Indies 2012 Book Awards

Independent American book sellers have listed their picks for the 2012 Indies Choice Book Awards and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards.  If you haven’t read them yet, click on the title for the review and decide where to start reading…

Adult Fiction Book of the Year: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year: Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

Adult Debut Book of the Year: The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

When was the last time you read a book aloud?  Even to yourself? The E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards offer some ways to start.

E.B. White Read-Aloud Award – Middle Reader:

E.B. White Read-Aloud Award – Picture Book: I Want My Hat Back by Klassen

Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It

Short stories appeal to me – a quick fix when a quiet moment needs acceleration.  Maile Meloy’s collection of 11 short stories in Both Ways Is The Only Way I Want It includes simple, striking plots with flawed characters at the crossroads of deciding which way to have it – when they can’t have it both ways.

Each vignette connects to a dilemma confronting the key character – some funny, others tragic, and the settings range from Montana to the East Coast – one in Argentina. Meloy sometimes makes the decision obvious; other times she will leave you wondering what will happen next – or hoping that you know.  My favorites were the first and last stories. In  “Travis, B.”  a young Montana ranch hand falls in love with a beautiful young lawyer who commutes nine hours one-way twice a week to teach a part-time adult education class.  The situation is set for failure – her commute, her teaching job, their differences.  Although Meloy plays on the romantic possibilities, the impossibility wins out.  In “O Tannenbaum” a stranded couple named Bonnie and Clyde hitch a ride with a family out to cut down their Christmas tree.  The danger is not in picking up the strangers but in the yearnings they bring out.

In between are assorted tales – most with some humor and with O’Henry like shifts in the possibilities – unexpected twists, but not necessarily with O’Henry’s trademark happy endings.  Meloy cleanly creates scenes with duality, and it’s possible to see the resolution going either way – but probably not both ways.

After reading Meloy’s The Apothecary, targeted for a young adult audience, I looked for more.  This author knows how to tell a story – long and short.

Top Ten Books – An Author’s Inspiration

Asked to list her top 10 favorite books, the author of The Apothecary named her inspiration – more than 10.  Have you read any of these classics?  What books are in your top ten?

  1. The Collected Stories of John Cheever
  2. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
  3. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
  4. The Art of Burning Bridges(biography) by Geoffrey Wolff
  5. A Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion
  6. Run River by Joan Didion
  7.  As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  8.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  9. Edie: An American Girl by Jean Stein
  10.  Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages by Phyllis Rose
  11.  The Border Trilogy, by Cormac McCarthy
  12. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
  13. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  14. American Pastoral by Philip Roth