December 31, 2009

My Favorite Book of 2009

I read a lot of great books this year, so it's difficult to pick a favorite. However, there's a book that stands out in my mind over all the others.

Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss

Now, if I'm going to name it my favorite book of the year, I should probably say a little as to why. I have always, for as long as I can remember, been fascinated by story-telling. When I was a kid, my favorite movie was The NeverEnding Story. There was something about the idea of a story becoming real just because you were reading it that stuck in my head. Ever since then I've had this idea that if you could tell a good enough story, it could come to life.

Reading Name of the Wind was kind of like that for me. It was a story that came together in such a way that it felt real. And on top of that was the way the story was told. A harmless innkeeper, Kvothe, is more than he seems, with a past that is beyond believing, and a story-teller hunts him down to get the true story from him, rather than listening to the rumor and exaggeration that always follows heroes of fantasy stories. Kvothe agrees to tell his story, and so the book bounces back and forth between the current setting, where dark things are hinted at in the background, to Kvothe's past, where dark things are faced head on.

And yet, it's more than that. As the innkeeper tells his story, it becomes apparent that his story is based on the stories of others.

But it's more than that, too. His life story centers on a story he heard bits and pieces of as a child, a story that haunts him his entire life.

Through the entire book, I was astonished at the layers that were involved in what was going on. Not to mention how deeply I was sucked in to the story. There was one scene in particular that I noticed my heart was racing and my palms were getting sweaty. My physical response matched that of the main character. It was amazing.

All in all, I feel Name of the Winds was one of the best books of 2009, and it was definitely my favorite.

Happy New Year!

It's been a pretty interesting year, all told, and as I sit here I find myself considering my accomplishments and failures of the year. A lot of people in the blogosphere and Twitterverse I follow have been doing the same thing, and there's a pretty steady consensus that 2009 was a horrible year, but I have to disagree. I know it's selfish, in the face of all the horrible events that have happened over the year, but I happen to think 2009 was an amazing year.

I started the year with an amazing new day job, with great pay and great benefits. As a result, I've earned more money this year than I've earned in my whole life. Granted, I still don't make a great deal of money, especially considering where I live, but this year I've been safe, comfortable, and happy, at least financially speaking. Don't get me wrong, there have been a few scares. Unexpected financial burdens and medical bills and the like, but overall, things have been good.

Thanks to the great benefits offered by my day job, I have managed to take several paid vacations this year. I've never taken more than a week off of work in an entire year, but this year I was able to travel to see my family, to take some trips with my amazing husband, and to take some time off just to hang out at home.

Don't get me wrong, I also worked hard this year. I had some amazing accomplishments at work. I had one scholarly article accepted for publication, and one abstract accepted for a convention. I wrote more this year than I ever have before (finished three short stories and started two novels). I even got up the nerve to let some people read what I wrote, which is saying something. Somehow, in the middle of all this, I managed to read almost 75 books.

What's on my plate for next year? Right now, I have almost new 30 books on my bookshelf to read (I don't even want to think about how many I have on my list to buy in the next year). I have a goal to finish at least one of the novels I'm working on, and to write several new short stories. Maybe I'll even get up the nerve to submit something. I have a list of things to do a mile long at my day job, and most of those things will help me get published in one capacity or another.

2009 was a great year. And I'm hoping 2010 will be even better.