Consuelo’s Top Five Reads of 2011

Consuelo has been a BookPeople bookseller for a few months now. She’s particularly keen on recommendations for young readers. In addition to books, she likes to buy hats, but hardly ever wears them.

 

Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje

After visiting and falling in love with New Orleans, I read several books about and set in that amazing city. Published in 1976, Coming Through Slaughter was Ondaatje’s first novel, and never have I seen such an astounding debut. It’s a fictionalized account of the life of New Orleans jazz musician Buddy Bolden and the last months of his sanity. The style of the writing beautifully mirrors the subject matter – it’s like listening to a great jazz song with all its idiosyncrasies.

(If you’re an Ondaatje fan, you’ll want to pick up his latest novel, Cat’s Table.)

The Passage by Justin Cronin

This year I got around to reading last year’s hot novel and was not disappointed. Big in scope, it tells the story of a group of survivors 90 years after a government experiment-gone-wrong creates an apocalyptic, vampiric virus. It is an undeniable page-turner and I cannot wait for the followup that should hit shelves sometime next year.

 

The Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer

This series of detective novels for kids tells the tale of Sherlock Holmes’ fourteen-year-old sister. In awe of her brother, she sets out on her own to find missing persons while evading his efforts to find her and send her to boarding school so she can become a proper young lady. I read the first three books in quick succession when I realized I should pace myself and savor them. Enola is such a great character for a young reader – for any reader, really – because she is strong, capable, and vulnerable at the same time. The mysteries she unravels are a fun backdrop as she learns more about herself, and us along with her.

The Sense of An Ending  by Julian Barnes

I was eager to read this year’s Man Booker winner because I read Barnes’ Arthur & George a couple years ago and loved it. His new novel couldn’t be more different, but equally compelling. It’s about a middle-aged man whose past catches up with him. More than the specific plot of the book, the theme of memory is what really stands out about this slim but powerful book. The thing I love about great fiction is that it points out human truths even better than actual facts sometimes can, and this novel is high in that category. And for those of you that like a twist ending, this definitely has one.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

This hilarious picture book is about a boy whose kite gets stuck in a tree and the unexpected way he goes about getting it out. It is life-alteringly funny in the sense that it could change my mood to joyous just by the simple act of taking a few minutes to read it. With its whimsical illustrations and irreverent story, I’m laughing right now just thinking about it.

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