Monday, March 26, 2007

Top 10 books of 2006 - 6 till 2

Before my computer died at the turn of the year, I was blogging through my top 10 books of 2006 (here and here). So, anyway, I thought I'll just pick it up again. It feels wrong not to offer comprehensive reviews like I did with 10 to 7, but I don't think I can do the same for the rest of the books. So, instead, I'll just finish off the list, with a few brief comments. If any of you want to find out more about a particular book, just leave a comment and I'll respond in more detail there.

My top book of 2006 merits a post all on its own, and I will get to it at some point. I suspect that I have also just found my top book of 2007 over the past weekend, if the first third of it is any indication. Anyway, here it is:

6. Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes
Written in the 1950s; considered one of the best 100 science fiction novels of all time. It takes a simple premise - what if someone with a low IQ could become really smart? And what happens when he realises that this is only temporary, and that death awaits him? Keyes accomplishment is his total mastery over Charlie's, the protagonist, voice. Moving and heartbreaking. Don't be surprised to find yourself shedding a tear or two at the end.

5. Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri
I have a new role model and her name is Jhumpa Lahiri. She does not write showily and her prose is uncluttered, but every word counts. This collection of short stories explore Indians in exile and received the Pulitzer Prize, and I think it's superior to a more recent, similar effort by Yiyun Li (although that one is pretty good too.)

4. We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
I am, a little morbidly perhaps, fascinated by school shootings, and this is the third novel I have read that deals with this issue (the other two being Vernon God Little and Hey Nostradamus!.) This is a penetrating epistolary novel that tries to imagine such a horror from the perspective of the penetrator's mother. Could she have forseen it? Prevented it? Great book to start thinking about nature/nurture and also the reality of sin in a fallen world.

3. The Cross of Christ - John Stott
Stott's magnum opus; this lives up to its reputation for the many riches contained within. However, it also lives up to its reputation for being a very dense read! One reading is not enough, and I know I have to read it again. But it is definitely worth the time.

2.The Healing Path - Dan Allender
Allender is possibly the best Christian writer you've never heard of. His writing style is similar to Philip Yancey and Brennan Manning. Combine that with his rich pastoral insights and this was a book that blew me away. The chapter "Ambivalence and the loss of love" is worth the price of the book alone.
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