“And the Nominees Are…”


As the year winds down, I begin to think back over the books I’ve read during the year and which were the “best.” So, I’ve come up with six categories and five nominees in each for my “Bookademy Awards.” I’ll list them below and then post my winners on New Year’s Eve. (Yes, I do already have winners in mind, but would welcome commentary on the nominees and admit I could be swayed, so feel free to put a good word in if any of your favorites are listed…) Oh, and I used the word, “best,” in my category names because it sounds more like the Oscars that way, but a more appropriate word in this case is “favorite.”

Without further ado, here they are:

Best Book (Fiction)
1. After Rain – William Trevor
2. Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese
3. 1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
4. A Prayer For Owen Meany – John Irving
5. The Tattooed Girl – Joyce Carol Oates

Best Book (Non-Fiction)
1. I, Asimov – Isaac Asimov
2. Jack’s Book – Barry Gifford & Lawrence Lee
3. Endgame – Frank Brady
4. Hiking The Continental Divide Trail – Jennifer Hanson
5. We Make a Life by What We Give – Richard Gunderman

Best (or Most Memorable) Character:
1. Owen Meany (A Prayer for Owen Meany)
2. Wolf Larsen (The Sea Wolf)
3. Twins Marion & Shiva Stone (Cutting for Stone)
4. Aomame (1Q84)
5. Nastasia Filipovna (The Idiot)

Best Writing
1. Haruki Murakami
2. Joyce Carol Oates
3. William Trevor
4. Ernest Hemingway
5. Anthony Trollope

Best Short Story
1. The Brushwood Boy – Rudyard Kipling
2. A Clean, Well Lighted Place – Ernest Hemingway
3. The Black Monk – Anton Chekhov
4. The Conjurer’s Notebook – Alice Hoffman
5. The Slype House – A.C. Benson

Best New (to me) Author
1. Anthony Trollope
2. Alice Hoffman
3. Haruki Murakami
4. John Irving
5. Paulo Coehlo


  1. Melody said,

    December 27, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Oh my goodness Owen Meany drove me up the wall! It’s a favorite of 2 of my friends, but I couldn’t even finish it. :/ I think I read it at the wrong point in my motherhood career! However, I’m glad to see William Trevor and Cutting for Stone on your favorites list…I’m thinking I should read them.


    • Jay said,

      December 27, 2011 at 7:53 am

      Hi Melody,
      I’ll grant you that APFOM is a bit “different.” I hope you give it another try some day. It also may be more of a “boy” book, since a lot of it deals with the coming of age of the narrator, who is, well, a boy. I really loved it though, and there is a lot of great humor in it too.

      After Rain by William Trevor is actually a short story collection and I wondered if I should include a book of that kind among the nominees, BUT is was one of my favorites and several of the stories within are among the best I’ve read.

      At first I was thinking Cutting for Stone was overrated, butthe more I reflected on it, the more I appreciated it. It’s a little dauntingly sweeping in scale, but I have no problem recommending it to anyone.



  2. December 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Best Book (Fiction) – I have to give the nod to ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ which is amongst my all time favourites (http://eclectic-indulgence.blogspot.com/p/my-favourites.html) and still the funniest book I have ever read.

    Best or Most Memorable Character – Before last week, I would have gone for Owen Meany here but I cannot get Wolf Larsen out of my head. Haunting and beautiful and a symbol of a tremendous love of live and tragedy all rolled into one. Truly a remarkable character – I have never come across anyone else like him.

    Best Writing – for me, this is Hemingway. He does something with the human condition that I feel is unequalled. He writes like a man, but his dialogue is able to capture subtleties and turn characters into people that you just want to slap or hug or drink absinthe with.

    Best Short Story – ‘A Clean, Well Lighted Place’ has always been one of my favourites. It makes me want to move to Europe and find a quiet coffee house where I can watch people, stew and read more Hemingway.

    Best New Author – I’m going to go with Paulo Coelho here, because the story of his life is a remarkable one and the lessons from ‘The Alchemist’ are taken with me everywhere – constantly following my personal legend. If you haven’t tried ‘Veronika Decides to Die’ or some of his ‘Warrior of the Light’ short sayings, I recommend both. ‘By the River Peidra I Sat Down and Wept’ is one that many like, but I feel no connection with. John Irving is a close second… but outside ‘A Prayer for Owen Meany’ and ‘The World According to Garp’, he has lost me somewhat. ‘The Fourth Hand’ was particularly bad.


    • Jay said,

      December 28, 2011 at 8:14 am

      Thanks for all the great comments, EI. APFOM was pretty well received by my book club earlier in the year. I think the humor (on top of all its other great qualities) may tip the scale in its favor.

      I agree, Wolf Larsen truly stands alone – figuratively AND literally. I just finished the Sea Wolf Monday morning and he dominates the book like no other character in my revent memory. It will probably take me awhile to write a post worthy of him and Jack London. Of course, HOW CAN I EVEN CONSIDER ANYONE OTHER THAN OWEN MEANY?? SERIOUSLY! 🙂

      I loved A Clean Well-Lighted place and Hemingway’s surprisingly “gentle touch.” While I wasn’t blown away by The Sun Also Rises, I truly enjoyed the writing in some sections, in particular the fishing trip and the interlude in San Sebastian. I expect to administer myself a heavy dose of Hem in 2012. Your comments on him were very well stated.

      Of the “new” writers, only Coehlo and Hoffman were purely new to me. I’d heard or read at least a tiny bit of the others. Coehlo has that rare (at least for me) combination of being a very good writer who is still very easy too read.


    • Jay said,

      December 28, 2011 at 8:17 am

      P.S. I, too, am “of those whole like to stay late at the cafe…”


  3. Dale said,

    December 27, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    1Q84 is on my list. Possibly next. Looks like Murakami is well-represented on your list. I was trying to think of the book “We Make a Life by What We Give”. Did you write anything about it? I may have missed it. I am interested in hearing what you thought about it. I may try reading that one soon. I’ll put a plug in for Hemingway and Kipling, too. See if I can sway you with them. : )


  4. Jay said,

    December 28, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Hi Dale,
    I’m pretty sure you’d like 1Q84. I KNOW you’ll like Murakami’s writing style. The plot is, however, frankly bizarre. A robust suspension of disbelief is required. If you can provide one, just go along for the ride and you’ll love it. One other complaint is that it Is overly long. I think it was originally published in Japan in three volumes, which may explain while it may feel a bit dragged out.

    We Make a Life By What We Give is a book of about sixteen essays on philanthropic themes. It may be hard to find, as it was published by Indiana University Press. I wrote a very brief review on Goodreads, but never on my blog that I remember. Should probably rectify that. Oh, and the author is a former college roommate of mine and “quite brilliant.” 🙂

    I have too many worthy nominees to give an “Oscar” to all that deserve it. I hope they keep in mind at “just being nominated” is an honor…


    • Dale said,

      December 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm

      I remember the author was a former roommate of yours. It’s on Amazon, but that’s the only place I found it. Speaking of finds, I got The Sea Wolf for .40 at Half Price Books today. It may be possible to get it on-line in the public domain for free, now, but I still got excited about a deal like that (just humor me). I’m planning on reading some Hemingway short stories and at least rereading one of his novels in 2012. I’m getting close to having my own blog. I’ve gotten a couple of posts already written (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is one). Now I just have to set up the blog!


      • Jay said,

        December 29, 2011 at 8:26 am

        That is awesome about the 40-cent Copy of the Sea Wolf. Wow. I would have snatched that up too.

        I will try to write up something about We Make a Life by What We Give. It deserves it.

        For Hemingway, I have a book of his short stories that I swore I would read more of after rediscovering him this past year. And I bought a copy of For Whom the Bell Tolls at Half Price Books this fall too (it was hardback and was more than forty cents, though) 🙂

        I’m excited to hear the arrival of your blog is imminent. Let me know when it’s on line and I will certainly add it to my blogroll and try to help spread the word about it (not that I have THAT many readers, but it might help get you connected a little).



        • Dale said,

          December 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm

          Thanks, Jay! I started to set it up last night. It’s a little more complex than I thought it would be! But it should be fun.


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