Best Books of 1999

Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
It’s warm, funny as hell and totally predictable but I loved this book about a wise ass kid and the baseball pro he idolized, the relationship they forged and how they grew together.

Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
I kept picking this up and putting it down, but finally sat down and read it. A big, historical novel set against the upheaval in the Congo in the 60’s, the religious zealot that brought his family there and how the experience changed and shaped their lives makes for a fascinating read.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
A finely crafted new series for children of all ages (okay, over 6.) It starts off with Harry at age 10, about to enter wizardry school. It is a funny, fascinating fantasy and a pleasure to read.

One Year Off by David Cohen
A fresh twist on the mid-life crisis: no new 18 yr. old wife or Porsche for 40-something David! He sells his business, his home, his cars and most of his possessions and takes his wife and 3 children, ages 2 through 8, on a trek around the world for a year. I liked the format; it is written in the form of emails home. I think it’s appeal lies in that most of us wish we would have the nerve… or can laugh at someone who did.

Hannibal by Thomas Harris
The long awaited sequel to Silence of the Lambs. I hated the ending but what a great read!

Chosen by God by Joshua Hammer
A ride along the journey Josh’s brother takes into ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Fascinating look at a different world.

Our Dumb Century by The Onion
The subtitle reads: “The Onion Presents 100 Years of Headlines from America’s Finest News Source.” This satirical look back as we approach the millennium will have you laughing your way into the new century.

For the Relief of Unbearable Urges by Nathan Englander
An anthology of short stories, not usually my favorite medium. Englander makes me appreciate the short form once again. His stories range from historical to present day, and the common theme running through all of them is orthodox Jewry but more importantly, imaginative, intelligent writing.

Plainsong by Kent Haruf
A beautifully written, engrossing tale about small town living. The characters are unforgettable as is their story. The author defines plainsong as “any simple and unadorned melody or air.” Apt title.

Lip Service by M. J. Rose
The story of the sexual reawakening of a 38 year old woman whose research into phone sex turns her life around. The pseudo-psychological view of the phone sex industry makes for a very erotic book and an enjoyable read.

BONUS
The Elvis and Marilyn Affair by Robert S. Levinson

Mysteries are a guilty pleasure for me. I loved this one, not because it kept me on the edge of my seat, which it did. Not because I couldn’t figure out who did it or how they did it because all good mysteries do that. I loved this book because of the writing. The word usage was unique, funny and thought provoking. I would find myself thinking “typo” then a few pages later realization would hit. Fabulous and fun!

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