Top Ten Books of 2006

The first post on Burlesque of the Damned details my obsessive reading schedule (have you seen the list?). Most of the books I read are modern fiction; I prefer to see what people are writing now, rather than become bogged down in the mire of a literary ghetto. My taste runs the gamut from literary to speculative fiction, young adult to memoir. I have been known to dip into the bandwagon books (The Ruins, The Lincoln Lawyer), from time to time--I enjoyed both, by the way. I'm a firm believer in reading for entertainment, rather than enrichment, I'm on my 62nd book this year, which is a personal best (I should hit 70 by New Years).

Since there are no more in my nightstand pile released in 2006…here's the list.

1. Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Pessl's book is crazy interesting. Her ability to pack a single sentence with multiple metaphors was/is insane. This prep school murder mystery, in the guise of a crash course in literature, smacks and swirls around your head like cartoon starlings. The illustrations? Her own, of course. What could she possibly follow this up with?

2. Lisey's Story by Stephen King

Possibly his best work since The Stand. Lisey's Story is so emotionally engrossing, it's like lying invisible, in someone else's marriage bed. Brilliant work, creepy, vivid, and heartbreaking.

3. Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst

I haven't made this public. I love reality shows (Flavor of Love, Top Model), they are a bumper crop of insanity, and ready for harvest--can't wait for I Love NY. My favorite is The Amazing Race, and Parkhurst has set her tale of weary gamers firmly within its structure. The book is funny and humane, and reads like insider stuff. Check it out.

4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Feel free to check out my review of this one. Sharp Objects sent my mind reeling through my own experiences working with cutters, borderline personality disorder and family drama. Flynn is sick, in a great way. And, Stephen King's blurb on the back cover, makes me want to revisit John Farris (add another to the list).

5. The Keep by Jennifer Egan

Is it a castle ghost story or the murky imaginings of a maximum security inmate? Egan's work is dark and gloomy, yet somewhat hopeful. I still remember the last sentence.

6. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

If Moore has a book out, in any given year, it will be on my top ten list. A hero of mine for roughing up the horror genre and bending it over a comic barrel. Grim Reapers? Come on, you've gotta love it.

7. Chasing the Dead by Joe Schreiber

Beware: this book demands a single sitting. Joe Schreiber has taken his thriller, tossed it into an SUV, and steered it on a blazing ride straight to hell. The trip is brutal and quick.

8. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

I rarely pick up graphic novels, but there was something about Bechdel's drawings and her story of a childhood in a funeral home, that hooked me. Sad, funny and never dull.

9. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Any book that can reduce me to tears, deserves a mention. Any form of entertainment, whether you like it or not, that can produce an intense emotion (horror, anxiety, sorrow, laughter) has accomplished something. Zusak's treatment of Nazi Germany is delicate but powerful.

10. I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris

This one totally excuses the Strangers with Candy movie. Amy Sedaris's skewering of Martha's domain is hysterical and frightening. The photographs are a trip into a '60s lsd casserole nightmare. The tips are essential. How do you get the blood stains out of cotton panties? Amy's brilliant. She's the glitter.