Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
I find myself looking over my shoulder at 2012 and evaluating the books I read as I decide what I want to launch into for my first 2013 reading adventure. Everyone from the New York Times to Amazon creates its list of top books; so why shouldn’t we?
I’ll be asking for your votes for Favorite Book of 2012 in the comments section.
I nominate The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman. His debut novel went on to become a best-seller (don’t we all dream of that!?) and charmed me. The premise of the contemporary novel is to show the birth, life and death of an English-language newspaper created in Rome with a staff consisting mostly of expatriates. The book is a collection of entertwined short stories, with overlapping characters and told in sequence. Each story is told from a different character’s POV. So you can see, from the outset, that the author created several challenges for himself: to write a cohesive novel from stitched together short stories; to keep the storyline moving, with arcs for each character and for the plot; and to create a vivid and appropriate voice for each character. Rachman succeeded at every juncture.
While all of those attributes would make it a worthwhile read, what I found put the book in the outstanding category was that each short story took me to a different place emotionally. Any of them could have stood alone and been a rewarding reading experience. But when the book was viewed as a whole, each story contributed to the entirety in such important ways that the plotline would have been less lush without even one of the stories.
Reading The Imperfectionists enriched 2012 for me more than any other book as the characters faced life’s unexpected challenges with varying degrees of grace, aplomb or disintegration. As a result the book provided me with insight in dealing with my own set of challenges. Who could ask for more than that in one volume?
Now, tell us which book topped your 2012 list. We can all use tips on what to add to our own 2013 must-reads.