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My 2009 List of Favorite Fiction Books

I don't know if I have an order of which goes before the other, but just like music or a movie or a poem can change your life, so did these novels, change mine.  I cannot say that I am a great reader or one who reads often, but my life has allowed me some time for these incredible words that gave my heart and imagination some light.  Now I am the kind of reader that feels a part of the novel and become very invested in its characters.  I like books with a bit of wit to them but mostly ones that are smooth, with sentences and prose that roll off your mind's tongue as they flow in and out of the psyche.  It amazing at any rate that we can read a book at all, looking at symbols and knowing what they stand for, knowing whats someone says through literary elements, punctuation, grammar and so many parts of our language that communicates.  These books got to me, either through its flow, language or tone and taught me something valuable that I believe I should share.  Not everyone takes away the same thing from a book, which is kinda why I like Twilight, but I don't like fantasy or make believe, I like the realness and grittyness of relationships, loss, love and torment, not necessarily the allegory coordinating with the desire of vampires.  I haven't even gotten through the first book because I just don't like that it's not real.  So these are my texts I though I'd share.

1.  The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Written as fiction after her memoir, Lucky, a story of her own rape, the author takes her life experiences and places them in the mind of a little girl who is raped and murdered in a similar place to where she was attacked.  The point of her memoir is that she was lucky, but Susie Salmon, her ingenue, was not.  Told from "heaven" by the victim, Susie guides her family to finding her killer.  Steven Spielberg is working on an '09 release of this film, starring Saorse Ronan (the little girl from Atonement) who has never read the novel....and I am not sure how I will feel about the movie, but I will see it.  My advice is read this book, create your images and then see the movie.  It's an incredible story and well written through its dark and twisty tone.  Some parts are gruesome but it's very real, just like I am sure being raped was real for the author.  Pick it up and don't neglect her memoir Lucky either. 

2. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
   This book was recommended to me by a professor/master electrician/musician friend of mine from college.  He was a sort of mentor, someone who offered clear eyes to and otherwise foggy situations.  This book coined the term, Beatniks, those guys who have nothing and travel and live like bums and follow their extremist Zen Buddhist beliefs by making love, writing poetry and immersing themselve in nature.  In this book is follows a group of guys just like that.  They travel around the world and write poetry and will do anything they can to find nirvana, the most escaping and fleeting feeling ever, because once you have it and are aware of it, it's gone just the same.  It's a greta read, the language is tough, Jack is a famous writer and affected the late 60and 70s with this book, thus enlightening the nation about a lifestyle far from the conservative and offering one of the flower power, counter culture, only my parents probably understand.
Get it, read it, you'll be pleasantly surprised but its wit, humor and sexual content.

3. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
This book is incredible and I read it in 8 hours.  Never have I ever gotten through a book that fast.  This book was passed around my home until it finally reached my hands.  I could not put it down.  It gives you a look at life that you would never see.  It challenges your idea of heaven, what happens after you die and begs you to remember, you never know how many peoples' lives you affect in your own lifetime and you cannot possibly know how much other people do to affect your own.  It's about human connections and sometimes the loss or lack of it too.  An incredible read from a former Sports Writer who also wrote, Tuesdays with Morrie, another gem of this author.   

4. The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares
In this authors FIRST, adult novel, Ann Brashares delieveres a delectible treat.  It's a story about two New York sisters and their summer home on Fire Island.  It is a coming of age story for these two sisters, who are so different.  I could reallly connect with one of characters, who was also the younger sister who tries to keep up, who likes the boys her sister likes.  In fact I felt so much like I was in the story I finished the book in a week.  It made me feel every emotion and I recently got my hands on the screenplay which I hope makes it to the right hands for production because this story unlike others WOULD make a great movie.  Ann Brashares is most known for her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and for those ladies who would like something just an engaging and endearing, turn to this novel.  The book really surprised me and I think about it all the time actually. I could easily connect to the story and the characters and especially the relationship between the sisters.  With secrets, love, loss and friendship this story is an amazing read which called me to remember and analyze my own relationship with my sister.

5.  Swimming by Joanna Hershon 
This book definitely changed me.  This books follows this lake that affects everyone in their family.  The lake is somehow responsilble for all of their fates.  Whether in love, life, death or rebirth the lake connects the family and after some huge tragedy the youngest, searches for the truth 10 years after the fact.  It's also a coming of age story at parts, which questions life decisions, demons of the past, and growing out of them.  And in that she finds herself and the truth, that her family tried so desperately to hide from her.  I really want this to be made into a film as well.  It's a great novel and very intriguing through its well written mystery and great story-telling. 

Other books that I have soo enjoyed and also recommend:
  • On the Road/ Jack Keroauc
  • Hunger Point/ Jillian Medoff (made into a Lifetime Movie 2003)
  • The Notebook and the sequel The Wedding/ Nicholas Sparks
  • Da Vinci Code/ Dan Brown
  • Big Fish/ Daniel Wallace
  • Sundays at Tiffany's/James Patterson
  • Pigs in Heaven/ Barbara Kingsolver
please send me tips on any good books you've read on twitter @aembelto or leave comments here!!!

xoxo, Fiction Girl
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