18. My Losing Season……Pat Conroy
Seeing as how I believe Pat Conroy to be the finest American writer alive today, this review will not be very fair or balanced. I love this guy and his writing. It is fluid and beautiful with both rough edges and soaring prose. This is an autobiography of sorts since it tells the story of his four years playing varsity basketball at the Citadel in South Carolina. Anyone familiar with his earlier novel The Lords Of Discipline will recognize and therefore not be shocked by the brutality he endures from his quasi-evil coach as well as his pure evil real life father ( The Great Santini ). Still, there is beauty to be found here along with the moving tenderness that is at the root of all of his work. Fabulous.
19. Hell’s Corner ……..David Baldacci
Its been a while since I have been this bored by a thriller. This is my first go at Baldacci and I know what a phenomenal success he has been with the Camel Club bit, but I spent 300 pages waiting for something interesting to happen and then when it finally did it wasn’t good enough to justify the 6 hours I had wasted reading the dang thing. Oliver Stone, the wacko filmmaker is far more interesting than THIS Oliver Stone ever thought of being.
20. Are You Kidding Me?…….Rocco Mediate and John Feinstein
I watched the final two rounds of the 2008 U.S. Open live and could hardly turn away. It was the most riveting, unlikely battle ever waged in my lifetime in the world of sports. Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer of his generation versus the often injured journeyman never-was, Rocco Mediate. I fell in love with Rocco those two days in June along with every other golf fan in the world and in the hands of John Feinstein, this book is as suspenseful , hilarious and unbelievable as the real thing was. Tiger won in the 18 hole playoff, but Rocco won everyone’s heart. Great read whether you like golf or not!
21. Seven Days In Utopia…….David L. Cook
A friend of mine at church dropped this little book in my hand one Sunday and told me I would love it. I read it in one sitting and …liked it. it’s the story of a down on his luck golfer who stumbles upon an old geezer retiree who has carved a 9 hole golf course out of some barren ranch land in West Texas someplace. The old guy proceeds to take the young feller under his wing, teaches him about golf by teaching him to fly-fish etc.. Along the way the golfer also finds food for the soul. You can practically hear the violin music in the background. Come to find out, they’re making a movie out of this thing starring Robert Duval as the old man. Really??
22.Heaven Is For Real……..Todd Burpo
This is the book I read to the family during our vacation a few weeks ago at Nags Head. it’s a true story of little Colton Burpo and his near death experience as a 4 year old where he “went to heaven” during a serious emergency operation. The stories that the kid told of what he saw and what he saw his parents doing while he was under are truly astonishing and give all Christians a measure of hope about the promise of eternal life. Having watched this boy and his parents interviewed on the Today show before reading the book gave them credibility with me since they seemed so genuine and so utterly without guile or agendas. Much of what he says about his experience in heaven is amazing and plausible, although when he starts talking about the Armageddon he loses me. Just find it hard to imagine why Jesus would chose to explain THAT story to a 4 year old. But all in all, a very heart warming and inspiring story.
23. The Help……..Kathryn Stockett
Best book I’ve read all year. After practically every female in my entire extended family read this book and raved, the eagerly ran to see the recently release movie, I just had to find out what the deal was. This was my first book ever on a Kindle, so I’m not sure I can call it a “page-turner”…more like a “button-pusher”. I couldn’t put the thing down. It had everything that great fiction should have..great characters that you find yourself caring desperately about, a moving story that examines every nook and cranny of human emotion. Because its about race relations with all of the hand grenades found in that contentious issue it would have been easy for Ms. Stockett to paint all the black maids as heroes and all of the white housewives as brutal villains. But she digs deeper and illustrates that even in that time of often despicable cruelty, it was possible for grace and beauty to shine through the darkness. She surprises us with twists that are out of the blue and interjects often hilarious details that leave you laughing at times when your mind tells you that you shouldn’t be laughing. Its better than the hype, and I plan on seeing the movie this weekend.
24 thru 27...four books by Dean Koontz
This was the summer that I discovered Dean Koontz. I found myself rummaging through bargain tables at Barnes & Nobel like an addict in desperate need of a fix after reading Breathless back in early June. Here was a writer of thrillers who was a poet and had terribly challenging things to say about the human condition. Then I found Relentless on sale for $6.50. In this one we see the bizarre insanity of a book critic gone mad who chases the protagonist and his little family all over the west coast with murderous intent. All the while, our hero in his desperation rediscovers the beauty and power of family and the importance of holding on to his faith. On the slipcover of each of these books I notice that there’s always a picture of the author with his beloved golden retriever “Trixie”. So when I saw a paperback copy of his tribute to her called, “A Big Little Life” I just had to buy it. Having a golden myself I recognized so much of Molly in his heart warming story and I felt the pain of his loss at her death at a deep level. At that point I thought I was done with Dean for the summer. But when I checked in to our beach house in Nags Head, there on the mantel was a paperback of “The Taking”. This was the most gripping, intense thing yet, the story of science-fiction, thriller, apocalyptic vision and the end of the world as we know it. As the story pulsed on and on getting more grave and chilling by the page there started to appear an almost biblical theme of evil. The only thing that could effectively ward it off was courage and bravery and selflessness. The ending is something for the ages and I have found a new reading passion. Dean Koontz is the man!