not right with Zoe’s life, beyond just her decision to reinvent herself in New York under a new name. Suspense permeated this novel on every level until the shocking and sinister plot twists were revealed at the end.
8. Dear Amy: This was an addictive read from the first page as I waited to discover why a girl missing for over a decade reached out to Amy, and whether Amy would help the authorities find her.
9. The Gilded Life Of Matilda Duplaine: This was not just a love story and mystery, but an ode to classic Hollywood. Thomas unwittingly launched heart first into a true studio scandal, and his ignorance made him a credible character who sifted through glitz and glamour.
10. The Passenger: An amazing thriller with a heroine who was both a villain and a victim. Her desperate attempt to live life using other people’s identities led her into some gruesome and dangerous adventures.
11. The Forgetting Time: I enjoyed the unique premise of past lives that plagued Janie’s young son, Noah. A quest for answers turned into a bit of a murder mystery and allowed the characters to obtain redemption.
12. The Girl Before: This psychological thriller was addicting because the protagonist truly believed that she had transformed into the woman her captors taught her to be. The writing delved right into her emotional state and made this hard to put down.
Books that just missed the list:
Missoula: Krakauer examined the rapes in the college town of Missoula, and although the topic is serious, his perspective on the social aspects that surround rape was extremely thought provoking.
All Is Not Forgotten: This was an incredible novel that was just perfect on every level. The power of a psychologist trying to help a rape victim made this novel take a turn for the dark and unexpected.
The Assistants: When the assistant of a wealthy business man stole money to pay off her student loan, then got pressured to do the same for other assistants, the result was a crazy and fun read!
After I Do: A truthful look at love through all stages. Sometimes walking away from love is the only thing that makes a person realize how special their relationship is.
The One That Got Away: Sarina’s emotionally charged journey to find true love was reminiscent of everything I loved about Emily Giffin’s novels.
Platinum Doll: A fictional look at Jean Harlow’s rise to fame, this novel got right to the heart of Golden Hollywood and showed Jean to be a blonde bombshell worthy of her infamous celebrity status.