Inaugural Center of the Roof Top Ten Book List

*I’ve been working on this post for about a week or so now. I can’t believe it’s finally finished! The following books weren’t all published this year but I read them all for the first time this year. It’s a monster post; it kinda morphed on me. I hope you enjoy!*

It was incredibly hard to narrow down a list of ten books out of all the books I’ve read this year (fifty-nine, whoa!). After deciding to make this list, I began going through all the books and jotting down titles that I thought might make it. It has been difficult to remove books and juggle titles as I read more and more books this year! It has also been incredibly fun and I know several people who have been anxiously awaiting this post. I’ll include a link to my original post about the book and the chronological number with the date finished in parentheses. So, without further adieu, I give you the first CenterRoof.com Top Ten Booklist!

10. “Fifty Shades Darker” (Book Two of the Fifty Shades Trilogy) – E.L. James (#31, August 16)

This book’s post is what sparked the idea for the top ten list and I kept worrying this book wouldn’t even make the list as I read more and more books this year. however, it made it to the very end, I think starting off in the seventh position. Excerpt from post:

Darker” takes us to knew and frankly terrifying places with this couple. I don’t think I’ve wept so much to a book since “Gone with the Wind’. Did she just compare a “Fifty Shades” book and “Gone with the Wind”? Yes, yes I did.

I have to wonder if I would have reacted the same way to this book if I had been on Lexapro like I am now since I am much less emotional but if not, the idea to do a top ten list might not have been born so I’m glad I reacted the way I did, regardless of why.

9. “The Concrete blonde” (Book three in the Harry Bosch Series) – Michael Connelly (#2, January 9)

This was the first Harry Bosch book I read even though it is the third in the series. A friend of mine bought it for me on Audible after I had read “Void Moon” by Michael Connelly and really liked it. ‘concrete’ was my friend’s favorite of the Bosch books
and it is still one of mine as well. I ended up starting the series from the beginning and counted this book twice in my list, something I haven’t done with later books I’ve read twice this year. I’m so grateful for Harry bosch! I’m nearly caught up with the series and then I will be very sad. Excerpt from post:

The book was published in 1994 and it was really funny to read about communication that couldn’t happen because the car had no rover. They didn’t have cell phones haha! They also used pagers. Wow. Definitely a very good book. The psychology was very interesting and the relationship between Harry and Sylvia was very real, so real in fact, that I related a little too much haha!

Wow, it’s fun to remember this book and think about how far Harry Bosch has come since then and how much has happened. Not only are these books brilliant cop dramas, the character development is superb. Connelly quickly became my favorite mystery writer this year. Love him!

8. “Under the Dome” – Stephen King (#3, January 22)

I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. I remember being thoroughly creeped out and there were several times B would come into the room at night and make me jump. He also wanted to talk about it as I was reading it and sometimes He would stop and listen to the audio book, remembering parts he had forgotten. He loved the book and I quickly understood why. Excerpt from post:

It was incredibly disturbing, but not just because a mysterious and impenetrable dome falls around a small town in Maine. No, what as most disturbing was the human element in this town. Of course there were plenty of good people but the bad were baaaaaad. So bad in fact that I questioned my own morality when I wanted to see bad things happen to these people. They were so bad that B had me scared of our own town car dealer mogul and his commercials.

We have a car mogul in town named Jim, same first name as the creepy car mogul in this book. I hadn’t even thought of it until one night a commercial with our Jim came on and B mimicked the Jim from the book. I broke out in gooseflesh and screamed. It was quite the hilarious moment haha! You know a book is good when it effects you that much even while you aren’t reading it.

7. “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” – Rob Lowe (#7, February 6)

The seventh spot on this list was creating a problem for me. I couldn’t seem to narrow it down but then I noticed that this book was the seventh of the year and this is the seventh spot and January seventh is an anniversary so it just seemed right that Rob Lowe’s book should make the list in this spot. I haven’t read too many memoirs in my life but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and related a ton since both of us have been on our own journeys in recovery. Excerpt from post:

The book follows his journey into acting, from a kid in Ohio to a teen in Southern California, meeting Liza Minnelli and adventures with the Sheen clan. He writes openly about his experiences and the names he drops brought back my own memories of movies I had seen starring different actors from when I was a kid. Although Rob Lowe was before my time, that era of teen movies still had its influence on me. While he wasn’t in The Breakfast Club, that movie introduced me to that famous group of young actors, The Brat Pack, of which he was a huge part.

I follow Rob Lowe on twitter and while he doesn’t tweet often, I’m glad I’m able to follow him. I also took a music recommendation from him, check out Tony Ferrari. When a song from the album plays, I remember it was Lowe’s recommendation and it makes me smile. I like to have reminders of sobriety throughout my day and anything associated with Rob Lowe gives me that. This was such a good book!

6. “A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans” – W. Bruce Cameron (#27, July11)

I absolutely adored this book! I have Audible to thank for my discovering this. Their sales lead me to books I probably never would have read otherwise and this is one of those. I remember the title grabbing me and the description intriguing me but I was on the fence about it as I shopped a sale. I’m so incredibly grateful I got it! This book was not only entertaining, it taught me even more about how to communicate with Jayden. Our bond got even stronger after I read this book, I kid you not. Excerpt from post:

We get to follow the spirit of one canine through several lives. I call it the spirit of a canine because the spirit is reincarnated into different dogs, but the spirit remains the same, growing and maturing with every experience and bringing those experiences into the next life of the next dog. I went into it knowing that the dog’s spirit takes several forms, and the tension that builds as you follow each life, wondering how this one will end, is incredible. I laughed, I cried, I cried some more, I laughed while I cried, I got on the floor and cried on Jayden while he slept.

I’ve juggled the position of this book on my list so many times I can’t count. It’s been so hard to assign numbers to these books! I love every single one of them but the closer we get to number one, the stronger my feelings grow.

5. “Nine Dragons” (Book fifteen in the Harry Bosch Series) – Michael Connelly (#56, December 15)

I was pretty sure about halfway through this book that it would make the top ten list. It was such an intense roller coaster ride throughout the entire book and those kinds of stories are my favorite. This book took bosch to several places we have never been with him before and it was one of those stories you immediately wanted more of. Excerpt from post:

At one point I was listening while soaking in the tub and I sat bolt upright and stared towards my iPod with my mouth hanging open. Bravo, Connelly! I am going to be so incredibly sad when this series is over! Did you possibly introduce us to your next series character?

I have to give Carol a lot of credit here because she said nothing while I was reading this book and after I finished it and began telling her my predictions for future books she cut me off so as not to give anything away. I don’t know if I’ll ever find another series of books I love as much as the Harry Bosch series!

4. “The Hunger Games” (Book One of The Hunger Games Trilogy) – Suzanne Collins (#49, November 9)

It’s impossible to include this book in the top ten list without mentioning “Catching Fire” and “Mocking Jay”. The books blend seamlessly into one another and you really can’t have one without the other. I never thought I would enjoy this trilogy as much as I did, mostly because of my loyalty to Scott Westerfeld. I think he would forgive me though. Excerpt from post:

I think what makes this book good is that this futuristic world is believable. Maybe it’s my fear of my own future and my deepening mistrust of “the system” that makes me able to believe it. There is also the element of reality TV which you’d have to be blind to not see how this country is getting obsessed with. Is it not conceivable that one day people will hunger to watch contestants kill each other in an arena? Last person standing wins.

I think the second book was actually my favorite of the three. Excerpt from “Catching Fire” post:

While this world is well into the future and hopefully will never happen, it’s believable which makes it really scary. This book takes the characters we grew to love in the first book and plunges them into events unimaginable. I did not want to put it down! The movie is going to be amazing I think.

Excerpt from “Mocking Jay” post:

One of the things that really stood out to me was when {they} are in the capitol and the citizens actually drink something that makes them purge so they can eat more of the delicious food. The rest of the country is starving and these people are vomiting to eat more. I couldn’t help but think about the attitude of so many during this campaign year, those who aren’t hungry who refuse to share, deciding instead to blame the hungry for their own lot in life, as if every hungry person is at fault.

It’s amazing how much a futuristic series was so relevant to today. It’s scary to consider that we are very close to heading towards this made up future.

At the end of “Mocking Jay” there was an interview with Suzanne Collins. She talks about how the idea for these books came from her channel surfing one night. She was tired and the lines blurred as she flipped between a reality show where young people were competing for money and another channel covering the war where young people were fighting and dying. In the interview she lists questions she hopes young people will ask themselves when they read these books and I can’t remember what all the questions were but as she asked them, I had asked them myself.

I loved these books and can’t wait for the next two movies!

3. “The Given Day” – Dennis Lehane (#23 June 17)

It’s getting harder to write more about these books as I go along because when I feel strongly about something, I tend to fall over my words because my brain is moving too fast for my hands. This is one of those books I’m looking forward to reading again but when I finished it, I knew I would need a long break before going back to it. I know there is a sequel to this book coming out at some point so I’ll probably reread it again before that. I love a book that hits me in the gut and this one most certainly did, several times. Excerpt from post:

I loved this book. Ever since reading Scott Westerfeld’s “Leviathan” series, I’ve wanted to read more historical fiction. ‘Given’ is definitely that. I learned so much about post WWI Boston that I never knew. I learned things about early baseball. I unfortunately learned how awful racism was then and how evil men could be. While the story line is fictional, the mood of the time isn’t.

The historical fiction element is what added to those aforementioned gut punches. The present has its own set of problems but reading about the past can be terribly hard to stomach. It’s a good reminder that we don’t have it as bad as we might think we do.

2. “The Potato Factory” (Book One of the Australian Trilogy) – Bryce Courtenay (#28, July 25)

Here we have more historical fiction, this time centering around the history of Australia. This book had it all, incredible writing, fantastic characters, page turning plot, the historical element and best of all, a fabulous narrator. Humphrey Bower gets my best narrator of 2012 without question. A Roofie award? This book and the one before it could easily have been number one, that’s for sure. Excerpt from post:

The main female character, Mary Abacus, goes through things I could never imagine. This is one of those books that sucks you in so deeply that you have a physical reaction to things the characters must endure. This book is definitely not for the weak of heart. It made me extremely grateful to be living in this age and not that one. I used to romanticize living in the 1800′s but I don’t think I would have survived unless I had been one of the privileged.

Yet another example of a book that makes me grateful I live in the time I do, even with its own difficulties. If I had been a blind woman in Mary Abacus’ time, I probably would have died in a gutter.

1. “Gone Girl” – Gillian Flynn (#45, October 25)

Oh, “gone Girl”, I can’t hear the title without shuddering and wishing I had someone to talk to about it. This book was just perfect! I honestly don’t know what to say here. I think I said it all in the review. Listen to me ok? Don’t go reading anything about this book, nothing detailed, ok? Ok. I feel better knowing you’ll heed my advice. No spoilers here or in the original post. Excerpt from post:

It’s a typical story, wife goes missing, husband the prime suspect, but there is nothing even remotely typical about this book. I could not put it down and it was just lucky for me that I was laid up in bed sick so I didn’t have to pause this book for long periods at all. In fact I’m always going to associate a liquid diet with “Gone Girl”. There were several times I was glad I had no food on my stomach while listening to this. I am not going to go into any kind of details lest I ruin this book for you. Please, heed my advice and do not read anything about this book before you finish it. Did you get that? Do NOT read anything about this book until you finish it. No really, are you listening? Don’t ok? Just don’t.

You know that noise you make when you take a bite of something incredibly delicious? Or rather, when you are telling your friends about that food? Yeah, that’s the noise I’m making in my head right now. “gone Girl”, you amazing book you!

1. “Defending Jacob” – William Landay (#41, October 7)

I can’t say anything more about this book than I did in the original review. I’ve already read it again and it was even better the second time, being able to pick out the little hints Landay dropped. I knew back when I finished the book that it would get the number one spot and then the author himself solidified that. You’ll see if you go check out the post. Excerpt from post:

How would your family survive if a member was accused of murder? This novel takes us inside a family that must deal with just that. The father is an assistant district attorney and the member accused of murder is his fourteen year old son. Can a marriage survive that? Will the family make it through the media scrutiny of a trial? If you have children, how do you think you would get through something like this? Would you find yourself doubting your child’s innocence even though in your heart you know he can’t be guilty? He can’t be, right? Right?

I have been considering doing a top ten book list at the end of the year but was undecided, until this book. I am so in love with this book, I would marry it if it asked me. In fact I’m having a difficult time trying to write about it. It’s like when I try and talk about gratitude; I get completely flustered and can’t form a thought.

I just sighed, feeling all my feelings about this book in the span of about fifteen seconds after reading that quote I took from the original post days ago. Quiet reflection, that is the best way I can describe what this book makes me do. I had to lay in bed for a good twenty minutes in the silence after I finished it the first time. Perfect, just a perfect book!

*It’s my blog and I’ll pick two number ones if I want to!*

We aren’t done yet! From the cutting room floor:

Honorable Mentions

“Angels Flight” (Harry Bosch #6) – Michael Connelly

Oh, “Angels Flight”, I keep thinking about you. So good, just so so good! So dark, oh so dark, and nauseous making. So good.

*It’s not every day that “nauseous making” is a compliment.

“The Art of Fielding” – Chad Harbach

It’s really close to a top ten nod but I just don’t know. I might need to create an honorable mentions category…

*This book *almost* made the list. Always a bridesmaid.

“The Brain That Changes Itself: Personal Triumphs from the Frontiers of Brain Science” – Norman Doidge

I was in nerd heaven while I read this. And I found myself more tired during the day after reading this book at night.

*This book will always be known as “that brain book”.

“The Last Coyote” (Harry bosch #4) – Michael Connelly

This book was soooooo good! It’s my favorite of the Harry Bosch books so far, even though it’s only the fourth one.

*Did I catch myself in a lie?

“Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)” – Jenny Lawson

When I started it that first night I laughed so hard I was afraid I’d pee the bed.

*I don’t recommend playing this audio book while driving unless constant laughter doesn’t impede your vision.

The Narrows (Harry Bosch #10) – Michael Connelly

…another beloved character is back in a way, the character who got me back into drinking orange juice.

*Thanks to McCaleb and Jayden, my potassium number is good.

“The Scarecrow” (Jack McEvoy #2) – Michael Connelly

This book was scary to me because with our technology today the scenario was pretty easy to imagine.

*Just call me Sandra Bullock. Carol, that’s for you.

“Solomon’s Song” (Book three of The Australian Trilogy) – Bryce Courtenay

His writing is so descriptive and beautiful you can’t help but feel you’re there, running on that beach with the men you’ve come to know.

*That beach was most definitely not a vacation spot.

They never made it within a mile of the cutting room:

Dishonorable Mentions

“77 Shadow Street” – dean Koontz

It just went on and on and on and then had a really awesome ending.

*That’s what she said.

“1q84” – Haruki Murakami

The book started out pretty cool but it went on and on in several places, so much so that I thought, how did this get passed the editors?

*Editors? We don’t need no stinking editors.

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” – Seth Grahame-Smith

I do know that several times I felt like Lincoln’s memory was sort of, oh what’s the word…insulted?

I won’t be seeing the movie.

“The Next Right Thing” – Dan Barden

I probably didn’t hear the next few sentences over the noise of the crickets in my head.

*I really think the narration is what killed this book though.

“Zero Day” – David Baldacci

Ok, I liked MacGyver, a lot, but this was too extreme.

*They don’t make TV shows like they used to. Oh yeah, forgot we were talking about books.

Those books might have been bad but at least I finished them. There was only one book I didn’t finish this year and that was “Nano” by Robin Cook. I was very disappointed since I loved him when I was a lot younger but I couldn’t even get into the second half of the audio book. The narration might be to blame on this one but Cook has to take some of the blame as well. I’m sorry, but two smart doctors wouldn’t sit in a break room discussing secretive stuff in front of the guy in the corner no matter how absorbed he looked in his work. Add the adults acting like jealous teenagers and the overly troubled past of the damsel in distress and there was just no way to focus on what was going on, the actual cool part, nano technology. Thanks a lot for wasting over two nights of good reading time, man! I wonder what was up with those poor test subjects? Maybe I’ll look it up on Wikipedia. Thanks Audible, for letting me return this and get my credit back!

That does it for the inaugural year end book post! I hope you enjoyed it, got some recommendations, found some books you’ve read here on the list or just killed some time. This post took days to write and format and I learned a lot for next year’s post, for sure. I can’t wait to see what I read next year! I really enjoyed keeping such close track of every book I listened to. I wonder if I’ll read more or less next year? Thank god for audio books and Audible.com!

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