Best Books of the Decade, Part 2

As promised, here is our next installment of best books read during the last decade.  My list is widespread, but each book now has a very special place in my heart.  They are the books I am constantly remembering, constantly suggesting to friends and patrons, and constantly glancing at on my home bookshelf, all with a smile.  I remain envious of those who can experience these wonderful books for the first time. My time as a children's librarian has greatly influenced this list, so that's where I'm going to start.  book cover: The PenderwicksI grew up with a younger brother and was often that girl who longed for a sister.  The Penderwicks: a summer tale of four sisters, two rabbits, and a very interesting boy, by Jeanne Birdsall, gave me a glimpse into what life with sisters could have been like.  These sisters are extremely adventurous, but also loving and kind, and their summer vacation spent in the Berkshires is a story you will hold close to your heart for a long time.  I take great comfort in books that offer such a safe respite from our busy and complicated world, books like Little Women, Mary Poppins and Charlotte's Web.  This was such a fun and satisfying read. book cover: The Graveyard Book Following the children's literature path, another fascinating book for me during the last decade was Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.  Gaiman is a master storyteller and his story of Nobody "Bod" Owens, a boy adopted and cared for by a dead couple living in a graveyard, is completely enthralling.  The illustrations by Dave McKean enhance the dark elements of the story and are simply outstanding - I found myself staring at them over and over again, fascinated by this dark, mysterious world.  Gaiman's inspiration for the book is cool, too.  His young son used to ride his tricycle between gravestones in a neighboring graveyard..twenty-something years later, we have this great story.  I don't think I'll ever look at a graveyard the same again. book cover: Cold Mountain Now for my two favorite adults novels of the decade.  First up is a novel originally published in 1997: Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier.  I first read this book in my high school senior English class.  It was newly published and I was only 17, but I'll never forget how much the story moved me.  Growing up in the glorious South (Virginia, Capital of the Confederacy), a Civil War novel was easily considered curriculum.  But this was so much more than an assignment for me.  I reread the book a few years ago and loved it all over again.  War, love, a long journey, colorful characters (Inman, Ada, Ruby Sue, Stobrod) the mountains of North Carolina...irresistable.  The book was also made into a movie, which as good as it is, pales in comparison to Frazier's rich story.  So much is missed!  I will say, the soundtrack is great - Jack White, folk, bluegrass - check it out! I have seen my last choice on a lot of decade lists, but it still warrants a spot here as well.  The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, is an urban love story whose main character, Henry (a Chicago book cover: The Time Traveler's Wifelibrarian), is a prisoner of time.  With no warning at all, Henry is swept away from the present to either the past or the future.  He once meets his wife, Claire, when she is only 6 years old; another time he visits the future and learns his own fate.  The narration is clever and switches between Henry and Claire's perspectives.  Love is the anchor in this novel, but the fear of not knowing when a moment will escape you and the sadness of losing the present, is what lingers. More staff picks to follow this week. Stay tuned.

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